Come As You Are: Welcome to "Making It Work" series by Eleni Georgiadis

When you picture ethical and environmental fashion, what comes first to your mind? Do you envision one of the many boutique brands which justify exorbitant costs with promises about fair wages and ethical working conditions? Do you imagine a fierce environmentalist who wears only secondhand clothes and eschews all retail fashion? While these representations are prominent in media regarding choices in clothing which benefit people and planet, they bear little similarity to myself or the people I know.

The people I know, well, we are all doing the best we can. Being able to spend time and money on sourcing ethical clothing is a luxury which few if any of us have access to in the midst of a global pandemic which has placed mental, emotional, financial, social, familial, and professional burdens on each person in new and complex ways. 

 

Accomplishing large scale environmental conservation and correcting the human rights issues which mar the fashion industry is a Herculean task that no individual person could hope to take on alone. The biggest culprits of pollution and waste are multinational corporations with deep pockets and profound legislative influence. Yet the burden is so often placed on individual consumers to be “perfect”. (I despise the outlook and this term.) The “perfect” consumer somehow has the resources to research and purchase only the most ethical of all goods, foods, and lifestyle choices. Maybe this person exists, maybe they don’t. For the rest of us, I will be working with Thrift 2 Fight to put together a few articles about making fashion work in the best ways we can, with what we have, where we are today through sharing ideas about small changes.

 

To briefly introduce myself, my name is Eleni. As someone who is 25 going on 86, I love to knit and sew, and I have tried to learn about and make sustainable changes to my daily routine. I greatly admire the work that Thrift 2 Fight has undertaken, and I am so excited to play a small role in the wonderful mission of this organization. I am a big fan of purchasing second hand clothes, and with some experience sewing, I am able to make the alterations I need to make them work with me. I am hoping to help create a space for sharing some of these ideas I’ve gathered over the years as well as some advice about cleaning, caring for, and selecting second hand clothing.

My goal is to make these affordable, accessible, and enjoyable. All mending/alteration suggestions will be done with a needle and thread. Though I have a sewing machine which I love dearly, I know that this barrier to entry would exclude many people, so I will be keeping things to the realm of hand-sewing. Of course, I am always open to suggestions, so please reach out if there are any questions or areas of interest which you would like to see addressed.

Before I close this first post, I think it is so important to lay out that it is never my goal to lay any judgement at anyone’s door. We all know that fast fashion is ripe with issues. In the fashion industry, racism and climate crisis collide in forceful and terrible ways. With some rare exceptions, US based companies seek inexpensive, exploitative labor for garment manufacturing in countries without adequate labor laws and union protection. These same companies utilize production practices which pollute the water and air while creating massive waste. Sadly, while we all feel the consequences of such actions, those who face the most profound damage are members of marginalized communities. The marketing cycle pushes seasonal style trends and cheap clothing, which in turn perpetuates demand. This ugly cycle turns on and on, year after year, exacting a staggering human and environmental toll.

With all of that being said, having purchased clothing from a fast fashion chain does not make you a bad person. Buying new clothes does not make you a bad person. Using the chemicaly-est detergent does not make you a bad person. Throwing things away does not make you a bad person. I present this series of articles merely as a way to share what I’ve learned and hopefully inspire each of you to make a few different choices (and to learn from you all as well!) There is no expectation that you do all of what may be outlined, there is no judgement if these suggestions seem overwhelming, and there is no way most people would do all of these things all of the time.
When you picture an environmental and ethical activist, I hope that you can think boldly of yourself. You are making the best choices you can each day and that, if it existed, is where perfection would lie.

Eleni Georgiadis

Eleni Georgiadis is a classically trained horn player currently residing in Kentucky. Outside of music, she enjoys knitting, sewing, composting, kombucha brewing, and spending time outdoors. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to share her thoughts about sustainability and inclusivity in fashion, weaving together her technical knowledge, passion, and research.

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