#100wears: Muroexe Materia boots

This is not a love song. In contrast to most #100wears posts, this is not a story of a garment being so incredibly useful and/or pleasant that I haven’t been able to stop wearing it. No, this is an ode to me (and maybe my unnecessary stubbornness) for having put up with a suboptimal pair of footwear for three years. Now, after 120 wears and a boot alternative at the horizon (stay tuned), I’m ready to end this rather sad affair.

I bought them on sales in January 2017 for 65€. You can still get them for 95€, probably cheaper during the January sales. C was excited about the brand (he has acquired a pair of sneakers since then and is very satisfied), Juan already owned several pairs and was very happy with them. They were made in Spain (some of their production is made in China, though) and vegan. The marketing was sleek and aspirational, just look at the little tag that came with the boots:

I don’t know which size I ordered (and the size tag has long rubbed off) but I had to change them for a smaller pair, most probably 40 to 39. I had to bring them to a cobbler a year after having bought them to re-glue the sole (7.50€), and will do it again before bringing them to the December swap because they are letting water in again.

Please, understand me correctly! These boots have been a reasonably OK experience for the occasional Barcelona rain and the very mild Mediterranean winter. But that is also the whole point: they perform just OK when a pair of sneakers would do better and are suboptimal for the weather they were supposedly created for. I have several major complaints and both are purely design issues that somebody hasn’t really thought through:

1. The sole has 0 grip! Dude, you have to be an idiot to make a rain boot that has no traction on slippery surfaces. Or somebody who is so Mediterranean that ‘they forgot’. It is ridiculous. The only way you can walk in these is what my dad would call ‘as when they put little booties on a dog’. I have had only one serious fall while wearing these, though. On the stairs of my apartment building, slipping and then sliding for a while ending in a broken lunch box and a very painful elbow for weeks. But that was scary and could’ve ended much worse. The point was brought home to me most powerfully on a dinner date with Julie where I complained about this and we then proceeded to compare the soles of our ankle boots: hers was a grippy Danish thing made for all the tricky textures of wet leaves and slush, mine was a Barcelona fantasy of a wet weather boot.

No, you don’t want a surface this smooth in contact with the famous Barcelona tiles when those are wet.

2. As for being ‘waterproof’, as promised on the website, and setting aside the fact that the joining line is clearly not that solid (2 re-gluings in 3 years), they have exactly the same problem as all waterproof lace-up boots. Your feet will be dry as long as no water reaches the lacing… after that you are done and can go home. Or spend all day with wet feet (that won’t get dry because they are encased in waterproof material). But, I’ll admit, this complaint is equally valid for a pair of classic Docs and other similar wares. Those, however, might be slightly more breathable…

3. This might be a less universal complaint but it does ruin my experience with these boots. What they call ‘goma’ / ‘rubbery texture’ on their website (a side note on both prices and text differing between the Spanish and English versions of the Muroexe universe) feels incredibly plastic IRL. I own a pair of Nokian Hai rainboots and the texture is very different. In the Muroexe boot my feet feel trapped in plastic bags.

I also happen to have very sweaty feet… so the experience has been very sweaty and very smelly, as the already noted waterproofness will take care that nothing evaporates. My boots have probably spent more time on the balcony stuffed full of lavender bags than they have spent on my feet. And the insoles have seen several machine washes.

4. In comparison with the rest, this might be minor, but still speaks about the design flaws: the laces won’t stay laced. I don’t know what they are made of – and they are cute – but never in my adult life I’ve had to redo my laces so often. In combination with wet weather and the 0 grip soles this becomes not only annoying but dangerous. The only way I found to deal with this has been tucking the ends of the laces in the boot itself. Not optimal.

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My decision to finally let go of these boots actually has to do with having had to spend several days nonstop in them… I was fine wearing these for a couple of hours on a rainy day in Barcelona, and I always had a pair of office shoes to change in. But I took only the Muroexe boots for me on the Portuguese train trip, spent five days wearing them for extended time periods… and I was disgusted. See you never, Muroexe, we are not a good match!

On the other hand, the aesthetics are good and translate well across a wide range of formal to informal styles:



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So come pick them up at the swap if you are around size 39/40, walk carefully, and are not prone to sweaty feet. That plastic is sturdy enough and shows little wear, so maybe they can be your new best friends.

Have you had this kind of complicated garment relationship where you know very well how suboptimal the thing is but are very reluctant to let go? Are you suffering something like this now? I do suggest that you look for a way out, especially if your suffering is physical or endangers your health.

#whatiwore 2019w47 + Sunday links

Here, feed the brain:

1. Fashion works in mysterious ways and that is why we love it – Woodstock Was the Birthplace of Festival Fashion: ‘That it never occurred to the group who created festival fashion that it might one day turn into a style sector of its own; that it would birth an era of mass-produced ersatz “individuality” […] is reflective of the naïveté in which such fashion was born, and the calculated way nostalgia for that time has been exploited.’

2. A good quality overview of the staple garment: The Military Origins of the Cardigan. For other similar stories, turn to Object Lessons.

3. Fashion writers still trying to wrap their heads around the death of retail and the particular case of Barneys’ in exhaustive detail: (a) Of Barneys’ Bankruptcy, Pride and the Fall; (b) “Private Sales” for Recently-Acquired Barneys’ “Most Loyal” Customers to Begin This Week; (c) Why Discount Retailers and Luxury Titans are Thriving While “Balanced” Entities are Closing Up Shop; and (d) The Impossible Alchemy of Barneys at Saks.

4. For men interested in fashion: How to Receive a Compliment.

5. This is a very interesting insight in the pursuits where the collectors, the sartorialists and the minimalists at times coincide, the pursuit of the optimal thing (that never really arrives): Subduction.

6. A promising turn in pressures to green oneself for the brands: Prada Just Inked the Fashion Industry’s First Loan that Links Interest Rates to Sustainability Efforts.

7. A reminder of how socks and boots are made: A Quick Tour of the CHUP Socks Factory and Don’t Throw Your Boots Away – An Interview with Bootmaker Felix Jouanneau.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Beyond repair: ZIB and Amoralle leggings. Sometimes things die, especially if they contain elastane and you insist on washing them in hot water… Learn from me and don’t boil your elastic garments, please!

What I was writing about two years ago: How to Survive *Winter* in Barcelona. The Mediterranean winter is garbage if you work from home (due to the historical building practices), so there you have some of my accumulated expertise on the topic.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w47 + Sunday links. Also wearing this week: my aunt’s PhD Dress, the Lithuanian-made Devold sweater, Liisa skater skirt, the Muroexe Materia boots.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w47 + Sunday links. Repeating this week: the red flea market sweater and the Muroexe Materia boots.

#whatiwore 2019w46 + Sunday links

Here, some smart porridge for your brain:

1. While I find all the textile innovation news cute – such as Candiani Creates First Biodegradable Stretch Denim – I am so much more into the reduction and true recycling as in making stuff from not virgin materials, preferably not even grinding/melting it down beforehand. So you can understand my complete love for Patagonia’s ReCrafted: (a) These Are Clothes Made From Other Clothes; (b) the workshop that does it for them in LA, Suay; and the final products (c) Patagonia ReCrafted Collection. Obviously, this excitement just shows how rare reusing materials has become and the price tags on these new things is an honest reflection of the complexity of the job. It is much easier to make stuff from new materials…

2. Yay, there are limits to shameless copying! Nirvana is bigger than Marc Jacobs: Marc Jacobs Can’t Kick Nirvana Lawsuit as Court Refuses to Dismiss the Trademark / Copyright Case.

3. In case you needed a reminder why e-commerce is mostly an inefficient garbage nightmare: China faces waste hangover after Singles’ Day buying binge.

4. I present to you a new heroine for your fashion altar – Sandy Schreier – with a wondrously random story of how a couture collection might start: The Met’s Next Big Fashion Show Comes From One Little-Known Woman.

5. Surprise! Instagram Is Great for Models. It’s Also Good for Predators.

6. Although Boris is old news by now, the analysis of his dressing is also an analysis of the man (explaining both his rise and fall): ‘As a longtime fan of P.G. Wodehouse and Chaucer, and a student of history, Mr. Johnson surely understands the way bumbling plays in both the public mind and the British character narrative. […] He doesn’t just break the boring old rules, he blows raspberries at them.’ Extra points for comparing him with the Duchess of Devonshire feeding her chickens in an evening gown.

7. And a complementary explanation from George linking it all back to particular educational practices: ‘Boarding school, a peculiarly British form of abuse, has devastating impacts not only on the boarders, but on those they grow up to dominate.’

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What I was writing about a year ago: Book review: The Joy of Less. While most of what Francine is saying reads like commonplace now, it wasn’t so in 2010. So it makes sense to revisit one of the first voices of this wave of minimalism.

What I was writing about two years ago: The Pink Post: Instrumental and subversive uses of the traditionally feminine.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w46 + Sunday links. Also wore this week: Veja Arcade sneakers, Veja Wata Pierre sneakers, and the Street One jacket.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w46 + Sunday links. Still wearing: Veja Arcade sneakers, my mom’s Zara trench, and the Portuguese cape.

Beyond repair: Faber-Castell Scribolino

This could be also a #100wears post or no post at all as this is not about garments. But having my favorite pen dying felt much more important than many of my clothing acquisitions or bye-byes, so here we go…

There are a couple of contextual things I have to establish for you to grasp the importance of my pen for me:

(a) I am a writing / doodling / drawing creature. I write my morning pages and to-do lists. I keep a paper agenda. I draw a lot. And I am the person who will be doodling while listening in class, both if the contents are gripping and if I’m bored. This is to say that I use writing implements probably much more than the average millennial.

(b) Writing and drawing tools have been fascinating me for a long time. One of my biggest pleasures as a child above the age of 7 was getting some colorful pens. That was around 1995, they were a new thing in the post-Soviet geography, they weren’t cheap… and I loved them. The sparkly ones, the neon ones, the perfumed markers, the stamp markers. Oh! I was a drawing creature back then too.

(c) I ditched the ballpoint pen long time ago. Exactly as the jelly rollers and Stabilo Point 88 were coming in, I realized that the ubiquitous ballpoint was a torture implement designed to make people allergic to writing. While I have come across one that I liked writing with since then (the Latvian Youth Council branded ones around 2006 that just happened to be comfy), I’ve been writing with no-to-little pressure tools since I was around 12. If I find myself in need to pick up a ballpoint today, it really feels awful and I do not understand how millions around the world can use that thing.

