Ten intentions for fighting dismantling the industrial complex

collage of three pictures of pink and black upcycled clothing items

Upcycling inspiration from Broken Ghost Clothing

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about fatshion and revolution, here are ten ways I’ve thought of to work toward a more ethical, sustainable, and inclusive politics of fatshion. These are things I intend to work on; if you’re doing anything similar, I’d love to hear about it!

1. ) Buy less. Spend less time looking at plus size retailers’ websites, and find other pretty things to look at instead (and somehow reconcile this with my hopes of eventually starting a fat-positive style consulting service…).

2.) Thrift more. Organize more fat thrifting excursions, and check out thrift stores I’ve never been to–such as Savers, which I’ve heard great things about.

3.) Hold more clothing swaps, and support other people who want to host swaps of their own. Continue to signal-boost clothing swaps happening in other areas.

4.) Cut down on the number fatshion blogs I read–there are currently over 200 in my feed reader–and engage more with a smaller number of bloggers. Skimming a large number of blogs makes it easy to get caught up in marketing cycles of hype and desire, and I’d like to step back from that a bit.

4.) Keep an eye out for fatshion bloggers who focus on thrifting, swapping, and upcycling.

5.) Think and write more about alternative business models, from indie subscription boxes like Crown & Glory’s Glitterati to worker-owned cooperatives. I haven’t heard of any worker-owned coops within the fashion industry, and while I am not in a position to start my own, I think it’s still worth imagining what that might look like.

6.) Look for creative ways to use the powers of fatshion for good, such as donating to the Leelah Project.

7.) Learn to sew, at least to the extent that I can alter and upcycle my own clothes. I don’t think I have the spatial skills to make clothing completely from scratch, but I’d love to learn to at least add details and make small changes. I have a few friends who sew, and we’ve been talking about having an altering/upcycling party forever–it’s just a matter of actually doing it.

8.) Highlight indie designers, of both clothing and accessories, on my blog. I’d like to focus especially on lesser-known designers.

9.) Continue to signal boost other fat activists’ writing about issues other than fatshion, and write about them myself when I have something to say.

10.) Seek out writing that explores social constructions of style, beauty, and looking good from intersectional fat perspectives, and signal-boost it when I find it.

To be honest, on the rare occasions that a fast fashion brand makes something truly exciting in plus sizes, I’ll probably still celebrate it. How could I not celebrate fat babes in a wide range of sizes rocking a pale pink tutu? But I intend to pay less attention to whatever big corporation is treating its fat customers shittily at the moment (pro tip: it’s almost always Old Navy or Target), and spend more brain-space on creating alternatives.

Thoughts on fatshion and revolution

In Tasha Fierce’s latest post, she brings up some important points about the goals of fat acceptance:

Now, I love clothes. I mean, I LOVE clothes. But I’m also personally invested in intersectionality and the idea that all liberation movements are entwined. So when I see us desiring to buy into the mindless capitalism and consumption of clothing that’s marketed to thin folks, I get frustrated. Insisting that fat folks’ money is just as good as thin folks’ money, so therefore we should have equal access to the same sweatshop-produced clothing lines offered by multinational corporations who use their profits to subjugate marginalized folks around the world? I don’t want that kind of revolution.

I don’t want that kind of revolution either.

I think we’re at a weird moment in plus size fashion where some people–especially those who wear smaller plus sizes and have a decent amount of disposable income–have enough options that it’s easy to acquire huge piles of clothing. But at the same time, low-income and/or larger fats still struggle to find clothes, and some people still have nearly no options at all. Even smaller fats who have specialized needs, unusual taste, or a gender presentation that doesn’t match most of what’s available can find themselves with very little to wear.

Which means that there’s an awfully fuzzy line between demanding clothes that people genuinely need in order to live their lives, and asking for assimilation into the destructive system of disposable fast fashion. I know I’ve fallen on the wrong side of that line myself plenty of times, even though I’ve also done a lot of thinking about what sustainable fashion could look like and how fat people are building community-oriented alternatives like clothing swaps and thrifting events. I’ve always found it hard to reconcile my love of ALL THE SHINY THINGS with my anti-capitalist values, and this is something I need to work on. Continue reading

I believe in fashion.

When I first started reading Web Smith’s piece “The Lost Art of Buying Clothing,” I thought I’d agree with most of it. I’m all for making more durable clothing (especially leggings/pants/shorts that don’t wear out in the thighs–are you listening, plus size clothing manufacturers?). I’m all for moving from the unsustainable fast fashion model to a slower one, one that pays its workers a living wage and doesn’t wreck the planet.

