To us, dress with purpose means to present yourself to the world with intention.
Intention to freely express your true self.
Intention to empower yourself and inspire those around you.
Intention to shine a light on the issues that are near to your heart.
For me, one of the biggest issues I want to work towards resolving is the disastrous effect that fast fashion has had on the environment and garment workers in developing countries.
When you buy a brand-new shirt for $4, do you ever think about how little the person who made that shirt is being paid? Or the effect of those harsh chemicals on the land and water sources of the countries where it is being produced? As someone who’s working to develop a fashion brand, I know you cannot do what is right and also sell clothing for less than the price of a sandwich.
I used to not care about where my clothing came from, and I never thought twice about what it did to the environment around me or to other families, but now that my eyes have been opened to the heartache it can bestow on others, I can never go back. The more I learned about fast fashion, the more I realized how deeply it collided with my values.
But I still love fashion, and I can’t give it up. I knew there had to be a way to continue buying clothing on a regular basis without sacrificing my principles.
We feel passionately about conserving the environment because, well, it’s the only home we’ve got. We were worried about taking a strong stance on this issue because we do buy clothing from H&M and Forever 21 and feature it on our blog, so on the surface, some people could say we’re part of the problem.
We’ve considered abstaining from purchasing anything from fast fashion retailers and only buying from companies that use ethical and sustainable practices, but we thought about it, and it would simply not be feasible for us.
Each of us only have about $100 a month (or less) to buy clothing, so we wouldn’t be able to buy even a single pair of jeans from Reformation or one pair of flats from Nisolo. It goes without saying that we definitely would not be able to run a fashion blog if we stuck to only those types of stores! We greatly admire those brands, and we think they’re doing amazing, game-changing things for the world of fashion, but they’re catering to a demographic that is a little more affluent than those of us who are still in school full-time.
We cannot wait until the day we can be like Emma Watson and have the money to fill our closets with only ethically, sustainably-produced clothing, but we’re not there yet. Call us hypocrites if you want, but there are more of us out there who are in the same boat than you might think.
This is exactly why we purchase clothing from Goodwill and transform those unappealing, outdated pieces into new ones that are fresh and stylish.
Millions of clothing items (that have a lot of potential!) are already in existence, so it’s incredibly wasteful to continue producing new clothing at our current rate while allowing those pieces to sit on a shelf or be turned into rags. It’s overwhelming to think about completely overhauling your buying habits to make your wardrobe 100% sustainable, and we think that’s why a lot of women avoid it. It’s difficult, it’s expensive, and at the end of the day, there aren’t nearly as many options to choose from.
This is precisely the reason we’re working to launch a brand that brings those unwanted pieces back into the mainstream by altering small details of them to make them fashionable again. We want other women like us to have the option to buy negative-waste clothing that falls into the same pricing category as Zara or the higher end of H&M.
Our brand, Awaken Atelier, which launches within the next few months, will feature pieces from thrift stores that have been updated to reflect modern trends like raw hems on jeans, embroidery on jackets, and low-backs on one piece swimsuits. Just know it’s okay if you haven’t boycotted Forever 21 completely. Make small changes in your life to make it more sustainable, like shopping at Goodwill when you’re looking for your summer wardrobe (or shopping at Awaken Atelier when it opens!). As you start to make more money, transition towards brands like Reformation when you’re shopping for an evening dress or a new pair of jeans. But don’t get discouraged if you can’t do everything you want to do when it comes to sustainability.
Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something- do your something.
Sabrina’s Outfit Details:
Top: Goodwill- Refashioned by Awaken Atelier
Jacket: Goodwill- Refashioned by Awaken Atelier
Shoes: Steve Madden
Hannah’s Outfit Details:
Top: Goodwill- Refashioned by Awaken Atelier
Jacket: TJ Maxx
Shoes: Forever 21
Necklace: Rue 21
Glasses: EyeGlasses Direct