A detail: the Dana Zeberga wooden ‘Russian’ set is my by far most complemented thing, people go crazy for it. Happened again this week! ‘Oh, how pretty… Oh, what is it made from… Oh, where is it from… Oh, so beautiful…’ Indeed, it is. Latvian design ftw!
And your weekly porridge so that you would grow bigger and stronger, and defeat patriarchy *and* climate breakdown:
1. Ugh, I’m a bit confused about how many people make basic fast fashion primers and feel good about themselves… I might scream the next time I come across one of these. Anyways, in case you wanted some: (a) Why fast fashion should slow down from Science Weekly podcast; (b) How To Make Fashion Sustainable; (c) 6 things fast fashion has to do now to help stop climate change; (d) BBC New Year Solutions: Clothes.
I wrote down a Dilys Williams quote from this one, though: ‘I am wearing vintage although I bought it new’. That’s the sustainability goal and the rest is rubbish.
You already know my napkin-fitting strategy for detoxing your wardrobe: (train your mind to) acquire less – use up and make it last – replace with used – when truly needing new, buy ethical and well made. Boom, that’s it!
From the same BBC podcast came the assertion that plastic microfibers are mostly shed during the first few cycles of washing… which seems logical because those fabrics would be new, unmoved, still full of factory dust, hanging thread, etc. Also, it’s hopeful because that would mean that using for longer your synthetics would be a good practice. However, my intuition would be an inverse-u shape when at some point those fibers weaken and start to break down… Or don’t they ever because they are plastic, and plastic is (almost) forever?
I found this referencing this study saying that ‘all garments shed more when they are brand new’. The actual paper (published in 2016) also says that ‘there are currently no peer reviewed publications that compare the quantity of fibres released from common fabrics due to laundering’, so they are the first ones. From the outset they assume that new garments shed more: ‘Any initial spike in fibre loss from new clothes was reduced by washing each fabric four times before recording any data’. And those first times shedding looked like this:
Then there is exactly what I was looking for: ‘Microfiber Masses Recovered from Conventional Machine Washing of New or Aged Garments’. So, ‘the mass of recovered fibers increased significantly after aging (p < 0.001). On average, aging resulted in 25% more fibers recovered. Visual inspection of the jackets indicated that there was fraying on the aged jackets, which could lead to the increased mass of recovered fibers’. So the inverse-u does sound reasonable after all… This is all polyester, though. And the wear and tear is mechanical. And then you have this paper from 2019 citing the previous two and reminding that ‘Relating experimental test results to the wide range of real-life domestic or commercial laundry practices is difficult, and variations in conduct of the testing and in measurement techniques and protocols makes com- paring outcomes of different experiments extremely complex’. So it’s all bad… just try not washing. For some garments an airing or a cold hand-rinse can be enough.
The BBC did the part about where most of garments’ footprint comes from unsatisfactorily unnuanced and do not publish a long list of show notes with links, that’s why you just got a ladle-full of scientific papers: the footprint really depends on the type of garment and user behavior around them. There are ones that are smallish but often washed at high temperatures (underwear, t-shirts) whose most footprint will be from all that laundering, however, exactly the heavy trousers example given is less likely to be among those, especially if people are reasonable about (and, hopefully, among those who believe that going 6 months without washing one’s jeans is the way to go). If there are idiots out there doing hot, long cycles + dryer every two days for their heavy white jeans… could be true. My thinking about this is shaped by Kate Fletcher’s books this one in particular.
tl;dr: When it gets down to calculating impact of individual pieces, it is ultra-complicated. That’s why I try to stay away from the big estimates of this many tonnes, such percent of all CO2, nth most polluting industry. It’s just statistical prudence.
2. Just to add insult to injury: HnM Is Sitting On $4.3 Billion Worth Of Unsold Stock and Forever 21 ‘steals’ anti-fast-fashion artist’s work.
3. The celebrity event supposedly about fashion called Met Gala (What? The Met Gala 2019: Everything You Want to Know) happened… and even the NYT fashion people sound like they feel meh about it: “What is camp, by this definition? It is dress gone so far into the realm of costume that it may never find its way home. It is an unabashed attempt to break the internet. The dress code may have been “studied triviality,” but its expression was most often “extravagant literalism.”” Exhibits (a) Extreme One-Upmanship on the Met Gala’s Red Carpet; (b) ‘Camp’ at the Met, as Rich as It Is Frustrating; and (c) The Cannes Red Carpet Is So Much Better Than the Met Gala or the Oscars: “The Met is a costume ball, and there’s so much riding on the Oscars, but Cannes is where you can establish personality”.
4. As counterpoints to so much triviality, here: (a) on the reasons to keep an archive of women’s everyday clothing and its ‘museum potential’: Should These Clothes Be Saved? (also a story about how much difference one dedicated lady can make, hell yeah!) and (b) I made a 16th century shirt and it taught me about the crisis of fast fashion. Indeed, learning to (hand!) sew has an enormous potential to open people’s eyes. It’s very hard to consume garments as if they were disposable once you know how much work goes into creating one.
5. And just for fun: The Somewhat Sinister And Rebellious History Behind Your Striped Shirt.
What I was writing about a year ago: #100wears: Kaftan. Oh, #100wears, how much I love you! Unfortunately, few garments live past that in good health. The kaftan came apart in late 2018, and has been waiting in my fabric stash to become a pair of shorts since then.
What I was writing about two years ago: Get to know your fibers (and stop cutting the tags). A suggestion to explore the fabric composition tags in your wardrobe just to know what exactly – or what mysterious fiber mixes – are your garments made of.
What I was wearing a year ago: #whatiwore 2018w21 + Sunday links.
Do you find the big statistics beneficial (as in propelling you into action), too scary, too imprecise or just impossible to grasp? Do you have a favorite one that you love to tell people? So, numbers that shock people into action (although they might be imprecise), aye or nay?
Also, the tipjar is available if you ever feel like buying me a coffee!