Fall Fashion w/o Fast Fashion

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Over the past year I’ve been rethinking my relationship to clothing. Clothing has always been an integral part of my identity. My dad used to tell me stories about how my mom would go out shopping, supposedly for herself, and then come home with bags of cute outfits for me and my brother. So fashion has been a part of my life, well, forever. But I’ve started to think about my consumption of fashion. I’ll often buy myself a new piece of clothing when I’m feeling sad, or to congratulate myself for accomplishing something, or when I’m feeling nervous about giving a talk, or…. And so when I shop, I’m not really shopping because I need something. Shopping is all about want.

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Now that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But as I think more about whose pocket I want my money going into, and whether that money really should be leaving my wallet in the first place, I started to consider how my relationship to clothing might shift if I stopped shopping fast fashion. Floral Manifesto contributor Jessica Bebenek provided this helpful definition of fast fashion in her guest post “Talking Trash: Fast Fashion and Secondhand Inspiration”: The term ‘fast fashion’ refers to rapid turn-over and unethical production methods currently used by huge clothing manufacturers such as H&M, Forever XXI, Topshop, and Zara, just to name a tiny handful.

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Leather jacket from a clothing swap; vintage floral dress from You, Babe; vintage shoes from Common Sort; sunglass from the Kind Exchange

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So what shifted? Well, I found that I would spend a lot more time considering each piece of clothing I purchased. Fast fashion makes it so easy to make impulsive decisions when shopping. But because I was now spending a bit more (sometimes a lot more) on pieces from local and/or vintage shops, I felt the need to slow down and really consider just how much I loved a piece.

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Jumper from Three Fates

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But an even nicer reward — and one that I totally didn’t expect — is that shopping became less of an individual process and much more about the interpersonal. What I mean by that is that instead of walking into a large store like H&M, where maybe one person will say hi to you, I started shopping at stores with a super small staff of 1-3 people, and got to know the people working there. Because we built up a rapport, I could really trust them to give me their honest opinion on the pieces I was trying on. Shopping became not just about acquiring a new piece of clothing, but also about connecting with another rad human. 

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Margeaux’s outfit: jean jacket from the Kind Exchange; floral dress from You, Babe; turtle neck from The Wanderly; Doc Martens from Take Time in Guelph, ON

And so for this much overdue fashion blog post, I reached out to one of my favourite photographers, Yuli Scheidt, and asked if she wanted to team up for a blog post on fall fashion without fast fashion. I had recently met Faye, Megan, and Vanessa and really loved their commitment to shopping local. I’ve known Zoë forever and have long admired how each time I compliment an outfit of her’s, she’ll tell me that she got it from a local shop. You can read all about why they’ve shifted away from fast fashion below!  

Megan Hamilton, 26
Fashion Stylist, Wardrobe Specialist, and Personal Shopper
www.mkhstyling.com

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How would you describe your personal style?

I have no real set style. One day I roll out of bed feeling like 80s goth greatness and the next I’m a princess, or androgynes and everything in between. No fashion era, style icon or wardrobe pallet is safe from me.

What prompted you to move away from fast fashion?

Honestly the amount I shop and how quickly fashion changes made me look to other things than malls and popular stores. I have never had a lot of money, but I am prone to having an over zealous idea of my bank account. Starting to thrift made me feel better about spending and giving a second home to something that was already loved warmed my heart in a way regular retail never could.

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Elle Sport white t-shirt, Vintage tulle maxi skirt, Gold rag and bone booties all from Common Sort

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What are some of the challenges/barriers you face when you try to shop local or from thrift stores? 

Sometimes sizing is a problem as I am a petite small up top and a tall medium on the bottom. The other thing is sometimes I know the perfect missing piece is sitting at a store but usually I wait it out until I find it thrifting or a try to create something similar instead.

What are some of the benefits you’ve experienced in your move away from fast fashion? 

Moving away from fast fashion, my style has really evolved and I have a new love and appreciation for garments. Things I was never able to afford, I can finally have a chance at and things I found interesting like historical or cultural pieces, I can come into contact with. Items I’ve only ever researched about I can touch and live in for a moment. I feel honoured sometimes to be able to hold these pieces and feel the rich materials or hand woven details.

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Pink Zara tied sleeve crop sweater from Common Sort, black vintage suede midi skirt from Value Village; black vintage ankle boots from Value Village

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What are some of your fav finds? Are there any stories that come with finding these items?

