Gabrielle De Baron imparts some of the lessons she’s learned while trying to become an eco-conscious fashionista. She also plugs her Instagram!
You’ve probably heard the recurring problem: our Momma Earth is dying. And I get it, not everyone has the courage to face that reality yet so you can live in denial. That’s cool… but for real though, it feels like a huge problem that we can’t resolve with one big immediate solution. It takes little steps; the butterfly effect. Though I’m not here to preach, I’m not completely zero-waste either and it’s been 14 months. Though aside from the keepcups and eliminating single-use plastic, I’ve found a way that only benefits me and Momma Earth: it’s the beauty of opshopping.
Personally, I’ve never liked buying clothes that had labels attached to them for the following reasons:
- The price is too high, considering the garment is mass-produced… Or if it wasn’t, it could have been made under questionable conditions.
- Most of these corporations run on fashion seasons; two each year. These collections can range from 12-400 full outfits, so don’t get me started on the breakdown garments. How much plastic is used? How much dye-chemicals go to the ocean?
Thus, consolidating these two points, why pay so much for a cheaply made garment that also costs the earth? Yes, there are the occasional “but if you buy a classic piece then it will last you forever”, this is thought of in a ‘style-setting’ but how about the economical and qualitative scale of things? Fashion production is responsible for 10% of humanity’s overall carbon emissions. It dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. To make things worse, 85% of all textiles get dumped each year. Lastly, washing some types of clothes sends thousands of bits of plastic into the ocean.
I’ve always wondered why brands keep churning out new clothes if even op shops have to dispose of garments. When you enter a Hospice shop or a SaveMart, there’s an array of styles to choose from. Theoretically, op shops are the best place to gain inspiration for designs. Style just revolves in a cycle, if you’ve noticed the Y2K aesthetic is back again, while ‘80s looks have been alternating on a yearly basis with ‘90s looks since 2011. I’ve always loved finding good quality finds at an op shop. They have garments that existed from decades ago but are classic in style and in quality – e.g. a good Witchery Men leather jacket at $38 no pills or mold. It’s finds like these that fill my tummy with butterflies.
Though if I’m being honest, it’s hard to find clothes that fit my specific body type and aesthetic. I fit an AUS 6-10. My shoulders are too broad for some 6’s, but my hips are too small to fit an 8. Not a big problem, but I’d prefer if my clothes were tailored to my body… hence, sewing!
I’ve always viewed sewing as an art as it not only utilises design and tactility, but allows one to use the body as a canvas and the textile as paint. Contrary to popular belief, sewing is the art and fashion is the byproduct. I grew up around seamstresses who knew the divinities of textiles. Fabric is alive; it moves when handled, but the textures and colors it presents resemble a specific culture, decade, market, and that’s why it’s awake. I was taught that the clothes are in the fabric, and the responsibility of a good seamstress is to extract the shape out of it.
Aside from actually buying ready-made garments at SaveMart, I find that the real steals are in the untouched yards of cloth. Last time I was there I was able to cop about 5 different cloth sections for $4.99 to $5.99 each! And each cut was about four to six yards long. To put this to scale, if you buy brand new cloth at Spotlight, a yard would be $6 to $9 dollars on average (and that’s only for the thin ones!). Thus, Only Gabbie’s was born.
I thought “if I can sew, why do I buy garments that cost the same amount as yards of cloth I can use? If I can do this for myself what’s stopping me from doing this for other womxn? So I did my research and tried to build an online brand. Only Gabbie’s is an Instagram shop I created to help reduce fast fashion, encourage womxn to support slow fashion, and also an outlet for my creativity. I try to rebirth unwanted pieces into a new garment. Since I conveyed my modus, I thought it would be best to deconstruct myths about “sustainable” online shopping:
- Deadstock fabric’s real truth: This refers to fabric that hasn’t been able to sell, basically. The issue: it’s marketed as ‘eco’-friendly’. “Since it has a higher probability of becoming ‘waste’ than at least it’s use for the better”… but it’s not a sustainable model to run on as it capitalizes on a consumer’s lack of manufacturing knowledge (*cough* HM Conscious).
- The shipping bags are still in plastic? Yuck: Enough said. If the shipping bags are in brand new Post plastic, then it can’t be claimed as sustainable. These plastics are designed to be thick and waterproof; indestructible and take centuries to deteriorate.
- Reworked clothing and it’s ‘vintage’! ‘Reworked clothing’ is clothing that was changed even a little bit. So turning a shirt to a crop top by cutting it, counts as “reworked clothing”. On the other hand, ‘vintage’ refers to anything from the past and because time is relative, I would double check the era discussed.
Being a consumer has taught me to be aware of how capitalism has manipulated language in order to gain money, and I want to do my part in helping you identify what is really helping Momma Earth, and what’s just another capitalist scheme. Since I am a She-EO that likes to share the gold, here are a few brands and Op Shops that help me do the nitty gritty. (PS: You can also learn to sew in your local community centre – Selwyn College offers classes if you’re in Tamaki.)
Recommended Op Shops:
SaveMart (New Lynn), Hospice (New Lynn, Meadowbank, Glen Innes), Tattie’s (Auckland CBD)
@ruacarlota, @remnantshop, @picnicwear