Fast Fashion Lapse

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I’m holding my hand up today, my friends. I fell off the slow fashion wagon last month, and had a fast fashion lapse. I ordered a skirt from a fast fashion retailer. Yeah, I know. Not good. Then, as you might remember from a previous post, I found it was out of stock. So I put my name down to be contacted when it came back into stock. Meanwhile I ordered two dresses from another company, received the skirt but not the dresses. And by the time the dresses arrived and I realized that I loved them both, it was too late to send back the skirt. Sigh. So I was in possession of what the younger and cooler bloggers might call “a haul.” Ha.

I justified keeping everything because I’d been looking for a dress or a skirt for ages. Only not a dress and a skirt, let alone a two dresses and a skirt. Ah well. I lapsed. I admit it.

But I console myself by remembering that I always, always keep what I buy for a long while. So I think my slow fashion reputation is not endangered by my briefly veering into the fast fashion lane.

Anyway. Here is the skirt I bought. It’s a vegan-leather, pleated, midi-skirt from H&M. I never thought I would shop at H&M. I’ve been in their stores occasionally. The last two times to ascertain if a sweater I saw in the window display was as good as it looked. It was not. I quite like the skirt though. I’m wearing it here with my grey Vince sweater, a vintage cameo brooch, and my Stuart Weitzman ankle boots. I never did get out to the stores to find knee-high black boots like I’d planned. I guess I’ll see if there are any left in stock when we come out of lockdown. Or I can always wait until next fall to buy boots.

Vince sweater, H&M skirt, Stuart Weitzman boots.
“I shopped fast fashion… want to make something out of it?”

The quality of the skirt is not fabulous. Not nearly as nice as my faux leather pants from Holt Renfrew bought back in 2014. But I was not expecting it would be when it was only $69.00. But it’s not bad. I sized up (and bought a size 12) since I was sure that anything from H&M would be cut small. So, it’s a bit big. But that means I can tuck in my sweater if I want. So I did.

Vince sweater, H&M skirt, Stuart Weitzman boots.
Vince sweater, Stuart Weitzman boots (similar), H&M skirt.

I also like this outfit with the sweater worn out. The great thing about this Vince sweater is that it’s slightly longer in the back and has a boxy shape, so it looks good worn out over skirts or jeans, as well as partially tucked in. I guess that’s why I wear it all… the… time. Ha.

Yesterday I wore my new skirt outfit with my white Uniqlo ultra-light down jacket, my grey AllSaints bag, and my grey wooly hat from Indigo. I love this look. It’s warm, kind of fun, and a teensy bit edgy because of the ankle boots worn with the skirt. All gussied up, I headed out into the beautiful, wintry sunshine for a brief excursion.

Wearing my fast fashion purchases. H&M skirt, Uniqlo down jacket.
All ready for my outing.

Make that a very brief excursion. I traversed our deck. Snapped a few pictures on the front lawn. Then I ambled across the yard to inspect Hubby’s woodcutting progress on the waterfront. He’s been cutting down an old dead tree that was leaning over his canoe storage area. So much easier to do that when the river is frozen. We talked about “lumbering” for a bit. How Hubby needed one of my stepfather’s workhorses to help him drag the heavy lengths of wood up the hill from the river. Then I retraced my steps back inside to change into my sweats. Sigh. Such is lockdown life, my friends. But, of course, you know that.

Wearing my fast fashion purchases. H&M skirt, Uniqlo down jacket.
My brief excursion in my new skirt.

Now, you may or may not agree that I can still be a slow fashion devotee even though I have shopped at a fast fashion store the odd time. Besides my H&M skirt, I bought a Zara down coat in 2014. I’m still wearing it. I’ve also shopped at Uniqlo a few times. I own a Uniqlo ultra-light down vest and jacket, and a cashmere turtleneck. All purchased in 2018, all still worn frequently.

