Well, here it is, the end of the first week of the Six Items Challenge. And, make no mistake about it…the name is very accurate. It is quite a challenge. But, we’re still going strong and having fun too!
What did we learn last week?
I’ve found myself very dependent on accessories, as expected. But, the really interesting thing about this is that while I was describing my outfits and the accessories I wore, I rediscovered my collection of jewellery! Before this, I didn’t really think about the stories that come along with each piece which make them quite unique and special to me. When I wear them, I wear their stories and the memories embodied in them. So, for example, this set:
My parents presented me with this bracelet engraved with Grad ’98 as a gift for my high school graduation. This bracelet was on my mother’s wrist for as long as I could recall. I always loved it. I remember being so surprised that my mother’s bracelet is now engraved with a piece of my history, that it’s now mine. When I wear this bracelet, I wear that story. It’s a very personal piece.
My partner and I were walking on Dongtai Lu when we lived in Shanghai perusing random shops. In one shop, the shop owner’s father started chatting with us in English, which was surprising! The more we talked the more we learned about him. He was a translator for the American forces during World War II in China. What an interesting life he must have lived, seeing China through all these incredible transitions. From the Republican period through the Revolution, from the Communist era through the Reform period and the transition to a market economy. It’s amazing to think about seeing all that in one lifetime!
By the end of week one, I wore accessories acquired in 10 different countries with so many stories to go along!!
In The Virus of Fashion, Otto Von Busch [you know we love him at SA!] said:
“Fashion is the celebration of the immediate future. By being constantly new, fashion indicates that the future can be something else, and it pulls us there, by force almost, promising the endless possibilities of the new, the unwritten, our possible better self. The inspiration for our new better self we always get from others and it is them we relate to.”
What’s been interesting this week is that I found myself ‘celebrating’ the past. The bags I carry and accessories I wear have value derived from the experiences they evoke. These items are essentially wearable stories and from those experiences comes the inspiration to continue building positive connections with others, whether they are people I’ve known all my life, or people I meet for fleeting moments.
Maybe our conception of ‘fashion’ can change to celebrate the history experienced while wearing different items. The value of a garment/jewellery/shoes comes from the events experienced whilst wearing them. This already happens with certain items: wedding dress, Christening gowns, baby’s first shoes, that perfect pair of jeans that you’ve had forever etc… What if our perspective changed to value clothing for the memories embodied in each piece? I suspect that we would think twice about discarding our old clothes in favor of new, cheap and trendy items i.e. fast fashion would have to slow down and adjust to fit our thinking about clothes. I’ll end this train of thought with Ruby Hoette from Worn Relics:
“Clothing collects its own history through being used. It comes to life by having a living, moving body inside of it. A piece of clothing wears out, it gets dirty or damaged. It provides a physical record of the passing of time – it also collects invisible connotations in the memory of the wearer and thus becomes a reflection of the person wearing it. A new piece of clothing is like an empty diary, each time it’s worn pages are being filled.”
Stay positive! Well, I’m feeling shocked by how quickly these days have gone by. At the same time, however, I am extremely aware that we’ve still got a long way to go…thank goodness for #armparties and #scarves.
Let’s not beat around the bush: last week was horrible. I’m not referring to the challenge; I’m speaking of the factory fires in Pakistan and Russia that collectively claimed the lives of more than 300 workers. While it’s hard not to feel helpless in the wake of this tragedy, and countless others that never receive media coverage, us ‘Sixers’ have got to stay positive and keep motivated for change.
Raising awareness for Decent Work is the goal of this challenge! I had more conversations with family, friends and colleagues last week about garment worker rights than I normally would have. This says quite a bit if you know me, since I’ll take any opportunity to talk about the human cost of #fastfashion (I know, I’m a blast at parties!). So what changed? Participating in this challenge. The challenge has made accessible typically inaccessible content. It’s brought the issues out of the closet and showcased them through the simple daily act of getting dressed. While not everyone is comfortable discussing how their closet connects to the rights of garment workers internationally, most in my circle can connect to the challenge of choosing, and committing to, just six items of clothing.
What types of conversations have you had since the challenge began?
P.S. I’m getting pretty sick of my black pants…