To Universe, with Love

The Zen and Art of Shoe Maintenance

Posted on May 19, 2015

“I don’t know when you write about evils of consumerism and when you write about which shoes to buy”, I get teased by my family. Sadly, its true. I am interested in fashion and see lots of aspects that have more to do with the craft than shopping. I think I am failing putting it in words and blog posts. End of the day, this blog is more a collection of my field notes than advice to internet strangers on what to do. Will keep doing what I am doing and hope for the best.

I made a few posts on oxfords and flats. They are my staple shoes. I don’t know anything about heels or sandals. I have a pair each stowed away for emergencies. That concludes my notes about shoes. Next aspect I have been researching is quality and maintenance. As of today, I take all my purchases to my cobbler to get him to comment on the quality and durability. I have returned shoes when he didn’t approve. Maybe someday I will make a post when I figure out how to assess it myself. But for now, I do know a thing or two about shoe maintenance. I don’t have a lifestyle where i step out of a car and go into an indoor space. I walk/bike to everyplace I need to go. And my shoes have been holding up due to this wisdom. So here we go :

Well worn shoes and active lifestyle

ANATOMY OF A SHOE :

Pick the right shoe: I am not adept at this but my cobbler gave me a quick check-list that i produce here:

Pick high quality leather upper and insoles. Sole can be leather or rubber. Look for demarcations in leather. They could dry up and ruin the shoe faster. Look at the thickness of the leather. See how it varies near the shoe cap and near the heel. Look for the stitches that attach the upper to the sole. If it’s cemented or glued in, the shoe can not be re-soled.

Anatomy of a shoe

FIRST THINGS FIRST :

After buying a pair of high quality shoes, make sure you have a shoe tree for it. Keep its dust bag. They are meant to protect the leather from weather conditions like humidity or direct sunlight that age the leather faster. And then, head to your cobbler. He can put a protective rubber sole for leather soles and spray the shoes with water/stain protection. I was told going to the cobbler for the protective sole is optimum after a little wear.

Protect your shoe soles

BREAK-IN PERIOD :

Wear them around in the house for a week. If they are too tight, wear them with socks. If a little loose, gel inserts or cushion pads can be put in to give it more stability.

a pair of Oxfords

EVERYDAY :

Give your shoes some rest. Do not wear the same shoe everyday. Let the sweat dry out. And the shoe breathe. Put a shoe tree to absorb moisture and help the shoe retain shape. Clean and shine your shoes every day. Use a DIY solution like lemon+water or vinegar+water to remove small stains.

All weather shoes

PURPOSE :

Minimalism is great. But having the right shoe for the activity works out well in the long run. I reduced the lifespan of my oxfords in half by hiking the Alps in them. My flats have aged really fast because of one evening walk that ended up with us going off the road and into the woods. I am sure similar rules apply to sandals and heels. I can see them giving up faster since they are look structurally more susceptible to wear and tear, when compared to laceup shoes.

Otterwax kit

MAINTENANCE :

Application of weather protectants is not a one time thing but needs consistant application. Once every two weeks maybe ? And it is recommended to spray water repellant before wearing leather out in the rain or snow. If shoes are visibly dirty, it’s a good idea to clean them before spraying. Galoshes are an option if you live in places like Seattle where it rains all the time. Dry your shoes properly if they get wet. But do not put them in contact with direct heat sources as it may dry out the leather and crack it. I dont have first hand experience with these problems since it never rains or snows in Arizona ( 10 year drought and counting ).

Suede maintenance

SUEDE :

In my book, suede shoes should be taken off the market. I give up on trying to keep them clean. I was told to use rubber to erase stains. It’s not easy at all. Buy special products ( brush + cleaner ) designed for suede == too many products I need to own. I have one pair and why buy additional stuff for that one pair ? Runs to the cobbler every time they get dirty is too much work. I wish someone told me this before i bought my loafers.