I’ve always assumed that Uniqlo is a fast fashion retailer. Partly because of the price of the down vest and jacket I own. They are much less expensive than anything I’ve seen in stores here in Ottawa. The one and only time I was in a Uniqlo store was in New York City in 2016. I’d seen tees and sweaters that looked great in the window, but I ended up not trying anything on. Up close, the clothing seemed cheap and of poor quality to me.

Having said that, my cashmere turtleneck sweater is very good quality. And I have no complaints about either my down jacket or vest, both of which I love and wear a ton. Uniqlo itself denies that they are a fast fashion brand. Saying in this article in Forbes magazine that they “will never make disposable clothing.” So it seems the jury is still out on how we should define Uniqlo.

Despite my occasional lapses into fast fashion, most of the time I adhere to slow fashion ideals. I buy quality, shop mindfully, and keep what I buy a long time. I also shop my own closet before I decide if I need to shop elsewhere.

But as I said in my 2020 shopping review post, I have not made progress on the ethical shopping research which I keep promising to do. So for the past few days, I’ve been doing some research into ethical brands. Trust me, finding ethical brands which make clothing I like, and would want to buy and would buy, is not easy.

The first thing I did was to look for the ratings of my favourite brands. Well. That was disappointing, to say the least.

I found two rating sites Good Shopping Guide (based in the UK) and Shop Ethical (based in Australia) which weren’t all that helpful to me. The third site I found is Good On You (founded in Australia). It’s much more interactive, and has rated many of the brands I own. I also found an interesting article on the Good On You site about the twenty-seven most ethical clothing brands from the U.S. and Canada. I haven’t had time to look at it carefully, though. You can find it here if you’re interested. And you can read the criteria by which they rate brands here.

I spent a long time perusing the Good On You brand directory yesterday afternoon. Of all the brands found in my closet this winter, only my Adidas sneakers are rated “Good.” All the other brands I own (Vince, Frame, Rag and Bone, Theory, Everlane, Aritzia, Paige, and Massimo Dutti) were all rated “Not Good Enough.” Several brands which make some of my favourite pieces (Lafayette 148, Stuart Weitzman, Paul Green, Akris) were not rated at all. I will say that many of the poor ratings were based on the fact that the retailers did not provide sufficient information about their practices.

I then looked at some of the highly rated brands the site offered as alternatives to my favourite brands. Many of them are based in Europe and the UK. Most of them are not available in stores here in Canada, at least as far as I am aware. I must say that I am a bit miffed at Nordstrom. I discovered Vince and Frame and Rag and Bone because they are carried at Nordstrom. So why hasn’t a big retailer, like Nordstrom, made more effort to find ethical brands? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.

Perhaps most confusing to me, of all the brands I’ve shopped in the past few years the two highest-rated fashion retailers according to Good On You are H&M and Uniqlo. Both of which received the “It’s a Start” rating. Which isn’t great, but it’s better than “Not Good Enough.”

So what does all this tell me? That it’s better to buy a cheap sweater from H&M which may fall apart after a few washings, than invest in a much pricier Vince sweater which I will love more, wear more often, and own for years? Ha. That’s also a rhetorical question.

As you can see, I’m confused as hell.

And for the moment, since I won’t be shopping much in the near future, I am not going to worry about the whole conundrum. I may make some on-line inquiries to see if I can find an ethical brand that I like and which is carried in stores close to home. That way I can check out the brand in person. Whenever in-person shopping resumes.

To sum up, I guess I remain a mostly non-lapsed, slow fashion devotee. Who tries to eschew fast fashion most of the time. And who is pretty much a failure as an ethical shopper.

For now, anyway.

So how do you rate, my friends?

P.S. Most of the clothing links in this post are affiliate links. Except for Uniqlo. If you make a purchase after clicking my link I will earn a commission.

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68 thoughts on “Fast Fashion Lapse”

  1. The gray and white looks stunning on you. Well done!

    I’m losing the battle for finding sustainable/ethical clothing. The best I can do is minimize the casualties.

