Thus far in my eco-journey, one of my challenges has been the price of conscious fashion. Granted the spectrum of eco-fashion includes vintage and the used clothing market, which is where the best deals are without a doubt. However, you have to have a really good eye and solid label knowledge to do that kind of shopping well, and frankly it’s not my forte. Nonetheless, it is a skill I am willing to cultivate. In the mean time, I find myself pulled to the new and in that realm it’s a bit of trick to find affordable pieces.
Fortunately, I’ve always been good at finding a sale. Today, for instance, I was able to acquire a seasonally transitional piece from Venice Beach eco-designer Kelly B. for 40% off which brought it down to $80. A bit of a chunk out of my monthly clothing allowance, but an investment I was willing to make. Why? Because, like most of the eco-friendly items I’ve purchased since I started down this road, this piece is well made with solid construction and a beautiful cut that fits my body in a flattering manner. Moreover, since I know the garment was made of 50% organic cotton and 50% recycled polyester in Southern California by someone who was paid a living wage, I can wear it with a smile and a clear conscience. Now, of course, I did pass up the $50 tank top because my personal aesthetic just doesn’t accommodate a cotton tank at that price.
Still, I confess I find myself drawn to the likes of Ecoskin, Komodo, and Earnest Sewn. Beautiful stuff positioned nicely in the middle of the price range for women’s wear. Then I can only dream about the upper-echelon where Kaelen, Edun, and Stella McCartney exist. Untouchable by many, I daresay.
So I do wonder if there isn’t an inherent classism in the eco-friendly market place. What working-class woman can really afford this stuff? Perhaps there is more available at the lower end, but so far mostly what I have found in that realm calls up images of granola and Birkenstocks. As a young graduate student, I certainly had a lot of that kind of stuff in my wardrobe, but it does not appeal to my mature urban sophisticate sensibilities today. I’m happy, though, that there is so much more available and accessible to me now than there was even 15 years ago when I lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains commuted to Hewlett-Packard and often looked for eco-friendly career-wear. This is, after all, just at the beginning of my eco-fashion adventure.