on choice + on bodkin

I struggle with the choices I make.

For example, I have recently decided to stop shopping at Urban Outfitters. As far as I'm concerned, their constant stream of collaborations with designers that appeal to people like me are essentially taking money away from the small local boutiques that I love; a $200 Sunshine & Shadow blouse at a boutique or a $50 Yellow is Gold by Sunshine & Shadow blouse at Urban Outfitters? Which would you choose? Up until a few months ago, I know which one I would have chosen. I know that I cannot afford a $200 blouse, but when I splurge on one, I value it so much more. I don't care about the fate of the less expensive item. It's nearly disposable. There is a reason why there is such a difference in the price.

My Contributor by Rachel Comey sandals (an Urban Outfitters collaboration, as you probably know) wound up being disposable. They fell apart after a few hours of wear and I had to spend half an hour walking home in broken shoes the other day, dragging my left foot through the hot streets. They are not worth repairing. I am very sad about this. I understand why the designers create these lines, of course. You do what you have to do. Certainly a lot of designers would love to do a line for Urban Outfitters.

I also understand that there are people who don't have the option of shopping in small local boutiques. I get it. It's tricky. It even gets tricky when I think about Rodarte for Target. The Rodarte customer is not going to stop shopping at Barney's. And what do I care about Barney's? But with collaborations such as Yellow is Gold or Fletcher by Lyell, it just hits a little too close. I feel as though I am being manipulated, and I resent it. Yeah, okay, the Free People blog is really cool. I know.

I am not trying to ruffle any feathers and I am not trying to preach. But incredible feats of merchandising are just not enough for me at this point. Small business owners can do it just as well, and better (I'm sure you have all seen the pictures of Saipua). I don't have a lot of money and I want to spend what I do have as well as I can. A company that is making enormous profits in a recession doesn't need me. That's all. That's my choice. I won't judge you for yours.

So I do struggle, and I feel so small. I know many of you do as well. Too often I give up and I settle for the easiest option, all the while trying to be weary of greenwashing and of corporations putting on an act. You can poke holes in any argument. I do like to use my critical thinking faculties. We all should. But sometimes I stroll into H&M and mindlessly buy a skirt just because it is inexpensive and I want to wear something new that night.


Erin and I have been chatting about the clothing label Bodkin a bit lately because Robber is going to carry select items from the line for fall (the line was started by Eviana Hartman and Samantha Pleet -- of Samantha Pleet but also of Rapscallion by Samantha Pleet for Urban Outfitters -- but is now Eviana Hartman's alone). I read the description of the dress above, made of hand-loomed silk blessed by the Dalai Lama. My cynicism took over. I complained about how such effort had been put into this beautiful fabric, but that it had to travel to this side of the world on an airplane, to be made into a dress sold to one who could afford it. I disregarded the fact that at least Bodkin had tried to do something different, because for too long I have been rolling my eyes at "green" marketing and irritating terms such as "eco-chic," and it has hardened me. I thought Bodkin was just another designer doing the "green thing" for the sake of the bottom line. I was wrong, wrong.

Yesterday Jenny posted about Bodkin with a link to Eviana Hartman's blog. I read the whole thing; I absolutely fell in love and had to revisit everything I had said to Erin. Here is a designer who THINKS about every choice she makes (down to the provenance of her safety pins & to garment care -- just say 'no' to dry cleaning; I do). She doesn't condescend to us and in fact solicits opinions on her blog. Never mind that the clothing itself is lovely! I am in awe.

Please do read her blog, particularly this post and this post. It demonstrates perfectly that there are so many grey areas, but that there are people who make the best choices that they can. I sincerely wish that there were more designers and more manufacturers and more companies that operated with this spirit & I hope that we can give them the space to thrive. It's legit.