(d) And sometime later I discovered fountain pens. Here a tip of my hat goes to my first visual arts teacher who had us, gnomes between the ages of 7 and 11, working a lot with Indian ink in her weekly classes… and applying it with loose nibs attached to a pencil or brush handle with a string or wire, not even proper pens. It could have been because it was cheap. Again, those were the mid-1990s in Latvia. So I wasn’t afraid of nibs. And the idea of a fountain pen seemed cool. I might have been 15 or so when I bought a very cheap one… and was hooked. No pressure on the paper, felt artsy, could can mix colors by switching the cartridges. I remember that my physics teacher once asked to see with what the hell I was writing with as she couldn’t read a thing from my exam. She blamed the pen, I still think it was just my handwriting.

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One of those cheap fountain pens + Stabilo Point 88. February 2008, Ciudad Real.

So I was playing with fountain pens and using them parallely to other stationery, especially the Stabilo Point 88… but with years it kind of narrowed and when entering in the University in 2009 I had *my pen* and pretty much refused to write with anything else. That pen was a Faber-Castell Scribolino. This one:

October 2009, Brussels. Several Stabilo Point 88 in the background.

I must have stumbled upon it after my n-th cheapest fountain pen had died in a shop in Rīga – Valda Ošiņa rakstāmlietas – that for years has been selling quality stationery, including the Faber-Castell goodies. The price was much more than I had ever paid for a pen but still felt reasonable. It must have been 15€ or so. The brutal design and color amused me… And so did the fact that these are made for children: ‘all features designed to support your child in taking his or her initial steps towards learning to write’. And raises a question why can’t adults have comfy pens…

A throughout scraping of my photo archive has revealed, though, that the green pen didn’t last long. I mostly lost pens instead of breaking them then… and by May 2010 I had replaced it with this nameless blue one:

I still remember my frustration when I realized that I had lost that blue one even sooner than the previous one. But I did it on my way back to Rīga after my first BA year, so I marched right into the same shop and got me another Scribolino, a pink one:

The compositions I deemed to be a good idea in November 2011, Salamanca.

And it lasted exactly a year, as my data suggests that at least between June and November 2012 I was writing with this anonymous Kukuxumusu-themed pen:

And now, only after this double intro of 700+ words comes she, the Scribolino that stayed with me from 2013 till the last week when she was officially pronounced dead by the very helpful people at Casa de la Estilográfica. If you ever want to talk fountain pens in Barcelona, btw, those are your people…

Yes, it is exactly the same Scribolino in pink again. But with the difference that it stayed with me for ~6.5 years being my precious. And was omnipresent throughout the MA and PhD, all the travels, all the random flatlays, including my ‘see the typical contents of my bag’ post of 2018. It has been the little pink ‘where’s Waldo’ that always seemed cheerful. And people asked weird questions and – most often – couldn’t write with it even when trying. I can think of only one person who has ever asked to try my fountain pen and actually been successful at writing with it properly.

June 2013, Salamanca.

May 2014, a train station somewhere in the UK.

July 2015, Barcelona.

April 2016, New York.

August 2017, Barcelona.

June 2018, Brussels.

September 2019, Rīga.

And it was while using this pen that somebody (I really don’t remember who) told me that the an old wisdom says that one should never lend one’s quill, horse or wife because you have them molded to your taste and other person either could not use them or would break them in differently… Well, at least about quills/nibs that is true. The rest of the sexist implications of this piece of wisdom you will have to figure out on your own.

But the deformation is real. And not only of the nib, here you have a comparison between that 2013 Scribolino that has been in active use since then and a new one:


Yes, the innumerable hours of use had sculpted away the grippy part as to make to underlying white plastic visible! And the initial shape has been heavily altered for it being a supposedly solid thing (already ergonomically molded, supposedly). And here is the autopsy pic which explains both this post and why I have a brand new one to make this side-by-side comparison:

The nib is broken and the ink does not flow through it properly. I asked the Casa de la Estilográfica people who recommended just buying new instead of changing the nib. And after going to all the big stationery shops in Barcelona – and unable to wait for more than a month without a pen (read: this pen) until I get to Rīga in December – I just ordered one online (17.55€).

It does not feel the same. It could be that Faber-Castell has started to skimp on materials in the last 6 years: the grippy parts that felt silicone-like on the pink pen feels distinctly plastic on this one. I really hope that it might change with rigorous contact with my greasy hands. The nib is finer, too. And I don’t like it as much for drawing… Here again I hope that I will just wear that iridium tip down to a wider stroke. Funny how I notice all the little differences. We were very close with the pink one, after all. I’m now doubting if I should’ve tried to insist on just changing the nib… Well, as this blue Scribolino will hopefully be my new best friend until at least 2025, we better make it work.

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Do you have similar utensil / stationery / everyday things compulsions? Something that very few people seem to care about but you just cannot use whatever? (I could also write posts on notebooks, agendas, and paper in general, mind you.) Do you have a recommendation for a great pen/marker/notebook I should take a look at? In Barcelona the ‘cheap but reasonable’ end seems to be dominated by basic Lamy fountain pens. I tried one in the Casa de la Estilográfica, and it felt quite dreamy… ♥

#whatiwore 2019w45 + Sunday links

Yeah, the cold weather is *in*, unclear if to call this autumn or winter, though… but the change was swift, and those Monday bare legs are unimaginable on Sunday.

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Your brain will burp and say thanks afterwards:

1. While I don’t feel that puffer jackets are somehow ‘recent trend’, that Charles James satin evening puffer from the 1930s is my discovery of the day: A Brief History of the Puffer Jacket and How the puffer jacket took over the world.

2. Surprise, surprise! This is what we need consulting/research companies for: Buying Clothes Doesn’t Really Make People Happy Anymore, Says Morgan Stanley. Well, if have finally ‘reached peak happiness with clothing purchases’, maybe we can now focus on something more important… In additional d-oh! news: Fashion addiction: expensive clothes hid my loneliness – then I gave 90% of them away.

3. I want to be like George when I grow up: ‘A few hours after this column is published, I hope to be in a police cell. I don’t yet know what the charge will be, where I will be arrested or when, but I know that if I go home this evening without feeling the hand of the law on my sleeve, I will have failed.’ Being like Jane is also OK with me: Jane Fonda got arrested 4 Fridays in a row. This week, there was ice cream.

4. I’m not sure if I’m convinced (and it falls in all the usual fallacies when trying to compare ‘now’ with ‘all the previous time’) but the research question is an interesting one: The 2010s Broke Our Sense Of Time.

5. And in the ‘how to survive winter’ news (because it is clearly a whole genre): (a) The Norwegian Secret To Enjoying A Long Winter; (b) How to Win at Winter, Scandinavian Style; (c) How to survive the winter: the expert guide to staying warm, healthy and happy; and the cutest of them all which resonates also with my (childhood) experiences (d) Winter is the season of my childhood. I’m glad it’s nearly here. Also, 7 Fabrics To Keep You Warm This Winter.

6. Bernadette Banner is my new internet love and role model! Liisa sent me a link to her Buying a Knockoff of My Own Dress: An Educated Roast, and down the youtube rabbit hole I went. Highly recommended for both entertainment, aesthetic and educational purposes.

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What I was writing about a year ago: KonMari experience: Mara. Ever wondered how would it be to do a KonMari tidying festival with a consultant guiding you through it? There you have it… Also, ♥

What I was writing about two years ago: #100wears: Ginta’s gray cardigan. The sturdiest form fitting cardigan I’ve ever known… RIP 2012-2019. I’m still looking for an equivalent…

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w45 + Sunday links. Still wearing this week: Street One jacket, Zara-swap cardigan, my mom’s gingham dress, and Veja Wata sneakers.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w45 + Sunday links. Also wore this week: Street One jacket, red flea sweater, and Veja Arcade sneakers.

#whatiwore 2019w44 + Sunday links

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Here, a spoonful of brain-food:

1. The Color of Protest: ‘Imagine a world where you couldn’t wear black. Where would that leave the beatniks and the goths? The Audrey Hepburn-wannabes? Where would it leave the fashion folk, and all the social and cultural groups that have seized on the color as an identifier thanks to its long-term associations with … well, take your pick … darkness, existential angst, artistic endeavor, intimidation, obscurity, rigor, efficiency, mystery, depression and sophistication? Where would it leave the protesters?’ Also, China bans exports of black clothing to Hong Kong amid protests; all mailings to city ‘severely investigated’, courier firm worker says and In Addition to Banning Face Masks, the Chinese Government Has Been Blocking the Shipment of Black Clothing to Hong Kong.

2. Post-industrialism alright: Men Will Lose the Most Jobs to Robots, and That’s OK.

3. Here, get to know Greta better: “We Are Striking to Disrupt the System”: An Hour with 16-Year-Old Climate Activist Greta Thunberg.

4. On (now deceased) attempts of manufacturing cool: Was the Gap Ever Cool? A Look at 50 Years in Denim and Khaki.

5. A basic reminder of what greenwashing is (and how we are surrounded by that shit): (in Spanish) Greenwashing, ¿y eso, qué es?

6. The coat season is here for the menswear blogs: (a) Style & Fashion Drawings: Ideally Enough Coats; (b) The Nearly Forgotten Balmacaan; and (c) The Other Kind of Slip-On.

7. And a little fun story of one woman’s home sewing becoming a hat brand: The History of Stormy Kromer and the Iconic Winter Hat.

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What I was writing about a year ago: #100wears: Rayon shorts. On those wardrobe champions that are both outerwear and underwear…

What I was writing about two years ago: Curating the 100% comfort wardrobe. Me suggesting to adopt garments and give them a trial period because you’ll never know after just trying something on.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w44 + Sunday links. I was also wearing back then: the Street One jacket, the red flea market sweater, Veja Wata Pierre, Zara-Swap cardigan.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w44 + Sunday links. Repeating this week: the Street One jacket and WAG skirt.

#whatiwore 2019w43 + Sunday links

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Orden a Tres podcast

This week on your favorite KonMari™ podcast in Spanish – Orden a Tres, of course – we talk about time and how the method can be applied to its use too: Ep. 13 KonMari más allá de los objetos: Tiempo. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher, and iTunes.

