#whatiwore 2017w46 + Sunday links

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While I’m faking winter at 17ºC, you get some brain food:

Jewellery and its ugly underbelly is not my hot topic (I own three silver pieces and have no plans to acquire more) but Inside the ‘conflict-free’ diamond scam costing online buyers millions will tell you about the diamond sourcing issues and – and this does apply as a very crude version of greenwashing – how consumers’ desires for more ethical wares can be turned into scams. Lesson learned: research your supply lines and maybe stay away from especially hard-to-track commodities. Although, when you think about all our electronics, ugh…

A dark irony lies behind Western outcries about pollution in other countries: before those jobs were shipped overseas, the same dirty industries were polluting much closer to home (although, mostly on a much lower scale as the demand for the goods was lower, local, and the prices much higher). In Upstate New York, Leather’s Long Shadow dives into the history of Gloversville, NY and the consequences of the industrial downturn.

El ‘low cost’ multiplica los residuos textiles (in Spanish) – Catalan press chiming in on how both the amount of textile waste and the efforts to recycle it are growing, and putting emphasis on sorting and recycling creating jobs for people in risk of social exclusion. The overall picture is grim, and the social impetus that the article puts the emphasis on is “please, don’t put your textiles in the garbage that goes to the landfill” instead of “stop acquiring virgin textiles”. A novelty for me was learning that there is an association – ASIRTEX, Asociación Ibérica de Reciclaje Téxtil – that brings together companies dedicated to textile recycling. Although their homepage is exceedingly vague, and the focus seems to be on downcycling and shipping textiles away, I’ll be looking into their activities.

And if you missed the piece on East African countries fighting back against our textile waste and problems it could bring to them, here you have another one on the same conflict: Africa vs the USA: A Secondhand Clothing Showdown

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How is your fall capsule going? Do you have a real winter or are you faking (or are you an Australian enjoy spring)? What are the key pieces keeping you warm?

#whatiwore 2017w45 + Sunday links

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So, winter came temperatures dropped below 20ºC. While we have been moaning about climate change and an incredibly hot October, excel says that in 2016 I started to wear tights on November 3. This year it was November 6, not that much off after all.

Remembering how much comfort I got from listing everything I was wearing while traveling in late April, here is the rundown of the Friday outfit:

Knickers: made by Liisa, organic cotton and hemp mix, I think.
Bra: made in Latvia by Lauma, dubious materials.
Tights: made in Italy by Calzedonia, a wool mix, dubious materials.
Dress: swap find from Laura, 100% poly, made in China.
Cardigan: swap find from Julie, cotton and ramie mix, made in China.
Sneakers: Veja Arcade, made of b-mesh in Brazil.
Cape: wool, made in Portugal, gift from my mom; our seamstress in Riga lined it (with synthetics) for greater warmth.
Scarf: wool, made in Russia, gift from my mom; part of the great Pavlovo Posad tradition.
Barrette: H&M from ~2010.
Ring: silver, made in Latvia, gift from my aunt.
Earrings: cultivated pearls and silver, made in Latvia.
Brooch: artisan market find, made in Latvia.
Pin: “Women’s rights are human right”, from 2013 Women Deliver conference, I think.
Hat: hand-me-down from C.
Brooch on the hat: hand-made gift from my cousin.
Backpack: hand-me-down from my dad, made in China, leather details.

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And to learn through frustration, here is some brain food:

Eco-fashion’s Animal Rights Delusion – Alden Wicker’s clickbait on “hidden stories behind materials” and “inconvenient truths for the animal rights movement” is not much more than affirmation that “vegan” does not mean “eco” the same way as it doesn’t mean “healthy”. D-oh! But it is good to remind ourselves that bringing together wellbeing of all species and sustainable fashion is a challenge that neither “vegan” nor “eco” labels guarantee, and you might have to make some uncomfortable choices between petrochemicals and commodified animals.

How to Buy Nothing, Get Stuff, and Make Friends – Oh, look, a digital outlet that has found out that ICT can help us get the most out of our stuff and divert heaps of trash from the landfill by introducing them in a collaborative economy. True story.

