It's taken me almost the entire first half of this month to gather up the courage to write this post. Let me be perfectly clear: I love Slow Fashion October and all that it stands for. I think Karen Templer is brilliant, for pulling this community together and giving us all a chance to add our voice and story to this complex (but oh so important) topic. And deep down, I truly believe that this conversation should be an inclusive one- there is room for everyone here, whether you make your own jeans or are just beginning to think about where your clothes come from and where they're going after you're done with them.
Most of us I'm sure, fall somewhere between those two ends of the spectrum. It was in my early 20's that I first started thinking about who made my clothes and how they were treated in the process. I remember I made a commitment to only purchase second hand clothing for one year and around the same time I learned to knit. Slowly my wardrobe evolved and eventually I started investing in well made pieces of known origin, either from small independent makers & designers or from brands offering transparency and trying to find a better way in this industry. My making also evolved as I graduated from knitting simple accessories to more complex garments, and figured out which handmade items would fit well into my life and style. I learned more about how yarn is made and made purchases accordingly. The more I learned about the world of "slow fashion", the more confidence I felt in the items I owned and wore, the more momentum I gained in talking about this topic. I helped organize clothing swaps here in Marburg, worked to increase awareness for known origin clothing and started my #wearhandmadeproject to encourage myself both to wear the handmade items I already owned and to consciously think about how the items I was making would fit into my life.
And then came last October. I was so excited for Slow Fashion October to kick off and wrote this post with the best intentions. But I had just found out about my pregnancy (we took that photo the actual day we found out for sure) and I was dealing with major first trimester hormones. I spent most of that month eating cereal on the couch and watching Modern Family with Waldi, fighting nausea and leaving the house whenever he was cooking something so I wouldn't have to smell it. There was no knitting or mending being done and I took a backseat and didn't join in the conversation much at all.
Over the next weeks and months as my body grew a baby, I struggled with what to wear. Honestly, I don't know if maybe I just had the wrong kind of clothes to begin with (since many women never really need maternity clothes) but I really struggled to make what I had work. I borrowed items where I was able to and even made two dresses that worked with my growing belly but I have bought more new clothing in the past year than I did in the five years previous to that. And I felt guilty about it.
Of course, you do not need maternity jeans or nursing tank tops to successfully have a baby but I was so grateful to have them. In the end, I felt proud of the small maternity wardrobe I built for myself from borrowed and new items. I plan, of course, to wear it all again should I have another pregnancy and to lend out what I have to friends, should they be in need of it.
And then came postpartum.
I've written about this before, but I struggled with unexpected body issues both in pregnancy and post birth. Those early weeks and months postpartum, I really struggled with how unrecognizable my body felt to me. Nothing fit anymore- my maternity jeans were too big, all my other pants too small and when I finally could fit into some of them, they were so completely unflattering. And so once again I found myself buying new clothes. I tried where I could to make ethical purchases, but that didn't always happen.
Enter this year's Slow Fashion October (I know...finally!)
I've been hesitant to enter this conversation because, while so many people have grown and made improvements since last year's event, I have gone in the opposite direction. It would be easier to just let this all pass me by and not think about it.
But if I truly believe that there is room for everyone in this conversation, then I guess I have to speak up and share my story too. Because this issue is still important to me, although this year of my life has looked different from any before it. I still want to make better choices, to wear my clothes with confidence and to feel good about where they've come from and where they're going. And deep down, I believe that this shouldn't be about guilt.
And so, I'm joining in and adding my voice, in the hopes that I will learn something and maybe encourage someone else along the way. These photos are from our time on the Isle of Skye- I'm wearing my Lesley pullover that I made last summer from yarn my grandmother purchased years ago but never got around to using. And I'm wearing the first pair of jeans I bought postpartum- a fast fashion purchase but the first pair of pants I found that fit and were actually flattering to my new body. It's all a mess and a bit of a contradiction but it's where I'm at. And I'm not going to let guilt stop me from taking part in this discussion or making better decisions in the future.
I'll stop there for today because this is turning into a serious ramble but I do have one more post planned on this topic, to discuss Karen's weekly themes: long worn, handmade and known origin. And there are some projects in the works which I'm sure I'll share about at some point. But for today, it just feels good to get all this out. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. AND make sure to check out the conversation surrounding Slow Fashion October either over on Karen's blog or the hashtag on Instagram (#slowfashionoctober)