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And now for something completely different,

1. For a bunch of fun Sunday reading, Autostraddle has a series on ‘queer women they didn’t teach you about in history class‘. Both educational and entertaining, my favorites include: (a) The Gay Love Stories of Moomin and the Queer Radicality of Tove Jansson because I was living completely oblivious to the apparently well-known fact that this beloved author had had a life-long partner she wrote into her work; (b) Rebel Girls: Bessie Smith Was a Queer Pioneer, and We’re Finally Gonna Get to Talk About It, because, well, Bessie Smith (also, the TV movie mentioned is this one); (c) I was still taught the ‘38 bystanders‘ stuff in my undergrad, so Kitty Genovese’s Murder: Everything You Know About The “38 Bystanders” Is Wrong; and, although I thought that the potential of nunneries as places of intellectual and sexual emancipation was obvious, (d) Swords, Satan and Sexuality: Queer Nuns of the Past. And the historical vocabulary offered is hilarious: Gal Pals In History: 8 Ways To Avoid Using The Words “Lesbian” or “Bisexual”. Yes, a toast to all those ‘close friends and devoted companions’!

2. Gaming’s #MeToo Moment and the Tyranny of Male Fragility. I highly recommend Sady Doyle’s Trainwreck for a lot of in-depth analysis of the internet misogyny among other things.

3. I kept doubting about this one, but, here, you have it and decide for yourself: The Native American Designers Behind Ginew Are Redefining Americana. Is self-appropriation possible? How about all the sides of packaging your culture for sale to others? Or is just basic authenticity that my tired eyes are unable to recognize?

4. Some iconic ‘costumes’ are so basic you could be wearing one right now: Alternative Style Icon: Howling Mad Murdock of the A-Team.

5. Two references to County Donegal appeared on my feeds simultaneously, so it must mean something: County Donegal and its Tweed and Exploring Ards Forest Park in Lighthouse.

6. Yvon lives under the same cognitive dissonance of not being able to stop trying while knowing that we’re f*cked alrght: Exclusive: Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard talks about the sustainability myth, the problem with Amazon—and why it’s not too late to save the planet.

7. And Halloween as an entry point in education about fast fashion might be a smart idea: (a) Scariest thing about Halloween is plastic waste, say charities; (b) Don’t Let The Scariest Thing About Your Costume Be How It Was Made; and (c) Haulternatives for a Waste-free Halloween.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Fix it! No Pasarán jacket and the ruffle blouse. That magical transformation of one little jacket…

What I was writing about two years ago: Educational afternoon: The True Cost and Upcycling Barcelona. The recap of Un Armario Verde’s one and only purely education activity so far. I have realized that I need hand-on action to feel satisfied about my activism.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w43 + Sunday links. Was wearing also then: the Zara-Humana cardigan (only now it’s embroidered all over), Veja Wata Pierre sneakers, that upgraded Street One No Pasarán jacket, my mom’s gingham dress, my mom’s birds-and-flowers skirt, Liisa’s lace top, the #memade beige skirt. Oh, a lot indeed… my autumn wardrobe seems pretty much the same as a year ago.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w43 + Sunday links + Old #ootd. Also back then: the Street One jacket + you can also see the t-shirt that became the No Pasarán applique.

#whatiwore 2019w42 + Sunday links

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As for the little gray cells, here:

1. Talking about uniforms not only as a strategy for reducing the decision fatigue but also as a marketing strategy: What Political Branding Looks Like. And then comes ‘fashion diplomacy’ to whom I’ve, apparently, arrived late… and how chosing the blandest possible things can be a countermove when everybody is watching and interpreting: (a) The Death of Fashion Diplomacy; (b) On the Fourth of July, Melania Trump Dresses for Independence; (c) Melania Trump’s Say-Nothing State Dinner Dress; and (d) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Political Cost of Hair.

2. Well, at least coincidentally (as in: not purposefully) it seems to be a bit less male-dominated affair now: Women Are Defining Paris Couture.

3. I consider myself responsible for distributing as widely as possible every article that explains why Academia is a bad place for people, so (in Spanish) El coste mental de la carrera investigadora.

4. Pay attention to the words and where they point: This Is Not the Sixth Extinction. It’s the First Extermination Event. Also, (in Spanish) Así será el “siglo infernal”: por qué la crisis climática “es mucho peor de lo que imaginas”.

5. Obviously, 1 year since ‘Me Too’, Karnataka garment factory workers say harassment continues. And the usual ‘getting out of absolute poverty is good but not good enough’ stuff: The rise and rise of Bangladesh – but is life getting any better?

6. I keep reading about the ‘only wear once’ thing again and again so it must be true although I cannot understand it: One & Done: Why Do People Ditch Their Clothes After Just One Wear? and Kardashian Kloset: A Pros and Cons List.

7. This also whiffs of hypocrisy and speciesim of ‘skin yes, fluffy skin no’ but hey algo es algo: California becomes the first state to ban fur products and California Just Became the First State to Ban the Manufacture, Sale of Fur Products.

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What I was writing about a year ago: The urge to acquire. An invitation to sit back and observe when the ‘I want new things’ voice appears inside you… based on a true story.

What I was writing about two years ago: #100wears: Veja Taua. All time favorite sneakers, I’m now wearing my 4th and 5th pair.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w42 + Sunday links. Also wearing this week: only Veja Wata Pierre sneakers. Apparently, it was colder last year around this time.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w42 + Sunday links. Repeating: my mom’s dark blue silk dress. Continuing with the fur ban, that also was the week when I got very pissed about the false controversy caused by people who ‘decide’ that ‘vegan’ leather being an unsustainable oil-derived substance makes fur and leather ‘ethical’… Bah! You can find my rage in the link section.

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Where do you stand on the plastic vs. animal products debate? What arguments move you the most? And what do you practice (and I hereby acknowledge that practices and values rarely align perfectly)?

Swap Goals and Money

This will be contentious, buckle up! On our long-term mission with Mara to explore all other swaps in Barcelona, we went to one last Sunday. This one. And, before long, I had gotten myself into an argument about the political rationale of swaps with the organizers. Yeah, considerate and polite, I know… So due to that unplanned outburst, I’ve been thinking about what triggered it… and I’ve arrived to the goals of different swaps – as that was clearly the difference between theirs and mine – and the role money can play in them.

This one on Sunday, organized by Hot Chili Chicas Go on PutFoot, was an instrumental charity swap. One paid 10€ at the entrance for a drink, swap + two charitable causes: The Put Foot Foundation that provides school shoes and supplies for children in Southern Africa and AADAS, an association in Barcelona which helps victims of sexual violence in Catalunya. Clothing swaps are only part of their fundraising efforts, they are doing also pub quizzes, movie screenings, fitness classes, auctions, etc. My first disclaimer here is that after quite few years hanging around bigger and smaller NGOs and overseas development aid activists, I am also pretty unsure about such micro overseas charity efforts. But that’s another conversation…

Going back to the swap as such, in that swap-for-charity scheme of things a clothing swap is the very attractive lure that gets people donating. As you can imagine, this does not fit neatly in my perception of the current textile abundance. Of course, the more circularity of garments, the better, but I see no reason for such hype around a swap…

In my social media bubble, swaps are popping up so often, I can hardly keep track… but the attendees at this one seemed to have really hungry eyes, following the new arrivals with hawk-like concentration. Adrenaline was in the air, and I took it as a sign of first-timers’ excitement. Maybe I just don’t have enough time to observe humans at my own swaps… I had been told about people having their favorite ‘providers’ and trailing them while they unload their discards but had never really seen that in action.

Finally having some time to just observe… and a glass of cava indeed helps!

A swap-related magic belief that I really struggle with is the one about the inherent value and infinite recyclability of all garments. While the material and labor input is undeniable even for the worst quality garments, thinking that all leftover garments ‘just haven’t found the right girl’ is ludicrous. In a world full of worn out and skewed-seamed 3€ Primark t-shirts, unfortunately, swap leftovers (and stuff that have to go directly to the orange container instead of a swap) is the first sign of sanity. So many of the garments surrounding us has a very low first-hand use potential, not to mention any potential to become a prized second-hand find.

For me swaps are clearing houses, separating the grain from the ashes, because doing it collectively it is much quicker and precise process. Yes, in some cases one woman’s garbage is other’s treasure… but I also hope that my swaps also serve to learn to recognize quality instead of jumping to anything free and sparkly. Indeed, after what I have seen at swaps throughout last three years, there are two big groups of fashion fails that poison the swaps: (a) the worn out, ripped, stained low quality basics, and (b) the extravagant, uncomfortable, and badly engineered garments that have been worn very little if any. And the mission of a top swapper is to recognize that stuff for what it is and steer clear of them.

Yes, it is unfortunate but I console myself thinking about the reasonable garments that get saved out of that primordial soup. A wide-enough ‘offer’ is the key to make sure that there is a good-enough soup to waddle through. A 100% circulation rate has never been part even of my utopian swap fantasies. Yeah, I know, you can’t *always* predict what will break, pile or lose shape, but often you can… I can only hope that people honing such selection skills would also apply them to their purchases and leave the producers and distributors stuck with their deficient wares.

Mara being a faster-than-light swap clearing house in person.

For me a clothing swap is a complete creation that doesn’t need a further charitable cause. The goal is to swap garments and hence put them into new, loving hands instead of eating dust at the deep end of a wardrobe or at the landfill. There is also a secondary educational goal to indirectly teach people – through repeated visions of heaps of free clothing and repeated satisfaction of having quenched their thirst for novelty without having paid for it – that buying (new) garments is so passé. My secret plan is that a repeated, very visual first-hand experience of the incredible garment abundance we live in should make an imprint that there is no need to buy new, that there is no real need for them. Almost all our acquisitions are pure whims, hence – as with all drugs – it is preferable to follow that impulse in a controlled environment and actively reducing the harm caused. And the best way to create that educational experience is a free and deeply ‘communist’ swap.

Yes, some money is needed to organize the swap I’d like to attend. Although we have a very friendly deal with Ateneu Roig – no rent for the premises in return for users getting their drinks from their bar – there are the little stupid expenses: tape, garbage bags, and snacks, snacks, snacks… And my own time, and that of the volunteers, is not included there.

For the number-curious, here are the Ateneu Roig and Un Armario Verde income from the last five Ateneu Roig swaps, pretty volatile and not really impressive, as you can see. After the last swap in September 2019, my net gain after the direct expenses came to a stunning 12.57€. Again, without even trying to include my time, the IT costs of the blog, electricity for cooking and laundry, etc. I’m celebrating the fact that I am breaking even with the direct costs, as the nervous damage is priceless.

And to remind that my purity is not absolute, we actually did a ‘paid’ swap in June, at Imprfcto bar in Parallel. Following the same strategy described above, we included a drink in the price – 5€ – and provided all the usual snacks. And it paid off alright: 77€ for the bar and 102.71€ to share between me and Mara. Again though, after deducting the expenses, I had 9.09€. In this case it also meant the additional 15€ for the taxi I had to take back home. That’s why I prefer my swaps in Gràcia and at the same place because much of the stuff stays at Ateneu Roig…

However, it did feel weird, especially when some of the Ateneu Roig regulars came in, apparently oblivious to the 5€ thing. In some cases neither me nor Mara had the guts to ask for the fee… Well, I had taught people that swaps are free, what did I expect? Now I’ve been training the uncustomers to consider my swaps a ‘taquilla inversa’ events, with varying results.

