Dreaming is the main verb in play for me. Budget, need + enough loom large. I understand that clothing is not really cheap. Natural materials are grown, collected, spun + woven. Designing, pattern making, testing, cutting + sewing are involved. Transportation, marketing, packing + shipping matter. All of these add up to a labor intensive + costly process. Tara St. James says that there are an average of 80 people involved in the making of any garment. When clothing is cheap at the point of purchase, it is costing people somewhere along the production chain.
When new clothing is not cheap, it motivates thoughtful buyers to choose wisely...to value these pieces more highly...to buy less. I think this is a lovely, natural course correction for our fast-fashion-trained brains.
And while I adore these more ethical brands, my budget can still become a bit flummoxed at the cost. Just as many of our brains became acclimated to cheap clothing prices + the "ability" to constantly add items to our wardrobes (+ often debt to our lives)...the fair clothing industry can cause us to "adapt" to higher prices. Seeing bloggers + instagrammers in their new, high end, fair outfits day after day...posts with beautiful, "regular" people wearing fair pieces in golden dessert + beach photos...even sparkly ethical statements...make us want a piece of all this for ourselves. I think a lot about my own contribution to this push toward pricey ethical brands...the guilt, the triumph, the elation pushed. Yuck. In the end it is still a piece of clothing meant to cover our bodies, keep us warm or cool, allow us range of motion, comfort...and yes, some style + personal expression.
The main conclusion I've come to lately is that my clothing must be worth the price...to me. There may be times when I choose to purchase a more expensive piece that I will wear for a very long time, and it will be worth the price. There may be other times that I search for a less expensive fair item, an inexpensive thrifted piece, sew a less expensive version or decide to admire a style from afar. I do not want to get drawn in to spending more than my rational brain deems wise for something that is more about a hazy ideal than a functional piece of clothing to wear in my everyday life. I've added to (rather than constructed anew) my personal manifesto of clothing purchasing + it has come in handy during the last few months.
The clothing that I add to my collection must:
-be a replacement, necessary, useful +/or long-term joy enhancing
-not harm those who grew or made it...or the earth, as much as possible
-be bought with the idea of using it up + seeing it through to the end (wear, mend, repair, refashion, reuse the fabric...rags). Reselling is less desirable, but ok too.
-have the strong probability of being worn over + over (comfort, won't get sick of, appropriate, not too trendy)
-have value that, in the end, matches or exceeds the price tag for me personally (this is not a reference to resale value...wear, usefulness, versatility + longevity = value)
Each of us gets to decide how to clothe ourselves + our children. I love that there are so many fair choices. I also really like how buying second-hand, mending + repairing, refashioning, + swapping even the playing field a bit. They are not a last resort. They are choice. Compassion all around. :)