  1. thanks for this very well thought out and well articulated post. i didn't spend too much time on mine because mine was pretty much all about shoes! but you really put into words what i was thinking. i was initially turned off by bodkin too before i knew anything about it. for the same reasons as you. and the whole "blessed by the dali lama thing?" still makes me gag a little. but i forgot to mention in my post that i love how eviana hartman posted a picture of the woman who does most of her sewing! that puts a face on it, so you know it's not some sweatshop operation.

    i actually briefly met eviana hartman a few years ago before she started her clothing line. she used to work with my friend kate, and we bumped into her at the apc store here. it's funny, but now kate's job is to write the urban outfitters blog!

    i am so not a fan of urban outfitters either. the quality is ridiculously bad. it's not worth the money. i'd rather buy one nice thing than three shitty things from UO. i was thinking yesterday about what my favorite items of clothing were that i wear all the time, and it's hands down the ones i actually spent money on or made myself. they are more special, and i take care of them. and the one nice thing about this bad economy is that you can get expensive things on sale. but it's hard. i think it takes self-discipline to save up for the nice things instead of blowing it all on cheap, immediate satisfaction. i buy cheap stuff sometimes, and i usually regret it. not always. maybe there's a place for both.

    i don't know, but your post is thought-provoking. it brings up an interesting discussion for sure. thanks for making us think! it's a nice interruption from shoe obsessing. : )

  2. Anabela, your post rings home so well. I've been doing a lot of evaluating of my purchases lately. I've been considering big time taking a shopping ban, but lately I've thought, maybe I could not do a shopping ban but ban anything mass-produced or sold from as you put it, stores that aren't suffering through the recession. I've been thinking of it not only for the environmental impact but to support local artists and designers. so reading your post is really refreshing and I couldn't agree with you more.

  3. I am so glad you two ladies responded with thoughtful comments. I respect you both and I was nervous about posting this. Thank you.

    When I was little I used to be shocked at how few items of clothing my European cousins owned. They paid so much for a pair of jeans, so they had two pairs, and they valued them. I want to go back to that, personally. I always think of French women who have beautiful hand bags and things like that passed down from their grandmothers. I love some of the bags I've purchased for $30, but there's no way I'll ever be able to hand them down. And it makes me sad.

  4. This is such a great post, Anabela. I am SO guilty of only buying cheap things from big box retailers, like H&M and UO, because not only is it the money, but I'm LAZY! It's so easy for me to just go into H&M or Urban because I know what they have and I'm comfortable in there. When I go into certain boutiques, I feel overwhelmed and nervous when I'm not familiar with it, and I feel nervous about spending tons of money on a piece of clothing because I so often regret things. But last week I bought a pair of Rachel Comey shoes on sale, and they are literally the most well made, comfy shoes I have ever put on. I was in shock! I still am not sure if I could bring myself to spend full price on a pair of her shoes, but I do love the idea (alyson's) of going on a ban from cheap crap and just investing in a few nice pieces. Just clean out my closet and reevaluate what I'm spending my money on...it probably all adds up to way more than if I bought just a few expensive pieces!

    On the other hand, Urban is great for a few things here and there. Maybe what it's all about is moderation. Like a clothes diet:)

  5. Oh Kate, I know. I was just thinking about how maybe I was a little too stern in this post because my house is filled with house stuff from UO that I got on sale: coat racks, rugs, pillows, etc.! It's a little nuts.

  6. wow. i really enjoyed reading this, especially with the unavoidable "look at this great/wonderful/fantastic thing for fall" onslaught already upon us. it's hard to be entirely impervious to it--there is a lot of lovely stuff out there. i absolutely agree that the things i take the best care of, are those that i've really thought about and saved for/invested in. it feels very... grown-up and responsible somehow. anyway, thanks for the post. your blog is one of my favorites!

  7. I'm so glad to see I'm not the only one who struggles with this problem! I can completely identify with everyone's words.

    I think that the quality versus quantity fashion debate is symbolic of the many stressors we all deal with everyday. I know I feel a lot better and sunnier when I slow down and act mindfully. Yet, I'm bombarded by messages that encourage me to speed up everything, including my consumption.

    Walking into big box stores *is* easier and faster, granted. But, when I slow down and make the effort to go off the well-worn cheap clothing track, I'm occasionally rewarded with a killer vintage or handmade find. The joy I get from these is light years beyond the embarrassing amount of cheap crap in my wardrobe.

  8. This is a fantastic post! I didn't know how to articulate the way of life I've been choosing and here you did it for me! And yes, we cheat, we live in America where we've been conditioned to consume. But I try to stick to my guns, and I try to explain to my mom why I'd pay X$ for something when I can pay x$. I'll be forwarding this post to a friend of mine who's also been trying to live up to this.
    And I love your comment about your Euro cousins, that's a GREAT way to explain it.