And money feels nice. I like money. Even better than social media likes, money is a very real form of recognition of a good job: money has changed hands, hence something of value has taken place. So I’m not against receiving payments. I had set up a Ko-fi account for a year or so and tried to promote it – i.e. ‘if you didn’t have cash to tip the swap, send your digital money this way’ – but nobody ever gave me those 3€. People love free shit… and my heart loves providing that utopian experience

Also, until the end of 2018 I was well paid via my PhD scholarship, and treated spending on events and IT maintenance like spending on books and fun courses: and investment I chose to make. Now that my unemployment benefits are over, I do fret about money. Often. But I also know that trying to charge at Ateneu Roig swaps would be off brand and logistically difficult (think of that huge garage door). Harvard Business Review will tell you any day that ‘Whatever funding mechanism is used to cover the costs of excellence, it is best thought out as thoroughly as possible prior to the launch of a new service, rather than amended in light of experience afterward. When a service that’s been perceived as free suddenly has fees associated with it, customers tend to react with disproportionate displeasure.’

So I actually agree with the Sunday swap ladies who tried to convince me that y time had to be remunerated… just that I have users with three years of free swap experience to accommodate. And going back to the beginning, my priority is that glorious free swap experience, planting that seed of dissent, doubt …and rebellion against the fashion system. And costs will have to be covered in alternative ways.

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So, while I’ll be trying to control my self-righteous temper at social occasions, Ateneu Roig swaps will be (as always) free in any foreseeable future and other possible future venues might have other rules. No charitable goals beyond fomenting circular garment economies and conscious consumption will be promoted. If you would like to economically support my self-employed life, send donations via PayPal at jauatkales [a] gmail.com, leave generous tips during the December swap, or engage me as your KonMari consultant and wardrobe coach

How do you feel about money in sustainable/upcycling/anticapitalist events? It feels great to say ‘oh, enjoy, it is all for free’ but landladies don’t tend to follow he same logic. Do you feel comfortable paying for a swap? Does it help if it has a further charitable goal instead of giving the organizers some pocket-money?

#whatiwore 2019w41 + Sunday links

A detail A: The weather shock coming from Latvian October into Barcelona October lasted a couple of days. And started with having to take off the cape, the hat, the gloves, the cardigan… and tights upon arrival:

A detail B: And I finally acted upon my urge to pick up textile garbage that idiots leave beside the containers. This was a pretty and promising one, so a good clean start into textile dumpster diving! I got a couple of tops out of it and a whole haul – after I’ve bleached those sweat stains that probably got them discarded out of them – for the next swap we’ll be exploring… This one, btw.

A PSA for the thick ones: Textile garbage in Barcelona goes into the orange containers. All Punt Verd stations will either have a container or just take you bag. And all Humana shops will take it. Do not just leave it on the street! There is enough garbage going around already… and I’m not always around to save it!

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Orden a Tres podcast

This week in your favorite – and the only one of its kind – podcast in *Spanish* dedicated to all things Marie Kondo, we talk about relationships: Ep. 12 KonMari más allá de los objetos: Relaciones. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher, and iTunes.

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As for the brain food and reading matter,

1. Let’s start with some science (and all the chemistry equations you wanted for your Sunday afternoon): Demystifying ocean acidification and biodiversity impacts. I know, I know, but it’s important…

2. Only this week, pretty randomly and quite late, I came across one of the pioneering work in the capsule wardrobe universe, Donna Karan‘s Seven Easy Pieces or ‘Essentials’. Although the whole thing is steeped into 1980’s notion of beauty, career women and femininity, the idea that 7 (!) considered and compatible pieces can carry one throughout day and night is very cool. The whole thing is built on a bodysuit + layers formula, and is pretty genius if you like bodysuits… Here, (a) Now You Know: The Evolution of Donna Karan’s Seven Easy Pieces and (b) Donna Karan Names Her Favorite Seven Pieces of Her Career. You could easily replicate this and then be able to say that you capsule is Donna Karan inspired…

Donna Karan’s Seven Easy Pieces at MoMA’s “Is Fashion Modern?” exhibit by Quartz/Marc Bain.

3. And for more fashion theory and history, quite some time Liliana recommended a Coursera course from MoMA on her FB page… and now I have finally enrolled in Fashion as Design. So you might be getting an even more obscure references and reading pieces than before. To begin, Bernard Rudofsky’s 1944 exhibition “Are Clothes Modern?” (I have talked a bit about his stuff before here) and a brief glimpse at 2011 MoMa exhibition Is Fashion Modern? guided by its curator.

4. For those wanting more fashion history – or smart enough to contribute a wiki-resource of fashion history, Fashion History Timeline: A hub for fashion research from State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology.

5. A reminder to all activists, especially Extinction Rebellion… although when it comes to climate crisis protests, the logic that Ta-Nehisi Coates describes might not be a perfect fit: Civil-Rights Protests Have Never Been Popular, hopefully…

6. These are old scandals by the criteria of the 24-hour media cycle but I’ve been thinking about them this week… and cultural (mis)appropriation is an ongoing thing: (a) on the very short cycle of consumer outrage and forgetfulness, The Resurrection of Dolce & Gabbana; and the Carolina Herrera vs Mexico debacle (b) (in Spanish) México acusa a Carolina Herrera de apropiación cultural por su colección más reciente, and (c) Homage or Theft? Carolina Herrera Called Out by Mexican Minister where Vanessa Friedman dixit about the new caution surrounding cultural appropriation: ‘The natural end result of this particular trend, after all, is that designers and the brands they work for become so worried about offending that they cease to look at the world outside, defining their aesthetic ever more narrowly. Their own experience becomes their sole creative fodder. And that serves neither them nor us. It does not lead to new ways of being in an ever-evolving world. It leads to stasis. Fashion, more than most industries, was founded on the principle of cultural cross-pollination. Like most cross-pollination, it has produced astonishing, illuminating results. That it did so in a way that ill served some of those involved is unquestionable. That it needs to rethink its practices and systems so everyone has a seat at the table is also not in doubt. (…) The question is whether, once the authority of a government minister is added to the pressure of the crowd, it is already too late?’

7. I really enjoy it when even the usually expensive stuff loving menswear blogs get annoyed: Cucinelli’s New Kids Collection Is The Most Ridiculous Thing Ever.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Beyond repair: sports bra and blue leggings. Learning to admit that there is a point of bye-bye, followed by a trip to the orange container. Or, well, rags and trapillo yarn or sth.

What I was writing about two years ago: Autumn capsule = 3 months and 7 dresses. Wearing only 7 dresses for all that autumn was fun indeed…

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w41 + Sunday links. Also wearing this week: Veja Wata Pierre sneakers, Veja Arcade sneakers, Humana-Zara ruffle top, swap-Zara cardigan, and Liisa’s black top…

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w41 + Sunday links. And still relevant: Veja Arcade sneakers

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Do you ever pick up garbage from the street? Or are you the one leaving it on the street hoping I’ll pass by and pick it up? Do you think it’s a reasonable system for exchange of goods?

What (not) to do with discarded clothes in Barcelona: Percentil

A disclaimer: I wanted to try one of the ‘we’ll resell your garments for you’ services just as an experiment. I have never been attracted to reselling as it seemed more hassle than gain, but these services keep popping up and Percentil was recommended to me as the ‘next big thing’ by reasonable people. So I wanted to have a first-hand experience, expecting only mild disappointment as it should be when trying to resell fast fashion stuff to consumers who already have it all.

However, as you will read below, now I have an impossible-to-close dispute with Percentil and, convinced of their wrongdoing, would not recommend using it. But let me explain it…

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August 25: Signing up

One creates an account and says ‘give me a bag’, then this comes:

You also tell upfront if you will want your rejected stuff back. The obvious answer: no! Once it’s out, it’s gone. I don’t care if the Percentil sorting ladies wear them instead of discarding them. They boast about donating to NGOs the stuff that they reject but I’m not impressed with such claims… you know my stance on the garment abundance.

August 30: Package and instructions

I applied for the bag on Saturday, and had it in mail next Friday, so on 5th working day it was with me. It is small and fits neatly in any letterbox.

And there are additional instructions in there:

A) The general how-to with a couple of annoying points. This thing of ‘once we charged 5.95€ for this service but now we don’t’ is ridiculous. Or the clear contradiction between ‘really fill the bag’ and ‘take it to a pick-up point on your own’. I wouldn’t risk dragging it around public transit when that bag is even half-full.

B) More specifications of the garments to be sent. To me the insistence on ‘we are very picky’ only ignites the wish to fuck with them. Also, I’ve looked around what they sell and it is by no means spectacular. Also, I’ve seen enough stuff there without a brand name. Even ‘with a slight defect’, so, please… Providing measurements in cm instead of the brand sizing would be more helpful. And singling out certain shops as beneath them while accepting others is very ugly (why would CnA be worse than HnM?) just to then sell them anyways. Yeah, I checked that by browsing their merchandise.

C) And they’ll include you in a special club if you do refrain from fucking with them and provide at least 20 items with at least 16 of them being in acceptable condition. As I’m explaining below, I couldn’t refrain from messing with them just to try out their rigor (and to imagine that I’m a normal person who does not organize regular swaps; imagine I just pruned my wardrobe and want to get rid of all I’m discarding in one bag): I’m sending 12 things and expecting 3 to 4 rejections, i.e. 25-33% rejection rate. Sound about right after all I’ve seen at swaps.

That leaflet is also your contract with Percentil. A contract that you send them and do not get to keep any proof of what you put in the bag. As you will see later, this is the biggest problem of such system…

The bag is big, though. Very big.

Selection

They want a full bag, but what does a minimalist do to just try their service? Accumulate from other people! I’m sending 12 items. 10 is the minimum. (Although, if you think about it, how are they going to enforce that? Suspend your ‘membership’?) Only two of those 12 have been mine. I did a thorough soul-searching and spreadsheet reorganization trying to find the superfluous items in my wardrobe. Two is the answer.

There are three garments from C, and we are both very curious about how it will go with the Nudies. A new pair costs between 100 and 200€, and these are in a great condition.

Most of the 12 are from Giulia who moved in August, and left some of her stuff with me for the next swap. I was too lazy to go sort through the swap seed suitcase which is at the Ateneu, so I’m sending her stuff. It’s all in the name of proper research, pupsik!

