FASHION REVOLUTION DAY 1 OF 5 // Can I Justify Expensive Ethically-Made Purchases When I'm Broke?

April 22, 2018

 ILLUSTRATION BY JEREMY OLDS

 

At twenty-seven years old, my finances are comparable to those of a student. I live week to week, I keep a close eye on how many appliances are switched on at the wall, and going out for brunch on a Sunday or attending a weekly yoga class are mutually exclusive.

 

Around eight months ago, I made the conscious decision to leave my steady, safe, comfortable, part-time job.

 

I was working as a patternmaker for one of New Zealand's most notable fashion brands, and I couldn't think of any other brand in the country I would rather be working for. Here I had learnt the majority of what I now know of the local fashion industry. I was working under one of the best pattern makers, who had taken it upon herself to train me. I was living the life that I had always pictured myself living since I was about seven years old.

 

As much as it terrified me, my head was now somewhere else. I had begun my own small scale fashion label a couple of years earlier, and it was time for a make or break decision. I felt equipped with the knowledge I had picked up over the last five years in order to make it work. I knew it would be a challenge without a steady job, but if I didn't do it now I probably never would. I would need to exercise more financial discipline than ever before.

 

As a result of both these lifestyle choices, I seem to have developed a tunnel-visioned filter system, that makes me feel guilt about purchasing anything cheap on a whim, but so often, I am torn. I have a strong distaste for synthetics, out of both comfort and environmental impact, yet silks, cottons and linens are expensive. I don't support cheap labour, yet anything made locally or fair trade is out of my budget. I can't bring myself to enter a mall due to the sheer volume and fluorescent lights that overwhelm me, yet anything purchased on Ponsonby Road would equate to three weeks worth of my meals.

 

My filter system is to ask myself, so what if these cheaper, ethically inept options, didn't exist (which they shouldn't)? The only option really is to go without until I can afford what I deem as "morally acceptable".

 

As a result, I now shop less and shop smarter. I only purchase things new I know I really need, and I look after what I do have. I repair the clothes that can be repaired, I handwash to extend the lifespan, and if I am really stuck, I purchase second-hand.

 

 

 

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