    I’m tall, cusp-sized and middle-aged – a combo pack that is not widely catered to in fast or slow fashion. I comfort myself in knowing that what I buy needs to last. I’m sick of black trousers (many times the only types of pants with a long or extra long inseam) and dresses with the waist in the “wrong” place, or dumpy sack shapes – the types of styles most offered by sustainable manufacturers in my size. So, I try to shop as smart as possible considering I’m not yet ready to give up looking smart (ha!)

    My 2021 goal is to browse less and wear what I have. Advertising and marketing is so pervasive, and the lockdown gives me too much time to wish I could dress for a life I don’t live (and for a body that has long since morphed into middle age.). WFH is my way of life now and for the foreseeable future, so there’s no need for an extensive wardrobe like I used to cultivate.

    Thanks for the interesting, well written blog – I enjoy it immensely!

    1. Thanks, Chris. I like that idea… minimizing the casualties. So often when I am shopping, or looking for inspiration in Pinterest, I see an outfit, and realize that I can recreate it with what I have in my closet. At no cost, and probably with better quality pieces than I saw in the stores. Thanks so much for reading… I know I do blither on at times. 🙂

  2. Such a great post, and much needed fashion one to take my mind off what is going on south of the border, and our own extended lockdown. There is no way on earth your purchases could be called a ‘haul’ and compared to the embarrasing purchases shown out there quite mild. I really like the look of your sweater untucked, but then again I have never been a fan of the tuck on myself, no point in aiming an arrow at my least favorite part. Your brief excursion outdoors made me laugh, as you got fruther than I have. Usually I will get dressed, makeup and jewellery, a spritz of perfume and head to the den to read. Ha. This is NOT an everyday occurance with the jewellery.
    I personally don’t think you could use the term fast fashion for any of your purchases since you keep them in great condition and for many years. 7 years is not fast and you have shown us many purchases older than that. You are doing so much better than many others around. Finding ethical brands in clothing is as frustrating as it was for me to find skincare and beauty brands without animal testing, it just takes pressure from consumers to force a change. So, thanks for your work in helping with ethical sites to explore ourselves. I do still like to scour thrift and consignment for well made feel good fashion, that is whenever we are able to actually go into stores again. I appreciate so much another fun fashion post and peek into your life.

    1. Thanks Diane. I guess that I avoid fast fashion brands because so many of those stores have abysmal records with respect to ethical practices. But I agree that if I find something I love that I will wear again and again it can still be considered slow fashion.

  3. A good proportion of my clothes are from Uniqlo with a few purchases from Cos and bits and pieces from all over the place. I buy within my limited budget but with a view to the next 5 years plus. I am in the fortunate position of being able to shop in person at Uniqlo so can weed out the better quality items and the colours that suit me. If I had to buy online it would not be as simple. I don’t see these items as fast fashion because they are quality pieces that last if I take proper care of them. I find on the rare occasions I buy clothes from retailers online that I am often disappointed with the item which means all the annoyance of returns.

    1. I shopped at Cos when I was in the UK in 2017. I loved their stores, drawn in by the minimalist aesthetic I saw in their shop windows. I didn’t try anything on since I was shopping for a gift for my sister. In the event, I bought her a beautiful blanket scarf that she still wears all the time. I think your idea of shopping with an eye to the next 5 years, as you say, is a really good one.

  4. It is relatively recent that there even are sites that evaluate brands on how well they do being ethical, green, etc. I just hope that manufacturing will all continue to improve. In the mean time we all must buy carefully. In some way even a purchase from a company using bad practices still gives someone a job that otherwise would not have a job….we just can’t get complacent with that and must keep asking on their behalf for better working conditions.
    My version of slow fashion is to buy Classic pieces and keep them for years 🙂

    1. After I published my post I found a couple of more rating sites. One of them has ratings that run counter what Good On You has. On further examination their criteria are slightly different. I think it’s important to remember that these ratings are, after all, subjective. Classic pieces that I keep forever has stood me in good stead as well.

