(not so) random links

so much to talk about, so little time. my apologies.

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-there’s a new book out by a guy named kelsey timmerman (see his blog here) called where am i wearing?, in which the author “picked [his] favorite items out of [his] wardrobe and traced them back to where they were assembled.” he traveled to bangladesh, honduras, cambodia, and china, and along the way, he met the garment workers who make said clothes, and saw the conditions in which they work.

in a recent post on the mental floss blog, he divulges some of the info he gleaned about the global garment industry, and it’s workers, some of which are startling (to me, anyway): 97% of our clothing is made overseas, over half of the world’s shoes are made in china, and…that “one-third of american consumers are willing to pay more for clothes produced under good working conditions”.

but…i wonder if this is really true…would the average consumer REALLY pay more for their clothing if they knew it was produced in an ethical manner? what about in these leaner times? if money is tight, does quantity supersede quality for average folks? or is the converse more likely to be true?

what about you?

do you HONESTLY care where your clothing and other accoutrements come from? would you like to know? if you knew that something was produced in an ethical manner, would you be more likely to buy it? would you be likely to NOT buy something if you knew where it came from, and who made it?

be honest: if you have less cash, are you more compelled to buy more for your money, or fewer items, that are of higher quality? i know the hip thing, the ethical (at the moment) is to say “less is more,” but is that REALLY what you, and others want to do?

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the quick and dirty linkage:

whip up is always, always amazing. love this round-up of the best free knitting patterns on the web….i want to make like, all of them. starting with these jaywalker socks, from grumperina!

-some mighty interesting street fashion in tokyo, may be found on this site, drop. (via sea of shoes)

burdastyle knows our wallets are being hit hard by the (increasingly) crappy economy, so they offer up a few tips on how to save money sewing AKA how to be frugal during hard times. also on burdastyle: this terrificly cool bow tie pattern (for the boys, the girls, or whomever!). very classic, yet very now.

galadarling hits one out of the park with her dead-on, perfect post: how to cultivate your personal style. biggest point, that resonates with me and my own ethos (and the things i say here!)? that personal style is about so much more than the clothes you wear….it is also about how you live your life.

-i adore this little knitted waistcoat pattern from drops. i spotted it on mettetations.

-i usually don’t post this sort of thing, but i’m making an exception, on the off chance that some lucky new york cit-iers will be able to take advantage of low prices on high quality clothing:

my favorite NYC boutique, i heart is having a MAJOR BLOWOUT SALE. according to their latest newsletter:

“Items will be marked down from past seasons up to 85%!!!! There will be a $30 rack! It’s the best time to come and get some good deals before the holidays. Plus this season is marked up to 50% off!! It’s going to be nuts in here!!!

3 DAYS ONLY!!!!!
FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY
DEC 12-14TH”

12 comments

  1. andrea

    I’ve always cared about who makes my clothing (and other items!)–that’s why I started sewing for myself and later to sell. I’m glad to see others buying more handmade and ethically made things lately, even though times are tough. Thrifting is always one of my favorite ways to save money and reject sweatshop labor!

  2. Nadia Lewis

    I just finished a rainbow pair of Jaywalkers. They are great fun. I used a cotton/wool blend which I don’t recommend doing since knitted fabrics tend to lose elasticity when constructed on the bias. Just FYI.

    I like the look of that waistcoat. It reminds me of the Ribwarmer pattern by Elizabeth Zimmerman, although that one is done in all garter. Which you might like more since it has more texture.

    Rav link:

    http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/rib-warmer

    And yeah, I would pay more — heck, I pay more just in raw supplies getting myself to make my wardrobe!

  3. Meredith

    Thanks for posting those links in the first bit, I’d definitely like to check out Timmerman’s book. I do honestly care where the clothes I am buying come from, and like a lot of other Americans (it seems), I am willing to pay more for items produced in what I find to be a more ethical environment.

    This is one part of why etsy is such a fantastic venue in my mind. I just bought my boyfriend a knit hat that he had told me not to buy because it was so much more expensive than what I could find in a store. I told him I’d rather pay three times as much if I was assured the money was going directly to the crafter.

    And besides handmade, of course, there is vintage, which in my mind bypasses all these problems completely. By recycling old things you are not actively encouraging production of new things, and therefore not contributing to sweatshop labor or inhumane working environments.

  4. Leah

    I try to make my own items or thrift as much as possible, but yes, I would be willing to pay slightly more for clothes that are more ethically produced. I’m astounded that 97% (I’m guessing that is for the US, but I don’t imagine we’d be far off here in the UK) is produced abroad. I mean, I thought it would be a high figure, but that is much more than I expected.

  5. Michelle

    I would definitely be willing to pay more for things that are made under good conditions and have the worker paying a fair wage. After trying to sell things I’ve made and getting reactions on the prices (“Thirty dollars for a hat?!? I can get one for ten at Wal-Mart!” – when $30 is still undercharging really, as it took me 3 or so hours to make) it makes me shudder to think the conditions/wages that $20 jeans must have been made under. I do shop for cheap things occasionally (and I buy a lot of thrifted clothes, which is a cheap way around it), but I’m willing to pay a higher price for something handmade/made under good conditions if I find something I like.

  6. alexis

    Hey, the idea about “ethical clothing” raises so many questions. I think people do want quality, and they are willing to pay more to support local. But this situation is frighteningly similar to the situation of “ethical food.” Some people are willing to pay more for organic, free-range, sustainable, what have you… but other people still look for cheaper food. We spend a low amount of our % of income on our food, especially in comparison to most countries. Is this the same for clothing? Compared to many developing countries, most people have SCADS of clothing. I remember the number of outfits my Indonesian coworkers had. Their outfits were gorgeous, but they didn’t have an excessive amount. In North America, it’s seen as gauche to wear the same thing on multiple occasions. I’m not really being conclusive here, but there were a lot of parallels between quality food and quality clothing that immediately jumped to my mind.