Below you have my full list with all info, my expectations for their selection process and the result of it.

Men’s

1. Nudie Jeans. Thin Finn Black Ring. 99% organic cotton, 1% elastane. Made in Italy. W31 L32.
Should be accepted. Got lost, more on that below...

2. Levi’s shirt. 100% cotton. Made in Bangladesh. M.
Should be accepted. Accepted. Price to buy 18.95€. Gain for me 4.70€.

3. Cheap Monday shirt. Air Short Sleeve Denim Check. 100% cotton. Made in China. M.
With a hole! Should be rejected. Rejected as too worn out.


4. Suit shirt. 100% cotton. Made in China. L.
Should be accepted. Accepted. Price to buy 23.45€. Gain for me 5.81€.

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Women’s

5. Zara top. Cut off fabric composition tag. Made in Turkey. S.
Should be accepted. Rejected as stained.

6. No brand shirt. 100% cotton. Made in India. No size.
Should be rejected because of lack of size tag. Rejected as too worn out.

7. Zara vest. Shell 100% lyocell. Lining 100% cotton. Made in China. M.
Should be accepted. Rejected as stained.

8. Poncho. No tags of any kind. Wool.
No idea, we’ll see. Accepted. Price to buy 9.95€. Gain for me 1.65€.

9. Coat. No tags of any kind. Loose buttons.
Should be rejected because of lack of a sizing tag. Rejected as too worn out.

10. Vibram hiking boots. Dakota XCR. Made in China. 42 1/2.
Should be accepted. Rejected as type of footwear they do not sell.

11. Asos blouse. No fabric composition tag but plastic alright. No country of production tag. 38.
2015. A hand-me-down from Kristīne. 53 wears since I started tracking, 10 wears in the first 8 months of 2019.
Should be accepted. Accepted. Price to buy 9.95€. Gain for me 1.65€.

12. HnM skirt. 95% cotton, 5% elastane. Made in Bangladesh. M.
2017. Swap find. 31 wears, 4 wears in the first 8 months of 2019.
Should be accepted. Accepted. Price to buy 4.95€. Gain for me 0.82€.

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September 3: Pick up / drop off

Ugh… I made the mistake to check the drop off points. They do this with a ‘logistics solutions’ company and that mean’s quite few points in tobacconists, stationery shops, etc. I have two nearby, at 10 and 11 min walk from my place. And my 12-piece bag could be brought there without too much effort. And I was so attracted to the idea of somebody just picking it up from my place! But now my conscience is against it.

My bag was small enough to fit it into one of the big reusable grocery bags and carry it… so I did walk down to a tobacco shop for a drop off. However, from what I gathered from the conversations between the shopkeepers, receiving a Percentil bag implies them asking for a special pick-up while I had assumed that it would be picked up as part of a general Celeritas package run. So the impression I got was that, even if you take your bag to a drop-off point, it is likely that it will require a special pickup anyways, i.e. my walk to the tobacconist doesn’t mean that I have prevented a truck trip across Barcelona. Hence the only benefit of doing it yourself (if you have a empty-enough bag which shouldn’t be the case) is that you do it on your own time instead of waiting around for a pick-up.


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September 6: Confirmation of reception

I dropped it off on Tuesday, September 3rd and received an email on Friday confirming that they’ve received it. The somewhat shocking thing is the estimated turnaround: 3 weeks (!!!) or even more if they get many more bags in the upcoming days. Ugh. Not cool. OK, it’s sorting, pricing and taking photos, but 3 weeks do not feel adequate for that. I am not impressed!

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Then, on September 20 (two weeks later), they had sorted it out… but found only 11 items! And my experience goes downhill from this point…

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Selection explanation

Apparently I have to be grateful for them even showing me reasons for discarding garments, only because it’s my first time. However, the selection seems almost reasonable. I am really surprised only about the Vibram boots.

Pricing

As you would expect, peanuts. And all that, of course, hinges on somebody actually buying them.

I’m not sure if it’s an automatic smile-file email once you have sent your first bag in, but I received en email next day (September 21) congratulating me (?) that now they’ll be paying double on garments…

And they included a table of the percentage of the price you would get before…

…and now!

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The lost item

So they had found 11 garments in the bag I am convinced I put in 12. And, curiously enough, exactly the most expensive one is the one missing… Well, I sent an email on 21st specifying all the details and encouraging them to look for it:

As I had sent my inquiry in on Saturday, they responded on Monday that they would look into it:

On that Friday I got a response that they had revised my bag and had found no error, i.e. no Nudie jeans. For some reason they remind me about their high selection criteria – as if I had complained about something they had discarded – but offer no way to proceed with this:

Starting to doubt my own sanity and – this being the only scrap of paper involved – I asked them to look for my filled out leaflet:

As it again happened to be Friday, I got the response on Monday:

And one more week later – on October 7 – I received this:

And this:

And this is where the whole thing stops… as there is no way to close this dispute. I am convinced that somebody at their reception chain has stolen that pair of jeans, be it the Percentil policy or individual initiative of an employee, while they claim that there were 11 items when they opened that bag.

I have been going back and forth in my head thinking about ways to possibly prove it but there are none. Even if I had taken a video of myself counting and describing the garments and then closing the bag, that could still be questioned as in if you really closed it, if that was the bag, etc.

And meanwhile they kept sending me emails asking for feedback before having resolved my problem and telling that they have made new, better photos of my items… And asking for feedback. So here you have feedback alright. And those poor garments up there are getting discounted already. And then come more emails urging me to ‘share my wardrobe’ on my social media so that people would buy it… Ugh.

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So six weeks after I had the brilliant idea that I should try Percentil, I am exhausted and pissed off at them. You see, I am a very trusting person and hadn’t even considered that something like this could happen. Curiously enough, though, I did receive a message commenting on me telling IG that I’ll be trying Percentil out to count well how many things I’m putting in my bag… so maybe they already have this fame but I’m slow to catch on? Although the person n question was doubting if the supposedly discarded items aren’t getting sold too.

All in all, a shit experience where I expected only a mildly annoying one. The key, of course, is the model of ‘you send us and we’ll tell you’ that – turns out – can easily lead to such impossible-to-solve disputes. I won’t be trying any of similar services soon and I don’t recommend buying from them. Fuck ’em, organize a clothes swap instead! How? This and this. Or establish an old-school consignment store where a staff member evaluates your stuff at the moment (while frowning at your fast fashion wares). Having seen a couple working very well in New York, I think there would be enough space in Barcelona… Maybe there already is one? I shall Google.

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An update after having stuff for sale for 2 months:

Well, my first sale, Giulia’s no-brand poncho. Almost a € for me, how kind!

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Well, at the end, not really… I can’t even.

#whatiwore 2019w40 + Sunday links

How it looked at the moment:



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Orden a Tres podcast

We are often bewitched by what we are not that good at, right? So this week on Orden a Tres you will get us, three far from perfect KonMari™ consultants, talking about the importance of self-care… As always, in Spanish: Ep. 11 Hablemos de auto-cuidado. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher, and – finally! – iTunes.

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And for the little gray cells,

1. This week you get a special section on (mostly) men’s undergarments: (a) A Brief History of Men’s Underwear; (b) Winter Undie-land: A Brief History of Long Underwear; (c) Union suit; (d) The Unlikely Return Of White Socks; (e) Laughing at the Robes.

2. In the ‘cute but unlikely to scale projects’ uplifting press releases section, Great Green Wall and (in Spanish) leather substitute made from nopal.

3. Leave it to George to remind you who your class enemies are: ‘Immense wealth translates automatically into immense environmental impacts, regardless of the intentions of those who possess it. The very wealthy, almost as a matter of definition, are committing ecocide.’

4. Basic sustainability advice applied: make do (Extending the life of electronics by a year equivalent to taking millions of cars off the road) and try to make something else out of your garbage (7 Creative Ways to Upcycle Your Old Clothes).

5. On that romantic mist surrounding certain garments: ‘“Utilitarian” is probably an inappropriate concept for this discussion, except in our shared #menswear fantasies of rus in urbe. No one today really needs shoes whose construction has the butch origin story required for #menswear fantasies.’

6. On how purity, perfection and 100% coherence is impossible, and how people attempting any kind of sustainability have to embrace this fact or perish under the weight of our conscience: (in Spanish) La coherencia es una trampa.

7. A piece of satire proposing that we are at peak sartorial tolerance hence making any effort at shocking ‘the gray mass’ futile: Area Men Struggle To Find New Ways To Freak Out Squares.

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What I was writing about a year ago: After 9 months of the big spreadsheet. Ah, the rule of dry facts…

What I was writing about two years ago: (after the fourth swap) September Clothes’ Swap Recap.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w40 + Sunday links. And not repeating anything this week because of weather differences involved…

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w40 + Sunday links. Hah, actually Veja Arcade and the pearl earrings are being repeated, so that weather argument loses a bit of its power…

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Do you agree with the assertion that nothing shocks people anymore fashion-wise? Have you ever dressed with the purpose of shocking and provoking? Still doing so?

After 9 months of the big spreadsheet in 2019

Well, hello there, last trimester of 2019! Let’s see what I’ve been wearing so far… in case you are new to this, in 2018 I switched from doing seasonal capsules to having all my garments available throughout the year and just tracking every time I wear something outside home.

You can learn all about the underlying logic in the previous quarterly posts:

The outset post on January 2018, including a link to a Google spreadsheet you can use too,
here the 2018 January-March update,
here the 2018 January-June update,
here the 2018 January-September update,
here the 2018 January-December recap.
Then 2019 started, and here is January-March post,
and here the January-June 2019 update.

So here you have my wardrobe champions and laggards of 2019 so far by garment category.

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Layers

Most worn: Street One jacket (acquired in 2005, worn in 2019 so far: 52 / wears counted in total: 143).

Runner-ups: Swap Zara cardigan (2018, 40/98) and red flea sweater (2015, 34/182).

Most worn in the same period in 2018: My mom’s gray cardigan (2012-2019, 219 wears counted)

Not worn or worn the least: Velvet floral bolero (2011, 2/10) and the Lithuanian wool sweater (2015, 2/32). These two are ongoing complicated cases… the little bolero needs an occasion and a whole coordinated set while the Lithuanian sweater needs proper winter.

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Dresses

Most worn: Hah, still my mom’s MnS black linen dress (2013, 23/93). I really do not understand how this one gets to be the most worn but the spreadsheet doesn’t lie. This kind of unsuspected wardrobe champions is why I love wardrobe tracking.

