In a similar vein to my last post, pairing off creatives who demonstrate the power of collaboration, this post will centre on a couple of brands with pretty ethical practices going on when it comes to style/ fashion. Those brands, Filson, a Seattle based outfit best known for their luggage established in 1897 and Nudie Jeans, a Gothenburg based brand founded in 2001. Before jumping into the great things these brands are doing we’ll establish some context for the importance of their practices within clothing manufacturing and beyond.
It’s been said before in the Style segment but “fast fashion” is more prominent now than ever before. What we’re talking about, is wearing clothes. Truly wearing them until they’re completely worn out. It’s something I remember growing up. We were never wanting for new clothes but when that football jersey had one too many pulls or your jeans had one too many blowouts, they’d be re-appropriated. Washing cloth, polishing rag, whatever it was, you didn’t simply bin something once it’s time ended adorning your body. The result of clothing becoming too cheaply made and made available cheaply at retail (save for particular brands that focus on making things well) is waste.
t’s hard to know what to do. Obviously, recycling is better than simply sending your unloved items off to landfill. I’m not entirely sure I want to know how many tonnes of methane gas are emitted as a result. Donate them to the Salvation Army or the local charity shop and they potentially become waste somewhere else. It’s impossible to escape the fact that clothes worn or becoming unfashionable means they’re thrown away, but maybe there’s something we can do. Something a little more ethical. Something that only means expending a little more energy and time.
This is where Filson and Nudie come in and I’m sure many more but these are the examples I’ll use because of their scale of operation. If everyone were able to implore some of the practices every so often it’d make a big impact. I think anyway. Filson Restoration Department manager, Chris Hansen details the process their second hand bags undergo in the video above. Tear, wear, fraying and broken parts are almost celebrated as the bags are deconstructed and rebuilt. The story of the piece, with its nuances, is brought back to life and it’s pretty beautiful. I don’t have to say much else other than to press play.
With Nudie, I bought my first pair (Thin Finns) a few years ago. They fit well, although I got them on sale as they were half price. (Paying £100 for jeans in University is questionable) I loved the simplicity. A five pocket jean with a nice taper and the signature orange pocket stitching. When I looked into the brand a little more I found out that they weren’t just your average denim maker. They had repair stores, around 20 of them worldwide now. Their model; Repair, Reuse, Recycle.
You have the choice of taking your jeans to one of these locations, request a repair kit, or trade the jeans in to get 20% off a new pair. The video below shows you what to do if you want to repair your own. It’s a pleasantly transparent way to move for such a big company and something that I think would be immense to filter down to the way we consume. Perhaps it’s easier with jeans as they’re made to be used and abused, or maybe it’s too romantic to think everyone has an attachment to their clothing beyond it’s utilitarian purpose.
I don’t know if anyone remembers the “Class Struggle” episode of The Simpsons where Marge bought a Chanel suit to fit in at the Country Club? Probably too obscure a reference and I don’t want to get into class issues but the satire comments on how Marge is forced to keep altering her suit every night of the week. I’m not saying everyone should do that, however re-appropriation, restoration and repair might be the answer to this ever increasing problem. Hopefully you appreciate the little more than tenuous links I’ve mustered up here to encourage some thought on the matter. Otherwise just enjoy the videos above. Cheers for reading if you made it this far.