The Moral Wardrobe: Just Couldn’t Stay Away

mata traders dress and ethical advocacy

I thought it would be wise to sit with my feelings through the entire month of December because I’ve been in a near-constant fragile state that has made it hard for me to engage patiently and thoughtfully with any disagreement, but after a week of zero engagement with my own blog – no writing, no photography, no backend work – I realize that I can’t really stay away.

I do feel very strongly that the ethical fashion community is desperate for some rules of engagement

, an underlying set of values that determine how we communicate with each other in pursuit of building a more just world. It’s very tempting to always be looking outward toward the CAUSE, but movements are about coalitions, and change occurs when many voices join together and say the same thing.

Good advocacy is like a high functioning choir: different voice parts, different people. Young and old, rich and poor, a diversity of ethnicities, races, cultural ties, and backgrounds. When you sing in a choir, you aren’t listening to your own voice as intently as you’re listening to the ones around you. You aren’t adapting the piece to suit your needs – it’s always about the collective, driven toward a single goal: beauty, gravitas, meaning.

A culture that has bought the lie of


– that there is not enough to go around – cannot function as a coalition or as a choir, because we are always pitted against each other in competition for what’s left

, whether that’s social media followers, safety, power, or physical resources. And so, much of the rhetoric becomes about


rather than



mata traders dress and ethical advocacy stylewise-blog.commata traders dress and ethical advocacy

The reality is that we have the tools to live abundantly, but it requires a total rethinking of current theoretical models. It might even require that we leave the “like culture” of Instagram and Twitter behind in order to rehabilitate our minds. I refuse to believe any jargon-filled rhetorical models that claim a type of violence is required to bring about an abundant world. I seek reconciliation, not vengeance. And so we are accountable to one another and we have hard conversations, but we never stop believing that reconciliation is possible. Even when there’s no hope.


when all we see is darkness.

mata traders dress and ethical advocacy

Ethical Details:

Dress – c/o

Mata Traders

; Leggings –


; Boots –

Modern Vice

I welcome your thoughts and framing as I work through this.

Leah Wise

Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.

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