  7. sarah

    I honestly feel overwhelmed by how much of our garments are NOT made sustainably, or do NOT offer their makers good working conditions. I don’t know about other people, but just finding lists of reputable companies would be a helpful start. I always feel trapped, like there’s no way around it, especially with hard-to-fit garments like jeans, etc.

    My habits have changed with the economic downturn. I’ve been shopping etsy and ebay more than ever before. I buy little things like proper waterproofer, polish and fresh laces to revitalize old shoes and keep them in the best possible working condition. I also discovered the wardrobe swap shop group last year on flickr, and I have been swapping a lot, which is an incredible way to recycle – and to build community. I do make a few of my own garments, and I’ve noticed an increasing tendency to work with what I have in terms of my wardrobe-making supplies, too. (eg: I just made my first fabric purchase in seven months.) Also, I’ve been taking advantage of my MIL’s love of spinning – she is teaching me to knit, and supplying me with beautiful handmade yarn. She has a whole room full of fiber and spun yarns, the product of a decades-long hobby, it’s amazing. It’s nice, too, because it’s something we share that her own children aren’t interested in.

  8. PaperDollyGirl

    Wow – I can’t believe I could recognize every single one of those knitting patterns without looking at the names. Maybe I am spending too much time on knitting.

    It does matter to me where and how my clothes are produced. I am in a unique situation, having just finished graduate school and not yet being employed, so I can honestly say I simply just do not purchase any clothing. Thrifted, etsy, retail – absolutely nothing. I am really trying to think about what I *need* and honestly, I have everything I need.

    I think there is a lot of false advertising that manufacturers do not get called on. Like a famous brand of cookware, advertised all over the place as made in a European country. I compared two teapots (one at an outlet, one at the high end retail store). Both had small stickers labeled “Made in Philippines.” Perhaps they are “finished” in that country, but they are not fully made there. Semantics can be really deceptive.

    For my part, when I do move on into the next stage of life as an employed person, my big purchases will be furniture. I plan to purchase any new items from local manufacturers only, and if they are more expensive, then I will take better care of them, save longer to get them, or perhaps just do without. Great topics!

  9. EJ

    I’ve been finding the ethics of clothing and clothing production an interesting but difficult subject. I’ve sworn off Primark (so cheap that I KNOW someone’s not being paid enough) but still find myself being tempted by other cheaper shops such as H&M and Topshop. It’s so overwhelming though- where does my responsibility for what I’m buying end? How do i know that cloth used to make that top was produced ethically, that the dyes (and this goes for the dyes used on the wool that I use) aren’t really destroying the world? Sometimes it gets so overwhelming that I feel like ignoring the issues altogether and just hiding away somewhere- or going on a mad shopping spree as a big middle finger up to the world. But I’m very sure that I’m not the only the one who feels this way…

  10. lindsey clare

    yep absolutely – i DO wish i could know where all of my clothes come from. it can be overwhelming but i do at least try. last year i put myself on a ban from buying sweatshop (or potential sweatshop) produced items. this meant that i bought very little, but you know what? i realised how much i didn’t need new things constantly (as is the regular way of young people in Western society).
    this year i loosened up a little, but still don’t buy as much as i used to. and i really am trying to stick to well made, quality items. so yep, less IS more.

    i think op shops/thrifting is a fantastic way around this issue. as is buying second hand, because regardless of whether you are buying second hand handmade, second hand designer, or secondhand sweatshop chic, you are at least not buying something NEW which has had to be manufactured.

  11. Chloe Nightingale

    I tend to buy most of my clothes second hand, so whether or not my clothes were produced ethically is a moot point. That said, I should say two things:
    1. In my experience, ethically-made garments tend to be of a better quality than mass-produced sweatshop stuff and I don’t like clothes that fit poorly, pill up, and fall apart. In general, I would rather have a few outfits that look good and will last than a bunch of outfits that might look good, but won’t last. (I didn’t always feel that way, but one day I realised I only really wore about 30% of my clothes — the well-made, well-fitting 30%.)
    2. I tend to buy the cheapest underwear that fits, looks okay, and doesn’t give me a wedgie. It’s probably sweatshop underwear, but that doesn’t affect my buying it. There seem to be 2 kinds of panties here: cheap ones and expensive ones. There’s a discrepancy in quality, but not enough to rationalise the price difference.

    Okay, I guess I have a third comment, which is that the economy doesn’t really affect my purchases, although with all the sales going on, I might be able to upgrade my underwear. ;p

  12. angelica

    I find myself buying very little new now. Most of my clothing and accessory purchases are used or antique. It’s usually a good way to find really unique finds. This is the first year that I have bought handmade gifts for christmas and it’s a really positive feeling to put money in the hands of the actual creator of the product.

    I sew a lot too, but it’s very problematic, when I don’t use recycled fibers I buy new, usually out of season remnants so I’m not contributing to demand for any particular product but it’s troubling to know that I don’t know where the materials and labor are sourced. The availability of organic fiber grown domestically is very limited, and as a consumer rather than a manufacturer, the minimums to buy are usually far more than I can use, or the novelty inflates the price beyond what I can afford.

    Usually I am very lucky with yarns, I rarely have to buy because I am often given yarns by others. I actually have a very large stash that prevents me from having to buy anything new.

    My thriftiness would probably prevent me from buying clothing that was ethically sourced if the price wasn’t right, however, knowing a crafter or artist personally has often lead me to send more than I would like.