But then I got to this part:

But what about the changing of styles? Rules of thumb: (1) if you don’t think you’d wear it in seven years, you may want to put it back (2) if the tailoring that you desire is too “in”, it may be out in a few years (3) and some patterns and colors will remain near the top for a lifetime. See, I do not believe in fashion. I do believe in amazing pieces that remain timeless through the ages.

This is where I disagree.

I believe in fashion.

I believe in playing dress-up, playing with color, texture, pattern, proportion.

I believe in fashion as an accessible art form.

I believe in fashion as a form of self-expression that changes with me. I’m not the same person I was seven years ago–why would I want to dress like her? And who knows what my style will be like in seven years?

There are some trends from my teenage years that I still love–hell, I’d dress like a Delia*s  catalog half the time if I could find that stuff in my size.  And I’m all for having a few timeless pieces, like my favorite little black dress (which, for what it’s worth, was a cheap Target buy at least six or seven years ago and is still in great condition). But the thought of buying clothing for the next seven years sounds stifling.

Smith goes on to list five things to consider when buying, which starts with this:

High fashion has its place, 95% of us do not live in that place. Set aside Hypebeast trends for classic colors, fits, patterns, and heritage pieces: the blue blazer, the tweed sport coat, the brown slim fit dress pant, the selvedge denim, the oxford, durable point collars, the spread collar for when you need it. You may never be the most “fashionable” on the block but you will applaud at your old photos, three years from now.

Continue reading

I wish this existed: recycled costumes for regular people

So, I recently came across the Tumblr Recycled Movie Costumes, and it got me thinking. What if there was an everyday equivalent for us non-movie-stars?

I know there are Netflix-like clothing rental sites such as Gwynnie Bee, about which I’ve heard good things. But they’re for normal clothing, and they’re internet-based.

I would love to see a brick-and-mortar clothing rental business that had gorgeous, costume-y clothes in a wide variety of sizes. Flapper dresses, woodland fairy costumes, Victorian outfits, steampunk get-ups, Renaissance gowns…

People could rent them for special occasions, or just to play dress-up. You could have the fun of wearing gorgeous costumes from various eras without shelling out the expense to buy one, or investing in something that might no longer fit if your body changes. And you could always spend an evening trying on costumes with friends.

I don’t know if this could actually work as a business model–it would require keeping on hand a large number of costumes in different sizes, which might be prohibitively expensive. But it’s something I’d love to see in a sustainable future of fashion.

Two awesome blogs I found today

1.) I don’t read very many non-fatshion style blogs, but I just came across Alyssa of Butterflies on Mars, and I’m absolutely in love with her style.

Amazing rainbowness – more pictures here.

2.) I’m always on the lookout for blogs that that discuss ethical and sustainable fashion. Nada at Listen Girlfriends! writes about media and culture, including fashion, from a critical perspective. I just started reading her ethical fashion series, which is great.

What awesome blogs have you found lately?

Friday Links, 2/15/13

Cupcake Ferris wheel!

Happy Friday! Here are the links I liked this week; feel free to share anything you’ve read or written.

Fa(t)shion
Knit together: can collaborative fashion change the way we approach clothing?
The insourcing trend: what is the impact of clothing made in the US?
Gorgeous, gorgeous jewelry–total eye candy.
-Submit your proposal for the Fierce Fashion Futures Track at the Allied Media Conference.
Fashion blogging culture: demanding substance over style.

Fat Acceptance
The difference between body positivity and fat acceptance.
Chris Christie’s weight: the issue that isn’t.
Comfort eating or eating comfortably?
-An awesome example of how FA blogs are making a difference.
Inconceivable!
Fatness around the world.
-An Israeli movie that looks good: A Matter of Size.
Fat, black, and weird, you have found your people.
“Identity Thief” and Hollywood’s narrow road for fat actresses.
-Golda Poretsky’s top six takeaways from her body positive dating master class.

This is so cool!

Everything Else
Notes from the urban-rural divide: Jesus, right-wing politics, and guns.
Let’s not be wed to outmoded ideas of what marriage is.
The uprising of women in the Arab world.
Lessons from women who are leading the sustainable cities movement.
Grin and abhor it: the truth behind service with a smile.
We ask that you do not call us professor.
Where’s the wheelchair dance in pop culture?
Defending Dawn Summers: from one kid sister to another.
A hijabi can…be guided by her horse.
This calendar celebrates trans* youth, and buying it supports transgender health services for youth in L.A.
Unicorns are jerks: my favorite coloring books for grown-ups.