This week, absorbed by the heat of the Barcelona summer and the Festa Major de Gràcia, I am thinking about the local and I am thinking about the new strap of my watch.
The objective facts are very simple: the previous strap broke, I went to the watch shop and there, for 16€, they gave me a new one. Nothing to really think about, tight? Well…
My watch is a little Justina (a, b) that C wore when he was little, very little, before his first communion. I saw it in his childhood home the year we met – 2012 – and I appropriated it. It had a dark brown leather strap that was 15+ years old and it had already been replaced once. My appropriation included a trip to the village shoemaker to put new retainers on it, and that was it. All of a sudden, after about ten years without wearing a watch, I had one. I still remember the great feeling of control it gave me, especially during flights, since at that time one had to turn off the mobiles while flying.
My photo archive suggests that I was wearing the watch constantly until 2015 and not at all afterwards. Justina was somewhat capricious and had delays, and I had an office job surrounded by clocks. So I made a couple of attempts to change the battery and, seeing that this did not fix the delays, I left it in the drawer with the idea of fixing it and wearing it at some point. Thus, curiously, Justina appears in the photos of my undergraduate and master’s graduations but she was not at the defense of my PhD thesis. And all this time my excuse was that I didn’t have a trusted watchmaker nearby.
But the magical moment arrived, I just choose a watchmaker by the storefront and stopped by …in November 2020. They carried out a basic maintenance for 22€, the customer service was good, Justina was happy, and now I did have my watchmaker in the neighborhood.
Hence I knew where to go when the strap broke at the end of July.
It had been a long time since I had had the experience of a normal consumer: needing something, going into a store where they sell those things and just buying one… without having googled sustainable brands, without having thought about how ethical I wanted this purchase to be. Well, it turns out that you can do it his way, just choosing the right size and the prettiest color!
The original bezel had been red at the beginning but time has made it pink, and it took just putting a pink strap nearby that Justina would light up and both the watchmaker and I would be delighted with this combination. And we had a deal.
Only going home I remembered that I have vegan aspirations, that I had asked her if it was leather but not from what animal, that I had no idea where that leather came from, that hadn’t looked into more ethical options, that probably I could have found a secondhand strap…
And the objective characteristics of this new strap are quite horrible: it is new, probably made in the poorest conditions, the leather is genuine leather, probably bovine but with a tacky crocodile print, just to drive home the animal exploitation point…
But I decided to take a deep breath and do nothing else but enjoy my rejuvenated watch.
Because this tiny strip of leather is not going to change anything in the grand scheme of things. Because it didn’t occur to me to handle the situation differently at the time and that’s it. Because I have fulfilled at least some of my aspirations of consuming better, those of reusing, repairing and supporting the local commerce.
Yet here you have me still trying to convince myself to let it go.
The preparation for the Festa Major has led me a couple of steps into the textile arts, still marginalized and feminized, so I present to you Joe the Quilter Cunningham.
Si a tí también te ha herido el último informe del IPCC, lee a Mariana: Un planeta herido.
As I’m talking about leather today, Want to Buy Leather? Want to Avoid Leather? Here’s What to Look Out For + Gucci has a new vegan leather shoe collection – let’s unpack that.
Should you dress for yourself, or for others? “As with many style spectrums we cover, the best option is somewhere in the middle, with nuance that depends on both culture and personality. Yet that doesn’t stop people on social media from shouting things like ‘Dress for yourself!’ or more ridiculously, ‘A gentleman dresses for himself!’ It’s not true and it’s not helpful.”
I usually don’t use numbers to describe the problems of the textile industry, as most of them are approximations with large error margins. However, this one, despite being oldish data, somehow struck me: “The number of garments produced annually has doubled since 2000 and exceeded 100 billion for the first time in 2014: nearly 14 items of clothing for every person on earth”. The most horrifying about it is the fact that we have come to a point where acquiring 14 new garments in a year seems even quite modest…
And that’s it for this week! I hope that you enjoyed reading and would be very happy to hear from you, regarding recent purchases or anything else… in the comments below, via Facebook or Instagram, or via e-mail at luize.ratniece [a] gmail .com
Guardarrr is a weekly bilingual newsletter dedicated to sustainability and mindfulness in fashion. It is written by Luīze Ratniece, a sociologist and textile activist based in Barcelona. Guardarrr is both a tool for reflection and a crowdfunding channel for the wardrobe tracking app that Luīze is building. If you read this newsletter and value it, please consider going to the paid version to fund this project for a monthly equivalent of a coffee + pastry. Each subscription warms my heart immensely and helps going on, thank you so much for being here with me!