PACKING FOR TRAVEL :

Use the dustbags. Stuff the inside of the shoes so that they don’t loose shape when the luggage is rough handled. Place the shoes between your clothes. Unpack as soon as you get to the destination.

save those shoe dust bags

LEAVE IT TO THE PROS :

Internet has lots of advice on how to do everything. I sat with my hairdryer and my husbands snug shoes to stretch them out myself. Apparently, its a good way to dry out the leather while stretching the shoe. I saw slow stretch equipment in a cobbler shop that does not damage the shoe like i can at home. Smaller stains can be cleaned at home. But mud, water and oil stains are harder to cure at home. Treating suede, is much better left to the experts.

REPAIR VS TOSS :

Yohji would say wear your worn in shoes till they are really really unusable. I agree ! Worn in shoes look beautiful. They have lots of stories to tell. Soles can be repaired and resoled. But if the upper leather gives out, it gets hard to repair. It it’s taken a beating or is seriously weathered, there is still hope if attended to, quickly. But if the leather is cracked, it’s going to get worse over time.

RECYCLING / PROPER DISPOSAL :

Shoes made with a variety of materials makes it harder to recycle. They need to be physically separated into leather, rubber, foam and other materials before they can be disposed. I know athletic companies like Nike have shoe recycling programs. But i am still looking into how one can dispose a shoe so that its not sitting in the landfill for a long time. To be updated as I learn more. Please do comment if you can contribute to this. Its rather sad thinking of my not having opinions in spite of my being conscious of the whole cycle. Makes me not want to buy more than necessary.


ALLEGED FACTS :

  1. Black & brown shoes are the easiest to take care of.
  2. Expensive shoes doesn’t mean proportionally great quality.
  3. A good pair of shoes taken care of, can last up to 20 years ( what ? ).
  4. If a repair costs less than half the price of new shoes, repair the old ones.
  5. A shoe repair job can last longer than a factory assembled shoe, if the cobbler uses high quality materials.
  6. A shoe can be re-soled as long as the upper material holds up.
  7. Try not buying shoes in order to fix them.
  8. Hand stitched shoes vary from pair to pair. Try as many in the store before you walk home with one.

< … to be updated >

I haven’t recommended any care products to buy because they are rather easy to find on Amazon/Shoe shops/Cobbler shops. I like Otterwax products because they are eco friendly and made in Oregon, USA ( almost local ! ).

Shining shoes can strangely be a zen activity. I put aside 10 minutes a week for the upkeep of my wooden cooking utensils/boards and shoe shining. It neither a frivolous activity or waste of time. The act of seeing something become beautiful with a small amount of time and effort is quite a pleasure. 

They came home: Spring Roundup

Posted on May 5, 2015

So all the minimalist success stories start like this. One fine day, they got enlightened. And did the purge. And never looked back. I read so many of these stories. Makes me wonder how on earth do they do that ? Arent they constantly bombarded by needs, ads, friends who lead a life that reflects their previous lifestyle, bloggers, insta feeds … This list sums up my sources of distraction. While i am very proud of my progress, mine is nothing like their success story. Mine has stumbles, and falls. And i pick up again. I admit my fall without too much shame. Its officially Summer in Arizona. Here is a roundup.

 

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Books. Although i vowed to not buy new books and borrow from the library, i couldn’t keep at it. I found a book: Women who run with the wolves. Its pure poetry. Each line i read makes me smile and day dream. I wanted to highlight and write my own notes. I needed to own this book. I now have my own copy.

