How to Hand Wash Silk

When I started researching more ethical clothing brands, I noticed that many of them used fabrics that I always thought of as a fussy. Over the last few years, especially with athletic clothing, I’ve starting amassing more and more items that can’t go in the dryer, so I figured silk might be worth a try since I’m already dealing with so many “fussy” pieces, and especially since it’s a natural textile.

Hand washing was totally new to me though, since I’ve always been a lazy washer and would toss things in the washer anyway… but investing in a high-quality garment is pretty good motivation to take care of it as you should. And actually, hand washing is not that hard. Here’s how I do it:

First I got some Delicate Wash detergent from the Laundress, because it’s specifically designed to be good on silk. I use it for hand washing and in washing a load of delicates that are OK to go in the machine washer. Just a few drops is all you need.

For the actual washing, I place a plastic container in my bathtub and fill it halfway with cold water. Add a couple drops of the detergent, and drop in the silk shirt. Silk should not be soaked for more than a couple minutes, so I swish it around, then run the faucet over it to wash out the detergent and go on to the next shirt. I started washing my Osei Duro shirt first because it’s light, and kept the water for my Everlane shirt, which is a darker dye and does run a bit while being washed (but looks the same afterward). When rinsed, let it drip out excess water but do not wring out.

Lay out a clean towel and place the shirt flat on top. Roll the towel (like you’re rolling a sleeping bag) to get the excess water out. Repeat if necessary.

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Lay flat to air dry.

The whole process takes … about 15 minutes? I definitely put it off and these 2 shirts have been languishing in my delicates laundry bag for about 2 weeks because I am lazy, but it is really simple.

Morality and Consumption

You don’t live under a rock, right? Then you’ve probably heard, the President of the United States has complained about Nordstrom deciding to no longer carry his daughter’s clothing line based on lagging sales– prompting the question everywhere: wait, isn’t it unethical for the President to attempt to influence businesses for the profit of his family members? 

In response, many people, including many celebrities, have been tweeting about their gleeful support of Nordstrom. Spend your money where you want, but I don’t think we should pretend that conspicuous consumption is a morally or politically progressive practice.

What is conspicuous consumption? It’s a term that was introduced in 1899 (!) by Thorstein Veblen, describing the phenomena in which consumers buy expensive things for  accumulation and optics, rather than need or utility. I get the gleeful  shadenfreude at seeing Trump sputter at the thought of his daughter losing income, but at the same time… buying your luxury t-shirts at Nordstrom is not changing the world.

At the end of the day, you may feel better about buying products that are made by a company that aligns with your political values, whatever they are, but buying things is not an inherent good. I think you should absolutely make decisions and can derive satisfaction from knowing your purchase isn’t going toward something horrible (or that it is going toward something good, in the case of certain companies or business partnerships), but it should not be the only way you direct your political activity, money, or time.

P.S. Donate to the ACLU, or my favorite local organization, the Women’s Medical Fund, any other organization you care about and feel like is doing good stuff. That’s putting your money where it will really make a difference.

 

 

Ethical Fashion?

I just read a really interesting article about ethical “fast fashion.” 

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So the deal with fast vs. slow fashion is basically that fast fashion is produced at a high speed to keep up with(/create) consumer demand for new things. You know how H&M always seems different even if you visit it after a week or two? It’s because they are actually adding in new stock on a nearly-week basis. Fast-fashion is also generally characterized as being made as cheaply and quickly as possible, so that it stays on-trend and is inexpensive enough for the consumer to keep buying something new every couple of weeks.

Slow fashion, on the other hand, is characterized by an emphasis on quality materials, quality manufacturing (and often ethical manufacturing) and a larger emphasis on curating a smaller line of items that are all high quality.

I work in a non-profit, so Reformation is out of my budget, but it was interesting to read about Yael Aflalo’s approach to keeping up with the trends while also creating ethically and sustainably-made clothing. How should retailers balance consumer demand for trends with a responsibility to the ethical manufacturing?

I’m definitely intrigued by Aflalo’s and Reformation’s approach, although the fast/trend-based aspect makes me nervous (in general, I think the emphasis should be on consuming less), but since fashion is the second-most polluting industry in the world, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Read for yourself. What do you think?

Winter10x10 part II

Having just finished day 5 of the Winter10x10 challenge I’m thinking maybe I didn’t put enough thought into this. On the other hand, getting dressed in the morning is very fast.

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Continue reading “Winter10x10 part II”

Review: Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things

Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things (available to stream on Netflix) focuses on Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, founders of “The Minimalists,” a blog on minimalism, and the producers of the documentary. Other academics and authors who focus on capitalism, consumption and minimalism are also featured in clips, but the crux of the material is about Millburn’s and Nicodemus’ journey from conspicuous consumers to mindful minimalists. They had high powered jobs with lots of stuff, yet weren’t happy until they divested themselves of everything in favor of a minimalist existence. Oh, and they’re also promoting a book…  Continue reading “Review: Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things”