So for the last few years I’ve been teaching a class on Feminism and Fashion. The section on the ethics of fashion has started to hit home. Like the ethical problems posed by eating meat it hits a lot of different bases: the environment, sweatshops and unjust labor practices, affluence and excess…
I was reminded of it again when this story made the rounds: No one wants your used clothes
The rise of “fast fashion” is thus creating a bleak scenario: The tide of secondhand clothes keeps growing even as the markets to reuse them are disappearing. From an environmental standpoint, that’s a big problem. Already, the textile industry accounts for more greenhouse-gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined; as recycling markets break down, its contribution could soar.
Mostly I’ve made the shift to only buying clothes made in North America. Like my decision to not eat meat, it’s a rule that’s straightforward. In both cases I can see making the case for exceptions. There are clothes made elsewhere with fair labour practices, just like there are better and worse farms in terms of the treatment of animals.
But the easiest rule, the one that requires the least amount of research, thinking, and willpower, is to stick to clothes made here.
I do buy used clothes from anywhere in the world. I’d also buy used fur for similar reasons.
So I shop locally, I’m more selective, and I pay a bit more. Fine.
There are exceptions. One notable one, relevant to the blog, is active wear. Cycling clothes are pretty much all made overseas. Ditto clothes to wear to the gym.
I discovered SuperFit Hero a few years ago and that solved some of the problem. But they don’t make all the things I want.
How about you? Where do you buy athletic wear? Do you worry about where it’s made? What’s your approach?