Runner-ups: Swap Zara Mucha lyocell dress (2019, 22/22) and my mom’s dark blue silk dress (2016, 20/85).

Most worn in the same period in 2018: my mom’s dark blue silk dress (31)

Not worn or worn the least: my floral dress (2019, 5/5) and my mom’s Max Mara weekend dress (2019, 5/5). Both are recent acquisitions that are still finding their true place in my wardrobe.

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Tops

Most worn: My mom’s lace undershirt (2012, 39/106).

Runner-ups: Humana Zara ruffle top (2018, 28/40) and Kristīne’s MnS blue kaftan (2018, 25/58).

Most worn in the same period in 2018: The demon t-shirt (2014-2018, 95)

Not worn or worn the least: My mom’s green bird top (2018, 0/1). Let’s see how it will go this winter…

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Bottoms

Most worn: ZIB orange flower leggings (2018, 35/35). Yep, dark leggings is a staple in my wardrobe…

Runner-ups: My mom’s white jeans (2018, 34/34) and ZIB blue flower leggings (2018, 26/26).

Most worn in the same period in 2018: My mom’s rayon shorts (2016-2019, 119)

Not worn or worn the least: ZIB splash leggings (2015, 3/4). A pair of very comfy leggings that lives in Rīga and rarely goes outside.

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Footwear

Most worn: Veja Wata Pierre (2018, 107/228).

Runner-ups: the birks (2017, 75/256) and Veja Taua Nautico (2019, 53/53).

Most worn in the same period in 2018: the birks (107). After a total of 256 wears throughout three summers they finally went out this week.

Not worn or worn the least: Toni Pons espadrilles (2018, 1/11) and the mountain boots my dad got as a hand-me-down fro ma client (2019, 1/1). Espadrilles are for when my KonMari consultancy requires a change of footwear… and the boots are on trial since July…

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Adornments

Most worn: the sunhat (2019, 41/41). Yeah, I finally got a (swap) sunhat and it is great, both to shade myself and to hide sweaty summer hair!

Runner-ups: Little Bit Bijoux necklace (2019, 27/27), ban.do headband (2011?, 22/101), and bird and flowers headband (2012, 22/94).

Most worn in the same period in 2018: the red wooden necklace (26).

Not worn or worn the least: ‘Pearl’ necklace (?, 3/72). I like the idea of wearing a necklace but most of them choke me…

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2019 wardrobe conclusions so far? Well, it’s always in flux… there are old and recent acquisitions among my champions. And laggards are mostly pieces of limited use or comfort. Makes sense. Some of them still surprise me. And that keeps giving sense to this spreadsheet project.

Part of this is also about living with my own ambivalence. Notice that I don’t automatically discard the ‘laggards’ or make an active campaign to wear them. My 2014-2017 capsule wardrobe self could have done such… Nope, I drink my tea and observe, this is just an additional piece of information, not the final judgement.

Do you practice any kind of wardrobe tracking? Have you ever noticed (or been pointed out) incongruences between your perceptions about the frequency of wear and the reality? Can you easily name your wardrobe champions?

#whatiwore 2019w39 + Sunday links

How it looked at the moment:



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Orden a Tres podcast

In this week’s episode of your favorite KonMari-dedicated podcast in Spanish we talk about life with animals… and how the Marie Kondo logic applies to them: Ep. 10 KonMari™ más allá de los objetos: Mascotas. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher, and – finally! – iTunes.

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And now for the brain:

1. In March 1960 somebody at Observer had the bizarre idea to ask Simone de Beauvoir about ‘her attitude to fashion and how she chooses her clothes’, despite her telling them that ‘I am not at all interested in clothes […] I have so many other things to think about, so many other interests that they are not at all on my mind.’

2. A kind reminder that separating our garbage in some imaginary neat categories does not mean that it gets converted into something new. In many occasions we just piss off the workers of the recycling plants and break their equipment: (a) (for USA) Plastics: What’s Recyclable, What Becomes Trash — And Why and (b) (for Catalunya) Residu, on vas?

3. Consumption patterns as clear reflections of wider sociodemographic trends: Architecture Professor Explains Why Malls Are Dying.

4. ‘Going carbon neutral’ is mostly greenwashing for the big brands… Gucci Says it Will be Completely Carbon Neutral by the End of September and Kering Says its “Entire Group” is Going Carbon Neutral. Here’s What That Means… + a reminder that if a vendor/brand looks all boho, ecletic and/or vintage, it doesn’t mean a thing as the sustainability credentials go: How Ethical is Anthropologie?

5. When menswear blogs recommend a woman’s movie wardrobe for its use of menswear: Inspiration From Emma Thompson In Late Night.

6. In the mental health corner, A Perfect Mess: Black Swan (dir. Darren Aronofsky, 2010) and (in Spanish) Mi depresión nunca fue mía (o 5 cosas que he aprendido sobre salud mental).

7. The kind of fashion editorials I can get behind (because comfy and practical = ultimate good): My Fashion Fantasy is Napping and Get An Overcoat This Fall.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Fix it! WAG skirt and lace undershirt. My adventures in fixing… few accomplishments make me as proud as prolonging a garments life!

What I was writing about two years ago: Summer 2017 capsule ins and outs.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w39 + Sunday links. Wearing also this week: only the pearl earrings as end of September in Rīga and Moscow is a very different affair than in Barcelona.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w39 + Sunday links. Again, repeating only pearls, because, well, it’s not really sandal weather here…

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I had the interesting experience of wearing my mom’s rather formal (for my standards) coat throughout our Moscow trip… interesting indeed, made me think… no conclusions yet but certainly felt different. What are your relationships with formal/adult clothing? Do you wear it? Do you enjoy it? Are there external circumstances (like, ehm, jobs) that make you wear suits, pencil skirts, white blouses, etc. serious adult garments?

#whatiwore 2019w38 + Sunday links

A detail: Above you see the Barcelona part of this week… then I planned my suitcase,

Packed it suitcase full of winter stuff…

To get two weeks of Latvian and Russian autumn:


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Orden a Tres podcast

This week at Orden a Tres podcast we talk about plants and their role in the KonMari™ universe – Ep. 9 KonMari™ más allá de los objetos: Plantas. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher, and iTunes.

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And for the gray cells:

1. Laurie Penny seeing the silver lining (whisper: fanfic will save the world) – We Can Be Heroes: How the Nerds Are Reinventing Pop Culture.

2. An obituary to department stories as places of beauty and longing: The Slow Death of Glamour. As for the present, A 7-Year Old Fashion Rental Company is Buying 193-Year Old Lord & Taylor.

3. When the purists see the irony that can be found among them: “Can’t Wait To See How This Breaks In,” Says Man Who Buys New Clothes Every Week. Meanwhile, you can still – unironically – learn about traditional Japanese hand-dyeing methods, mourn that Levi’s is No Longer Producing Any 501 Jeans in America, and worship Japanese denim: A Rare Visit to Kapital, Japan’s Denim Paradise.

4. The twisted realities of the influencer culture: Are the Most Valuable Brand Endorsements Free? Well, at least this one makes certain intuitive sense.

5. The status quo of the fashion industry? (a) The 76-Year-Long Evolution of New York Fashion Week; (b) The Denim Industry Needs to Find the Innovation Thread: Heritage labels face threats from the athleisure trend and growing demand for sustainable fashion; (c) It’s too late for ethical fashion: A sustainability expert explains that progress in the industry is cancelled out by the rate at which the fashion economy is speeding up; (d) Forever 21’s Expected Bankruptcy Filing Does Not Mark the Fall of Fast Fashion; (e) I can’t believe people still do the surprised ‘I just discovered the ills of fast fashion’ books and articles… but here you have another one only because it introduces the notion of ‘fashion bulimia’ (I’m unsure what the survivors of eating disorders think of this but it is a powerful reframing): The environment and economy are paying the price for fast fashion — but there’s hope.

6. When gestures interpreted as sustainable became hip and sociologically weird: How Fancy Water Bottles Became a 21st-Century Status Symbol and Too Much of a Good Thing (on the mysterious multiplication of canvas totes).

7. I am really longing for some serious disruption, like this: Grounded. I just don’t yet have the courage to do it myself…

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What I was writing about a year ago: September Swap (7th!) recap. Contains the swap to-do list that typically gets me in a knot and then I write these post-swap rants… I thought about maybe toning it down a bit for this week’s recap, but then decided that truth will make us free and maybe even prevent post-swap migraines (I’ve had only one in my life and that was after a swap).

What I was writing about two years ago: Six months of blogging and adjusting expectations. Oh, all those shattered expectations about going immediately viral… or shall we call it a strong belief in the quality of my content?!

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w38 + Sunday links. Also wore this week: the WAG skirt and the Zara-Humana ruffle blouse (from this ‘I really really want to buy sth’ occasion a year ago).

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w38. Repeated this week: my mom’s gingham dress, pearl earrings and the DIY mixed ‘pearl’ necklace.

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Can you help but roll your eyes at the n-th media fast fashion outrage discovery moment? Please, dear people, it’s 2019, everybody knows… maybe not the details but the big picture is ignored only thanks to cognitive dissonance. I know, I know, you never know which piece of information will penetrate the defenses of somebody but it just gets painfully repetitive. I just find it hard to believe that there are still editors who would pay for a general ‘everything is wrong in fast fashion’ coverage. Dude, infiltrate, do profound qualitative work, do in-depth coverage of the alternatives, do something new, please!

September Swap (11th!) recap

My pride and joy, happy uncustomers.

As I keep responding people who come to me all excited about how great the swaps are, ‘yeah, I’ve been doing this since 2016 and this is the 11th time, I’ve learnt a thing or two…’ There were no force majeures during this event, all went well, all as usual. So I have only a couple of points to write down for the history and such…

My swap stuff to be carried from home is down to one carrito and one bag, yeah! Practice, eh.

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On volunteers

Chus and Patri being the heroes until the very end.

While I love everybody who gives their time, social networks or money to swaps, it always feels to little. And I know that the problem is mine. This is my love project, and my unconscious measuring of people’s dedication by my own standards are clearly ludicrous… but I still do that. And numerous bitter experiences have confirmed that I cannot trust anybody to do what they promised they’d do until they’ve done that. Well, we don’t have a written contract, I pay no money and circumstances change, indeed. On the other hand, I know very well that I am unable to set up and wrap up a swap alone.

That said, *thank you* so much to those who came early and those who stayed late, and those who shared the event on FB and IG, those that left tips, and those who keep liking Un Armario Verde stuff on social media. This time, I have to thank especially Liisa, Lorena, Coco, Effie, Virginia, Cynthia, Grace, Patricia, Chus… and Mara from across the ocean! xoxo

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On wrap up

The final countdown being performed by Grace, Cynthia, Patri and Chus.

