By Ana Wang
My name is Annching, and I love fashion. But I have a confession: I haven’t bought anything new for a very long time. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I can’t find what I want.
Well, that’s not exactly accurate. I can find plenty of things I like, but almost nothing that I love. Because love for me is about more than how something looks.
So I started a blog as a way to share and support cool, new discoveries and things I love — in beauty, wellness, life, etc. — and yes, fashion. And I had hoped that I could share great clothes. After all, it was my first love.
Instead of being the maker, I’d be the messenger.
I had planned to write about a fashion discovery today, but after a few moments of searching, the frustration started to bubble.
You see, the things I love (silk shirts, floaty summer dresses, a few great oversized sweaters — you know, the always-right perfect pieces), the things that are so simple and beautiful, are the hardest things to find in the world of ethical, conscious fashion.
This is the search that first led me to being a designer, and it’s still there.
So then I gave up a little and opted for more love, for less, for a better-edited closet. (Fashion is taking notice: one of my favorite bloggers, Garance Dore, just came out with her new commandments of style, which centre around buying less and buying better. Thank you, Garance!)
But still, a part of me wants a little more.
I Googled, I Pinterested “organic clothing.” Not the best search term, I know, but the results were less than inspiring. I’ve been to H&M and seen their conscious collection. Some pieces I liked, but not enough to buy. (And green and yellow happen to be two of my favourite colours.)
The love just wasn’t there.
I looked for a good, white button-up shirt. Aside from my own line which no longer exists, I came across one by a relatively well-known eco fashion brand. I clicked over, and the piece is no longer available to buy online. The only existing option on that site is a more avant-garde white shirt, which is nice on the runway, but not something most of us would wear in real life.
And that’s just a white shirt, the most quintessential classic any-age piece in any woman’s wardrobe.
Who know’s where I’ll be able to find ______ (insert that piece you’re always looking for, the perfect signature wardrobe staple)?
Ecosalon has a list that I was on last year: The top conscious fashion designers. I’ve profiled people who support ethics and fashion together. And that’s a great start. There are people and designers out there, but not enough for most of us to indulge in who aren’t necessarily so “boho-chic.”
Maybe I’m not looking hard enough.
But buying ethically shouldn’t be a hard choice to make.
People want to buy better. Give them two exact same pieces, one ethical, one not, and people will always choose the ethical choice. (Why, wouldn’t you?)
I’m not up here on a pedestal claiming that I am the expert on all things ethical.
I’m saying this as a consumer who wants to support healthy and conscious consumerism and still dress the way I want to.
And believe me, I’m not the only one.
I’ve been a designer, I’ve had my own line — and even with zero experience, zero connections, I know it’s possible.
It’s not about cost. If you are a designer, you aren’t competing with Walmart or H&M anyway. (And even those guys can afford to at least do something.) But I’m not looking to shop at Walmart. Millions are looking for something else.
You have the power to create something that people will buy.
You have the power to create something that people are looking for right now, and just can’t find.
You have the power to design something better than what they think people who are into making ethical choices want.
Hint: It’s not a sea of yoga wear, boring brown dresses, or disposable graphic tees, as my search would suggest.
You don’t have to be perfect. But you have to start somewhere. Organic, fair trade, made domestically, vegan, whatever. Start wherever you need to. If you believe that the world should exist without the use of harsh chemicals or pesticides, start with organic. It’s out there, I know it. If you believe that we should be paying workers fairly for the work they put into what we wear, start with fair trade. It’s out there, I know it. If you believe that animals should not be harmed just to support our vanity, start with vegan clothing.
It’s out there, I know it.
Design it well. Make the pieces people really want to wear, the pieces that they really love. And then flaunt the flag loud and proud.
People want it, and they’re looking for you.