  9. great post! thank you to jenny for directing me this way.

    this is something that i think about often as well. i chose this past year to take a serious paycut and work enough to pay my bills, etc., but to also be able to raise my little boy without sending him to daycare. although this is another topic entirely, these decisions have led me to where i am now, and i find myself simultaneously the financially poorest and the happiest i have ever been. go figure.

    having little or no disposable income means that i have completely cut out impulse purchases, and instead think and plan before buying anything. gone are the days of running to target for cat food and coming home with three tops, a pair of shoes and a scarf as well. chances are that it would only be a month or two before those same impulse purchases were in a bag headed for the thrift shop or the trash can. sad.

    i have bought almost no clothing for myself in recent months, instead choosing to make something (thank you, Built By Wendy pattern #3835!) or simply make do with what i have. i have found that by being forced to scale back, i have become much more selective and less willing to part with my hard-earned money in exchange for crap. i actually had two pairs of shoes in my online target shopping cart yesterday (the grand total for both--including shipping--was $21) and i suddenly found myself oddly repulsed at the thought of them. screw cheap crappy shoes--i would rather have my $21!!

    after reading jenny's boot post yesterday, i, too fell in love with the stacked wood heels and beautiful leather. the price tag leaves them out of my reach at this moment in time, but i am in no hurry and am happy to save up for something i know i will love for years to come.

    i appreciate you and jenny directing my attention to people who obviously care about more than just the bottom line. i feel a LOT of the more expensive/exclusive/whatever clothing lines available are total b.s. (poor fabric quality and workmanship), and it is nice to see a line that is actually **worth** the price tag it carries.

    thank you!

  10. Growing up in small city in Canada meant that wardrobe shopping for the most part was done two hours away in the largest center in my province. This meant that I bought clothes, for the most part, twice a year. One shopping trip before school in the fall, and one shopping trip in the spring. I saved and saved for these shopping excursions, and inevitably spent my hard earned money at big box stores and chains. These shopping trips were usually just one day, one day to race around the "big" city, therefore, not much time or thought went into my purchases. Nor, was there always time to go to the cute "Osbourne" boutiques that I love so much. (Let it be known that I did shop at them when I could and that I cherish those items dearly!)
    For me, in that small city, Urban Outfitters expressed something different in its catalogs and online. A hipper lifestyle than I found at home, a lifestyle I kind of longed to be a part of. And H&M provided me with super fashionable trendy items that were otherwise out of my reach both financially and geographically. (Mind you the closest Urban or H&M were twelve hours away, and I longed and saved for those trips!)

    Now, here I am in the "center of Canada" and for once I actually have time to compile a list and deliberate over what I'm going to buy. Time to try it on, walk away, think about, and come back. But what has all my once a season box store buying left me with? Nothing, no foundation pieces. I almost have to start from scratch, spare some cherished vintage jackets and blazers. Believe me, I'm almost like those European cousin with one pair of jeans (Uniqlo) but only because I can't afford more (and they were $50). I wish I could say that I wouldn't be spending money at a cheaper stores like H&M, but I literally cannot afford not to and be able to cloth myself. But, now that I have the chance, I will invest in one, maybe two special boutique (Robber) pieces to cherish and wear to death. From this season on, I vow to take my time and think about what I'm buying and invest in some (as much as I can) quality pieces. And pursue my everlasting dream of being like a European (without giving up cupcakes and deep dish pies).

    Suffice to say, I agree, and while this may come off as an excuse for the future event in which I will arrive to meet you in a Zara/H&M piece. It's hopefully more than that. My shopping attitude is changing as fast as my little/thin wallet will allow, and I agree that we all should stop and think before buying those cheap shoes, just because they are inexpensive and we are in need of a purchasing high.

  11. I feel like there isn't a whole lot for me to comment on here because everyone has left beautifully written and thought out comments that describe what I want to express... but I'll just say that it's great to see someone out there writing about these things... and possibly inspiring more people to think about their habits/lifestyle... and how sometimes it is totally worth it to hold back and spend money on one piece that you'll have for years to come rather than a whole bunch of new clothes every season. I have a ton of clothes that I had bought at thrift stores almost 10 years ago that I am still wearing today... and I am proud to say that I had to stop buying clothes from Urban Outfitters in 1999 because something that I had bought fell apart the week after I had purchased it. It's really nice to see that there are people out there that can see past the stylish and super affordable clothes for what they really are. Maybe you've inspired a ton of people to change the way that they consume!