 

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And then i stumbled onto an interview with Yohji. I have always approached fashion from a more of a consumption/materialism standpoint. Every person who says they love fashion, infact loves shopping. I clearly see this distinction now. I now approach fashion from a data processing standpoint. See the creations every year and their impact. See designers for their creativity. Instead of a “Me, Me, Me” approach where i am looking to buy something every season. I met fashion journalists who wear nothing but black trousers and t-shirts. To see these designers slave over the raw materials and hone a their craft makes me want to work harder at my craft. And Yohji’s philosophy behind his creations, moved me some more. He doesn’t walk around beating his drum or do lots of interviews. And i am a generation too late to have seen him in his prime. So i started acquiring his books. No library near me has any on this Japanese designer. I bought them all second hand on ebay and amazon. But i still broke my own rules. On that note, to all fashion lovers out there – there is a way to be in the loop without buying stuff. I found an amazing youtube channel that talks about fashion without holding up clothes or doing lookbooks or hauls. Its a great way to learn about evolution of design each season and talk fashion. I could unsubscribe from most fashion bloggers after.

 

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Ralph Lauren black belt. This year, i decided to wear all my special clothes without saving them for “events”. All my beautiful blue dresses get worn day in and out now. I spent the money on durability and i need to give them a chance to prove their worth. I needed a belt to give some of my shift dresses a more feminine touch.

 

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Pitfalls of blogging. I made this post on oxfords. I could return everything i borrowed for the post. But when i made the post on flats, i kept a pair. I saw that as an opportunity to replace a pair of worn in flats of mine. I wear flats every single day in warm weather. And have two in rotation to let my shoes breathe. The Prada and Porselli. I am very strict with my one-in-one-out rule. I sent my old ones to India. I wear out shoes at an alarming rate in India by walking in the fields and wandering through the rural areas. I could use a backup and pack light for next trip.

 

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Japan. My teaching mentor, Richard is a Taoist. The more time i spend with him, the more intrigued i am. I got myself a book on his recommendation. And delved more, into Japanese art and martial arts. And history. More books. They make me really happy. And these aren’t books i want to read once and forget about. I re-read all my philosophy books from time to time.

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I turned 30 last month. But that didnt prevent me from getting all excited about buying myself a bday dress. I have been eying this dress from Cuyana for a year now. They took it off their website and i found it through their customer service. They make high quality clothing that are ethically sourced and pay fair wages to their workers. Its been years since i saw a dress which is lined. My mom would approve of the quality and design of this dress.

 

On a different note, i was talking to my sister-in-law about finding personal style. I was making powerful statements in the lines of “once you find it, all the work is done” sorta talk. She wisely said, “you are always evolving. And so is your style.” That is so true. When i meet women wearing mom jeans or wearing the 80s masculine oversized office wear, i do wish their style evolved as they aged. And i dont want to be stuck in a rut that can be associated with a certain time period. I think mine should evolve too, but very very slowly. Over decades instead of years.

Fashion’s last Yoda: Yohji Yamamoto, Part 3

Posted on May 2, 2015

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ON FAST FASHION :

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“The people in the poor towns of Bangladesh or Vietnam, they don’t wear fashion so they don’t know what they are making. So naturally they cannot put their spirit in the clothing, so it comes out like shit!”

“now there are so many … fashion …. shitty clothing …. just competing …. how cheap and how sexy … cheap and sexy. cheap and sexy…. wasted … wasted … real designer has to be more stronger”

“they are wasting costume, like toilet paper. I am praying, don’t waste clothes. But the general trend in the fashion market, in the world became like that. So i am asking to myself, Yohji, you didn’t work enough. So this is my fault. Its quite easy to criticize the fashion movement. But as a fashion designer, if i could be more stronger, maybe ….. ”

Let me talk like an old man. Young people, be careful. Beautiful things are disappearing every day. Be careful.…You don’t need to be [shopping at fast-fashion stores], especially young people. They are beautiful naturally, because they are young. So they should even wear simple jeans and a T-shirt. It’s enough. Don’t be too much fashionable.…The brand advertising is making you crazy. You don’t need to be too sexy. You are sexy enough.

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ON COLOR BLACK :

Once upon a time black became a fashionable uniform. Around 1990. fashion people started wearing just black, it became a uniform for them. There are so many types of black. Some of them are ugly. There’s blue, red and green shades of black. The sunlight makes them look different.  There’s a whole world of black – sometimes i get bored with what i have and start looking for a new black that i find exciting.

