What is your brand?

What is your brand? 

There is no greater feeling of inner peace than the one that comes from being in agreement with who we really are and not seeking anyone’s permission for it. Yet, it seems like the hardest thing to do in today’s world is to be ourselves.

We want to feel free to express who we are, to be accepted and to be understood. What we often do instead is try too hard to fit in, to the point that we become inauthentic. Even when we’re aware of this problem, we never become completely immune to it.

How does this relate to the ‘superficial’ world of fashion and our visual identity?

Besides our need to be part of a ‘tribe’, most of us also have a need to spice it up with a unique and stylish touch that at the same time makes us stand out from the crowd. When we focus too much on fitting in, what we actually do is tune down our own sense of style to highlight what we think is ‘fashionable’. And ‘fashionable’ becomes what society wants, what people around us expect, what influencers and the media suggest and promote. The problem is that many times we think we are choosing what we like and what represents us when, in fact, we’re just not aware of how biased and how conditioned we are by these influences.

We are being sold the illusion that if we buy whatever major brands are selling, we will get access to the life(style) being showcased as their brand. Thrilled to buy, we often accept to advertise them for free. We wear tags and we become walking billboards with big brand names on our clothes and bags. Or we wear a highly recognizable item that screams a particular brand out loud. Before we know it, instead of expressing our own personality and identity we become a faithful follower willing to promote others along with their missions and values. Sometimes we even give up all our value by acting as if our worth was on the outside, in those tags we wear.

I remember how excited I was when I thought of making a piece of jewelry for my best friend. At the time, I had started making my handmade script jewelry and I was receiving many orders. I thought my best friend should get one as a gift. Only her reaction was that she would feel like a dog with a name tag on. Completely respectable opinion. But this event triggered me to think about tags. How many of us are actually not wearing any tags and what’s the difference between wearing other people’s names and our own?

I truly believe we don’t need any tags or labels to define ourselves. Still, I do believe we should always exude confidence and show our own personality and values through our visual identity. We have to be able to comfortably wear who we are.

Thinking about tags and marketing, I realized I would happily promote other people’s ideas and brands but I was never comfortable with putting mine out there. So, to push all these thoughts into action I decided to make my own brand tag. I then took a purse that I love but wasn’t wearing anymore because the front part around the clip looked old and damaged. I used this tag to give the purse a new life, to remind myself that it’s ok to be me and that if I’m wearing any tags it should be my own.

What are you willing to advertise? Which values are embedded in that brand or product?

original bag by Purificacion Garcia

the new, handmade tag by Mili

Photos by Mili

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Commitment to a dignified end of life of my clothes

End of life of my clothes:  Commitment to managing my waste

Do you ever think about what happens to our clothes after we are “done” with them? Let’s be honest: most of us either do not consider this or choose to turn a blind eye. 

Besides being one of the most polluting, fashion industry generates a lot of waste as most of our clothes end up in landfills. While as (conscious) consumers we are only indirectly responsible for the former, we are fully responsible for the latter. To do better, besides thinking about impact of every purchase before, we need to be accountable for what happens at the end. 

Our options for a ”dignified end of life” of our clothes are anything but letting them end up in the trash and subsequently in landfills! Swapping, gifting, donating and upcycling are great options for decent pieces. I would save recycling for the most ‘pathological cases’ when all the other are exhausted. 

Recently I faced such a case. The result of my  periodical wardrobe clearing up, was a bag of used clothes, no good to be given away. I remembered this rag rug project, I had archived it in my ”to do one day” ideas pool. The pieces of puzzle connected and I decided to make projects using the scraps carpet concept.

After I had started these scraps projects, I thought that I should better invest my time in something less laborious and more productive. It took a while even to just cut the clothes in pieces. Still, I decided to complete them as a mere exercise of my waste managing commitment. I thought that putting effort and energy in this would make me think twice before buying something new. I wanted it to remind me that I will have to take care of it in a decent manner after I no longer need it. 

Commit to managing you waste: your old clothes included! In the RESOURCES section below, I’ve linked a few articles on the impact of our wardrobes and options you have for giving them a new life or a dignified end. If you are willing to take things in your hands in form of DIY, check out the DIY IDEAS section for inspiration and do recycle yourself.

Make produces bags following the tutorial from Delia creates

Make a rag rug or rag stool cushions like I did in this project.

Make a weave stripes and give some texture and fresh look to a jersey shirt. To do it follow the tutorial by Laura from Trash To Couture.

Make a completely new fabric with interesting pattern and texture. To do so you can find instructions in these tutorials: at Just Jude Designs and at Buttons and Paint.

Make party snack cups using fabric stiffener (starch). Instructions at DIYs.com page. I find it is a great idea to make from fabric tissues when making a party as it avoids using other single use items like paper cups. I will try to make it myself and do the the cups project seen above.

Make fabric twine following instructions at My Poppet. There is also a video how to do it. I loved the projects that Cintia made with this twine. You can do her completely recycled planter or use it for a different project. I absolutely loved Cintia’s amazing chair make over.  

