Do Sample Sales or Vintage Shopping Fit Into Conscious Life?
We’re well into January, so it seems only appropriate to follow up on our 2018 new year resolutions. Are you still sticking to yours? Or have you already abandoned them in the back of your closet like your beloved velvet stilettos that make your feet hurt too much to ever actually wear?
“To live a more conscious life” was one of the top recurring resolutions on many priorities lists this year, according to several surveys. Many people are becoming much more woke when it comes to living consciously—meaning being both present in our lives and also aware of the ethical repercussions of our every decision.
In the fashion world? That translates to a vigorous philosophical exploration of sample sales versus vintage shopping. Which is more sustainable, and therefore ethical?
We know by now that waste and mass-consumption are serious issues in the fashion industry. The second issue of this bi-annual Fashion Revolution fanzine is a fun, yet sobering read on this topic. It seeks to inspire you to “buy less, care more, and know how to make the clothes you love last longer.”
As we’re now beginning to learn more about what it means to refresh one’s wardrobe ethically and sustainably, we feel it is important to dig deeper and bring attention to what’s lurking in the shadow of even our believed-to-be-ethical decisions.
Consider second-hand shopping. We love a good “lived in” touch of vintage in our wardrobe. In our 2017 TSC poll, over 52 percent of responders said they love second hand shopping. These readers are obviously drawn to the history attached to such items, and they probably believe they’re also doing their part in saving the world by purchasing a donated item—thereby avoiding adding to the pollution of mass production. Such readers also take equal pride in donating their own items instead of tossing them into the trash. There is some truth to this, but it turns out it is not the whole story. Of the clothes we donate, only 1 in 3 end up being resold to a new local owner, and a staggering 66% are being sold to textile merchants who either send them across the world or chop them up to recycle them. So you think, Okay, at least I have purchased that one lucky item that didn’t go to Africa or Eastern Europe at the cost of a large carbon footprint and in some cases the detriment of local fashion industry. But do you really know anything about the lifecycle of your “find,” and how it’s made its way onto the rack in front of you?
An eye-opening article on virtue and vice follows the unlikely story of a “vintage” pair of jeans: originated in Cambodia in a cheap factory that produces new cheap items, using scraps of material, given to agriculture workers to wear as a “uniform” for several months, commercially washed and brought back to the United States. Hm… quite a different history than the one you had in mind when decided to purchase an ethical vintage item.
Now consider the sample sales. While shopping at a sample sale undoubtedly has its pitfalls, it is the clear winner when it comes to the transparency of a product’s life cycle. Not to mention—it features crystal clear provenance of products and a smaller carbon footprint.
A more murky question in this realm relates to wearing vintage leather, fur, or any other animal product. I guess the answer to that question is a personal one and it largely depends on where you fall on your own scale of ethics. If you are one of the many living in that gray area where you love your furry friends, but also like wearing leather shoes and the incidental fur hoodie, then you will want to check this week’s sample sales…
Women’s fur coats and clothing are sold at incredible discounts at the Dennis Basso Sample Sale. The sample sale also includes fur vests, fur-lined raincoats, cashmere coats & shearlings, dresses, gowns, and eveningwear.
Other equally tempting options are footwear and accessories for both men and women at Frye + Aquatalia Sample Sale and women’s footwear at the Fall ’17 and Spring ’18 Butter, Something Bleu, and Golo Sample Sale.
So when it comes to sticking to your living a more conscious life resolution, be sure to consult your own moral compass, and—as is true in all things—don’t be too tempted to compare yourself to others. We’re all making progress in our own time. For some of us, this might mean not purchasing anything new for a whole year or more, or going to other extremes to keep your new year resolutions alive. For the rest of us taking smaller baby steps, it’s comforting to know that our love of sample sales it’s not too bad of a choice, and supports our efforts in shifting towards a more conscious life.
Happy [ethical] shopping!
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