Black is the end of color. Wearing black is like saying, ‘I will not bother you, and please do not bother me.’ And sometimes, when I am making clothes, I concentrate too much on the patterns and fabrics that I forget to use colors.

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ON ACCESSORIES :

“My understanding is that the word accessory can mean an accomplice in crime. This implication makes me hate accessories even more. I wonder how in the world people can bear to have those things around their necks and on their wrists, the reasons for it evade me. The display of ornaments and decorations in Europe seem to me nothing more than a frivolous game played with the cultural heritage that one race has looted from another. The fact that it is shiny, it is rooted in its value as a commodity. I will never understand how gold came to be the foundation of the world’s economy. I dislike pearls as well. The shells cracked open, and the asymmetrical ones are discarded–the practice strikes me as unseemly.”

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WABI SABI :

Many journalists kept saying, “Yohji, why are you making such dirty clothing?” ‘ he is saying, referring to the way his clothes come in many shades of black and can often look worn in, a little distressed around the edges. ‘But I was seriously thinking that those are beautiful compared to the established style of garment from other famous designers at the time. Dirty is good.’

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ON FABRIC :

“i want people to keep on wearing my clothing for at least 10 years or more, so i requested the fabric makers to make a very strong, touch finish. It’s very close to designing army clothing. One reason why young people love second-hand clothing is that it has a character, or it has a story already, or it has some human message. So i’m always close to second-hand clothing or army clothes.”

Read about his fabric: He is known for the longevity of his fabrics. He keeps the cottage industries that specialize in techniques that master the weave of long lasting fabrics alive.

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ON MODESTY

Yamamoto recounts that he was inspired by old French war movies starring actresses in army uniforms . ‘I found that so sexy. The body is protected. And covered. In a very hard way. And so you are forced to ask yourself “what’s inside?” When you have no freedom, your sexuality becomes stronger.’ Again, this subtlety of observation and the implicit nuances regarding sexuality go against the Western notion, expressed by the designer, that ‘Dolls … this is what many men want women to be … just dolls.’

“…looking at people passing …. and for me … can be male or female, the people wearing some baggy swingy clothing … they look so sexy … because i imagine whats inside … young people showing too much, its so direct … i feel no sexual attraction … so please hide it … ”

This is as much as i could steal from the books to put online. I hope he continues to inspire people, esply fashion designers. He is one of the few designers who really cares … about women, about environment, about his craft, …. If anyone is looking to purchase his books, i recommend ‘Yamamoto & Yohji‘. It is the most comprehensive book from what i have seen. I would have been happy to own just that one book of his. Links to: Part 1 & Part 2

Fashion’s last Yoda: Yohji Yamamoto, Part 2

Posted on April 28, 2015

Have you ever heard Yohji speak ? He doesnt use more words than needed, speaks slowly and get his point across. There is a certain sparkle in his eye and a hint of a smiling frown when he talks about things he doesnt like. Two interviews I found : One, Two. I currently don’t dress the way he approves really. But my take home is the deeper message of the creator …. his philosophy, his art, emphasis on form and his wisdom. I have always believed style reflects a deeper philosophy. Even the ones who claim they dont care about clothing, show their core values through their style. The more i read about him, the harder i want to work on my craft. His passion is contagious. This is my part two of notes to myself. I would like to come back here to reference him, when i dont get the time to read his books. Part One can be found here. quote1

On woman:

For me, a woman who is absorbed in her work, who does not care about gaining one’s favor, strong yet subtle at the same time, is essentially more seductive. The more she hides and abandons her femininity, the more it emerges from the very heart of her existence. A pair of brilliantly cut cotton trousers can be more beautiful than a gorgeous silk gown. quote2

On fashion:

If fashion is clothes, then it is not indispensable. But if fashion is a way of looking at our daily lives, then its very important indeed. Of the so called arts – painting, sculpture, etc – only very few can influence people directly in the way fashion can, or music. Fashion is a unique and fundamental form of communication, that has to do with the feelings of the generation wearing the clothes it has chosen. quote3

On the worn-in :

When fabric is left to age for a year or two, it naturally contracts, and at this point it reveals its charm. The threads have a life of their own, they pass through the seasons and mature. It is only through this process that the true appeal of the fabric is revealed. In releasing one collection after the next on a six-month cycle, it is impossible to design clothing from fabric that has been allowed to age. The intense jealousy I occasionally feel towards used clothing comes from this fact. It was in just such a moment that I thought, “I would like to design time itself”. quote4

On individuality:

Many young people are wearing exactly the same kind of outfits. There is no individuality. The majority is boring. I travel on a sidewalk of fashion, not the main road. From my side of the street, i am shouting “you’re not fashionable” to the crowds. quote5

On androgyny :

Yes, it was like that in japan back then as well. But especially in tokyo the gender boundaries have become blurred the styles have become more unisex. Boys started wearing skirts and the girls wore very masculine looks. Those looks are very important to me. quote6

On Garment making process:

Making a garment means thinking about people.I am always eager to meet people and talk to them. Tts what i like more than anything. What are they doing ? What are they thinking ? How do they lead their lives ? and then i can set to work. I start with the fabric, the actual material, the “feel” of it. I then move on to the form. Possibly what counts most for me is the feel. And then, i start working on the material. I think my way into the form it out to assume. quote7

On uniform:

My style says I love fashion but i quickly became a workaholic so when i wake up, I am very lazy and I am too tired to color coordinate my outfits. I always wear the same clothes. i have five black tshirts, six black trousers and five black jackets on the go all the time. Its like a uniform. quote8

On Perfume :

“A woman should smell gentle.” “Soon after coming to Paris, one day I was in the elevator surrounded by four or five women. They were all wearing strong perfume and each scent was different. The mixture of strong scents was almost killing me in that elevator.” “I decided that OK, I’m going to create a very strong scent which can kill a boy!” “Every woman uses perfume too much,” says the designer. “Japanese people don’t smell; they use the scent on the kimono but they don’t put it on the body – this tradition is still there. So scent is a memory – it stays on the chair after she left. We Japanese have a tendency to enjoy the emotion of missing, enjoying the memory [more than the event].” quote9

Outsiders:

I’ve never designed suits for businessmen. I design for outsiders – it can be artists, writers, filmmakers, painters, people who do nothing or homeless. These people don’t have to wear a uniform, so called business wear. They need to express themselves by wearing something strong and personal. Ever since I began, over 35 years ago, i’ve been designing for people outside society.

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I feel like i am ripping through my books to make these posts. I don’t think these words stand alone convey the depth of his wisdom. But they are accomplices to his work. His videos ( link 1, link 2 ) come close to showing his personality and why i think of him as Yoda. Part 3 coming up. I save my favourites for the last. His views on : the color Black, Slow fashion, fast fashion, sustainability, modesty, fabric and accessories. 

Fashion’s last Yoda: Yohji Yamamoto, Part 1

Posted on April 26, 2015

“I feel like I have become a living fossil in the fashion world”, he once said. At last, i found a Yoda among the Jedi. The man is pure poetry. His philosophy deserves to be heard. And i am quite taken by it all. Although we try to fight off materialism as evil, there is beauty in deeper materialism that goes beyond consumption. And it can be tied to life cycle, attitude and beauty. This man embodies it. I have gotten my hands of a few of his books. I don’t own any of his clothing. They are supposed to last the test of time. And look better with age. He uses the same cottage industry that made the best Kimonos in Japan. He is the last of them keeping them from shutting their doors and losing craftsmanship lost for ever. He hates fast fashion and the conventional idea of sexy. He has views on sustainability, a real creator, the color black, modesty, sexuality, fabric, …. the way a designer should. This post is a collage i made for myself, full of his words of wisdom. I had the same aha moment when i saw yoda in the Star Wars. “Do or dont do. There is no try “, he famously said. Yohji has a lot to say. This is a very long post.  Read very slowly with a cup of tea