It’s f*ing exhausting! If the setup is at least filled with the excitement – and more people volunteer for this part – wrapping up a swap is quite horrible… I try to entice people with the fact that you get to go through all the things, maybe still take something for yourself, make snide comments about other people’s stuff, but even I didn’t have much fun this time. Taking into account that it takes place after 5+ hours of being on my feet and has to be done so as to return Ateneu to its best possible state, ugh. I just kept observing how the light went out of those who had volunteered to stay until the end, poor creatures. Again, thank you so much for enduring so much, and I hope to see you again!

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On leftovers

First of all, I’ll bite the next person who’ll ask me what do I do with the leftovers and then roll their eyes at me. F*ck you! You make a comprehensive survey about the textile reuse/recycling opportunities in Barcelona and take a reasonable decision about what to do with these bags and bags of (mostly) low quality / worn out clothes. And then physically carry it out instead of being philosophical about it. Dear people, your textile garbage is not amazing, nobody wants it!

So, for those at the back, for many times now, we pack it up and take it to Botiga Gratis of Banc Expropriat who run a very similar affair to my swaps but do that every working day for 3h (if you ever need any basic clothing or just want to browse sth, c/ Quevedo 13-15 from 18:00 till 21:00). It is not far but requires at least two trips for at least two adults with the aid of supermarket trolleys. And it has to be done on Monday or Tuesday after the swap, as Ateneu has other activities to do instead of just keeping a space full of bags and the Botiga Gratis ladies rest on weekends. So far I think I’ve had only such ‘volunteers’ for the Botiga Gratis part that I can coerce emotionally because they are friends: Liisa, Mara, and, I think most often throughout these years, C ♥.

The political choice I mentioned earlier in choosing the next step in the reusing/recycling chain is a complex one… The official stance of the city of Barcelona are the orange Roba Amiga containers. It is a Catholic-church affiliated NGO and they have the municipal contract for all textile residue management. They have shops that resell, they export to other countries, and they make pulp for industrial rags, carpeting, isolation, etc. I estimate, though, that the likelihood that somebody will wear the same garment you have deposited in the orange in Barcelona is very small… only if they are part of the illegal resellers that routinely break in those containers.

Botiga Gratis is not perfect either. They are also overwhelmingly full of low quality stuff, so seeing our haul does not necessarily make them happy. And they don’t believe in textile recycling – their hate for second-hand shops and resellers is visceral indeed – so all their discards go to the gray container and straight to the landfill. Not cool for all that polyester and other materials that will be there forever. 200+ years, Fashion Revolution dixit:

Taking into account the actual quality of the leftovers, the most considerate way of doing this would be to take the good things to Botiga Gratis and the bad ones to a Roba Amiga container. We actually separated them while sorting this time, again, with an extra effort from those tired volunteers, but ended up not doing it… because the closest church that had a container according to Roba Amiga homepage was brandishing a sign ‘we are not accepting clothes for Caritas’. F*ck it, said we and just hauled it to Botiga Gratis.

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On finds: for me

I got a new pair of – this time – fake birks… the most hilarious part is that I didn’t notice that it is a Natura copy until I started taking photos at home. Well, welcome to the family! The old ones have had 250+ wears and are very ready to be discarded, so the bar for the performance of the new ones is a low one. They are longer but much more narrow than birks, so my hobbit feet will have to work hard to deform that length into width.

I also picked up a couple of things with a hope to refashion them, I’ll let you know if that happens.

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On finds: for people who are coming

Washed and KonMaried, ta-dah! Also, a dachshund ribbon fixes everything.

My friend Luisa is expecting and this swap – unexpectedly! – offered me a chance to give her a babyshower present. Being me, knowing that she has already got quite few hand-me-downs for the baby, and her knowing me well enough (and being a fan of swaps), buying something new felt inauthentic… so, after asking her first from the swap if she was interested in 4 new-looking Primark 100% cotton onesies size 86cm, a gift was born. I hope Clarinha likes them too, they are soft and look quite comfy to poop in.

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Here you have my rant, see you on December 14th then! Because, although I complain and get tired, the show must go on… because it makes so much sense, because this is the thing that has do be done. And, as my love for rags is intense, it clearly has to be me doing this. I love you, swaps.

What are your swap experiences? Ever attended one? Ever organized one? Ever thought of organizing one, found this post, and now think it’s not such a good idea? Do it! All those sad garments at the very bottom of the wardrobe needs some airing out and somebody new to hang out with.

#whatiwore 2019w37 + Sunday links

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Orden a Tres podcast

Your favorite ‘practice your Spanish while doing KonMari™’ podcast is back! In this week’s episode we cover the final category of a tidying festival: sentimental items. Ep 8. La quinta categoría del método KonMari™: Sentimentales. You can also listen us on Spotify and Stitcher, and iTunes.

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And a bit brain food too:

1. For those who are nostalgic about ink stains and hard-to-read notes, Handwriting: An Elegy and Activation Energy. Full disclosure: I love fountain pens and inks but my handwriting is useful only for private diaries as very few people can decipher it.

2. In case you had missed that US soccer team are awe-inspiring people, NYT is here to inform you: U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Members Are Winners, and Entrepreneurs.

3. This is a bit essentialist but based on – although biased – empirical observation, so read it anyway: 10 Things I’ve Learned as a Queer Woman in the Climate and Energy Fields.

4. I never thought I’d be recommending a Daily Mail link but this is a type of garbage I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere. Also, being part of the industry that routinely suggests that people discard all the hangers they have and buy a new set of identical ones, ugh… Coat hangers leach cancer-causing chemicals, can’t be recycled and maim wildlife. Why do we ignore the plastic menace every bit as toxic as carrier bags? I don’t really have a good recommendation for a switch, except for sticking with the wood and metal ones as the wire-only are very thin and rarely spark any joy. Oh, and obviously not giving them away for free or hanging underwear…

5. For those last summer days… and to prep your fiber knowledge for next warm season: Summertime and the Linen’s Easy and Textile Tales: Terrycloth.

6. What are the luxury re-buyers coveting? Gucci, Yeezy, Luxury Watches and Sustainability Stand Out in The RealReal’s Annual Resale Report. To add context and a counterpoint, The Real Problem with Fast Fashion. And to get just a glimpse of a thought process in slow fashion, the trials and re-trials around just one garment’s fastening, this – Signature Collection: Late Summer Update.

7. I can’t help but love it when menswear nerds break garments down to the most minute detail (and teach you the vocabulary so you can follow their lead): How To Get A Good White Dress Shirt and The Different Types of Eyelets.

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What I was writing about a year ago: 1.5 years of blogging and adjusting expectations. The usual rant about how much I dislike the internets, I should write one soon…

What I was writing about two years ago: Summer 2017 capsule heroes and lessons learned.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w37 + Sunday links. Also wore this week: WAG skirt, birks, and the #memade beige skirt.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w37. The only coincidence are the birks because this was that occasions when I took a bunch of bye-bye items for a Greek vacation before letting go… The photos are very cute though!

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Have you ever given your items a ‘gift’ or ‘last x wears’ before discarding them? Sometimes it helps… Especially with those items you really know they should go but something sentimental keeps you from taking the final step.

#whatiwore 2019w36 + Sunday links

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Orden a Tres podcast

The Orden a Tres podcast is on holiday this week, so use this opportunity to catch up with all episodes you haven’t listened to yet. As you know, on PodBean, Spotify, Stitcher, or iTunes.

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And here comes your bowl of brain porridge:

1. I’m really not sure how I feel about this… Made on the Inside, Worn on the Outside: ‘Brands are using prison labor to provide inmates with jobs and training. But is it possible — and ethical — to build a profitable fashion business behind bars?’

2. On the secret life of fabric scraps: Why are fashion supply chains so wasteful? ‘Consumer textile waste may be the larger problem, but the pre-consumer supply chain has its own wasteful practices built in to the way garments are designed and produced.’

3. I’ve seen so many love letters to Phoebe Philo that I assume I’m just not getting something… but this one alos has birks and how men’s toes became showable: How Philo Made Me Love Sandals.

4. A very soft intro to Montessori education: Can a Playroom Makeover Make My Kids Over? ‘Simone Davies, a teacher and author, helped make over my kids’ playroom using Montessori educational principles like creating a sense of peace and instilling autonomy in children.’

5. Many things come down to fragile masculinities, as we all recently learnt that a common reason for not recycling among men is that it’s not masculine/hetero enough, this, (in Spanish) ¿Es el zero waste cosa de mujeres? and (on online fashion communities) Why Are Fit Pics Headless?

6. I’m not sure if I buy the argument completely, but it is an interesting research question… Traditional Dresses as Resistance: ‘Rarámuri women in Chihuahua, Mexico, have made an indigenous style of dress a means of fighting assimilation.’

7. And the oh-so-common-but-still-very-valid observation that perceptions of the same stories, characters, and style change with time: Ripley Revisited. Bear in mind that the aesthetics of Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) is apparently sacred to many millennial menswear enthusiasts. It is a beautiful movie, though.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Fix it! Liisa bag and swap t-shirt. About the minion bag that became owl bag… and the little t-shirt that very recently became knickers!

What I was writing about two years ago: September swap + my outgoing pieces. That was a fun swap, many of those garments had been torturing me for years, being just there between ‘I can make this work’ and ‘ugh, but do I really want to?’ Out! was the correct answer.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w36 + Sunday links. Also this week: birks and Veja Wata Pierre, c’est ça!

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w36. Still wore this week: Kristīne’s stripe skirt, Veja Arcade sneakers, and my mom’s gingham dress.

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Are you ready for the ‘new year’? Are you – like me – an adult that never gave up thinking in academic years and making plans/resolutions for September-May? What are you starting anew this September?

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Also, the tipjar is available if you ever feel like buying me a coffee!

#whatiwore 2019w35 + Sunday links

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Orden a Tres podcast

Your favorite podcast combining KonMari method™ and Spanish is still here, this week chatting about the kitchen komono: Ep 7. Más komono: Komono de cocina. You can also listen us on Spotify, Stitcher, and – finally! – iTunes.

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Here, feed the brain! The new schoolyear is almost here, so have an extra portion of what this blog is all about:

1. The walk of shame is nothing when you have the CO2 calculator for your air travel… Apparently, all my ‘lifestyle’ stuff gets me the rough equivalent of two round trips to Rīga per year. And, of course, the ‘this buys me’ logic is a fallacy as we have no rights to those emissions to begin with. Ouch.