Make a continuous yarn that can be used for crochet or many other DIY projects. There are many videos and tutorials that show how to do it

Use your handmade recycle yarn for a project. Crochet, macrame, weaving… I loved Laura’s market bag that she features here on her Trash to Couture web

Make cool hangers by covering plastic or metal hangers from dry cleaning. This example is from Remodelista (article written by Justine Hand).

If you’d like to browse for more inspiration, I’ve saved all these links and I’ll keep adding some more on my Pinterest page in End of Life of our clothes: DIY IDEAS album. 

For some facts check out the following articles:

Article about Facts about fashion from Sustainable Fahsion Matterz:

https://www.sustainablefashionmatterz.com/fashion-facts/

Article about Facts about fashion from Good On You:

6 Fake ‘Facts’ about the Fashion Industry

For advice on how to do better I would recommend the tips from Redress:

You can find those in their new book Dress [with] Sense:

https://www.redress.com.hk/dresswithsense

For more advice on Zero Waste wardrobe check out the article by Lauren from Trash is for tossers. I find the latter one especially useful when it comes to finding places for responsible clothes disposing. 

Zero Waste Wardrobe: A Guide To Secondhand Shopping

How To Recycle Old Clothing (Even Ratty Ass Old Underwear)

DIY IDEAS section photos via corresponding web pages. Each photo is linked to article where found.

rest of the photos by Mili

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WELCOME TO MY NEW PAGE

Welcome to my new web page and blog

Welcome to my new web page where I share the content that emerges through my creative work and my efforts to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. I hope the blog will inspire you to take ownership of your own life & style choices. I believe that if we all make small steps towards more sustainable and meaningful lives, together we can achieve a better and less contaminated environment.

I started this journey some time ago, amazed by the many incredible people and ideas I found on the web, wishing to make a creative and inspiring virtual space of my own. What I built then was meant to be my own version of a fashion and accessories blog.

Yet, I wasn’t “happy” with what I had created. My main aim was to share styles that included original and handmade fashion pieces. I intended to promote different brands beyond what was overly advertised and I wanted to include ideas and suggestions of my own. Only after I started blogging did I realize how unsustainable my endeavor was going to be. Also, I thought about how unrealistic it would be for the average person to actually follow a fashion blogger lifestyle. I found myself generating OUTFIT posts that didn’t really seem meaningful to me. At the same time, I was buying and collecting items that I didn’t give much use to, even though I loved them. My blog, which was meant to be different, turned out to be just another fashion blog in the end.

As a result, I reassessed my approach and reclaimed my personal values. I brought my lifestyle and behavior in line with the things that truly matter to me, and I decided to change the focus of my blog. I can still share ideas and products, but I don’t have to own them or wear them all. I can still encourage people to shop less or make smarter choices when shopping, but I can also give them ideas on how to experiment, improvise and achieve more with what they already have.

Rather than searching for a style, I am striving to curate my life. 

photo by Carlos Kesgo

necklace by Norma Rinaudo

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Starting my "conscious wardrobe" journey

Starting my “conscious wardrobe” journey

When I decided to reassess my general approach to life and my intentions with my “fashion” blog in particular, it became clear to me that I had to align each aspect of my lifestyle to my values. As silly as it might seem at first sight, it took no time for my wardrobe to come to the table for the evaluation. As I got more curious about the minimalist and sustainable approach to fashion and lifestyle, I decided to try a wardrobe experiment.

As I started feeling overwhelmed with the amount of clutter in my life (and everywhere around me), I thought that I shouldn’t buy any new things for some time, but instead try to make the most of what I already had. At that time, I bumped into Melissa Cain’s Instagram where she mentioned a challenge: not buying any clothes for one year. It turned out that she was also offering mentoring sessions to “curate your wardrobe”. I worked with Melissa on choosing the items for my new capsule wardrobe and on adopting a new minimalist approach towards fashion and clothing.

I started with a very small number of items compared to what I was used to having in my closet and even if I didn’t eventually keep the exact model of the capsule wardrobe, the whole process of thinking about it made me become more conscious about my choices. So, I named it “my conscious wardrobe journey”. If you are interested in what a capsule wardrobe is (and especially what it’s not), I found this post that you might want to read.

I think we should all focus more on curating everything in our lives and being more conscious of how we spend our resources, don’t you?

 

With this post, I am introducing a new section of my blog called “My Conscious Wardrobe” where I will write about my insights from the above mentioned journey I’ve started. To read them look for the following category: my_C_WARDROBE.

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Why sometimes less is more

Why sometimes less is more

Following my decision to go towards what I’ve called “my conscious wardrobe” that resulted in a drastic downsizing and limiting of the numbers of items in my closet, I was asked the following question which came with a “side dish” comment: “Mili, what is this thing that you plan to use only a few items for your wardrobe? This is so stupid.”

So, why would anyone want to reduce their wardrobe or simply stop shopping for a while? Especially someone like me who’s really into fashion and design. And how come I think it’s all but stupid?