 

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 Source for the rules: here

 

I have amassed lot of information about this man, and i think he deserves to influence not only the creatives in the 80s but today’s generation as well. The world seems to be currently obsessed with the Japanese aesthetics and i hear “Wabi-Sabi” on an average of once per day. Yohji has lots to teach about it. Instead of creating a huge dump of quotes, i have split this post into a few parts. Part 2 and 3 coming up next.

 

 

Camelback, Phoenix

Posted on April 25, 2015

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I have a confession. I love hiking this one mountain called Camelback. ALONE. I do it every week.

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So there is this beautiful mountain. And all i get asked about it is “How many miles ?” or “How long does it take to climb it?” or “isn’t it too hot to hike?”. Mark Twain could write a 10,000 page books without discussing weather and i get asked about weather ! I believe travel and exploration requires the right company. I dont want to share my precious mountain time with the ones who don’t get it. Its the Camelback. Not a stairmaster or inclined treadmill in the gym.

“But in the wake of ‘Bullet,’ all the guys wanted to know was, ‘How’s it doing? How’s it selling?’ How to tell them I didn’t give a flying fuck how it was doing in the marketplace, that what I cared about was how it was doing in the reader’s heart?”
― Stephen King, Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales

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My rewards: I can walk off the trail. Watch the insects and the bees. Look for snakes. Climb random rocks. Admire the cactus when i please. Just sit out there and day dream. I have gotten lost on it and its exhilarating. My niece Neela once famously said, “I don’t want to go to Mt Bonnell because it’s just steps and real hiking has rocks and discovering new things”. Thats a rule to live by.

I have been talked about as the loner who goes to Camelback often. It bothers me. Should i go along with people so that i can chat with along the way ? But i dont know anyone who appreciates it the way a mountain should be.

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One person who understands this feeling is Harsha. And hence i dream of travelling with him. We talk about having our own mountain. Not in a way we buy it or own it. But because we know it intimately. All its secrets, its seasons, its nooks and crannies, …

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My hiking kit. I have been lost before. And i am a women who travels alone. I go prepared. Advantages of travelling alone:

1. On paths that are not set in stone, you need to figure out the way. And its adrenaline rush.

2. Your whims above everyone else.

3. Make friends with fellow mountain climbers.

4. When tired, you can lean on a rock for support. When you get to the top, hug another rock to celebrate.

5. The excitement of danger.

6. Planning and going through with it. Carrying the required backpack and being self sufficient.

7. For photographers, the luxury of picking times that align with sunsets and sunrises. And waiting for the right moments without keeping anyone waiting.

8. Solitude ( its very underrated ).

 

24.04.15 : #fashRev #whomademyclothes

Posted on April 23, 2015

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“The t-shirt was 25$. That is crazy. I can find one for $5 in H&M”, says my friend while eating his 13$ grilled fish plate with a 3$ cold beer on a warm Sunday afternoon. This is not the first time i heard this line. Everytime i hear it, i slip into a rant in my head. Its no business of mine lecturing people. I didn’t know any better last year. But its not the same for me anymore. I never want to go back to my older habits.

