November 22, 2020
Can fashion be a force for good?
Throughout history, feminists have used fashion to make a statement, from the suffragettes, clad in white as they fought for the right to vote, to the thousands of women who took to the streets in 2017, to march in matching pussy hats.
There’s no doubt that when women show up in droves, dressed to challenge gender norms, express sexual liberation, and show solidarity, the movement cannot be ignored. But can fashion be a force for good in our personal lives?
Consider this: have you ever agonized over what to wear to an interview? Changed, like, ten times before a date? Spent a few days in pjs only to emerge bleary-eyed on the other side, wondering where your weekend went? No shame in that game, ladies. But if you have some idea of what we mean, it doesn’t feel like a stretch to say that what you wear can affect the way you feel or how you go about your day.
First thing's first: fashion is not frivolous
An article of clothing can give you confidence to bring your a-game or comfort to relax at the end of a day. A pair of heels might make you feel like a boss. And combat boots might make you feel brave. Granted: actions do speak louder than shirts. (That’s the saying, right?) You can look the part all you want, but you’ve got to act like a feminist too.
Still, walking around with a powerful feminist message on your chest might just be the extra push you need to stand up in the face of discrimination. To voice your support for other women. And, honestly, who doesn’t love to be reminded that the future is female and that on Wednesdays we smash the patriarchy?! We certainly do.
Live like a feminist, shop like a feminist
If you’re going to express your beliefs by way of your wardrobe, you’re going to want to make sure the companies you buy from share those values too. Seek out ethical feminist clothing stores who actually care about their customers and employees, and can prove it with good reviews and transparency.
At The Feminista, you can count on us for a fully feminist commitment to ethical production, living wages, affordable pricing, and high quality product. But, let’s face it: you won’t always be shopping with us.
So here’s a quick guide to shopping with a conscience and making sure the company you’re buying from reflects your feminist values:
1. Support small businesses
We know, we know. This first tip isn’t revolutionary and it’s certainly not new, but it just keeps on being true! Here’s why: small shops feel the cost of operations, production, advertising, etc. so much more than big guys—every dollar counts—so it’s no surprise that they’d want each and every customer to have the most positive experience possible. And if you’re paying for something—call us crazy—you do deserve to be treated well.
One small downside? It might take a little bit longer between the moment you click “buy” and the moment your purchase lands on your doorstep, but if you’re not in a rush, shopping with a small ethical clothing store is well worth the wait. So spread the wealth, loves. The corporations will do just fine without ya :)
2. Look for ethical production and sourcing
The garment industry gets a bad rap for its lack of social responsibility… and rightly so. You’ve probably seen the horror stories—about prison and child labor, awful working conditions, and even worse compensation.
Feminism is all about human rights, and that willingness to put real people at risk to keep costs down has no place in your life. Luckily, it’s less likely you’ll find that kind of corruption in a small business, but it’s never a bad idea to double check that a company you plan to buy from has properly vetted their venders and production partners.
A truly ethical clothing store should reflect your feminist values, from partnerships all the way down to company culture. Do they pay living wages? Do they value diversity? Look for brands with working conditions that are just, safe, and dignified.
3. It’s not “cheap” to expect fair pricing
Have you seen those Dior “We Should All Be Feminists” shirts? The price tag on those babies is $860. And listen, we love a good t-shirt, but what on earth merits a price like that? Unless the thing is spun in gold, there may be better places to spend your money.
Feminism—and expressions of it—should be within reach for everyone. You’re not being cheap when you make affordability a priority. It’s why even our highest quality graphic tees never exceed what's reasonable. And if that’s too high a price, we’re always running deals to make them more accessible to you.
4. Quality plays a part in sustainability
We all love a good deal. But have you ever taken a chance on something only to realize upon its arrival that it’s nowhere near as nice as it looked in the photos? *Sigh.* We’ve all been there.
Sometimes you can return it and it’s no big deal—kind of. All that shipping back and forth for nothing isn’t great for the environment. But let’s say you end up keeping it. Maybe you wear it once, it sits in your closet for a while, and then it ends up in the donate pile—or worse, the trash.
The fashion industry is notorious for unnecessary waste and super-cheap, low quality clothing is a big part of that problem. So what can you do? Check the reviews! If a company makes a point to include reviews at all, it’s a good sign. But shoppers like you—who don’t have anything to do with the company—are the unsung heroes of the online shopping game.
5. No plus size? No thank you
Hey, the 1960’s called. It wants it’s dated conventional beauty standards back. It’s 2020 and there’s no excuse for feminist clothing brands who don’t cater to every body.
An ethical clothing store’s offerings should reflect real feminists—we’re talking every size, every gender, every race, everybody—period. Different stores go about this in different ways, but if they’re doing nothing to show you they understand what people want and need IRL, feel free to take your business elsewhere.
Make no mistake: feminist clothing alone doesn’t make the movement. Your values, voice, and activism have to come first, but if you’ve got that, carrying a trans or rainbow flag, rocking a pussy hat, or wearing a feminist slogan on your chest is a powerful form of personal expression.
Yes, sometimes a shirt is just a shirt. But sometimes it’s a symbol of strength. Solidarity. Resistance. It all depends on you. So get out there, be you, and wear your feminism in style. We see you, and we stan.