Last I left you I wrote about how knitting seems to be taking me and my little cottage industry into new territory. I wrote about my concerns regarding micro fibres. I’ll come back to that topic, but first….Here’s my latest! She is called, The Strong Witch. This hat is an ode to all the women past and present who took a different path, had the courage to speak up, were feared or hated for simply stating the truth or for not fitting into society’s little box. She is not a Halloween hat, although ’tis the season. She is an every day hat and I am sure that the woman who ends up owning this hat will have no qualms about wearing her to the grocery store or the park or to walk the dog at any time of year. I look forward to meeting this woman.
But now, back to the future. The more I learn about the effect that micro fibers, like Polar Fleece, are having on our environment, the more I feel the need to work with natural fibers that will eventually go back to the earth. Like I said in my previous post, I own a lot of polar fleece and it would be completely nonsensical to throw it away, so I will use it up till it’s gone. But my passion is for the fabrics that have been given to us by nature and that’s the direction that I wish to take my business.
Here’s the tricky part. These hats are more time consuming and more expensive to produce, which means, they are more expensive to buy. It has always been important to me to make hats that are affordable to regular working women and every time I put a higher price tag on a hat I inwardly gulp. But I am beginning to feel more comfortable with these prices that reflect the cost of my time.
For several decades we have been fed a steady diet of fast and disposable fashion. We have been told to update our look annually. Out with the old, in with the new. Big box stores that sell clothing which has been made in factories with dubious standards have warped our collective understanding of the value of clothing.
I am not dissing all factory made clothing or even the choice to manufacture in countries where wages are lower. When done ethically, a factory can support a community. But I am pointing out that cheap is always costly somewhere. It might be the cost to the lives of the women sewing clothing in unsafe buildings. It might be the cost of having nowhere to put all of the cheap clothing we put into donation bins, or it might be the cost to the life of a whale who has feasted on plastic micro fibers.
You don’t need to go back far in time to see that people used to pay a lot more for clothing that they did today. I have a hand made hat from the 1930’s with its original price tag. It was $30. In today’s equivalent that would be $440. Funny, because if I were to really charge a fair price (fair to myself) for one of my wet felted hats, that would pretty much be my price. People also owned a lot less clothing than they did today. Ever notice how the characters on Downton Abbey or Poldark wear the same dresses and hats over and over? That was the norm.
Perhaps going back to a time where clothing was laundered twice a year is not realistic, but there is a balance somewhere between then and now. We can stop and consider the results of our choices. We can decide to buy quality instead of quantity. We can choose to support our local economies. We can ask ourselves if we truly can’t afford to pay a fair price for ethically made clothing or is it that the dollar amount shocks our sense of what we believe clothing should cost.
I know I’m preachy. Sorry, I was born that way. But I’m also fallible, and like you, I live in the real world where we don’t always get to live up to our ideal standards. All I’m asking is that we begin to question the sustainability of cheap, fast and disposable. I’m usually not a fan of buzz words, but I really love the Slow Fashion Movement. It’s time has come…again.