12 May When You Know Better, Do Better.
My life changed one Saturday afternoon in 1993 when I turned on Fashion Television. In this half hour show I became mesmerized by the world of Fashion (with a capital ‘f’) and instantly longed to be part of the club. Today the internet has made everything accessible, but for me, living in Edmonton in the 90s, Fashion Television was my window on to a world I never knew existed.
In addition to seeing the most beautiful creations walk the runway, I learned I was already experimenting with my own personal style and engaging in fashion (with a lowercase ‘f’) without knowing it. Clearly well ahead of my time, I championed the merits of a capsule wardrobe in 1989 by exclusively wearing vests and corduroy skorts for an entire year.
While Jeanne Beker was teaching me to pronounce Jean Paul Gautier, there was another equally compelling force capturing my attention – saving the planet. One of my must-have items was a slogan t-shirt from the Body Shop. This boxy, teal tee featured colourful animal illustrations with the phrase “Now you see us… soon you won’t. Extinct is forever.” The message hit me hard. I remember feeling a deep sense of responsibility to do my part to protect the planet.
I was finally feeling part of the fashion world I dreamed of for so long. However, the more I embraced the retail industry, the more conflicted I became.
Fast-forward many years to 2016 when I landed a dreamy Personal Stylist position at a major high-end department store. This was a pivotal time. I was surrounded by beautiful designer clothes, helping clients craft and curate their wardrobe, and finally feeling part of the fashion world I dreamed of for so long. However, the more I embraced the retail industry, the more conflicted I became.
I was overwhelmed by the endless supply of product and growing consumer appetite for it. I questioned: what happened to the trendy pieces too risky, even at 70% off, that never sold? And I was exhausted by the ever-increasing sales targets that climbed year after year. Then, one day on my walk home, I peered into the storefront window of another boutique and experienced a true Oprah ‘ah-ha’ moment. These behaviors weren’t unique to my department store. They are part of the universally accepted business model for millions of retailers world-wide. Suddenly, the enormity of the situation hit me. It isn’t possible for our planet to sustain this infinite level of production and consumption.
Since my realization, I have struggled to reconcile the two seemingly opposing parts of myself: fierce fashionista and planet protector. So, I am starting a blog to ask questions and discover a better way. I will share what I learn with you because, as Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”