Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Luxe Fabrics and Political Choices

The quality of air is different in the fall -- the temperatures that would feel balmy in July are downright brisk in September. Either that, or I am deluding myself in order to wear wool when it's almost seventy degrees outside.

Merino wool, to be exact -- this COS lightweight top is a dream, in a warm beige and luxurious drape, and the pleated sleeves give it a distinct yet subdued character. 

The skirt, however, is the real showpiece here: it is by Litkovskaya, a Ukranian designer, and I recently bought it from Suitster.com, one of my favorite online stores. The material is a substantial, stiff silk, almost taffeta-like in quality but with a rough finish that feels a bit like wool. (Another reason I like overseas shopping is the variety of quality natural textiles, especially silks. Silks in the US market seem to be largely dominated by chiffon and charmeuse, with some washed silk thrown in for good measure. While I enjoy all of those, I also seek out heavier weights and raw silks; so far, Suitster and VanHongo are my go-tos for those.)

And the side view, showing the intricate pleating of the skirt, and the side sweep of the hem. It is quite architectural, and cleverly constructed: the closure is via hidden snaps in front, which allows the skirt to move well despite the rigid fabric. I chose Rachel Comey shoes with wooden heels here because they seemed to work with yet against the more dressy elements. They also played well with driftwood of my reading chair!

The necklace is from Luv AJx JewelMint collection, and it is lovely. Here's its closeup (and my fresh manicure).

And there is also another thing. Shopping and clothes are frivolous, no doubt. But, as any social institution, it matters in that affects our lives as well as lives of those who make the clothes and run the shops. I became interested in fashion as an extension of my fascination with social movements, and specifically the intimate connection between the US garment industry and labor union and suffrage movements in the early 20th century. But even today, manufacturing and distribution of clothing are deeply connected to the social institutions and political climates, and one cannot escape being enmeshed in politics of it all. And I really get that sometimes one doesn't feel like dealing with the complexities; sometimes, high street (like that lovely COS top above) is just fine.

But sometimes, I want to consider what economies are being supported with my spending. And this is when I shop small, local, indie, etc. And I have been making a concerted effort to support Ukrainian businesses and designers. Most of you have some knowledge of the tragedies that have befallen this beautiful country and its people lately; I am heartbroken about it. And I think people and institutions of the West too readily default to charity as a way of supporting struggling countries, with not enough attention given to investing into local economies and supporting local manufacturing. It seems to me that making economies more sustainable is quite beneficial in the long run.

So no, I won't pretend that my shopping will save the world or even solve any of its problems; but I do feel that when we decide to spend money, where and how we do so matters, and thus our choices should be considered... at least some of the time. I wouldn't expect anyone to ditch Zara just yet.

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