Written by Sara Fender Capano
Since the beginning of quarantine, I have probably cleaned out and re-organized my closets no less than four times. And, although I have donated several items, I have also become slightly obsessed with the idea of re-working some of my favourite pieces. As sewing and alterations are not my strong suit (know your strengths!), I set out to find someone better suited for the job.
‘Sustainable Fashion’ is a buzz-phrase that gets tossed around often, but implementing it is easier said than done. Thankfully, the fashion industry is doing better at making changes, but as consumers, we also need to be accountable for our part. Yes, that $5 t-shirt from your favourite fast-fashion retailer may feel like a steal, but factoring in the “true cost” of making that t-shirt, it’s not quite as much as a bargain as we may think.
According to The Green Seeds Project, for economic reasons, most of the fashion supply chain, from crop cultivation and production of synthetic fibres, to sewing, dyeing, and selling of the clothes, takes place in different parts of the world. Garments, especially those sold by fast fashion retailers, travel thousands of miles by plane or boat to reach their final destinations. And that’s just a small piece of the complicated puzzle. One could also argue, when the clothing is being made in places such as Bangladesh and Vietnam, human rights factors also come into play. Low wages and unsafe conditions are a serious issue and really came to the forefront when a Dhaka garment factory collapsed in 2013, killing over 1,000 workers and injuring three times that amount.
But all is not lost – according to a recent article in Vogue, the secondhand and consignment market is estimated to reach $64 billion by 2030. As Samantha Randon pointed out, there are many ways we can do our part to be more conscience when making new purchases.
Personally, I’m a minimalist at heart, but when it comes to my wardrobe, I tend to associate clothing with specific memories and I have a hard time parting with certain pieces. So, instead of these items taking up space in the back of my closet, where I never see or enjoy them, I began researching companies that take said items and re-work them into something new and fresh.
I first came across the Frankie Collective. Based in Vancouver, the company focuses on salvaging vintage clothing that might otherwise end up in the trash, and ultimately a landfill. They take items that you or I may overlook in a secondhand shop and transform them into unique, cool, usually 90s inspired, streetwear pieces. And yes, I own several of them.
The reality of the situation is that I probably don’t need more clothes, even though, let’s be real here, I definitely want them. Looking for someone to re-work some of my favourite, but rarely worn pieces, I found Marie’s Thrift. Marie does it all, from selling vintage and reworked clothing to offering styling services to redesign your personal clothing. With prices starting at $15, Marie will send you a form and then work with you and the garment to redesign it according to your taste, size, preference and style.
The unfortunate truth is that we will never be able to fully eradicate clothing waste. However, we can all do our part to curb the amount we waste as individuals. We can aim to buy less (easier said than done, I know), purchase from companies that implement ethical and sustainable practices (check out The Good Trade for a list some of these brands in all price ranges), get into the vintage clothing game, and re-work under-worn pieces.
Get ready Marie! I have a slew of clothes coming your way!