Fashion Revolution week has come and gone and left in its wake a sort of hangover, for me at least. And a little hope- that the questions and conflicts and nagging feelings that came up over the past week will stick around a little longer. One week is good, but it's not a very long time to learn anything or to unpack something as big as the fashion industry and its deep deep roots in colonialism, appropriation, forced poverty and all the really horrible things no one wants to think about when they're getting dressed in the morning.
The revolution will not survive if we make it about pretty patches on our Levi's. It might survive if we start asking- why are all of these white people suddenly practicing traditional Japanese stitch techniques in their mending? What IS boro, and what history am I erasing if I call my patched right knee that? Where did the dye for these jeans come from? Is it indigo, or is it a toxic petroleum based dye, and what watershed did that get emptied into? How did indigo make it from India to the US? What happened in India when we started growing it here, after years of making India dependent our trade? Where was the cotton grown, how were the people who grew it treated? Who sewed these jeans together? Did they make enough to live off of their work, or did the conditions under which my jeans were made push them closer to death than living?
It's easy to ask these questions and then move on with your day. It takes a long time to let them sink in- as white Americans (or maybe just Americans in general) we are taught to accept certain things and not let them get to us. There's a shift happening with that and it is good and hard. Be a part of the shift. Let those questions in, let them make you feel bad, let them upset you. Turn any guilt you feel into anger and pinpoint your anger on making a change. It's no longer the time to be complacent. And then, when you feel helpless and wretched, because this is a BIG thing and answers and change won't come fast or easy, then go and get something beautiful from an ethical local company or the thrift store. Make it a prize, to sustain you going forward, but don't call it your first step and definitely don't let it be your last step. Keep marching on.