“We always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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It is impossible to manufacture one for that price in America. So how is it getting made ? Sweatshops. Two years ago, Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed killing 1133 people and injuring 2500. Stories like this make the news and are forgotten. For an incident like this near Delhi, the govt imposed a fine for 2$ per injured person. Really? 2$ is what a persons life is worth ? Thats less than the price of the beer for most Americans. I read about horror stories about 18 hour work days with no weekends. Women being forced to take contraceptive pills in front of the supervisors so that they don’t get pregnant, just so that they don’t disrupt the efficiency that goes into the making of the 5$ t-shirts. I hear stories of how Haiti became Disney’s sweatshop. They had a plan. Import cheap rice into the country. In no time, the farmers producing the more nutritious local variety could not sell their grain. And eventually, they had to move away from the villages into cities and be employed in sweatshops. The kids who do the embroidery for long hours so that we can wear a fancy top. Cheap embellished anything is a product of someone slaving over it for cents of daily wages…. Its all too sad. If at all i bring this up, i get asked “Aren’t we giving them an opportunity to work?”. “Them”. Its always “Them” vs us. Same rules don’t apply to us, but to them, its okay. I hear complains of how busy we are or how much work we have piled up for the weekend. But for them, its an opportunity. Here are some horror stories :

1. Average monthly wages for a Bangladeshi worker in a garment factory is 43$ in 2013. He gets paid not hourly but per ‘n’ amount of garments completed. Its not uncommon to work overtime without compensation to meet the production goals. 80 hour weeks are not uncommon.

2. No toilets, rats, cockroaches, mediocre lighting conditions, old buildings, sexual harassment, abuse, ….. are a part and parcel of this cycle. This is modern day slavery. When i read about these conditions, i cant help think of the concentration camps i visited in Germany. Ofcourse, i wouldn’t think it’s on the same level, but we are promoting this for cheap and fast fashion.

3. Horrible working conditions exist in garment districts in LA and NYC too. But not on the scale seen in third world countries.

4. Its not restricted to adults. Children are often employed to do the embroidery and attaching sequins/rhinestones/beads. Smaller hands work faster apparently.

5. Spectrum factory collapse incident in Dhaka killed about 64 and injured 72 workers. They had built additional 5 stories over a swamp land to meet the demand. They saw the cracks but couldn’t shut it down for repairs to meet the production demands. When it eventually collapsed, the workers bodies could be found under red Zara pull overs and purple stripe tops.

6. If the average salary of a Bangladeshi garment worker was tripled, it will cost the customer an extra 2.3$. They still don’t do it and we still won’t fight for them.

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The more i read, the angrier i get. Fashion used to inspire me. Now, it just makes me rant and sad. I swore off fast fashion last year after i read: The end of Fast Fashion, Overdressed, Cheap, The lost art of dress and To die for (personal favourite). On the other end, the luxury markets cuts costs and make profits by outsourcing too ( Source: Deluxe ). Clothing, handbags and shoes now get assembled instead of made, in the country of residence of the fashion houses instead of being made there. All so that they can still retain the “Made in Italy/France/..” tag. Reading these books cured my addiction to Zara and high end handbags for good. Its all brainwashing via marketing. The back end process that goes into making these goods is anything but luxury. There are exceptions of course. Its time to bring back the appreciation for slow fashion. To support cottage industries. And companies that embrace sustainable practices to produce their goods. Embrace vintage and secondhand. Ask questions about how things get made. Embrace Made in America. And above all, consume less.

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“…with knowing comes caring, with caring comes hope…” – Sylvia Earle.

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The solution is not straightforward or simple. But it can be only if we consume less. And we have seen this happen before. When the issues of the environment get put out, we tend to throw out the culprits and buy echo-friendly stuff to replace them. My first thoughts were to get rid of the cheap clothes and buy better stuff. Shopping is not a solution for shopping. Its my shopping habits that get me here in the first place.

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List to myself:

1. Do not buy clothes made in sweatshops.

2. Send emails asking about who made my stuff, if i want to purchase something. They need to know that we care. More questions they get, more likely they are to take notice.

3. Don’t buy unless really needed.

4. Blog more about this issue. There are too many fashion bloggers promoting fast fashion and influencing the world. And not nearly enough women talking about these issues.

5. More research.

6. Blog about fashion that has nothing to do with consumption. Talk quality, craftsmanship, make and design. And style over fashion.

UPDATE: Watch John Olivers take on it.

UPDATE: Watch this excellent discussion on it.

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