Happy Birthday to the blog!
I’ve been tinkering with ethical fashion blogging for 4 years! I didn’t start StyleWise with any set plan of where I wanted it to go or what I wanted it to be. Rather, I knew that I desperately needed a place to gather resources on conscientious consumerism and I hoped that I would be able to find like-minded people out there to offer support and challenge me to keep pushing forward.
Four years on, I can honestly say that this blog has changed my life.
Not only have I found hundreds of resources, blogs, and brands that aid me in this journey, I’ve made dozens of ethical blogging friends and had great conversations with lots of readers from all over the world. I have been challenged and trolled, I’ve cried and raged, I’ve made decisions that weren’t always the best, but more than anything, I feel firmly planted in a community – and a movement – that seeks the good, that favors cooperation over competition, and that understands that justice is more than what we buy.
I’ve had the opportunity to guest post on a role model’s blog, speak at a church conference, create consistent content for a fair trade tea company, and write for publications like Christianity Today, Mind Body Green, Relevant, and Selva Beat Magazine. I have confidence as a writer and researcher, and I’ve learned how to handle criticism without being nasty or unchanging.
And I’ve also had a lot of fun.
I have made good friends with fellow writers and with ethical brand owners. I’ve tried new styles and learned what my true style is. I’ve learned how to self-critique without putting myself down. But I’ve also learned that, though the movement is growing, we are nowhere near done.
Sometimes it feels like every step forward is paired with a step back.
Though the buildings in Bangladesh are safer today than in 2013, the employees are even more overworked. Though there are hundreds of ethical brands, greenwashing is more rampant than ever. Though there are tons of ways to get ethical fashion at a lower price point, that also means we’re at risk of overindulging in trend-oriented fashion.
So I ask myself this question: What can I do moving forward?
I’m not one to say that ethical fashion must be minimalist, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have cheaper options, especially when they’re secondhand. But I have to continue to do my due diligence and ask hard questions. It may be easier on the surface to shop ethically, but products in an increasingly crowded and trend-oriented market are not always what they’re chalked up to be.
A sustainably-made garment that falls apart in 6 months is not truly sustainable. A high quality garment that doesn’t suit my sense of style is an unwise purchase. An ethical item that costs $300, even if I receive it for free for review, is not a realistic option for my lifestyle or my budget.
I want to be honest with myself so I can be honest with you, and that means re-calibrating when necessary.
I have occasionally been called the “budget ethical blogger” by brands that believe the price points I represent are too low to align with their marketing. I used to take offense at this, but now I see it as an asset.
I certainly don’t want to represent “cheap” clothing, but I understand how hard the buy-in is when everything is priced outside a “normal” person’s budget. I do try to review items that hover at or below $100 because I can’t honestly say I’d purchase something – other than a solid pair of jeans or shoes – at a higher price point than that.
Don’t get me wrong. My expectation of how much I should pay for clothing and accessories has increased over my years of blogging and it’s reflected in my actual purchases as well as items I review. But I want to assure you that this is because I’ve learned that quality is very often correlated to price, and I’d rather invest in better materials than save a few bucks, even if that means saving up for things.
This year, I want to focus on providing content that helps every single person live a more ethical lifestyle.
I plan to partner with more brands on a long term basis to show versatility and encourage you all to find the companies you love and stick with them. It makes shopping easier and creates a more cohesive, timeless wardrobe.
I plan to offer more introductory resources, so that newbies can find what they need without getting overwhelmed.
I plan to touch base about the industry and my general thoughts more frequently, probably once monthly.
I plan to incorporate a thoughtful and inclusive approach to my Christian faith as it pertains to living an ethical lifestyle. The Christians and secular humanists need to be in conversation if we’re really going to change the world. I want to bridge that gap with clear, approachable information.
I want you to know that you are free to reach out and ask questions. I’m not always good about sticking to a plan, but I wanted to start off the year with transparency so that you all can keep me on track!