    Thank you for posting. I'll have to share it with some friends now!

  12. Very well said...and as stated above, I feel like the comments thus far pretty much cover my reactions to this topic. Its nice to see a discussion of fashion as investment. In my vintage shop I daily hear people complain about higher priced items and want to scream that these pieces were most often NOT mass produced, are far superior quality to the Old Navy pieces they're used to buying and will last years longer!

    Great blog, I'll be back!


  13. Anabela and the rest of the gang,

    I'm overwhelmed reading this. Thank you so much for articulating it so well. I hope this little essay of yours goes viral and is read by countless people. I was so sad this year when I heard of more than one artist friend of mine online and otherwise...they were so excited to be asked to give their designs to UO for distribution. Then I see the finished product arrives to the artist's home from UO. I see the photos of the packages as they will look on sale, wrapped in plastic, and each time, there's this little print that says "Made in China" -- even though my friends are not Chinese, they live here in the States and before the UO opportunity, these women were each considered to be a small local handmade businesses. I don't know if I should be ashamed to say this-- but I didn't even have the heart to say to my friends how upsetting that was to see. I knew it would burst their bubbles if I said "what's with the China label on your UO art"?

    I tried an experiment of not buying anything from China for a month. It was way harder than I thought it'd be. I went to a drugstore to get a little notebook, the marble-ized black and white kind that is nostalgic and is part of Americana to me. And all of them said "made in china" on the back. They were each under $5, and it's not fair, because they make it too tempting and easy to skip over the small businesses (i.e. artists, designers) who price their items with fair labor costs in mind and could never afford to sell a creation for so little. Why do we even bother having human rights/employment laws in the U.S.A. if tons of our products are produced elsewhere? They insult our intelligence, you know? This comment is long, I'll wrap it up, but thank you Anabela, and I hope what I said is relevant on some level to where your mind was. I went tangential.

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  15. Thank you for writing and posting this. I've been working through a lot of very similar stuff recently and it's so great to read that someone else is struggling with these types of issues too! I love the handmade and indie communities and really want to support them, but I have to reconcile this with the fact that...well, I'm cheap! It's got a lot to do with upbringing I think. But I am trying to buy less and spend my money a bit better and I think buying stuff from indie designers is a great way to do that.

    Incidentally, I haven't purchased anything from UO in at least 3 years due to some incredibly bad service I got from the Yonge St. location. I've gone into a couple of other locations to browse, but every time I think of that incident, I just get upset about it all over again and walk out of the store!

  16. so glad to have read the fruits of your critical thinking faculties! only a few days ago, i was explaining to a friend that i've developed what i was calling a kind of shopping phobia. i'm so unwilling to purchase cheaply made clothing and yet i'm utterly unable to afford hand-crafted pieces and so i purchase clothes only incredibly infrequently and with, frankly, much anxiety (will i love it a year from now, will it last a year from now, does it really fit me, will it match what i already own?). during our recent move, i was forced to look closely at much of what i own (shocking, really) and realized that much of it was worn beyond repair. faced with the fact that i will simply need to replace some of what i had been wearing, i am trying my best to think carefully about what purchases i will make. but of course, as you've pointed out, there are so many factors...i have no revelations to offer, only thanks that i could read such thoughtful and eloquent reactions to a problem that i think more of us could stand to tackle, however troubling. it's difficult for a good reason, no?

    in solidarity, erin

  17. Great, thoughtful post. I don't really shop at UO. It helps that we don't have one here, the nearest is about 1.5 hours away, but mostly I find that I'm generally dissatisfied with what they offer. I hardly find anything worth buying. There aren't a whole lot of independent boutiques in my area, at least which would cater to my taste, but still. I do find a certain kind of train of thought lately though--I would rather go to the local jewelry and vintage clothing boutique and spend money there rather than at the mall (the other side of that is I now work at a store in the mall, and have noticed a lot of purchases at my place of employment :P).

    I don't know. It's all difficult, and easy to forget that our purchases aren't just that.

