Fashionable Empowerment

In an alternate utopian reality, where all people realized that our survival as a species depends on the health of our planet, we wouldn’t want to wear clothes we wear now. In that world we would see that our purchasing power has the potential to be either a tool or a weapon.

I invite you to look in your own closet. Go ahead, poke your head in there and examine what you have on those hangers. What do you see? Clothes, shoes -maybe purses hanging somewhere. Now look a little closer. Check out the tags on the things you own.

All clothes that are sold legally in the western world are supposed to indicate the country they were made in, the name of the maker (brand), care instructions, and the fabric content. Most of us have items acquired because we liked the style, we’re loyal to a brand, or we found something in the colour of the season that we simply had to have. Sure, these are all valid reasons to want to purchase something, but maybe there are more questions that need to pop into our heads before we take out our wallets and buy our next forgotten trendy item of clothing.

For example, in that utopian world that I was talking about, we wouldn’t have to worry about what country our clothing and accessories are made. Why? Well…because all places in the world that manufacture fashion goods would have the most strict regulations of chemical waste disposal; they would employ only people above the age of 18 and they would pay those people a descent living wage. Also, the people making this clothing would be given health and retirement benefits and would be sure to have a job- even after the busy manufacturing season of the year is over. And once our clothes were made, they would be shipped to us using only efficient and sustainable modes of transportation.

But let’s face it. That sequined item that you have in that closet of yours, the one that says: “Made in Vietnam”, or “Made in Bangladesh”, or “Made in India, is probably made by exploited temporary workers in their early teens. They’d be employed because, in order to be able to lay the sequins neatly on the fabric, you’d need small, young, steady hands. Sad? Only if you care, I guess. If you only care about whether you’ll look hot or not, then it doesn’t matter. In the utopian world I created with my imagination, people would look at an item they are about to buy, read the label, and the label would say “Made Locally”.

Why “Made Locally”? I think that we are less willing to put up with exploitative workplace practices, when the exploited workers are close to us- or at least live in the same country as us. Of course, when the people suffering are an ocean away -hemispheres apart from us- it’s much easier for us to ignore their reality.

Let’s go back to that utopian world of mine. In that world, when I asked you to take a look in your closet, you’d see all the clothes are made from natural fabrics. You’d wear light cottons, silks, hemp, and bamboo fabrics, during the spring and summer. You’d also have various types of wool stuff to keep you warm during the colder months. In this alternate reality the clothes you’d wear would be completely biodegradable. When you’d be ready to let go of your used clothes, you’d be able to grab your old t-shirt, and stash it together with the vegetable compost, because it’s plant-based fabric would eventually decompose into organic waste. The best part about this utopian world is that the clothes available to us would be stylish, fit really well and we’d feel great wearing it for longer than just one season.

I guess this sounds a lot like “wishful thinking”. Most people would think that it is not possible to have great looking clothing that is also made from sustainable fabric and doesn’t end up perpetuating slavery-type working conditions. And that is where you’d be wrong. Because my friends, as John Lennon said- “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one!” I’m not the only one (or the first one, for that matter) to ever imagine that the fashion world could use a bit of change.

I am not the only one that can make a difference. In fact, we all can. We can look into our closets, read the labels on our clothes and become aware of the human and environmental costs that these clothes may represent. Do the clothes you own make you feel good about your decision of buying them? Are you sure you are asking yourselves all the relevant questions when you’re buying more of the same clothes?

I mentioned earlier that our purchasing power has the potential to either be a tool or be a weapon. It can be a weapon that enslaves people in the other side of the world, a biological weapon that pollutes our riverbeds and our air, and a way of filling up our landfills with non-degradable trash that becomes the problem of future generations. Fortunately, it can also be a tool to point designers in the right direction. To let them know what is important to us, as consumers. It can be a tool to push for more ethical ways of employing people in the manufacturing sectors and a tool to demand better practices in the overall industry. The great thing about this is that when you start making different choices, your actions will make other people take notice. Soon enough, you’ll be able to truly feel good about the clothes you’re wearing because they’d be contributing a much better society.

