So, here I was desperately trying to think out of the box for the solution to my sustainable fashion problem and all along the answer was right there in the box…well, in the boxes, the many boxes, and shelves and drawers and the attic…
I have been struggling with the question of how to shift my business to align with the values I care about: sustainabilitly, cleaning up plastics in the ocean, and not shipping the waste we produce to our friends in far off, and less well off, countries to deal with. It may surprise you to learn that the fashion industry is the second largest polluting industry in the world. Oil is number one.
Anyways, back to solutions. My mind has been doing somersaults trying to find a replacement for polar fleece that does not contribute to the plastics that are filling our oceans. Simultaneously, I have been looking around my studio at 25 years worth of textile accumulation and feeling the need to lighten my load.
Not sure why it took me so long to connect the dots, but the chocolate finally fell into the peanut butter (apologies if you are too young to remember that commercial) and the answer hit me like a ton of vintage hankies.
I have been trying to find the answer using the same business model that I have been using for many years. It’s the same business model that is used by fashion lines large and small. 1- Create a line of hats (dresses, scarves, pants, neck ties…) 2- source fabric and make sure that the fabric can be reordered. 3- Create samples and take orders on the sample photographs. 4- Yearly, or every so often shake things up and add new fabrics, colours and designs.
This model has worked well for me, except for one little thing. There is always a lot of leftover fabric and trimmings. Sometimes it’s because a colour was discontinued or because a colour was not popular or because I moved on to something else, but the end result has been boxes, shelves, and drawers of supplies.
As I looked through fabric websites, I kept thinking to myself, I don’t want to order 10 yards of anything. Do I really have to do this? I finally decided that the answer is no. I don’t need to order the latest eco friendly, certified groovy fabric and create a new line of hats. It’s way more eco friendly to use up a non organic fabric that I already have in my studio than to buy more fabric. And just like that, my new direction took shape. I’m simply going to make hats from what I have. Doesn’t sound revolutionary, does it?
Ironically, it’s exactly how I began making hats at the age of 26. With no money to my name, (that part hasn’t changed much) I used remnants from a local upholsterer, cut up thrifted clothing and frequented vintage shops for vintage fabrics. Back then, the words sustainability, zero waste and eco fashion had not yet been invented, but I was doing it. The same way that our foremothers did it. It’s simply what you do when throwing things out is not an option.
Looks like I have come full circle. I’m not promising to not buy anything, but I am going to make using what I have a priority. So simple. All this time, the answer was in the box.
The photo above is a batch of flowers that I had in a drawer. I just put pinbacks on them and will bring them with me to the Lunenburg Farmers Market.
Here are a couple of hats that I just made from an old coat. (I’m having a blast.)