This spring I continued my search for fair flats. It's a search that is a holdover from my pre-fairdare days. Ever since a pair of leopard print flats from Target, found on clearance for less than $10, that I had worn happily for at least a decade + went with everything...died...I just could not find the right replacement.
Sometimes the fairdare makes my mind feel like it is contorting + weighing + flipping + balancing in rapid succession. It can be exhausting + frustrating. There is just so much to consider:
1. Garment workers, farmers, + the environment. Responsibility + compassion.
2. Clothing needs. A warm coat. Pants that fit. Shoes. Necessity.
3. Budget. Responsibility + limits.
4. Self-expression + style.
5. Choosing pieces that will last in quality + in my allegiance. Longevity.
For the most part there are enough choices to meet all of these considerations. There are pieces of clothing already in my closet. I can mend + repair. There are thrift stores. I can sew + knit. There are brands offering fair + sustainable choices. And yet, sometimes the intersection of all the above considerations just feels endlessly elusive.
Years ago, I bought a pair of natural leather flats that were made in Spain. They were stiff, but I thought that they would soften up over time. Over the next few years, they did not soften and were only worn to church...gingerly. I could bear them no longer, so they were sold. Next I found a cute pair of vintage, leather flats on Etsy that seemed to be my size. I had the little heel plates replaced + the cobbler reglued them together nice + tight. I wore them for a few years, but they were always just a bit too tight + didn't stretch...so they too were worn only for short, mostly seated trips to church. I found a pair of fair beauties a couple years ago, but their $300 price tag kept me from taking the plunge. I couldn't take the plunge this spring either, so...
This spring, after lots of consideration, I bought a pair of shoes that I could not confirm as fair. I delved as far as the internet would take me into the production of this brand...no transparency. The shape was just what I wanted. The leather looked soft + sturdy...and the heels were made of wood...natural materials. The style would elevate jeans + a t-shirt...but would also be nice enough for dressier occasions. The price seemed appropriate for both my wallet + production (but I couldn't confirm that).
I shared a picture of the flats here, but not the post that I first wrote to go along with it. This purchase felt like failure. I didn't want the explanation to seem like a list of excuses. I didn't want to write a post about simply doing our best. That just didn't seem good enough. It didn't seem inspiring enough.
And then, a friend told me about how she'd made a similar decision and seemed to feel some guilt over it. She'd made a commitment to the fairdare + felt like this purchase had failed it. My immediate feeling was that I wanted to throw a heavy blanket of grace over the whole story. Making a commitment to the fairdare involves knowing...and trying...and lots of success...and then sometimes...doing the best we can. The fashion industry is not designed to be transparent or entirely fair, so sometimes we have to make the best choice we can with what is available. I could extend myself the same grace that I desperately wanted her to feel + that I knew she deserved.
The fairdare, zero-waste, and any other endeavor we undertake to live our values...they are all about the successes...small as they may be! A list of five purchases that involves one not quite perfect purchase...that list is more about the four...four successful attempts to buy fair! Bravo! Happy dance! Amazing! I'm not a perfectionist, so I've never quite understood those who abandon a habit (new year's resolutions) once they've failed once. Of course we are going to fail! This is all about the learning + observing + trying again. My lesson learned from the flats is that I probably should have waited. I found a handmade brand that I love just a few months after my purchase. I'm learning.
Doing our best is not about making excuses. It is about truly making informed efforts + then choosing the best option. We are learning, + learning is not failure. (Oh how often I say this to my perfectionist daughter over her schoolwork!) Often, choosing to do without is the best option...but when it is not...there is grace.