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.
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.
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.
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.
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.