  5. Yes it’s very complicated . A friend’s daughter worked for Topshop , checking conditions in their Far East factories but she was very sceptical . She knew conditions would change as soon as she left the building . Here in the UK there was a hoohaa recently when a cheap clothing firm used a sweatshop with ( underpaid & ethnic ) workers crammed together despite COVID restrictions . The owners seriously threatened workers & media reporters . All very nasty but villains will always exploit desperate people . At least we & the authorities are aware of the problem . People care more .
    On a happier note that’s a great outfit & you are definitely one of the ‘ goodies ‘ so don’t go beating yourself up . I’ve sent for a long navy rainmack from a company called Thoughts which looks to be a goodie too . They use organic cotton & old plastic bottles – sounds good . New to me , it’s a UK company with Australian roots & they say they are worldwide . Now the stressful part – will it fit me when it arrives ?
    I love your soft powdery snow . Ours isn’t like that for long . It’s soon either rock hard & crunchy or more often , soggy & wet .

    1. COVID adds another peril to what garment workers must face, doesn’t it? I think your snow must be what ours will be like in the early spring. There’s nothing lovelier than a crisp winter day with soft snow and sunshine. Hope the rain coat suits.

  6. I have quite a lot of H&M stuff and wear it until it falls to bits – I have found that takes quite some time because I take care of my clothes and, as a consequence, my H&M gear comes out year after year. They also offer a very good free service whereby you can take in unwanted clothes (not just H&M) and they will recycle, re-purpose or dispose of them in sensible manner. I have no reason not to believe them. That skirt is great. All things are relative so don’t agonise over your purchase. You haven’t got a solid gold toilet. (Have you?)

  7. I have an H&M tunic that’s 16 years old, and I do wear it.
    There is a difference between fast fashion and affordability. I know a Real Soccer Wife (in-laws of in-laws) who is fabulously wealthy and who thinks nothing of buying Birkin bags for one-time use. When her husband was traded and she had to move, she pared down her closet, much of it never worn. In-laws were scandalized.
    Some retailers’ products are of such flimsy quality or of such trendy design that they will not hold up to long-term wear. Your skirt is fashionable but not trendy.
    Uniqlo seems to deliver decent quality and classic, even boring, design, yet at a manageable price point. Buying a “nicer” brand second-hand is more sustainable, but at the same time, a bit like a used car, you don’t know how well it had been taken care of, and if it’s an online purchase you can’t touch it or examine it. Sometimes it can make sense to shop at H&M if that’s all your budget allows.

    1. Yes, there is a difference between fast fashion and affordability. But H&M has had a terrible reputation in the past for its practices. And I still can’t believe that the sweater I saw in their store last year, supposedly 100% wool, and sold for less than $20.00, can be anything but fast fashion. And I still wonder how it would have held up to wearing long-term.

  8. I too have had to do more research than I ever thought to learn about what comprises the term fast fashion. Uniqlo is beginning, as Good on You notes, to up its game re sustainable materials. However, just because styles are simple, or made of sustainable fibres, does not mean a company pays its workers decently, or ensures safe working conditions. And I have been guilty of overbuying ‘simple’ clothes! Do you ever shop at Muriel Dombret? All made right in Ottawa; I love the clothes.

    1. I have shopped at Muriel Dombret. When I am in that area of the city I always stop in to check out what she has on offer. I love that they make samples and you can choose the colour and style to have made up just for you.

  9. I find it hard to believe that, as much as you like clothes, one of these “inferior” brandsto you would fall apart. I’m sure you would take care of it properly as would most others. You seem to be a fashion name brand kind of person – try some of the other off brands. You might be surprised – and save some money!

    1. Well, to me “inferior brands” as you call them are inferior in quality. Like the H&M sweater I checked out last year, scratchy yarn (not sure it was 100% wool as marked), and poorly constructed. Sewn together so that the whole fit was a bit off, arms too short for me etc etc. And looked as if it would fall apart even with handwashing. So I might have been saving money by buying it but not if it didn’t feel good on and fell apart after one season. That’s why fast fashion is often called disposable fashion. Of course not all affordable clothes are “inferior” in quality. But affordable is such a subjective word, isn’t it? The last few Vince and Lafayette 148 sweaters I have bought have been during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale at a 30-40% discount. They were good deals for me. But maybe not for you. That’s your call, isn’t it?

