The laziness that creates fast fashion
How ‘The Patriot Act’ made me dust off my fashion design skills
“Life is too short to wear boring clothes.”
This is a sign that I had on the walk-in closet of my bedroom. And I lived by it. I’m the child of a woman who has more than 15 closets full of clothes and at least 400 pairs of shoes. She is also a seamstress who lives and breathes fashion and 3- to 4-inch heels (before she sprained her ankle). But I am also the child of a man who tore his silver leather jacket. And his way of “fixing” his jacket was to put silver duct tape on it, and he continued to wear it — in public.
My great great aunt always told me, “You do not have to look how you feel.”
While my father has tremendously upped his fashion game since becoming a deacon and now matches my mother’s fly, I’m somewhere in the middle. I go from “Plant Eater” T-shirts that humble brag about being a vegetarian to bright red top hats and a matching dress, with 3-inch heels. The worse I feel when I wake up, the better I dress. And if I put on makeup, you know I’m in a terrible mood. My great great aunt always told me, “You do not have to look how you feel.” Meanwhile, if you see me in yoga pants and a very worn T-shirt, know that my day is going amazing!
I’m also the type of person that Hasan Minhaj wags a finger at in his latest “The Patriot Act” Netflix episode “The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion.”
I can do a deep dive into a Kohl’s clearance rack and will clean out the entire row of Jennifer Lopez’s J-Lo jeans the minute they’re on sale. But I’ll do it while ignoring plenty of clothes I barely wear, plus four pairs of my own jeans with various areas that needed to be patched up or sewn. I planned on donating those four pairs. I couldn’t be bothered with fixing them. Let somebody else deal with the small hole or tear.
“ American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) (via Quartz) reports that consumers have gone from buying 42 garments per year in 1991 to about 66 garments in 2016.”
— Recommended Read: “Is Fast Fashion Killing the Planet?”
But while I was working on a recent fast fashion post and re-watching this “The Patriot Act” episode, those four pairs of J-Lo jeans that I absolutely love kept catching my eye. I’d shoved them in the back of my closet. They still fit well. They’re comfortable. And they’re presentable. And I honestly had no excuse for not fixing them.
Like my mother, I also took fashion design in high school. While she and my great great aunt made the wedding gowns and bridesmaids outfits for my parents wedding, I looked at the patterns and realized I could’ve also done the same thing. With countless spools of thread, needles and a wooden box full of buttons, it would take me less than 30 minutes to fix those jeans. I even had a pair of yoga pants that could be cut up and used as patches for the inner thigh area that was starting to wear on a couple pairs.
Still though, I was just going to donate these clothes to a nearby Goodwill and completely ignore my own background. But the very end of that “The Patriot Act” episode just kept ringing in my ears: “Just by wearing your clothes longer, or buying one item second-hand, that is half a million cars off the road.”
I pulled out my needles, my thread and fixed all of those jeans. If you saw me walking around in them this week, you would have no idea that they previously had noticeable imperfections in them for more than two months. Maybe my repairs will last me until December 2020, or maybe they won’t. But what I do know is these jeans clearly weren’t “too boring” to fix right now. Best of all, I did it without using duct tape.
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