And the main dish for stomach-quenching unease – For Dignity and Development, East Africa Curbs Used Clothes Imports – If developing countries decide that they don’t want our trash anymore, they face harsh consequences! Not totally unexpected but hurts anyway. We have to deal with our garbage at home. Now.

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Have you already switched to cold-weather gear? Are all the layers making you happy? Is your fall capsule keeping up with the weather?

#whatiwore 2017w44 + Sunday links

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Oh, yes, guess who fell for an African set with an African print made in Cape Town? The ladies at WAG Fashion were adorable, the sewing room was in sight, and I allowed the beautiful patterns and flattering cuts to seduce me. I’ll tell you how much it cost in my next fashion expenses update in January; here you can read the previous one. And here are the other two options I was considering:

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To sober up a bit after this splurge for *new* items (gasp!), here comes the educational but depressing brain food:

Behind a $13 shirt, a $6-an-hour worker – a piece describing how “made in …” tag still don’t tell you enough about working conditions due to outsourced production i.e. if the brand is subcontracting a textile factory, they are not legally responsible if that factory violates the labor laws. Ugh.

And as the article above mentions American Apparel as the good example for being having been fully vertically integrated, I was sucked into the internet vortex of the controversial creator of the perfect t-shirt, Dov Charney, and all the bad publicity surrounding their distasteful advertisement strategies, here, have a look at of how even a company with stellar labor conditions might be morally unsavory:

The most infamous story is Claudine Ko’s Meet Your New Boss
+ The NSFW History of American Apparel’s Ads
+ And You Thought Abercrombie & Fitch Was Pushing It?
+ Goodbye, American Apparel

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How is your autumn capsule going? Any irresistible newcomers in your wardrobe?

#whatiwore 2017w43 + Sunday links + Old #ootd

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I took a couple of days off this week for self-care, and this is how it looks when I’m having my own little recharge parties:

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It has been now more than a year of rigorous outfit-of-the-day photo practice. To celebrate this milestone, here you have some of my first serious attempts at focus-and-run… While many of the garments seen here are still with me, my cropping skills have evolved and my outfit corner has been decluttered (actually it is waiting to be re-cluttered with plants).

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And to get those synapses firing:

Artesanos detrás de las pasarelas (in Spanish) – National press lamenting the loss of skill in the fashion industry, namely the phenomena that – except for the top couture sewing – designers abound but they are not necessarily able to make the stuff they envision themselves and few people specialize in garment construction.

H&M Proves the Once-Invincible Fast-Fashion Industry Is Now Crumbling Just Like Every Other Retailer – While some have celebrated this as suggesting that fast fashion might be going under, the news items says exactly what the title announces: consumption has gone online, because stuff can be sold even cheaper there.

While much of her advice might be basic – take a good look at the garment and touch it – as Archana says at the beginning of her post: Invest in good quality is the most useless piece of advice to our generation. We know the intention behind the words but we lack the know-hows to act on it.”

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How is your fall capsule doing? And what’s the most useful fashion or garment care advice you have ever received?

#whatiwore 2017w42 + Sunday links

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This week I also got a reminder that garments wear out…

Wearing my favorite black floral shirt back in 2012.

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Just to make sure I had one comfy outfit for travel and weekend errands, I had added one lazy outfit to my 7-dresses-for-3-months capsule: my black ZIB leggings (viscose – elastane, 2016) and my mom’s hand-me-down black floral shirt (cotton – viscose, ~2012). Well, three weeks into the season, both of them are in need of a garment magician. First I discovered that leggings have several holes in unseemly places, and yesterday the underarm of the shirt ripped apart just beside the panels that my seamstress had already placed there to cover previous holes and strengthen the garment. Like this:

In December, back in Riga, I’ll go cry at my seamstress Elita’s door hoping that she will agree to fix – again! –  these two staples of my wardrobe. She has so much patience with my irrational attachment to garments and hands of a miracle worker, especially when it comes to worn-out jersey, believe me, I know!

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But for the time being a new lazy outfit will take their place, the blue ZIB leggings (viscose – elastane, 2015) and the floral shirt from the last swap (100% cotton, Esprit). This shirt is much shorter than the black one, so I just have to hope that the fashion police won’t track me down to point out that I have forgotten to wear something. Seriously, that already happened to me in Copenhagen with another shirt + leggings outfit, in a Kusama exhibition, of all places!