  10. Sue, that outfit is so good! I would wear that in a heartbeat — to me, it’s edgy classic, irreproachable in its practicality and good looks combined. Okay, someone might reproach you for shopping H&M, but that skirt is going to last (that fabric really won’t need laundering, nor dry-cleaning) and while these pleated skirts have been on trend for the past several years, pleats themselves are too classic to be merely trendy. No reason you won’t be wearing it in 15 years. As for sustainability and ethics and affordability and fast fashion, etc., I say that we should do the best we can and push companies to do the best they can. . . and perhaps not expect overnight reform from either. Consciousness-raising works by degree — I’m always suspicious of overnight conversions (and the judging of others that can accompany such conversions) — they’re not always any more sustainable than an fast-fashion shopper’s “haul.”

    1. I agree, Frances. That skirt will last for ages. I may even have a tailor add some lining because at the moment it rides up when it sticks to my tights. I can’t imagine ever wearing a slip again. Ha. I will say that I have been going in circles trying to find out ethical ratings for brands I like. After I published the post I found another site that rated Everlane much more highly than the Good On You site. So hard to wade through all the information.

  11. Theresa Scribner

    There are really gorgeous fabrics out there for making skirts and simple trousers, long or short and it solves the problem of trying to be an ethical shopper. Canada has ethical suppliers of yard goods so all you need to do is find a good tailor which everyone should have anyway. Love your blog. Keep it up.

  12. I found a British brand called Baukjen that espouses “environmental, ethical, and sustainable style” and I like a lot of their (limited) range. They ship to US, free if you order enough, so probably Canada too. And the shipping was fast, even in December. Website is http://www.baukjen.com.

  13. Love the outfit. Will be recreating it as I have the skirt (Zara), combat boots and sweater. Just need it to get colder in Southern California.

  14. Hi, Sue. I didn’t read through all the comments, so someone may have already mentioned thegoodtrade.com. They list excellent sustainable fashion sources, and review all sorts of other things, like shoes, bedding, cosmetics, and even furnishings. I signed up for their weekly newsletter a year or so ago, and rely on it for good, sustainable stuff. I actually found a bathing suit that I don’t hate from their suggestions! I’m new to your blog, and am enjoying it so much.

  15. Love the skirt and sweater on you!! I’ve learned so much about fashion from you just by reading your blog. Never heard of slow fashion or ethical shopping before I read it here. And for all your thoughts and wisdom on books, fashion, travel and life, I thank you. Maybe we’ll have to get together after the pandemic for a coffee and a nice hot cinnamon bun!!

    1. Thanks, my friend. We will definitely get together for coffee and maybe a cinnamon bun after COVID. Ha. I still remember the smell of those cinnamon buns at Nepean. So irresistible.

  16. New to your blog and loving it. My first reading was about the H&M black faux leather pleated skirt. Not my style, especially living in SW Florida, but a nice look. So I’m reading backwards from “now” to “then.” A few entries back, I see how tiny you are in “regular” clothes where your youthful figure is defined by well fitting clothes. I don’t mean to be negative (thought I guess I am doing just that) , but I do like your look more in clothes that express that you take good care of your body. Love your hair! I just did the same during the pandemic. At 74 I was tired of spending bundles of money and hours maintaining a certain look. I look forward to immersing myself in your blog.

  17. I’ve also been wondering whether Uniqlo ought to be considered fast fashion or not. I first encountered the chain in Japan long before it came to North America. I bought a pair of navy dress pants at Uniqlo when we first arrived there to teach in early 2008 and they’re still hanging in my closet today. They don’t get as much use now as I tend not to wear that kind of thing much since retiring, but they’re still in excellent condition. I’ve bought several other pieces, both in Asia and in Canada since the first western Canadian store opened in Vancouver and I’ve found them to be of good quality. My favourite is definitely my ultra light down vest which gets so much use that I’m considering buying a second one in a different colour.

