The Issue In My Closet
“How much is this?” Many people ask us about the short denim jeans in the display at flea markets. We tell them we don’t sell it since it’s my personal clothes. It’s a Levi’s 501 which I bought second-hand when I was a high school kid (!). The knee points were ripped (without me damaging them), here and there wore out, I had to shorten it at times. Now it’s short pants.
I am a person who holds on to clothes. Only when they are irreparably damaged, I use them as dust cloths or bathmats. I go out in rusty clothes and my partner (who cares how people think) tells me not to because I am “supposed to be a designer”.
I never buy clothes only for one season/year. It doesn’t mean I buy expensive high-quality clothes. My clothes just last unnecessarily long. As a result, my closet is full of old and rusty clothes (not ‘vintage’). They’re not good enough to sell or give anyone. So I just wear them for decades. But some of them still fascinate me.
I’d like to consider ‘ethical clothing’ with you this time, from one of the elements ‘labour’.
(credit: Mr.Daran Kandasamy, Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)
“Sau rupiya sau rupiya sau rupiya!”
H&__ and ZA__A are the ‘fast fashion’ brands which are selling like crazy worldwide. Their trendy items hit the stores in the one-week cycle with low prices. Youth in their teens or early twenties can enjoy the trend by their salary of part-time jobs. Behind that, the brands keep the cost very low by producing in developing countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia.
In India, these brands are not ‘low-priced’ but ‘budget walle high-street’ brands (am I right?). When I think of fast fashion in India, it can be the clothes sold by the street vendors in the shopping streets.
The one-piece dresses which youths can afford with their half-day salary in developed countries. 100 rupees shirts and 200 rupees jeans in Indian streets. Clothes are always made by humans, even mass-produced ones. And trust me, a shirt (the one with a collar and a cuff) requires so much labour. How much did the workers receive? How many hours do they work per day to make ends meet? How old are they?
Have you ever seen the video on T-shirt vending machine?
Yes, I believe you care when you know.
Rei Kawakubo, a very artistic and avant-garde fashion designer who founded Comme des Garçons, said:
“It is impossible that a pair of jeans is sold for some hundreds of yen. Is it fine to wear such low-priced clothes while someone in the production process might be crying? Good products require a lot of labour and time and efforts, so they are essentially inevitable to have high prices. I want the concept of values ‘good things are high-priced’ also remain”.
“Ohhh I have nothing to wear!”
When people buy low-priced clothes, they stop thinking. Even if the design would become ‘old’ quickly, even if the sewing quality is poor, they think “it’s OK, it doesn’t burn my purse” “it’s enough if it lasts for one season”.
If you feel excited because you got the clothes with a tiny budget (shopping provokes excitatory chemicals in the brain!) or feel as if you have become fashionable by buying trendy items, the feelings are not sustainable. Since you are not buying the clothes which you love with your heart, they never fill your heart. As a result, you keep buying tons of clothes which are not important to you.
Consumption of goods would bring you happiness! … It’s a propaganda by the entire industrial world. They also create trends one after another and convince you that what you’re wearing has gone out of style. If you think ‘ohhh I have nothing to wear!’ in the morning, please think why.
So who’s winning here? Workers – no. You – I suppose no. The owners of these brands – hey, have you ever checked their personal assets?
Ethical HAPPY Fashionistas
MIRCHI KOMACHI is not a brand who highlights ‘ethical clothing’ or ‘sustainable clothing’. But I am responsible for certain things. Even when we grow big, I will never make a ‘sweatshop’ nor deal with any. I want our work buddies, especially women, to receive fair wages to become financially independent to design their life independently. We do ‘sale’ only by bearing the deficit myself (teary eyes… (T_T) ). According to my policy, I cannot sustain my company by ‘producing more and selling more’. Therefore, the target of my company would be to keep the scale just enough for me to live after paying fair wages to the fabric makers and tailors and staff, and paying the bills.
What we aim is to share the joy of wearing the clothes which truly express ourselves. I always have this in mind since I see many clothing restrictions in India which are restricting women's lives. Buying the clothes you truly love would let you take good care of them and wear them as long as they last. And your closet would be full of the clothes you love. When you buy clothes, please ask yourself if you love it and wear it many many times, no matter where you buy, regardless cheap or costly. It is the ethical clothing you can implement.
I will always be ethical and responsible for my brand. You also please be an ethical happy fashionista!
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