I’m just going to say this now…I think this post might be slightly more geared toward women. Sorry, guys. Ha – I really meant that, “guys.”
I know I’m stereotyping but I think I can speak for myself, my mom, my female cousins, my girlfriends, that we as women simply LOVE clothes. You can hear us saying on the reg, “OMG THAT SHIRT! Where did you get that!?” “I LOVE those shoes! I need to buy them tonight. I’m gonna order them.” “I have nothing to wear to his party on Friday. Can we go to the mall to pick something out?”
I mean it is undeniably second nature for us to think like this as women. I believe it is somewhat of the way that we were raised as a victim of the advertising world (buy clothes for school, new dress for prom, halloween costume, etc) but there is also something to be said about that special feeling. You know, when you have a brand new outfit, your hair is done, your new winter boots just came in the mail – and when it’s all put on together – you feel GOOD. Inside and especially out.
The idea of fashion is also, so, “glam”. When I received an internship opportunity at Lilly Pulitzer HQ I thought – this is my dream job. Marketing for a FASHION company. Free clothes, discounts, working with Instagram influencers and models – what more could a girl possibly want?
At the same time as my internship, I found myself deeper than ever into my sustainability studies at Saint Joseph’s. Particularly, how to use business as force for good. Our focus was to build business cases for doing good and emphasizing new found profitability in doing so.
I was exposed to this life changing documentary called “The True Cost.” If you haven’t heard of it – it’s on Netflix fo’ freeee. By free I think we all have a Netflix account by now. I won’t go into much detail (because I want you to see and feel it for yourself) but let’s just say it hit home to me. Both as a shopper and also behinds the scenes at Lilly Pulitzer marketing the unnecessary desire to buy buy buy which has unprecedented negative impacts on our Earth (and it’s people).
A few facts from the documentary that you can expect to learn about –
- The fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter.
- 250,000 Indian cotton farmers have killed themselves in the last 15 years. (sorry sooo depressing)
- The biggest personal shocker to me – Only 10% of the clothes people donate to charity or thrift stores get sold.
ANYWAYS I strayed from that career path and into technology. I am still passionate about both fashion and how we can make a change to more sustainable ways.
We might not be able to get clothes for $4 at Forever21 but we can buy clothes that are creatively produced with sustainability at the forefront alongside with design and are guaranteed to last longer.
My boyfriend sent me an invitation on Facebook to an event called “Film Screening: The True Cost” at a store called Alice Alexander on Ridge Ave. I was feeling a little depressed working from home last week and was making an effort to get back to things that I did in NYC (going to events like this) so I signed right up for that Saturday night’s event.
I walked into the store a bit late into the event when the owner, Alice Alexander, was introducing herself and her store. I couldn’t be more proud of a complete stranger as I listened to what she was saying. Like me, after watching the documentary and learning about how unsustainable the fashion industry is while she was working as a social worker, she realized she was participating in two completely combatting activities. She was a fast fashion junkie (always buying clothes, forever21, H&M for cheap and frequently) while working for human rights against poor working conditions. She went to design school at night and started making clothes herself. Selling them right here in her store and online.
Alice makes everything in her store. Right there in the store! What does that mean? No carbon footprint from shipping the clothes across the sea and into stores. No third, fourth or fifth party contracted workers in horrible (wait until you see the documentary) conditions where their lives are at stake. No dyes residues emitted into the river streams and into the drinking water of communities nearby to these factories leading to disease and mental illness.
She had food, wine and the documentary screen all set up for the attendees. With about 20 people present, it was the perfect intimate setting where things could get emotional and meaningful conversation was anticipated to strike afterwards. Her goal was to educate – because education drives change as it’s hard to unlearn these facts and remove them from your brain when strolling a shopping mall. At least it has for me.
So here I am. Promoting the word about her amazing business and celebrating the fact that she saw something wrong – and made not only an action, but a lifestyle change to fix it. I know a lot of us can’t say the same these days.
Cheers to you, Alice! Thanks for being an inspiring female entrepreneur and killing it.
Store Address: 4056 Ridge Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19129 (East Falls area)