    Thank you so much for the links to ethical shopping sites. I’ve bookmarked this post so that I can go back and look at them more closely.

      1. Yes, hubby and I taught English in Japan for a year after retiring from our teaching careers here in Canada. We were fortunate to have a Uniqlo store just a short bicycle ride from our apartment. I actually started my blog to share our experience with friends and family back here in Canada, but I loved writing it so much that I’ve kept it going ever since. Later, in 2013, we spent a semester teaching English at a university in Dalian, China and were delighted to find Uniqlo there too! Though I’d hesitate to go to China now, that too was a fantastic experience.

  18. Beautiful outlook!
    It is so difficult to find ethical brands,even when something is made in EU it may be not ethical…or cruel free…..or materials are from who knows where…..
    Low buy,taking good care of one’s clothes and wear it for years,shopping one’s own closet….is a good start😉! This is something we both are doing for years,no?
    I’m looking for a silk bias cut skirt for years……it is not so difficult to make,if I only had my old seamstress….it would be completely ethical (with ethical produced silk and thread……)
    Dottoressa

    1. Thanks, Dottoressa. I do use a good tailor to work on pants mostly. Letting out seams 🙁 and letting the hem down. But I’ve never had someone make a whole garment for me before.

      1. I have a wonderful seamstress to make adjustments and alterations but a couple of years ago my last “complete” seamstress decided to stop (and she is old as my mother)- this is the first time in my life that I don’t have one….and to be continued…it is almost mission impossible to find an excellent one again
        D.

  19. I just love this combination of “leather” skirt and sweater on you! It is edgy and modern – it really suits you. You keep your clothing a very long time so no matter where you purchase your clothing from your shopping and clothing care taking make the process sustainable. That pleated skirt is really interesting and very wearable. Love the boots!

  20. I think the short boots give the whole outfit a really great “street style” vibe. It is difficult to buy everything sustainable. Sometimes, the costs are just prohibitive. But, even with “fast” fashion, if care is taken, items can last for years. Which is, in itself, sustainable. How many “slow” fashion items bought by “conspicuous consumers” end up in landfills after they don’t sell in thrift stores or are not taken in and loved by others? How many end up donated to material piles and sent to less fortunate countries (which, then, wreaks havoc on local artisans)? Which defeats the point of sustainable. A slow fashion and terribly expensive item that is discarded after one season by someone who just collects ethical fashion to be “in” is, in all honesty, worse in my opinion. You will, undoubtedly, wear that skirt for years and in many different ways. It is classic. Basic. Sustainable. Just my 2 cents.

    1. I do get your point. Even if something is made by a fast fashion brand, that does not mean the buyer has to discard it unless it is cheaply made and falls apart after a few wears. But don’t forget that slow fashion refers to us keeping our things longer and being mindful about what we purchase. And ethical fashion is slightly different. Lots of quality pieces that stay in my wardrobe for years and years can be considered “slow fashion” … but are made by brands which do not have ethical practices. That’s specifically what I’m trying to find out about my favourite brands. So unless I can find ethical brands I can wear, and like, I am going to stick to my philosophy of simply buying less, and hanging onto what I own.

      1. Absolutely agree. I’ve also found that sustainable is not always ethical and vice-versa. I’ve had EF fall apart after a few wears to the point where it is just a “wear at home” and JJill that has worn like iron for over 15 years even with accidental rough handling. So, the JJill is slow but not ethical (from what I can find) and the EF is ethical but sometimes not really “slow” . Some brands are difficult to track, like the smaller ones. Do you know anything about Gudrun Sjödén? They seem to be on the “ethical” track and are at a good price point, but I can find out nothing about them on the “scale of ethics” anywhere.