Some of my favourite items include the cone head t-shirt I was wearing: cone head wearing an et giving the finger shirt, wearing a bart simpson shirt (see below). It’s like pop culture inception and i think its outrageous! Another are the gold rag and bone boots I found. I’ve never been able to afford rag and bone shoes until these babies fell into my lap and they are so comfortable out stand out so much!

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Megan’s outfit: “Pop Culture Inception T”, Zara velvet blazer and Cleo hand detailed jeans from Common Sort, vintage heeled sandals from Value Village

Zoë Alexisabrams, 31
Nannying, Artist Facilitator, Musician, Commercial illustrator
www.zoealexisabrams.com
IG: @spirituallifequeen
www.manticore.bandcamp.com

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How would you describe your personal style?

For my 30th birthday I had Lee D’Angelo (@rat666tat) tattoo the message “My Body is Beautiful/And So Is Yours” near my right hip. So maybe it’s that? I have an ultra femme side, and an athletic/minimalist side. Those two sides often meet. It is important to me that my clothing is tailored to my curves and doesn’t necessarily hide ‘problem areas’ that in past years I’ve worked hard to conceal. Nothing too roomy, but if it has a sweet drape, I’m in!

What prompted you to move away from fast fashion?

I am not a fan of cheap fabrics that my thighs and generous flesh tend to rub away at! I have so many pairs of pants that have holes in the thighs, and I have the chafing to prove it. Finding timeless clothes with structural integrity make me feel beautiful and ‘hugged’, and therefore I feel more confident and happy.

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Black Cold Shoulder Shirt by Wishlist; Pencil Skirt by Against Nudity Montreal; vintage shoes belong to Margeaux

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What are some of the challenges/barriers you face when you try to shop local or from thrift stores?

Sometimes I have difficulty fitting into vintage skirts or slacks. Certain time periods in fashion (like the 1950s) are off-limits to me because they require very specific undergarments for women of my body type (petite and very curvy, with a persistent tummy). I wish I could find a shop that stocked plus size suit sets, pencil skirts and jackets!

What are some of the benefits you’ve experienced in your move away from fast fashion?

Getting rid of most of my wardrobe because I gained a new respect for people who love the bodies they made clothes for. A lot of my fast-fashion clothing pieces were often in states of disrepair, because they are ‘built to break’, so to speak. When I wear vintage pieces or local handmade pieces, I like to consider how there is a sort of transference that happens between my body and the people who made or wore these clothes before me. Clothing has the potential to exist forever, and so does the essence (and DNA) of the people who’ve worn them.

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Handmade housedress from F As In Frank Vancouver (from the 1940s Inland Vancouver); Doc Martens from Take Time Vintage in Guelph, ON

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What are some of your fav finds? Are there any stories that come with finding this item/these items?

When I found the red handmade housedress in Vancouver, it needed some mending. I rarely buy clothing with loose seams or rips, but I had an intuition about the garment that I refused to ignore! Another time I paid a handmade dress from 1940s Japan on a lay-away plan because I couldn’t imagine living without it in my home. Sometimes I hang it on the wall! I have only a few vintage handmade pieces, and I treasure them.

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Zoë’s outfit: Skirt by Oak + Fort; undershirt by Kopa EU; knotted grey shirt by Peter Nygård Finland; shoes by New Balance

 

Vanessa Vaillan, 28
Bubbles Manager at Lush Cosmetics
Instagram @enchantingghost

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How would you describe your personal style?

I would describe my style as being punk librarian witch. I tend to stick to a dark colour palette. I’m largely inspired by fictional characters like Enid Coleslaw and cool babes I see on the internet. Being plus-sized I like to challenge myself to wear things that are generally thought of as being a “no” for bigger bodies.

What prompted you to move away from fast fashion?

There are three major reasons I try to move away from fast fashion. 1st – fast fashion is not ethically made, and as much as I can I want to support the craft of clothing. 2nd – second hand or ethnically made pieces are often more unique. 3rd – in terms of second hand, the pieces are generally more affordable (this is not necessarily true if you’re buying clothes made in Toronto, but that’s tough for me as it is)

 

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Velvet mock neck, vintage Ann Taylor from Ursa Major +; plaid skirt from Ursa Major +; jacket from the Canadian army; shoes from Value Village

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What are some of the challenges/barriers you face when you try to shop local or from thrift stores?