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For consolation, here comes the brain food (i.e. stop lamenting possible loss of one garment and think about the big issues, Luīze!):

Visions of Utopia: Why Everyone Should Support Community Thrift Shops – Leah from Style Wise in defense of crating communities via garment reuse. While I am highly uncomfortable every time I discover that some of my favorite bloggers are religious, her point is exactly the one we try to bring to life with our – completely secular and communist in spirit – clothes’ swaps. Also, I’ve always been jealous of people who live in places with a local thrift shop culture where things circulate in and out by the same people. Here it’s mostly a downstream movement via Humana and Roba Amiga shops, but Kristīne has told me about re-buying her own stuff from a local charity shop in Cambridge by mistake and I was just floored…

It may not be possible to slow down fast fashion – so can the industry ever be sustainable? – A grim realistic perspective on human behavior around fashion from a perspective that, if we haven’t realized what’s wrong and straightened our consumption patterns out by now, we are pretty much doomed by our basic impulses… So those have to be controlled by somebody else, public authorities or the market. Ugh.

And now comes the hardcore brain food piece I do not agree with. But my feeds have been bringing in this kind of thinking for a while now, so take a look at I’ve Decided: Fur Is the Eco-Friendly Choice, and You Won’t Change My Mind – This is an excellent example of how even those dedicated to certain ethos have an underlying set of preferences that we try to justify via second tier, supposedly rational arguments. The first red flag is the title. If you have to say “I have decided […] you won’t change my mind”, your stance might have little to do with facts…

My humble suggestion when facing a (minor) ethical dilemma would be to allow for an occasional weakness – a spoonful of honey, a piece of smelly cheese, a vintage leather wristwatch strap that a loved one wore – while being honest that there is no rationale behind it. It would have come across much nicer if Ecocult’s Alden, the poster child of all things eco, would have just written a heart wrenching piece of not being able to let go of her mother’s fur coat for sentimental reasons, so she is permitting herself this weakness while being fully aware of the suffering and pollution that fur industry causes.

Her reference on the supposedly suboptimal sustainability credentials of a vegan diet is another example of the same rancid logic. It needs a vegan hater to take this research – a simulation (always a tricky thing because it all depends on the initial assumptions) for the US agricultural land suggesting that there are a multitude of diets that would be more sustainable than the current one, vegan being 83% better than the current and a lactovegetarian 101% better – to create a take-away message that you don’t have to even bother to reduce your meat, dairy, and egg consumption and are allowed to never listen to animal rights organizations again.

As a palate cleanser and a researched piece on the impact of animal industries, have Monbiot’s The Meat of the Matter.

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Back to the garments… Do you have staples that you just wear out threadbare and then some? Have you had any luck with fixing or replacing them? And has the fashion police ever tracked you down for being inappropriate?

#whatiwore 2017w41 + Sunday links

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While I’m doing my 3-months-in-7-dresses thing, bon appétit for some brain food:

Planeta Zara (2002) – If you understand Spanish, this is a gem TV segment (55 min) from 15 years ago explaining the aspects of production and organization of the business that made them the fast fashion innovators. You have to know the enemy… plus, these were still times before the haul videos and ultra-cheapness, so you can get some nostalgia (for example, in those days 80% of Zara’s sewing was done by subcontractors locally in Galicia, not overseas).

The Overspent American: Upscaling, Downshifting, and the New Consumer – The first chapter of the 1997 pop sociology book (yes, some quaint very antiquated examples going on!) by Juliet B. Schor advocating – and being criticized of being naive because of that (examples 1 & 2) – deliberate downsizing. Quite some time before the wave of minimalism, tiny house movement, KonMari, etc.

Climate anxiety doesn’t have to ruin your life: Here’s how to manage it – The title is too good to be true, and it is. But the question – and anxiety – is real. Author’s answer is to accept the limited scope of individual action and to quit nagging other people… but keep doing. Easier said than done, hah!