  21. You look great in the skirt/sweater combo and I think a black turtleneck would be great as well. I can also “see” Frances wearing it and looking fabulous.
    But I do have to put my two cents in as someone who cannot and probably will not ever be able to afford sustainable clothing unless there is a HUGE discount available. I managed to pick up a few jjill pieces when they were 70% off due to COVID, I assume. But when I click on Nordstrom, Madewell, or Everlane after recommendations from bloggers, I cannot afford their products even when they are on sale. My stores of choice or perhaps necessity, for good or bad, is JC Penney and Maurice’s, both fast fashion stores. Because I live in the middle of nowhere, they are the only brick and mortar women’s stores in my area. The closest shopping hub is 50 miles away, the other two are over 80 miles away. One of those two cities has a mountain ridge that has to be circumvented to get there. That being said, since I buy classic styles and care for my clothing, I have decades-old pieces in my closet. I also like to add vintage pieces because they are so well made.
    I found the discussion of Uniqlo clothing interesting. Last March I bought two Heattech turtlenecks, greatly discounted, anticipating a trip to Ireland this past November. They have not been as warm, even under wool, as I expected and they are pilling more than anything I have ever owned!
    Despite my whining, I find that you and the other bloggers I follow can inspire me to re-imagine the items I have in my closet to create outfits that are a little more fashion-forward and edgy. I think of what my mom and her contemporaries wore at our age…shift dresses in pastel prints under unbuttoned cardigans with sensible loafers. I cannot imagine my mother or her friends wearing a vegan leather pleated shirt, chunky pullover sweater, and lace-up ankle boots! Brava to all of us “edgy” ladies-of-a-certain-age who dare to define ourselves by our own standards! Carol in VT

    1. I so agree with that—the ethical brands are–because they have to be–more expensive. I’ve lived in areas where there were no stores for hours. I leaned to scour the online thrift markets and I am sometimes very, very fortunate to find an ethical brand NWT at a fraction of the cost. Sometimes it is a “bid” item, but I know my limits. Also, because it is more difficult and takes more work as well as research, I do not over-buy. I hand wash everything that I do get when it arrives, which I would do with brand new items anyway. LOL, I hate to give away my secret sources, but if it is helpful to someone, then…

    2. That is interesting to hear about the Uniqlo heat tech brands, Carol. I’ve been looking at it, mostly because of recommendations from some of the UK vloggers. But I have often wondered if the pieces had any longevity. Maybe I will take a pass on them and stick to what I can find here at our local outfitters store. Love the last bit in your comment. Thanks so much for saying that. 🙂

      1. Just to chip in on Uniqlo Heattech – I live in Heattech thin silky thermal long sleeve tops for practically 6 months of the year here in Scotland and haven’t had any problems with pilling. They’re about 5 years old now and going strong. Perhaps it’s how they’re washed/laundry detergent/water quality? I never tumble dry clothes, use a non-bio plant-based detergent and we have very soft water. Like Wendy I’ve also been looking at Thoughts, and through my daughter’s recommendation bought a great jumpsuit from a Barcelona company, Two Thirds which makes clothes from sustainable and recycled materials. But of course buying from Europe is now more difficult and expensive because of the ghastly Brexit.

        1. I must have a look at that brand. See if they are available over here. I’ve been wondering if there is a difference between the merino heat tech and the more silky kind with respect to pilling.

  22. While she is younger than (I think) many of the readers here, Lee Vosburgh of Stylebee is a Canadian blogger and has a great style directory of sustainable brands on her site https://www.stylebee.ca/shop/style-directory/

    She has great style; I have bought a few items she recommended and have been so impressed with the quality and style of them.

    1. Hi Kristi, thank you for recommending Lee Vosburgh’s blog. I just finished looking at her site and she does have great style. Her list of Canadian sustainable brands is quite impressive. Glad to hear you have had positive personal experiences with her recommendations.

  23. Kenzie McConnel

    I am new to your blog so gave found this discussion interesting. I have bought a few things from Uniqlo and been really impressed by the items. Some I bought in person in Australia and some I bought online from USA (I live in New Zealand with no Uniqlo). By buying in sales and for us, the off season, I have found value and quality to be really good. In particular their lambswool jumpers (sweaters?) Have been great and my down coat is a real favourite. I think if you look at cost per wear it gives you a good idea of value. Now that I am retired I find a more casual style to be of more use to me. Your combat boots remind me I have some stored in the loft so I might need to find them when winter comes! Thanks for an interesting post.