2. As for interesting pieces on fashion production, covering the range from best practices to ‘ugh, really?’:

(a) a very reasonable 4 things brands should do for the environment instead of launching a new sustainable line;
(b) from the best practice shelf comes Inside the Denim Factory Your Favorite Sustainable Brands Use Loyally;
(c) How Ethical are Haute Couture Brands? The short answer: ‘not at all, unless stated otherwise’;
(d) the feminist reminder The Impact of Fast Fashion on Women in Developing Nations;
(e) and the horror reminder: Report: Levi’s, Wrangler, Lee seamstresses harassed, abused. Again, unless you know it is different, assume that these are the conditions that all (fast) fashion is made.

3. On why discourse and greenwashing is not the same as reality:

(a) H&M, Zara, and other fashion brands are tricking shoppers with vague sustainability claims;
(b) The Problem with “Sustainability”? It Doesn’t Really Mean Anything;
(c) Fast Fashion’s “Sustainability” Endeavors Need to Be About More than Fabrics, Recycling;
(d) And – finally! – sb on the absurdity of ‘sustainable’ influencer economy: Why I’m No Longer Accepting Free Clothes or Paid Collabs.

4. The climate breakdown is stil ON:

(a) It’s raining plastic: Microscopic fibers fall from the sky in Rocky Mountains;
(b) (in Spanish) Los piroplásticos: una nueva forma de contaminación por plástico;
(c) Ash to Ashes: Thanks to shocking failures of government, every tree, almost everywhere, is now threatened by killer plagues.

5. And our food choices are part of that problem America’s Obsession With Beef Is Killing Leather (that one is very weirdly written, though) and
Spectre at the Feast: The livestock industry is trashing the living world, and free-range, pasture-fed meat is the worst offender.

6. At the same time, Lady Gaga, Tyra Banks and the Disneyfication of Fashion: ‘Welcome to the Disneyfication of style: the convergence of entertainment, consumption and experience in a single, sensation-filled high/low extravaganza. Everyone has been on something of a roller coaster lately, after all. This just makes it official.’

7. And for at least some fun and symbolic value of fashion, At the U.S. Open, It’s What You Wear (keep an open search tab to look up the outfits mentioned, that will enhance your reader experience) and Serena Williams Won’t Be Silenced; Her Clothes Are Doing the Talking.

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What I was writing about a year ago: Swap masterpost, or all the resources so far. In preparation for the September 14th swap, there you have all the key steps to prep for the best swap!

What I was writing about two years ago: #100wears: The Red Denim Jacket launching the #100wears series.

What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w35 + Sunday links. Also this week: my mom’s dark blue silk dress, Veja Wata Pierre, my mom’s gingham dress, the beige #memade midi skirt, and birks, of course.

What I was wearing two years ago: #whatiwore 2017w35 + Sunday links. Still wore this week: my mom’s little lace blouse, my mom’s gingham dress, pearl earrings, my mom’s dark blue silk dress…

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How do you balance all the overwhelmingly hopeless news with some basic drive to go on living? And adorning that with some frivolous fashion? We are a long way from a jute sack uniform… or are we?

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Also, the tipjar is available if you ever feel like buying me a coffee!

A week of waste, an assessment

Waste assessment is a basic first step for the zeroish-waste curious. This can be done by looking at the garbage in detail or looking at the incoming stuff. I’ve recorded all incoming items for our 2-adult household and the volume of outgoing garbage. It’s not pretty, brace yourself, and show me your numbers afterwards!

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Monday, August 19

IN

Lentils + glass jar + aluminum lid.
White beans + glass jar + aluminum lid.
Pickles + 2 glass jars + 2 aluminum lids.
Artichokes + 2 glass jars + aluminum lids.
Pickled beets + glass jar + aluminum lid.
Pickled sprouts + glass jar + aluminum lid.
Mayonnaise + glass jar + aluminum lid.

Soy milk + tetrabrick + plastic screw top.
Barretxa + 4 plastic baggies.
Cheese + plastic wrapper.

Cherry tomatoes + 2 plastic wrappers + 2 cardboard trays.
Chocolate + 5 paper wrappers + 5 aluminum foil (wrappers.

8 receipts, still unclear how much BPA-laden are those and if I’m fucking up all my recycling with this.

OUT

1 small compostable bag of organic garbage.
1 empty paper bag.

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Tuesday, August 20

IN

Bread + paper bag. Will be used afterwards to collect our paper trash, though.

OUT

1 small compostable bag of organic garbage.

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Wednesday, August 21

IN

Snickers bar + 2 plastic wrappers.

Nectarines + 2 cardboard trays + 2 plastic wraps + 9 fruit stickers.
Aubergines + 2 cardboard trays + 2 plastic wraps.

Watermelon + 2 plastic wraps.
Pimientos de padrón + plastic baggie.

Loose carrots in my own mesh bag.
Loose cucumbers.

Receipt (14 paper).

OUT

1 small plastic bag (from Sunday’s bread) of organic garbage.
1 plastic bag of plastic/aluminum recycling (in a bag that Marina had used to cushion her last package).
1 paper bag (from last week’s bread) with paper waste.

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Thursday, August 22

IN

Museum ticket.
Restaurant reservation note.
3 receipts.

Watermelon + 2 plastic wraps.
Cream cheese + box + lid.

OUT

1 small compostable bag of organic garbage.

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Friday, August 23

IN

Bread + paper bag.

Beer + 4 cans + 2 plastic bags.

OUT

1 small compostable bag of organic garbage.

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Saturday, August 24

IN

Chickpeas + glass jar + aluminum lid.
Turkey + plastic envelope + cardboard wrapper.

Potato chips + 2 bags.
Smoked salmon + plastic envelope.
Melon + plastic wrap.
Watermelon + plastic wrap.
Pimientos de padrón + 2 plastic baggies.

Mushrooms + 2 plastic trays + 2 plastic wraps.

Loose lemons + 2 fruit stickers.
Loose avocado + fruit sticker.
Loose nectarines + 7 fruit stickers.

Loose potatoes in my mesh bag.
Loose bell peppers.
Loose zucchini.
Loose cucumbers.
Loose lime.
Loose cherry tomatoes.
Loose onions.

Receipt.

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Sunday, August 25

OUT

1 small compostable bag of organic garbage.

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Totals

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Alternatives

As usual with waste, avoiding most of these would require me changing my routines and doing more housewifing. And that, as usual, circles back to the extent I am willing to dedicate more of my time to the pursuit of less waste (I already wrote a rant about this a year ago)… In order of ease of change, these are the ways of reducing our waste:

A) Designate a bread bag and stick to it.

B) Deciding that buying zero waste is more important than ‘we are throwing these out’ discount trays of fruit and veggies (this week: nectarines and aubergines). This is an unfortunate choice I’m not sure about… a classic in the universe of sustainability decision overwhelm.

C) Switching to buying beloved watermelons (and just melons) whole with the risk of buying an overripe and garbage-ready fruit it entails. I already had three of those this year, and really hate that disappointment after paying for and carrying those 5-8kg home.

D) The next step would be choosing my lemons and avocados based on if they have lost their stickers already. Bah! Or changing my fruit vendor. Changing would also be needed for pimientos de padrón and mushrooms. And adding an another shop – after finding one that’s fine with filling my own containers – to our shopping routine for all animal stuff.

E) Then, making legumes at home. We don’t own a pressure cooker, hence stovetop legumes imply several hours of some vigilance, and additional heat and humidity that life in Barcelona does not need. I’m still very unsure if this way of cooking beans is more energy efficient than the industrial ones. But buying cooked legumes leave their jars behind.

F) Mayonnaise. I have never tried to make the proper traditional mayonnaise (as opposed to several vegan options and replacements) but what I know about the care to be put into it does not make it appealing…

G) Soy milk. We tried it once with my grandma but without knowing that it has to be boiled. Internet says that dry soy beans can be used, so this sounds quite plausible although not that attractive. Again, time…

H) Beer. Buying on tap and in growlers is an options…

I) All the pickled stuff, ugh… we have done some very basic pickling, and olives can be easily bought zero waste here. Anything beyond that would rather mean foregoing then starting a wide pickling operation here.

J) As for other forms of preserving produce, only now – after 5 or so years of mild interest in the zeroish waste movement – it dawned on me that I would eat some stuff very rarely or never if they have to be zero wast, namely the veggies I usually get industrially frozen. In my case those would be green peas and edamames. A kilo of green peas in shell cost around 4-6 €/kg here when they are in season. Mostly they are not. Even when you get the fresh ones – and if you are not a green pea monster and are actually able to shell them without eating them all – a tiny bowl of green peas is what you get. And there would be no edamames… or only the very overpriced restaurant edamames that most probably came from the same frozen plastic bag that the ones I buy now. Well, one of my big issues with zero waste has always been the assumption that ‘if I didn’t see/touch it, it’s not my waste’…

K) Industrial shit, like Snickers or Philadelphia cream cheese, are not really an issue. Those happen quite rarely here. As for snacks like barretxa and potato chips… I’d have to explore the zero waste shop in St. Antoni.

L) Chocolate. For all my love for Casa Perris, their chocolate (no wrapper) is very much meh in comparison with our Blanxart favorites. And Blanxart’s supply chain is clearer and more eco. Ugh.

M) The amount of unnoticed paper going around is just annoying, and the Spanish internets do not agree about the recyclability of the receipts. And, as far as the alternative is giving people my email to send me the receipts, I’m not sure what’s worse.

N) And don’t even get me started on fruit stickers. I’m currently doing a little artsy project with them, as to channel my annoyance.

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As for the garbage, it is summer in Barcelona – hot, humid, and full of gnats wishing to make sweet love in our garbage – hence avoidance of the immediate compost is a priority. Public health first. And, no, home composting is not an appealing idea for us. C is outright disgusted by the thought, and I don’t feel strongly enough to try to cajole him. Rigorous separation for the city organic fraction is how far we are ready to go.

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So, I’m not very happy or inspired after this. I feel guilty, but I’m not willing to add more places to go to my shopping list… Also, a curious observation: I am more willing to do zero waste with stuff that lasts more. For example, for the quite occasional Casa Perris or Safareig trips I get all prepared, with a tight list and all corresponding containers. But I am far more relaxed about the plastic wraps that go into the garbage almost immediately. Minds work in curious ways…

Are you doing anything to reduce your waste? What have been the easiest steps? And the hardest? It is painful to understand how a life dedicated to zero(ish) waste would be possible if only we were ready to to actually dedicate much bigger chunks of time to it or restrict our consumption to only the easily available… neither is an attractive option.