#whatiwore 2017w40 + Sunday links

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All that repetition – even more than usual – is not accidental. I’ll tell you on Wednesday what’s the deal with Autumn capsule! But until then… brain food!

A) How Instagram Makes You Basic, Boring, and Completely Deranged – My hate for Instagram, articulated!

B) Why Trying to Resell Your Clothes Is Always So Damn Embarrassing – The reality of consignment shops and the rosy delusion “I’ll just resell all my stuff [for a lot of money because everybody will want it so desperately]” + the same dynamics from a generational and home-ware point of view: Aging Parents With Lots of Stuff, and Children Who Don’t Want It.

C) I still haven’t finished Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Dress of Women: A Critical Introduction to the Symbolism and Sociology of Clothing (I read it at work during my breaks), but I’ve found one gem I couldn’t resist to share. There are many quotes calling for revolution in women’s dress, of course, but what I’ve found to be the most curious change that has taken place in these 100 years that separate us from Charlotte are prices!

In Chapter 8: Humanitarian and Economic Considerations she writes – not tongue-in-cheek, mind you, but very seriously! – “Some thirty [~1885!] years ago it was estimated that a woman could dress well enough to be in good society, on $300 a year. This allowed for one new evening gown, and one new tailor suit each year, both lasting over as second-best for another; and may be filled out according to preference. […] Even at that time I can remember these estimates being scoffed at as ridiculously low by a group of trained nurses. Yet one would hardly imagine a trained nurse as needing more than that list, substituting her starched uniforms for the richer evening wear.” and continues in Chapter 9: Larger Economic Considerations: “While it is still possible, with intelligent care, for a woman to dress on three to five hundred dollars a year, to say nothing of the millions who do it on fifty or less; the woman who is “in society” finds three to five thousand a moderate allowance, and many spend more.”

Before you shrug at this and point to my own fashion expenses, I have to remind you that these are 1915 or even 1885 dollars! Very different dollars than the ones going around today… The earliest information that the easy inflation calculator I found online offers is 1913 which is fine for a conservative estimate about the dollars that Perkins Gilman is talking about. And – ta-dah! – $300 of Charlotte become $7440. That’s what any *respectable* woman needed back then to be *properly* dressed, and even nurses found that to be a very low number… and the $3000-5000 she’s mentioning for the “society” becomes 74’400-124’000. Now compare that with the fast fashion prices of today!

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We are branching out of swaps and organizing a movie screening to build the consciousness about why we are swapping: A screening of The True Cost. See you there!

#whatiwore 2017w39 + Sunday links

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And a full portion of garment-related brain food:

Is the world really better than ever? – If you are torn between the “oh, everything is down the tubes” and “but there are no plague victims in the streets”, this long Oliver Burkeman piece may help synthesize a middle ground.

Shopping, and the Seduction of “Fixing” Ourselves – Leah from Style Wise meditating on therapeutic consumption. In a similar vein – I’ll Take Care of You – on Billfold. It all comes down to necessity of self-care and how we have learned (or been taught?) that self-care is a purchasable commodity. Well, yes and no. Ha!

Leaves, Mushrooms, Bark and More: 6 Innovative Eco-Friendly Leather Alternatives – Promising proofs of human capacity of innovation if only we get serious about things. Hopeful!

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This was the last week of my summer capsule + an adventure with a sprained ankle! I’ll tell you soon what my autumn fun challenge will be… Although it seems weird to bring in the autumn wardrobe with this weather forecast:

#whatiwore 2017w38

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A light layer has become a necessity, although to a much lesser extent than you would think by looking at people on the street. Barcelona seems to be craving autumn, and, as people are not getting it, they are faking (and sweating) it. I too ended up underestimating the temperatures and getting my first serious chub rub of the year. So much talking about being smart about heat and sweating, but September got me!

#whatiwore 2017w37

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Although, the most worn items of this week have been these:

The summer is almost over, Mykonos confirmed that some of my hot weather garments need new homes, and these were the definite last wears for some of them (oh, little romper, you can’t go away soon enough!). There are two weeks left for this capsule, and Barcelona seems to suggest that I’ll be needing a light jacket over the summer dresses. Oh, finally!