    1. Welcome, Kenzie. Hubby and I have been on extended trips to New Zealand and Australia twice. What a wonderful part of the world. We’d love to go back. New Zealand was so lovely. Lucky you to be able to call it home. I am a fan of the cost per wear guideline too. I must have a look at the wool Uniqlo sweaters. I am in the market for a black turtleneck.

  24. You rock that pleated skirt and boots! Who says women of a certain age can’t look cool and edgy? I’d like to see those boots in other outfits, I think I may have a pair put away that I’ve never worn. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting on researching sustainability/ethical practices, I will follow your lead.

    1. Thanks, Cindylou. Those are my old Stuart Weitzman ankle boots, bought a few years ago. But I’ve never worn them with a skirt before. That whole sustainability thing is a work on progress for us all. 🙂

  25. A few years ago I stopped buying cotton items from both Uniglo and Everlane because of their use of cotton sourced from the Xinjiang region in China, where Uighur forced labor is used in its production (for Uniglo, see: https://www.womensmediacenter.com/news-features/muji-uniqlo-tout-use-of-cotton-from-chinese-region-with-uighur-forced-labor, among others, plus stories from The Guardian and The Independent (UK)). Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine fabric origins, so unless I can find explicit reference to the cotton source, I just hope for the best. And Zara–along with Nike and others–is accused of using Uighur forced labor in their factories (https://www.voguebusiness.com/sustainability/eu-mandatory-due-diligence-legislation-uyghur-forced-labour-supply-chain). Unfortunately, from the various articles I run across, it seems that many, many of our big brands benefit from Uighur forced labor, so I suspect that it’s almost impossible for us in this global economy not to be complicit to some degree.

  26. So, first, I think you did well with your fast fashion! (I really like the Vince sweater.) As for shopping sustainable/ethical, it really IS confusing. Shouldn’t it be easier???

    A few years back I vowed to do a better job with my ethical fashion purchases. Specifically, I decided to give faux leather accessories (especially bags) a serious look. Likewise, I began looking into dying processes. The more I read and researched, the more confused I got, finding myself less than convinced that my so-called sustainable/ethical purchases were better for the environment that my usual.

    Very frustrating. I’d like to do a better job at all this, but it certainly isn’t simple, is it…

    1. Not simple at all, especially when sites and blogs and groups that rate companies cannot agree on who is good and who is bad. I will try to do my best to shop ethical brands, but sometimes I just do my own thing, buy only what I really love and keep it for years.

  27. Hi Sue,

    Love your blog. More food for thought. Here is an interesting article that asks the question whether fast fashion versus slow fashion is a class issue. A quote from the article “It’s not always the case that buying better means spending more, as Professor Dilys Williams, Head of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion, UAL points out. “We have to be careful of buying into the rhetoric which reinforces the fact that ‘sustainable fashion’ is expensive”, she says.”

    Here is the link.

    https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/2017/04/149877/fast-fashion-social-issue

    1. A very interesting and thoughtful read. Always so many angles from which to look at a topic. Thanks for posting the link to this.

    2. Thanks for that, Marion. I had this conversation on the blog a couple of years ago. Not with respect to ethical clothing and class, but with respect to size and class. It started with a criticism from a reader about the young women who wore their clothes very tight. It’s easy for smaller size girls to find fashionable clothes that fit. And for the larger girls who had parents who could afford to dress their daughters in clothing from the high end stores where the sizing is more generous. I saw that a lot as a high school teacher. Kids want to dress like their friends and the stores they could afford cut their clothing very small and had a lack of size range. So class actually determined whether a larger girl wore clothing that fit.

      I also agree that price is not always a good measure of sustainability, and not always of quality. But if I can find clothing that fits me properly and is well made I don’t mind paying a premium price. But it’s easier for me because I can afford it… well… within reason. 🙂

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