At My New Neighbour, we believe that shopping ethically is about more than who you buy from, it's also about how you shop. Buying a garment that is made ethically means you are supporting the dignity of the people and places that came together for that piece of clothing. Buying a garment that is made to last means you are putting less burden on our natural resources to support our often excessive desire for "new" things and spending less money in the long run.
With help from Chantal Barchard, owner of Studio Intent in Calgary, we put together a list of questions to help us become more conscious shoppers:
7 Questions to Ask Before you Buy
1. Does the style of this piece suit me and go with other items I own?
Imagine yourself wearing the new piece with items already in your closet. If you need to go out and buy other items just to wear the piece, it may not be the most versatile addition to your wardrobe.
2. What is the fabric content - is it suitable for how I want to wear it and do I like the way it feels on my skin?
Consider the impact the fabric might have on the environment. Organic materials like hemp, cotton, wool, and linen typically wear better over time. Try the piece on and find out if you like the feel of the fabric on your skin. Take into account the thickness and breathability of the piece. If the piece is a thick wool material it may not be the best choice to wear with your new spring dress.
3. What is the condition of the fabric now and how will the fabric wear over time?
Examine the piece for snags, pulls, and pilling in the fabric. Consider what the piece looks like now and what it will look like over time as you wear it.
4. Is the piece well constructed?
Hold the seams up to the light and pull gently on them. If you can see light coming through, the garment may not be finished tightly enough to last a long time. Check if the buttons are secured, if the zippers work well and if pattern aligns flawlessly.
5. How does the piece look on my body?
How does the piece look on you? Consider how the piece falls on your body, and if the fitting darts are in the right place. Make sure the shoulders match up and feel comfortable to wear and move in. If you find yourself falling in love with a high quality piece that doesn't fit perfectly, consider tailoring it.
6. Does the company provide information on how the piece was made?
Find out if the company can answer questions like: What conditions was the fabric made in? What chemicals were used to treat it? How were the people who put the piece together treated?
7. What care does the piece require?
Look at the tags on the garment and ask yourself: How will I care for the piece? Does it fit my lifestyle (for example - do I have the time and money for a dry clean only item)? Does it wrinkle easily? Will it stretch out?
If you are able to answer all of these questions in a way that leaves you still excited to purchase the garment, then dish out that hard earned cash knowing you have added a very worth piece to your "conscious closet".
Print these out, memorize 'em or add 'em to the list you already have! Shopping ethically does take some extra effort. It means asking questions and investing in clothes that are made to last. Let the '7 Questions to Ask Before You Buy' guide you to buying clothes so beautiful and well made that one day your great grandchildren will get to wear them!