Socially Altering the way we think about fashion

We’re excited to introduce you to some international folks who run a really great initiative called Social Alterations.  Mary and Nadira are dedicated to thinking about, publicising and energising discussion on ethical fashion, social responsibility and all the realted issues.  Based in Vancouver and Hong Kong, these ladies will be joining the Six Items Challenge for September and bringing in their insights into the garment industry and how we interact with it…

So, what made you become part of the challenge?
Mary: Well, we bigtime ‘talk the talk’ when it comes to responsible fashion at Social Alterations, but can we ‘walk the walk’?
Nadira: Also, we were challenged! [shout out to Liz Parker]

Have you always thought about fashion from an ethical standpoint ?
Mary: I have always loved fashion – I had originally studied Textile Art with dreams of one day designing. But (thankfully) college introduced me to social, political and cultural contexts at work within the industry, and things changed pretty quick! 
Nadira: Not always, but it’s certainly not something new. The first time I thought about it was way back in college when one of my great friends started her new job at the first American Apparel store in Montreal on St. Catherines [memories…]. She pointed out that the vibrant cranberry skirt and the beautiful lilac t-shirt I was buying were ‘sweatshop free’, that slogan was on the window too, along with Made in LA.

What other themes are you thinking of in relation to the challenge; sustainability? Thriftiness?  Reducing consumption?  Personal identity?
Mary: I predict a struggle with personal identity and see this fashion challenge bleeding quickly into other aspects of my life: I’ve begun blacking out logos (three cheers for Canadian hockey tape!), and I am already thinking about the types of food I will be eating. In the end, this will be a challenge not only on responsibility in fashion but on responsibility in life.  
Nadira: I have a personal rule while shopping: if I don’t love it, I don’t buy it. Since I’m super picky, it turns out, I don’t buy too many things. Plus, with the small apartments in Hong Kong, we need to be mindful of the space our closets take up. Lately, my partner and I have changed our eating habits for the better and have been following a regular morning gym schedule. So, I just see this as another step in this personal improvement project. I’m excited to see how creative I can be mixing and matching the six items I chose. I think I’ll be pushing some style boundaries.

How are you getting yourselves prepared for the Challenge?
Mary: You mean aside from overanalyzing everything I own? Unintentionally, I have begun casually ‘warning’ friends, family and coworkers. Warning them about what, exactly? They’re not the ones that need to worry!
Nadira: I just tried to think of all the different occasions coming up in September. Otherwise, I haven’t prepped at all! I just picked some of my favorite and weather appropriate items. It is definitely a colorful batch. There may be some clashing going on this month.

What are expecting to be the most difficult?
Mary: STAINS! I’ll be the one in the lunchroom wearing the adult bib! 
Nadira: Since it’s still hot in HK, I couldn’t choose items that could be layered so my outfits are basically predetermined. I just have to really think about accessories which has never been my forte. I hope I don’t get too self conscious with some of the outfits I come up with. As an aside, I’m also a bit worried about a junk trip [it’s a HK thing: coming up. What to wear!?!

What do you think you’ll experience during / after the challenge?
Mary: I think it will be a surprisingly emotional journey. I am also anticipating feelings of frustration in weeks 3-4. Whatever happens, I hope to connect with myself in new ways and trust that what I learn along the way will further drive me to challenge conventional fast fashion systems and thinking.
Nadira: Self consciousness and a general sense of anxiety over my wardrobe choices. I think that I may experience a sense of loss when most of my clothes are off limits, but I have the feeling that will taper off about halfway through and I’ll start to be more confident in my ability to creatively keep things fresh [I hope!!].

An have you both chosen your items yet? If you have, what are they?
Mary: Okay…

* Black pants
* Grey jeans
* Black t-shirt
* Grey t-shirt
* Blue/grey tank
* Black/brown cardigan

Nadira: Yes!

* Hot pink pants [my favorite color!], cotton, Michael Kors
* Charcoal pencil skirt, polyester blend, Mango
* Grey tank top, silk, Eileen Fisher
* Multi color [mostly blue] print tank top, cotton, CottonOn
* Green tunic, linen, Wes Gordon for Jones New York
* Fitted white pencil dress large flower yellow, green and grey print, cotton, gifted from a friend [Shenzhen special]


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