Raw Organic Denim: The Eco-Friendly Closet Staple

When was the last time you had a piece of clothing that was completely unique to you and your lifestyle, eco-friendly and good for your health? It’s unfortunately quite difficult to find in today’s mainstream fashion market, but thankfully raw organic denim is starting to gain a strong and trendsetting following.

Commonly known as ‘dry denim’ because of its initially rigid and crisp texture, raw denim is denim fabric that has not been washed or chemically treated. The fabric slowly breaks down over time, creating a soft and worn in feel. With consistent monthly wear before its first gentle wash, it allows its wearer to mold the denim to their body like a second skin creating a faded and distressed look that is completely unique to them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the majority of the denim you see in stores has had numerous chemical washes and treatments applied to it before anyone even wears it. This negatively affects the lifespan of the denim compared to its raw counterpart. It also poses a much more serious environmental threat in its production. While conventional raw denim scores better than pre-washed, your very best option when choosing a new pair of jeans would be a pair made from raw organic denim.

Organic cotton is grown with natural fertilizers and is free from toxic chemicals. Manual farming and organic practices have a lower carbon footprint than conventional cotton farming because the process uses less fuel and emits lower greenhouse gases. What you wear every day is also vital to your health. Your skin is your largest organ and is extremely absorbent. Conventional clothing is chemically ridden with hormone disrupting dyes and contaminants like pesticides, formaldehyde and heavy metals. It may seem insignificant on a day to day basis, but consider what you are putting into your body over a lifetime.

Just like anything else, all denim is not created equal and there are countless benefits in doing your research for how your clothes are being made. John-Addison is committed to producing premium quality raw organic denim that is a stylish and low maintenance addition to everyone’s closet.

The First Baptism – Washing Instructions for your Raw Denim

It may feel like it was just yesterday you were slipping into your brand new pair of raw denim jeans, the blank slate that you would personalize over the coming months; the time you fell off your bike and scraped your knee, the outline of your wallet in your left back pocket and fading on your thighs from the harsh glare of the sun, has all transpired to make your pair unique to you and your lifestyle. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, it’s a bit of a religious experience to wash them for the very first time. But since you’ve invested months to have your new jeans become a second skin, you don’t want to undo all your hard work by incorrectly washing it all away.

We recommend breaking in your raw denim by not washing them for a minimum of six months. This will give the fabric a chance to shape to your bodies stress points and create fading that is sharp. This may seem a bit overwhelming if this is your first pair of raw denim and are an avid washing machine user. To help you make it to the six month mark there are a number of things you can do to keep your denim clean and scent free.

Stains: Address the stain as quickly as possible so it has less time to imbed color into the cotton fibers. Spot treat the excess liquid with a dry absorbent towel or paper napkin. If there is still color discoloration, use a small amount of water and rub the fibers together to loosen the stain. If the blemish is still apparent, use a very small amount of environmentally friendly non-bleach soap and repeat the prior step.

Deodorizer: Hang your denim outside on a sunny day when there’s a bit of wind for at least an hour and then turn them inside out for another hour. If there is still a scent remaining, fold your jeans in a clean pillowcase and keep them in the freezer overnight. This will neutralize any lingering scent and bacteria. You can also fold a cheesecloth with baking soda inside to create a smell-absorbing pocket. Dried lavender, mint or baby powder are also great alternatives.

Once you have made it to the six month mark use the following instructions to keep your raw denim looking its best and minimizing shrinkage and allover color fade:

Draw a bath of cool to lukewarm water five inches deep.

Gently hand wash or soak with 1/4 cup of mild non-bleach washing powder, preferably Woolite Black because it is designed to lock in darker colors.

Rinse well in a steady stream of cool water until all soap is gone.

Lay flat or hang to dry after giving the inseam a tug to help avoid shrinkage.

If you feel the need to use a washing machine, make sure you wash inside out with cold water on a delicate cycle. To avoid any color transfer, wash on its own with mild washing detergent that does not contain bleach. Do not tumble dry or dry clean. Hang to dry as previously mentioned.