Sustainable Fashion + Storytelling: A Bead & Reel Collaboration

One of the challenges in creating a more mindful fashion industry is that a lot of common terms, ideas, and words don’t always have a clear or unified definition from person to person and brand to brand. This ends up being confusing for everyone involved from companies to consumers so I decided to bring together voices and styles from members in the Bead & Reel Network to take a deeper look into some of the more complex issues in fashion.

I invited Network content creators and brands to participate, and this week we’ve joined together with Liz Alig to feature the Louissa dress, which is made from recycled flour sacks and sewn by female tailors in Ghana. With slow fashion, part of what we connect with is not only the garment itself but the stories behind it: about the brand, the makers, the fabric, the style, and the reasons why we buy and wear what we do.

So I asked: What stories are most important to you in choosing what to wear?

It’s incredibly important to me to know and understand how my clothes impact those who made it. I don’t want fast fashion that is tied to hunger and poverty — I want clothing that empowers women around the world to make a sustainable income and live comfortably with their families. I love the sentiment that comes with purchasing from brands like this, that particularly value their artisans and showcase their talent without exploration and, instead, pride.

Featured: Liz Alig Louissa Dress

 

For me, my favorite stories are cool materials or a story that combines the modern with the traditional. Making ancient techniques modern or using a material you wouldn't expect makes the article of clothing so much more meaningful.

Featured: Liz Alig Louissa Dress

 

The story of who made my clothing and how the piece was made is always at the forefront of my decision making about whether or not to purchase something new. In the beginning of my slow fashion journey, it was about fair labor standards being upheld and mentorship/ personal development programs being offered to employees of the clothing companies I supported. I want to know the human elements and how something I purchase is empowering and not exploiting the maker(s). More recently, while still primarily concerned with the story of who made my clothing and how they made it, I'm also taking into consideration the materials used and their impact on the environment. More often I am looking for earth friendly practices and materials in addition to labor standards. Utilizing deadstock fabrics or recycled materials in a product's design show me that a company is doing their part to make a tangible impact in reducing waste and they're actively trying to do better than the fashion industry standard. I'm a firm believer that businesses that operate for the greater good will truly disrupt the broken system of the broader fashion industry, and those companies are pioneering a movement that will leave a mark for future generations.

Pictured: Liz Alig Louissa Dress

 

In choosing what to wear, it’s important for me to hear stories of joy and fairness. I have a job myself and while I don’t exactly live and breathe my work constantly, it’s still work that I enjoy. I hope that the companies I support and the clothing I wear is backed by stories similar to that. The process should be filled with passion and enjoyment, not pressure and boredom. I love to hear the stories about workshops being a fun and free environment where garments can be given the time they need to become a quality product. Most importantly, I love to hear stories about tailors and artisans being compensated fairly and appropriately for the time they put into their craft.

Featured: Liz Alig Louissa Dress

 

I like knowing that my clothes (when buying new items that are not second hand or vintage) are made with integrity. I look for a brand/company that is making clothing is doing a few things like:

a) Are they giving back to their communities to better help those around them?

b) Is this company focusing on zero waste and recycling practices because I don't wish to support a brand that contributes to the landfills when it can be approached differently

c) Who's making my clothes??? Is it underpaid or unpaid workers in a 3rd world country? I like to know that the things I'm wearing I can feel good about having on my body. Being connected to another human that made my garment means more to me than not caring about their conditions in the workplace. Fairtrade business practices matter to me because I'd rather buy from a company that helps it's workers rather than destroys them and the planet.

All in all, knowing and educating myself as a consumer takes little effort because if you care about the environment and other people then why wouldn't you care about the fashion items coming from this industry? You wouldn't buy a house if it didn't have a good foundation, would you?

Featured: Liz Alig Louissa Dress

 
 

A NOTE ON ETHICS IN WRITING

All writers were gifted an item by Liz Alig and all opinions are their own. Affiliate links are used in this story.