Loving your clothes can have a good impactWritten by Adela Cardona
What if I told you that cherishing your clothes is one way to help people and the environment? To understand how, you first have to think about the items you treasure, the ones that have carried you through the years. What makes them special? Is it that they bring you luck whenever you wear them? Or is it that they belonged to your loved ones?
What makes those clothes exceptional is the emotional bonds you create with them, the stories that have found their way into the fabric of your wardrobe. These memories ensure that you keep said items, at least until they give out from the wear and tear and can no longer be repaired.
Why is it important to cherish your clothes?
When you develop an emotional bond with what you wear, you are less likely to throw it away. Whether it is because you know the artisan that made your bracelet or because you inherited your watch from your grandfather, you will think twice before putting it in the trash.
And right there is the key to ensuring you don’t waste natural resources as much or discard the effort someone put into making what you wear. Not to mention you’d be avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions that are created when things end up in landfills or incinerated.
You can start to avoid these consequences by simply keeping your items in your wardrobe and treating them with the care and respect they deserve, like you would a family heirloom.
Think about the last time a friend complimented your outfit and asked you where you got it from. If it is something you really cherish, you won’t stop at naming the brand you would tell them the garment’s story: the country where it was made, what makes that design so special, what it is made of, perhaps the artisan or sewer who made it, or the fact that you wore it the first time you met your spouse. Stories are how you –and all of us– connect to each other, and the people who came before us; clothes are one of the vehicles that can carry our stories forth.
If you want the clothes in your wardrobe to carry your stories further in time, you’ll need to make sure they’re built to last. Because in order for an item to be passed down, and continue your legacy, it needs to stand the test of time in terms of construction.
To be an emotional vehicle, a garment may need to flow with time in another manner too. It may need to cater to what the scholar Kristina Bojersson calls eternal needs, like the need to tell time or carry our belongings. This is why watches or bags tend to be passed down so easily, because they are solutions to needs that continue to arise.
Finally, if you take the example of a bag, it can’t just be any bag. It has to be one with the ability to transcend trends, with a style that is timeless and thus can appeal to yours, your dad’s and your sons’ aesthetic.
A solid construction, a timeless aesthetic and serving eternal needs are a few things that can make our clothes experience bearers. But it is this experience, linked to your clothes, what really matters. Your stories make them last in your closet and thus be affectively sustainable, according to Borjeson.
A garment may have the capacity to last in terms of construction and style; but it also needs the ability to make us feel good and bring us some sort of affective reaction, for us to keep it. An emotion like nostalgia for a special place, a loved one; or pride, because you are wearing something ethical, is what makes the garment sustainable in affective terms.
It is so because you end up associating those sensations with the garment, making it meaningful. A bag is just a bag, until you bring back the memories of your travels. That connection you make between your experiences and what you wear ends up making it valuable. And you wouldn’t throw away something valuable, would you?
What is the brand’s role in all this?
The absurd amount of clothes that are thrown away are the result of a fashion system that is designed precisely to disconnect us from the value of our clothes.
It is the duty of brands, such as ours, to do everything in their power to regain that connection. One way is to introduce you to the stories behind your clothes: the faces, the names, the regions where they came from. This is why, at Beckett Simonon, we send you email updates where you get to know the stories of people like Oscar, the owner of the dress shoe workshop; or Cristian, the cutter at the sneakers studio. So that you remember the human beings behind the shoes you wear.
In order for you to cherish your wardrobe for longer, a brand has to make sure what you purchase will last. It has to build your items with sturdy construction and with a style that will appeal to the aesthetic of multiple generations. Because the cycle of trends and programmed obsolescence are two factors that make us get rid of perfectly good items.
Finally a brand can show you how to take care of the heritage items you already have. Either by teaching you through videos or tutorials; or by offering repair or take back programs.
What can you do?
As an individual, you can start by changing your relationship with what you wear and the things you own. Every single piece of clothing has a story: a hand that sewed the bag and a farmer that harvested the cotton of the lining, for example.
Understanding that your closet is the result of our earthly resources and of someone's know-how and passion is the first step to cherishing what you wear.
You can also swap things that you no longer wear with friends or family, or even strangers. Ties can be built or strengthened by what we wear. This is done when you swap, because you end up with something that can always remind you of those special connections. Something the Netflix series Worn Stories shows exceptionally well.
You can also learn how to take care of the objects you treasure already: how to patch or embroider over a hole, take care of a leather jacket with the right products or learn the right way to wash a sweater.
And if you must buy something new, consider if it will be something you’ll wear and pass down. This is one way to make your purchase thoughtfully. An important matter, since the things we buy on impulse are usually the ones that end up first in the trash can. Impulse buying is the opposite of developing a relationship with your clothes.
To value our clothes is to care for them and use them for longer. By getting to know their origin and being thankful of the experiences we have while wearing them, we can see them in a new light. No longer as disposable pieces of fabric or leather, but as lasting heirlooms that sustain us, on a literal and emotional level.
Is there anything you cherish in your closet? Tell us about it in the comments below!
My father died on Christmas Day, 2007. He was a spiffy dresser, who loved his clothes. He taught me and my brothers how to wear and take care of our clothes. We brushed and polished our shoes, ironed and starched our shirts and looked our best. After he died, I got his hats, pocket squares and a ring he loved. My brother got his beloved exotic western boots. These are our heirlooms that we’ll treasure for the rest of our lives😌