Thursday, 6 October 2016

The Hide & The Seeker: a guide map (of sorts) for the lost >>>>>>>>>>> Part 2

Okay, let's continue on our quest to try and answer the vexing question, 'how to be as true as possible to your values while enjoying what you love'?

Note 1- the key word there is enjoying not hoarding.

Note 2- This post is by no means a comprehensive approach to ethical fashion, it's just about leather and how we can be more responsible when it comes to the use of leather.

Just to make it clear- we love fashion too, so this is not a hyperbolic "you're a Basic B*tch" rant, this is about being true to your values and making a difference (at least in your own life) by simply being more thoughtful.

Nothing ever changes unless someone is asking the tough questions, so this process is all about asking yourself probing questions till you've figured out what feels authentic to you.
To get into the right mindset, ask yourself these questions and think through these points (below); there are no right or wrong answers, but by being brutally honest you can define your own moral comfort zone when it comes to leather. Also, think about how realistic your responses are; try to be practical in your approach.
  • Am I an animal lover?
    • Why is it that your pet (if you have one) is so precious to you, but other animals are not?
    • What sort of love is this? Do you just like the thought of going to an African safari to see the lions or do you also think about animal abuse?
    • Do you think humans are at all responsible for the habitat destruction of wild animals and therefore should be more careful now?
  • Do I believe that all life forms are equal?
    • Or is it about how cute/rare/intelligent a life form is? 
    • Do you feel bad about killing a rabbit but you think it's okay to kill a rat? Why is that?
    • Do you think humans are entitled to take whatever you want from the planet with no thought of
      the consequences?
  • Is it okay with me if people eat meat, or do I think everyone should instantly turn vegan?
    • If you are 100% Vegan, you wouldn't be reading this post because you would be off leather- right? 
    • Why are you vegan? Just for your own health? 
    • Would you advocate veganism openly? Why/why not?
    • If you are a vegetarian/vegan who believes it's okay for people who wish to eat meat to kill animals for food (because it is allowed in nature) then know that there will always be hide generated as a by-product of the meat industry. What should be done with those?
    • All animals die eventually, including humans, is it okay if the hide of these dead animals is converted to leather?
  • What do I feel about exotic skins & fur from wild animals?
    •  People don't eat exotic meat much, yet we kill these creatures for fur and leather. Is that okay?
    • Do you think it would be better if these wild animals were bred in captivity?
    • Have you ever spoken openly about this? Done anything about it? Why/why not?
  • How do I feel about lab-grown leather? 
    • Would you be willing to pay more for it if it was really comparable to real leather?
    • Or would you prefer natural leather and pay more for that? Why?
    • What is leather is made more expensive than gold and diamonds?
  • How do I feel about buying and using pre-owned fashion, and other forms of re-cycling to reduce wastage? Is that something you've never explored?
    • Would you sell your stuff but have a problem buying pre-owned stuff? Why?
    • Why do you buy things at all? Because you love something or it symbolizes something?
    • How deeply is your self-worth attached to things you possess? Why?
  • How far am I willing to go in order to align my actions with my values?
    • Would you feel awkward explaining your thoughts to your friends? Why do you care so much?
    • If you aren't willing to make even small adjustments to your lifestyle- maybe you don't care as much about animal rights or the environment as you'd like to think? How does that thought make you feel?
Okay, now that you're thinking honestly- hopefully, you've got an idea of how much this matters to you and how much you are willing to sacrifice for your own clear conscience and sense of integrity.

Next- here are some real life situations and the choices you could make depending on how much you'd be willing to give up.

SITUATION 1 - You are a new/occasional luxury buyer and you  are in love with a beautiful and on-trend leather bag/shoe from Gucci's (insert your favorite designer's name here) latest collection that you simply must have. You're seriously considering buying the object of your affection...
Here are the things to think about-
  • Why do you want it? Is it just a passing attraction?  
  • If you buy it and then don't wear it enough- isn't it a huge waste?
  • Wouldn't it be better if you invested in a classic luxury piece which you would get a lot of wear from? Something that fits well with your lifestyle and which you've always wanted?
  • What design aspect of that particular piece do you love?
  • Can you find the same design aspect in a non-leather piece constructed from satin/velvet?
  • Can you find it on a pre-owned store?
So the idea here is to know yourself well enough to not buy wastefully.Do not buy things that you would use once in a year; it is a terrible waste and a little pathetic.Love your best life today, use your best things now.
In fact, if your closet is full of things you have bought on impulse and never worn again- purge your closet. If you keep hoarding things- saving them for a special occasion- ask yourself: what if you die tomorrow?
Give yourself time to think about whether you want that piece or is that money better invested on a real luxury item that you will actually use for many years.

