Goodnight and Go ~ Imogen Heap
Awake. Alive. Aware.
Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world. Following close after oil. Dresses. Pants. Scarfs.Tees. These are leading causes as to why people are unable to live full and healthy lives.
A three week trip to India followed four days after my recent college graduation. At some point during these twenty-one days I finally woke up. I woke up to serious problems that need to be mended if we have a shot at preserving this place we call home. Maybe it was my experience in Nicaragua speaking with women from factories having to hide real feedback from supervisors checking up on their working conditions. Or maybe during our host stay with Tibetan families when we watched a documentary on the Chinese influence of Tibet, brutally taking over the richly vibrant culture and realizing that the Made In China label not only effects oppressed people of China, but the oppressed of Tibet as well. Or maybe it was the conversation after the movie credits rolled and silence swept the room on how we can take this knowledge and use it as a means to change the world in whatever direction each of us are moving. Or maybe it was a combination of these moments on top of past experiences built up that has led me to ultimately make this leap.
Today marks the moment I will stop supporting sweatshops, inhumane labor, and unsustainable fashion. This decision is not some fad I’m trying on top of my experimental vegan diet. I simply see no other option. I left my job with Free People, owned by URBN INC, because I no longer felt with purpose and passionate in my routine stylist position where I was another number in another system in another insanely large corporation. Free People was my favorite brand for as long as I can remember. Making the decision to leave the company was only made easy when looking behind the scenes. We had a super woman team. I viewed my co-workers as inspiration, role models and friends. This early morning sunrise photoshoot we laughed through represents the goodbye that at the time I did not know was coming.
My initial reason to stay within the large corporation was to attempt and approach change in the system. I hoped to work my way up establishing and delegating power in the right directions. Heartbroken, I slowly saw this dream flying further away as I felt defeated within my voiceless small position.
As I educated myself on the world of sustainability within this realm it was clear I was not the the only one struggling in this situation. I quickly learned many owners and designers had left their unethical work place to start a new company free from fast inhumane labor and environmental practices. My most influential discovery was that the young couple who started Free People left it as well, after growing tired of the realization their brand was one of the most unethical brands out there. We were on the same page.
There are many sustainable label conscious brands booming within the startup industry. Those are the ones I wish to collaborate, work and dream with. I have this maybe unrealistic yet incredibly positive outlook that if more people were educated and aware, their spending patterns and routines would change. I strive to shed more light on the realities of fast fashion while working on making the slow paced fashion culture more prevalent, known, understood and desired. As India encouraged me to slow down in all aspects of life, the fashion influence was strongest. My shopping experience changed from over crowded U.S malls to sitting on beautiful rugs rummaging through delicately crafted purses with the designer staring at us from a stool just a few feet away, a morph into connecting with the creator and away from the mass production. I mean really, who wants to look like everyone else anyway?
I am a firm believer that no one should suffer for an aesthetically pleasing wardrobe. My goal is to alter the perceptions of this culture we have built up too quickly, too competitively, and too unethically. I see potential for change within the industry and would rather be a part of the solution than add to the existing problem and feel hopeless within a stagnant career at a company with priorities vastly different than mine.
PHOTOGRAPHY: RICHARD TORRES
MODELS: KACIE KONE & MAGGIE DUWELIUS
CHECK OUT: http://www.kaciecone.com & http://www.bonyknees.co/shop/