As someone who is a size 16, there often isn’t a lot available for me at thrift stores. I really have to search to find what I like. I often end up shopping in the men’s section for things like sweaters and coats. I have yet to find any vintage pants that fit me buty finding the perfect pair of jeans is a dream of mine. Shopping for non-fast plus size fashion is also difficult because I would love to support small businesses who buy ethically but often the clothing is not made in my size.

What are some of the benefits you’ve experienced in your move away from fast fashion?

The biggest benefit is that I think avoiding fast fashion makes your wardrobe more unique and special. I find that my vintage pieces are the ones I reach for the most. Fast fashion is usually trendy and often trends fade – when you’re buying second hand or ethically made you tend to reach for things you really love and fit with the style you are trying to create for yourself.

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Dress from Easy Tiger by Hackwith Design; leather jacket from Public Butter; necklace by Eleventh House

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What are some of your fav finds? Are there any stories that come with finding this item/these items?

I wear my my black jean vest (see below) almost every day in the summer, even when it is too hot. I bought this vest at Penny Arcade which is my favourite vintage shop in Toronto. Denim vests for me are a staple wardrobe item and they’re so fun to dress up with patches and pins. I also love my green army jacket, which I found at a thrift store in Ottawa and it fits me perfectly. Being inspired by characters made me want an army jacket like Daria and Lindsey Weir wear – they are effortlessly cool and have giant pockets so I don’t have to carry around a bag if I don’t want to.

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Vanessa’s outfit: cashmere sweater from Value Village; vintage skirt from The General Store; vintage vest from Penny Arcade

Fae Sirois, 24
Violinist, Violin teacher and Electronic Artist
IG: @beankidd

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Turtle neck w/elbow patches by Amaryn Boyd
; plaid shirt from Value Village;
 goat bone necklace and
 overall shorts from friends
; and boots by Blundstones

How would you describe your personal style?

I don’t know if I could necessarily name my style but I certainly find myself inspired by ideas around utility, synthetics, crustpunk, DIY, kink/bdsm and the contrast between industrial and natural decay. I think my style is in many ways is still forming as I explore being out and transitioning. Often, I enjoy looking more rugged and butch aha. Other days I like to explore being more traditionally feminine. It can be difficult to settle on things when your body is changing with hormones.

What prompted you to move away from fast fashion?

Beyond the obvious ethical reasons behind (sweat shops, environmental impacts, etc), I think much of fast fashion promotes cis femininity in a way that I don’t feel is inclusive to much of the trans community. Though there are many other trans girls out there that certainly express themselves more traditionally feminine, I often find fast fashion doesn’t account for the spectrum of gender expressions outside of the binary and the variance of bodies it fails to include. Also many staff members at these stores have zero sensitivity training in regards to trans customers allowing for change room conflicts and traumatizing interactions. Finding clothes that fit is challenging enough without the transphobia.

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Black shirt from Value Village; black PVC skirt by Amaryn Boyd; black patent vegan leather boot with red block heel from eBay

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What are some of the challenges/barriers you face when you try to shop local or from thrift stores?

I find all clothing adventures are either hit or miss. The shoe fits or it doesn’t. The dress is tight in the shoulders. I sometimes wondered if there’s ever a bra that would fit me…I did eventually find one! It’s a time expense though. All the searching can feel fruitless. Also as a young musician and music educator I find myself with little money to spend which puts the majority of local designer out of my budget. I find myself often simply accessorizing minimal outfits with patches, studding, pins etc. It’s simpler. I also find that friends have generally supported my transition and been very helpful in passing on items that have fit quite well.

What are some of the benefits you’ve experienced in your move away from fast fashion?

I think certainly trying to live a less harmful existence is something we could all benefit from. However, I personally feel living outside of fast fashion has given me the opportunity to express all the facets of my gender expression and shape how I move through my transition.

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What are some of your fav finds? Are there any stories that come with finding this item/these items?

My goat bone necklace is a beautiful piece of salvage jewellery done by an old friend. The brown leather vest was passed down from my dad. It’s taken on a lot of character after being mutated by my bad sewing and studding. It feels truly personal though. And I love my black collared blouse. Found it on closing sale at a price I could afford for once. Made in France, it’s a little out of my usual style but sometimes it just feels right.

 

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Fae’s outfit: Black collared blouse from a local shop;  French Collection
 jeans from a friend

 

 

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This post was written by Margeaux

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