Would You Join a Counter-Fashion Collective?

In which I go down an internet rabbit hole that leads me to a very unexpected place.

Sometimes I go down an internet rabbit hole that leads me to some very unexpected places. So it was when I reached a particularly intriguing dead end at the website for the Rational Dress Society, or RDS. I think they make some really logical arguments for their movement, but I also think their idea will never catch on.

They think, and I agree, that the fashion industry has fed us the myth that shopping leads to happiness and that the more stuff you have, the better. In fact, I feel the opposite is true. All that stuff in our closets used to be money, and we could have used that money to have more memorable experiences with loved ones or increased financial stability for our golden years. Instead, we try to keep up with the latest trends and express our individuality rather than our unity.

The RDS also points out that the vast majority of our clothing is now produced overseas, and that fashion industry labor abuses are devastatingly rampant. That, and the environment is on a downward spiral, so we really shouldn’t be focusing on producing enough textiles to clothe each person a hundred times over. Again, I agree.

This counter-fashion collective’s solution to this is that everyone should wear the same thing: specifically, jumpsuits. They have a rose-colored view of jumpsuits changing the world. This is from their website:

“What alliances might be formed between JUMPSUIT-wearing individuals? Just as we reject the mini-mansion in favor of the city, refuse the automobile in favor of the train, JUMPSUIT offers a way to forego the insular logic of self-expression in favor of forming communal bonds. We embrace our neighbors. We reject the signs of class, race and gender that are inscribed into our daily interactions. In the future, we will be brothers and sisters together in JUMPSUITS.”

In essence, the RDS feels that if this jumpsuit became a universal garment, there would be fewer divisions between us. I’m all for that. And imagine how much closet space each of us would have if we only had one or two jumpsuits to store! They also speak quite a bit about “freedom from the tyranny of choice.”

It’s a fascinating concept with one fatal flaw. People enjoy expressing their individuality. I know I do. I’m far from a fashion plate. I go for comfort over style. But I do prefer certain colors and I like how certain styles make me feel. I don’t really worry about trends. As an overweight female over 50, I have been rendered invisible for the most part, anyway. But I do know that I feel better in some clothes than I do in others, and I can’t imagine that that is going to change any time soon.

And while this jumpsuit purports to be gender neutral, as a female I really hate the idea of having to take off an entire jumpsuit just to go to the bathroom. (Especially since the older I get, the more in a hurry I become.) As if lines to the ladies room weren’t obscenely long already, this concept would stretch them around the block. The solution would be a flap in the back, I suppose, but that would make me feel infantilized. No thanks.

It would be wonderful if we focused less on fashion and got more creative and expressed our individuality with other forms of art. That’s one possible outcome that I’d absolutely love. But I can also see things going to the opposite extreme. Fashion police might actually become a thing. “Hey, who said you could modify your jumpsuit? Come with me…”

But for those who really are interested, you can go to the RDS website and get a free, open source pattern, or you can purchase a jumpsuit directly from them. They have a long sleeve design for Fall and Winter, and a short sleeve design for Spring and Summer. But no shorts, and that’s a shame on a planet where the heat is increasing every year. I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to modify the pattern, but then, there we go again, acting all individualistic. Shame on us.

It’s a slippery slope, comrade.

I just noticed that in this photo from the RDS website, everybody’s wearing different shoes. Hmmmm….

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Mid-Month Marvels: FABSCRAP

They’re solving a big environmental problem.

A recurring theme in this blog is the celebration of people and/or organizations that have a positive impact on their communities. What they do is not easy, but it’s inspirational, and we don’t hear enough about them. So I’ve decided to commit to singing their praises at least once a month. I’m calling it Mid-Month Marvels. If you have any suggestions for the focus of this monthly spotlight, let me know in the comments below!

I love hearing about people who identify problems and then come up with ways to solve them. It gives me hope. It makes me feel as though we might survive as a species after all. So I was delighted when I read an article entitled, “The Fashion Industry Has a Waste Problem: This Non-Profit with 2,000 Volunteers Is Helping Solve It”.

According to the article, the EPA says that textile and fabric takes up 5% of our landfills, and it also turns out that fabrics account for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a problem. A big one.

Enter Jessica Schreiber. She used to work at New York City’s Bureau of Recycling and Sustainability, and learned there that many of New York’s big names in the fashion industry were at a total loss as to what to do with all the scrap fabric that winds up on their cutting room floors. Ms. Schreiber viewed this as an opportunity.

FABSCRAP is Jessica Schreiber’s brainchild. It’s a nonprofit organization that collects this fabric waste from New York’s fashion houses, brings it to a warehouse, where volunteers sort it by fabric type. From there, it goes on to become insulation, carpet padding, furniture lining, and moving blankets.

More substantial pieces (if they’re non-proprietary) are sorted by type, weight, and color and can be found in their warehouse where students, artists, quilters, crafters, teachers and designers can get it for reuse. Just go there by appointment for pick up! Or, for those of us who don’t live in New York, you can go to their online store and buy yard packs and scrap packs at insanely affordable prices.

Incidentally, they can’t currently find a way to recycle spandex, lycra, or elastane. If you have any ideas for them, they’re definitely open to suggestion. Don’t hesitate to contact them.

Isn’t this organization a fabulous idea? Spread the word! And if you can, join me in supporting FABSCRAP by donating here.

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5