As I’ve mentioned before in my introductory post on this topic, I’ve parted from the capsule wardrobe concept. I started with 20-something items, not including accessories which was cheating on the capsule wardrobe concept from the start. However, the number itself didn’t really matter. What’s important was the intention: changing the whole approach I had had until then. My aim was to refine and maintain my unique and true style, and thus be more conscious about the choices I’m making. I believe that living in line with one’s personal values is the only way to lead a happy and meaningful life.

If I value people and the environment, it’s hard to ignore some of the reasons behind such a decision to change:

– The fashion industry as a whole creates a huge amount of pollution and waste as most of our clothes end up in landfills.

– Most of the items we buy are made by people who work in very poor or inhuman conditions.

– We spend our resources on items we never wear or only wear a few times. Quite often, a lot of time is gone on deciding what to wear and then we end up with “the usual” or something that just makes us feel uncomfortable. Ask yourself how many things you hardly ever wear, or how many times you’ve put something on only to find yourself thinking that you should have picked your favorite pair of jeans instead.

– Most intelligent individuals don’t consider that having a lot of clothes brings any value to their lives. In fact, too many items can create both physical and mental clutter. Having a lot to choose from overwhelms us as it depletes the willpower and mental energy we could better use in other, more meaningful aspects of our lives. No wonder many successful people either wear the same items or have someone choose for them.

Finally, working with less sets you out on a challenge. Empower yourself to choose an individual style and present yourself in the best way: the one that reflects you, with your personality and your values. Dare to be more creative in your looks and see how you can do more with what you already have by finding unique and innovative ways. ”Be the change you want to see”

 

 

If you’re curious and would like to learn more interesting facts or figures about the current state of the fashion industry and it’s overall environmental impact, check out the links I’ve added in the SOURCES section below. .

Photo by Carlos Kesgo

  • click here for Lucy Siegle‘s TEDx event talk: “An expose on the fashion industry by the Observer’s ‘Ethical Living’ columnist, examining the inhumane and environmentally devastating story behind the clothes we so casually buy and wear.”
  • click here for Christina Dean’s  TEDx event talk: “You are what you wear” 
  • click here for REDRESS web page – Redress is an environmental NGO working to reduce waste in the fashion industry. On their portal you can find a lot of interesting information and resources including some practical tips for consumers.

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What price are we willing to pay for our clothes?

What price are we willing to pay for our clothes?

Often, I get questions like “Why have you stopped buying certain brands?” or “Why would you decide to pay that much for a dress when you can get ten like those at another store?” (e.g. any of the fast fashion brands). So, how does it pay off for me?

To begin with, we probably don’t even need as many items as we seem to want, especially if they’re going to fall apart or look worn after a few washes. The main issue for me, however, comes from my personal set of values. I try to stick to these values as much as possible since I genuinely care about people and the environment and I strive to make more sustainable lifestyle decisions. My concerns shouldn’t be any different when it comes to shopping. Therefore, I’ve started to look at the values embedded in the price I’m actually paying for my clothes and thinking about how this is related to my personal values.

If you wish to do the same, here are some questions that you can ask yourself before your next and future purchases:

  • Is this item adding value to my life? How so?
  • How and where was this item made? Who was it made by and what was it made from?
  • What are the values promoted by this brand?
  • Am I paying the price for the quality, production and resources involved or merely for the “popularity” of the brand’s name?
  • What is the money I’m paying this item contributing to?
  • How much and/or How long am I going to use this item and where is it going to end up after?

By constantly reminding ourselves that everything we do has an impact on other people and our environment, we become more conscious of whatever we do. Don’t turn a blind eye when making your choices. They are either in line with your values or clashing with them. ”You cannot be neutral on a moving train”

Photo by Alexandra Vuiu

dress by Jessica Rose

 

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Downsizing wardrobe concerns: Variety

Downsizing wardrobe concerns: Variety 

When I speak to people about my journey of rethinking my wardrobe, besides genuine interest in my experience and reasons for doing so, I’m noticing a lot of concern. Many claim that it’s an interesting idea with good reasons behind, but say that they wouldn’t be able to do the same because of “so and so”…

I want to look into these “reasons” and try to figure out the issues people fear when considering the idea of downsizing (their wardrobe). This is a broad topic that I’ll probably address in different future posts. I do so in an attempt to challenge the arguments against it as well as to point out some solutions that could help overcome this resistance.

One of the recurrent concerns I’ve heard so far is: “I would be bored of wearing the same clothes over and over again.”

I believe that we can achieve variety in our personal style with less items and more creativity: using the same elements to achieve different results. It might be a bit more challenging, but it’s definitely more sustainable (both for the environment and for your budget). Once I allowed myself to use only a limited number of clothes for some time, I realized not only that this was not so much of a “sacrifice” like some might think, but also that it’s adding on my quality of life. We can be “cool” even if we decide to steer clear from the mass consumption society. In fact, working with less also took me back to my creative nature and allowed me to improvise and invent more, as I used to do before when I was younger and I didn’t have the resources I have today.

My aspirations to achieve more variety led me to designing changeable pieces myself and experimenting with my jewelry and clothes. You can see examples in my other posts. Hopefully they can give you some ideas for you to experiment on your own. 

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