The prompt for the final week of Slow Fashion October 2016 is about “Known Origins:”
Good (especially good and affordable) sources of yarn and fabric with traceable origins. And for the things we buy, favorite sources: from small-batch designer-producers to fashion companies trying to do the right thing in a transparent way.
I know next to nothing about this topic. I would definitely like to learn more, but I am not sure what resources are trustworthy when it comes to researching how things are sourced. The way I generally operate is to assume that workers are being exploited overseas for most manufactured goods I buy. Instead of seeking out materials and other items not made in this way, I try to limit the amount of what I buy, through things like making my clothes last a long time, as has been discussed in earlier Slow Fashion October posts on this blog.
That being said, the community I live in tends to have a focus on buying local, making it a bit easier to know where products come from. My LYS has a good selection of “Made in Michigan” yarns, although that designation includes both yarns dyed in Michigan but sourced from elsewhere and those fully raised, spun, and dyed in Michigan. I am drawn to companies like Quince and Co and Brooklyn Tweed, which carry all-US-sourced, spun, and dyed yarns, but unfortunately those yarns are usually out of my budget for bigger projects. For example, I want to make a Rowe someday and I would love to use Brooklyn Tweed for it as recommended, but I cannot afford that much BT yarn, so I will end up going with a budget brand like Cascade or Knit Picks, both of which offshore their sourcing and manufacturing. Thus, I will employ my philosophy of supporting that minimally by making a quality garment that lasts and repairing as needed.
There are definitely fibers and fabrics I avoid unless I know the origin, like angora. I always hesitate to buy non-standard fibers unless they particularly name a source. I do not have any particular angst over animal products, but I do not like to actively support cruelty. There are sustainable and humane methods for harvesting hair/fur (like shearing a sheep!).
I also, like Rachel, really try to support local economy with locally sourced goods. The problem with relying on the local yarn stores, though, is evident as many in my area closed this year and I lost my source for ethical, local angora! Just in time for a project too…
I understand not wanting to actively support child labor and poor factory conditions, but I do not buy locally to avoid supporting potentially problematic working conditions. I buy locally to reduce my carbon footprint and vote with my wallet for variety carried locally.
There are also a lot of regional fiber traditions we have the opportunity to support by having the opportunity to buy online, globally. We can buy donegal tweed from Ireland, Finnish long wools, Japanese denim, and London cotton lawn. These are specialty items that might otherwise disappear, if not for the availability across the world. I always like to think of my humanitarian efforts in terms of the positive, rather than the negative. I am choosing to support traditions I love, rather than avoiding or boycotting the alternative. It keeps me more motivated and, well, squeeing over my stash.
I knew it’d come to this. 😉