By Mor Aframian, co-founder of Redress
During my first semester in undergrad, a friend introduced me to the concept of thrifting for the very first time -- and it was love at first sight. I walked into a store filled with vintage garments that lived unknown, unimaginable lives in the closets and social circles of women I’ve never met, but knew I’d get along with based on their fashion sense. Aisle upon aisle showered me with the opportunity to shop for vintage pieces and spoke to the old soul within me.
Have you ever thought about the stories the garments in your closet have to tell? Or the stories they will tell long after you’ve let them go? Which moments of your time together will stand out?
In saying all of this, there’s an assumption that you -- the reader -- already have a relationship with the items in your closet. There’s an assumption that you intimately know every detail about some of your favorite garments, can recall when and where you got them, how much you paid for them, and you take extra care of them. When your favorite garments are "hurt" you’re quick to take them to the tailor or a friend with great sewing skills, and while these garments are getting fixed, you find yourself missing their presence in your closet.
There’s an assumption that you’re emotionally invested in the well-being of your favorite garments because they play a role in the daily, non-verbal expression of who you are and your sense of style. This emotional investment goes beyond your garments and to the rest of the items that adorn your body: your jewelry, shoes, handbags, neckties, hats, and so on. There’s an assumption that everything you put on your body has a meaning and story to tell; a story that will be told for generations to come; a story that will be passed down to a family member or a stranger you may never encounter.
But, are these assumptions coming from an ideal and naive perspective that you have a relationship with the items in your closet? Is it too much to assume that you are intentional and calculated about your fashion purchases? Is the assumption that you’re not one to buy disposable clothing that lacks an authentic story making you uncomfortable?
Imagine if we lived in a world where all people have meaningful relationships with the items in their closets and treated those items with the love and respect they deserve. Imagine a world where all people have a deep understanding of the process and craftsmanship required to produce a quality item capable of living many lives and telling many stories. Imagine a world where all people are committed to purchase new items from conscious designers and makers who seek to continuously reduce the environmental and social impact of their products. Imagine a fashion industry utopia.
Utopia is up to us to make, and though it’s possible you and I will never live to see this utopian world, it’s up to me and you to trailblaze the path for it. It takes people
like Darcy Cropp, a loyal customer and friend of Jamie Powell, Raleigh-based designer of Seven Sages and co-founder of Redress. “I love Jamie’s clothes for a lot of reasons. One is the quality of fabrics she uses. They are soft, comfortable, and wear well. Two is because the cuts fit myself and the rest of my family well. We are all different shapes and sizes but her clothes work well for my sister, mom, sister-in-law, and myself! Lastly, I know I am supporting someone who has created a unique design that makes me and my family look and feel good," says Cropp.
The residents of Raleigh, N.C. are spoiled with the number of talented eco-friendly designers who make their products readily available at local boutiques and marketplaces that happen throughout the year. Likely, you also have access to sustainable designers in your area -- or to a consignment shop, thrift store or craft market that features fashion designers. If you have a solid connection to the Internet then you have access to hundreds of designers who produce eco-conscious products -- you just need to take the time to find the ones that tell the stories that align with you.
Next time you find yourself shopping for new clothes, jewelry, shoes, etc. ask yourself, “What is the story of this product, and is it one I want to share with others?”
Mor Aframian is the co-founder and Creative Director of Redress, a company that connects and champions eco-conscious designers and companies through event planning and marketing. Aframian loves to work with designers on their new concepts and designs. She also teaches Fashion Design at Youth Digital Studio.