Go for things that will give you real joy ( heard of Marie Kondo and the KonMari method?). It is better to save up and buy that Birkin on The realreal or Vestiaire Collective even if you spend more
Remember- you are buying things because they give you joy, who cares whether they're preowned or not?

Well, after a few days of thinking if you just have to buy that particular Bag/Shoe from the latest collection, see if you can't find another piece with the same design aspects in a non-leather material.
You could even search for the exact piece you love on a preowned store (like the ones mentioned above) you might be surprised to see how soon pieces from the latest collections hit these preowned luxury marketplaces. Be patient (a little sacrifice, remember?)
Finally, if you've worked through these options and you haven't found what you want- give yourself permission to buy the thing.  Just make sure you use it and derive all the joy from it that you anticipated.
Please do not hoard it!
After 6 months- if the piece is not being used much,you should consider selling it on those very sites we mentioned. 

SITUATION 2 - You are a regular/prolific consumer of luxury fashion. Things are a little different for you; if you are conflicted about leather after all these years - you must really care more than you realize.
Even if you don't care much, just doing a few little things will help you feel better about your choices...
  • Since you buy luxury items regularly, the golden rule for you is to not hoard.
  • Every time you add a new piece to your collection consider giving one away (selling it on the above-mentioned websites).
  • Start insisting on "responsibly sourced leather" certificates from designers. You are their dream customer; you have more clout than you know.
  • Try to purchase fewer leather items and more non-leather items. Designers will adapt to shifting
    demand- trust us!
  • Support more designers like Stella McCartney who are fantastic designers and are champions for this cause, your encouragement is key.
  • Get together with your like-minded friends and think about what you can do, it's not just about supporting PETA, broaden your horizon- can you support research and accelerate the commercial production of lab-grown (bio-fabricated) leather? Maybe startup and promote this real-but-manufactured leather?
In your case, since you are highly privileged, you must exercise greater discretion.

These are two situations that, rather simplistically, try to capture the two ends of the luxury fashion buyer spectrum; the same rules also apply to those who buy high-street fashion, and to anybody who buys leather goods of any sort.

Now based on the above you can come up with two (or max three, let's keep it real) mantras for yourself.
Make a pretty board/chart, whatever, and pin it where you can see it every day.
Just follow those guidelines religiously- do not think (you already did the thinking), simply obey.

After about a year, refresh and renew your vows!

For example, these are the rules we are trying to enforce on us:
  • Find your style- learn better styling ; you will need fewer things to put together great looks and feel good. Shop only what you are 100% SURE you will use. NO hoarding.
  • ONLY Classic and premium items in leather- reduce purchase, but increase usage.
    (use your best every day?).
    By extension- all Fad/trend driven items are to be non-leather ONLY - use, enjoy & discard.
  • When it comes to Luxury, go for preowned first- ALWAYS.
The key is to actually apply your rules when you shop. It's a promise you've made to yourself.
Curb that impulse, prune that greed; stop comparing yourself to others in all the wrong ways, and step-up your game- powerful women are in control of their actions.
We know you can be VERY tenacious- follow those 3 rules you set!!

Hopefully, these tips will help you make better choices and feel less guilty when it comes to buying leather goods. There is a "real way" that lies somewhere between the "wish away the bad stuff," and the "I don't care because it doesn't matter" extremes; you have to define it for yourself - and stick to it.
Just be more thoughtful.

Oh, and let's end this subject on a fun note: if you are being very good by following the rules both in letter and spirit, feel free to reward yourself with a little something extra (non-leather of course); think luxurious organic skin serums, or better yet, think luxurious experiences- a day at a nature-friendly spa?

Like they say, 'beauty comes from within,' so if you feel good about your life choices and spend more on your health and beauty regimen - you'll have a happy glow and radiate a confidence that no bag/shoe can give you. That is the end game, isn't it? Happiness?

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