I see a world where locally-made fashion is worn as often as big brands. Where delicately elegant, edible white fawn lilies and native wild flowers are purposefully planted as often or more as daffodils. I want to fast forward into a world where the bold, beautiful iconic prints of the First Nations are worn proudly by fashionistas.
My beautiful stylista sister Jyoti got me on a shopping diet a few years ago. She has a green MBA, champions sustainability at Nature’s Path Foods and is my go-to person on everything ‘sustainability’. Confronted with confusing ideas of style, disposability, fast fashion, we are encouraged to buy buy buy. At Paris Fashion week in 2011, I spoke at length about the perils of fast fashion with Laura and Martin McCarthy of The Couturier House of Worth. We can’t escape wanting to look good, to change our image as our body changes. But what is the guiding principle? How do we navigate the perilous waterfalls and rapids of consumerism? We all need this diet. Picking up from Jyoti’s principles, here is the Stephens’ Sister’s Shopping Diet.
The Stephens’ Sisters’ Shopping Diet: Whatever you buy, whatever category (food, clothing, household products, furniture, plants, gifts), you must buy either local, organic or second-hand. If you cant find something local organic or second-hand, buy something that is made from a country that’s close by, or with a stellar record for human and environmental rights. Above all, go for quality. That way you don’t have to replace your stuff as often. My hubby Pascal bought a pair of Church’s shoes when we lived in London over 15 years ago. They still look fantastic. I will talk about washing machines on another post (hold your breath peoples – washing machines – oooh!).
When I moved back to Canada 3.5 years ago, I was disappointed at the limited, locally-made clothing offerings. Living in Barcelona, London and Florence for thirteen years had truly and utterly spoiled me. But little by little and with a little more help from Jyoti, we found a wonderful crop of local young BC designers *making clothes locally*. For example Laura Bemister of Muse Clothinghttp://museclothingcompany.com/ , David Chiang of Motherland http://www.gastown.org/shop/item/7783-motherland-gastown. Stores in Victoria like Hemp and Company https://hempandcompany.com/ and Not Just Pretty http://www.notjustpretty.com/shop/index.php are to be praised for their vision. Jyoti and I have a few-well kept secrets on Vancouver’s best quality consignment, that I’ll share if asked very (Very) nicely.
Sorting out my style as I reacclimatized to British Columbia’s weather and fashion (Vancouver has typically ranked quite low on fashion), I was always a little sad that I couldn’t find anything First Nations inspired. Living in Europe plenty of folks thought I was First Nation when I told them I was “part Indian from Canada”. I have grown up with a family who loves First Nations artwork. My Uncle Godfrey speaks native some of the Native tongues. My grandfather’s first wife was First Nations (she died young of influenza). I have always wanted to wear First Nations clothing. Let me clarify, there are plenty of prints and scarves, tea-towels and t-shirts, jewellery, Cowichan sweaters and slippers that are locally, beautifully, and quality-made. I have both given and received these items over the years. But never something cool that made me that made me feel hip and fashionable.
A Facebook friend liked a dress from Edzera Artworks and online Gallery http://www.edzerzagallery.com/. Grazie FB, this dress arrived in a little envelope yesterday and I am proudly wearing it in the photo above. The dress itself is American Apparel made in the USA. The Shoes are Trippen made in Germany, bought in Rome about 6 or so years ago. Trippen will repair your shoes for life. The stockings are made in Hungary, bought in Florence a few years ago. I’ll stop there but I know you get the point.
May each and every purchase be cherished and all the people and activities in the distribution chain leading you to the point of purchase be honourable and honoured. I would like to say more about the Idle No More movement, but I am not informed enough at this time. Nevertheless, I support those who fearlessly stand up for their rights.
So I’m pretty happy this morning. I’m looking and feeling good, supporting a chain of people and actions that I feel good about. Plus I’m wearing this in solidarity for my First Nations friends…. May we all wake up and Idle no more.