Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Looking At The Label

        One of the reasons I wanted to participate in the 10 x10 Style Challenge- that I posted about last week- is that I really want to examine my own consumerism once again- take a closer look at the materials I am using and ensure I am making choices that align with my heart. Taking a part in this style challenge has opened up a variety of conversations with friends on both sides of the line. On one hand I have so many like minded peers who are interested in slow fashion and on the other hand I live in a small city where $2.00 t-shirts are still considered a bargain.  Regardless, one of the topics that seems to come up time and time again is that of both food and fibre security.

      Not often do we as a society think of fibre the same way we think about food although fast food and fast fashion are akin to one another- and both are equally big health issues.  In our valley and indeed in much of our province locality is so popular when it comes to food- slow- local and as organic as possible. The farmer's market scene is bumpin' and we like to support good local food. It's good for the economy and it's good for the earth- it's so easy to achieve a 100 mile diet here in the Okanagan- slow food- grown close to home. Local options for all tastes are to be found in abundance at our farmer's markets or just outside our door in the garden- eating locally grown and seasonal has surpassed fad or trend.

      Just behind slow, seasonal and local food comes slow, seasonal and local fibre. Now of course this is a niche market at the moment but I know a lot of people are hoping that will change! At one point in time it was not uncommon to look at a clothing label and see "made in the U.S.A"- today there are very few textile mills left in America and we rely on overseas providers for our textiles. As an artist with an interest in textiles where my materials are coming from is just as important to me as where my food is coming from. I want to use fibres from the land I live in.

     What I look for when choosing my fibres is very similar to how I shop for groceries. I look at the label.  I want to know where this fabric or wool is from. Did it travel across the ocean? Or was the wool sourced, cleaned, dyed and spun in North America (like this Brooklyn Tweed pictured above) I want to know what additives have been added to the wool. Is it superwash yarn? This is an important question to me  as superwash is often coated with a wash of polymer- yes that is plastic.  A label tells you right up front everything you want to know about the providence of the yarn you are considering or dress you want to buy!

     Obviously cost is a factor- acrylic yarn is so much less expensive because it's easy to make- but it's also plastic. Using wool yarn can be quite pricey- lets face it -knitting is no longer an economy hobby- it has moved into the realm of luxury which can feel limiting for some people. So much like eating organic or local food it's all about balance and budget. Spend a little more and buy a little less for a better quality. I dare say after trying this approach your feelings towards your garments will change- they will become a little more precious- will be cared for differently and there fore last longer.

       I think just starting to change  our collective mindset is an important first step in consuming textiles grown closer to home. Look at that label and support local growers and makers with your dollars. There are so many amazing small scale- local makers everywhere you look these days. Folks who are also interested in where their materials are coming from. By living thoughtfully and taking our time we can make small decisions that have great impact. Moving as slowly and seasonally with what we put on our body as we do with what we put in our body is so important.

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