  18. i think everyone has expressed so many of my own thoughts and i think this is something that i also struggle with so much of the time. living in philadelphia, home of urban outfitters, i feel particularly smothered by their presence. so many of my friends who are trained in various fields of design are employed by them (whether through urban, free people, or anthropologie), as the home office is here. because there are so many of these folks looking for related jobs, and so few other options, many of them work or have worked for them. i am trying to avoid speaking in absolutes, but so often they are so completely drained of their creativity by the ridiculously long hours that they stop working on their own projects altogether.

    i feel very lucky to be where i am right now, and be able to support myself with my craft on my own, but it makes me sad to see so many friends give so much of themselves to a company that gives back so very little.

    i have purchased a handful of items from urban outfitters, and have been displeased each time. and so i have resolved also to invest in a handful of items that, while they may cost more, have the background story and quality that i can feel much more proud of.

    on a slightly happier note, all of you ladies are among those who have inspired me not only with your individual fashion sense and talents, but have also helped me discover new places to find better quality and more interesting pieces to slowly invest in.

    oh, and anabela, i also purchased those rachel comey sandals and also had them fall apart completely the third time i wore them. and also found myself in the middle of the city with a broken shoe and a sad face. i called urban outfitters and they replaced them immediately without question. the second pair has not yet fallen apart (though i have only worn them twice so far), so maybe you could get a bit more out of your money by asking them to replace yours as well.

  19. such a great post anabella. this is something that is really important to me too, and after reading all the comments, i realise how truly lucky i was growing up to have a mother (& grandmother) who really cared about the quality of their clothes; about where they came from (though this was probably a quality issue rather than an environmental one), and not that they were fashionable, but well made, stylish and built to last.
    that along with financial constraints meant we did a lot of shopping at the thrift stores and instead of being embarrassed about it (kids can be meanies), my mother taught me how to pick out good quality things that suited me, and this way, i developed my own style, different from the other kids who shopped in the city. not that there weren't those times i rebelled and wanted nothing more than a epsrit logo tee-shirt in rainbow colours and matching green capris (and was obnoxious about it until i got them :) but thankfully, she schooled me well.
    i actually love to save up for beautiful things- the anticipation, the daydreams... and i can't tell you how much more i appreciate and look after them. quality will always trump quantity as my nanna is fond of saying. of course, that uniqlo has such cute things, and i'm thankful that there are at least some places that offer cheap, but not necessarily crap.

    i have this dream of one day making my own clothes, and nathans, and should we have kids, for them too. i know it's not realistic to make all of them (and who would want too!) but i think it would be such a great thing.

    thanks for making me think about this, and for the links- something good for me to read this slow friday at work.

    happy weekend!

  20. thank you, anabela!

  21. Wow, this is such a thoughtful post. You really touched on some of the issues that I am myself struggling with. And this is such a complex issue. I make most of my own clothes but as a Swede I am not averse to buying the occasional garment at department stores like H&M for instance because I have found that they have better code of conducts than some of the big designer names with a hefty price tag. There are so many grey areas and I do believe in a global economy - with fair pay I should add.

    But I totally agree with you on how one value cheap vs more expensive clothes and that buying some of these designer "diffusion" lines are essentially taking away money from people who try to make a fair living from clothes. I read a post by Leanne Marshall of PR fame for instance and how she basically got nil for her Bluefly line. So yes as a consumer I think we can and should take more responsibility for our purchases.

  22. It feels to me, recently, that there is a real movement toward this very thing--that having MORE does not equal having BETTER.

    I've been systematically purging my closet of the cheaper, trendier, bought-on-whim items and find that what is left are those special pieces...the vintage, the handmade, the inherited.

    The things that last.

  23. This is a wonderfully well written post. It's so nice to hear your thoughts!

    I have been frustrated with most major retailers since I was in my early teens. Their construction methods and materials(even the thread)are of the poorest quality
    (I could rant and rage about this forever).

    On the plus side,
    my disappointment with them led me to making and designing my own clothes. I love the freedom this gives me.

    Nowadays I make or thrift most of my clothes. I don't mind saving money for high end "staple" pieces(like jeans or shoes)but when I do, I try to make sure I'll wear it into the ground....

    By the by, Have you ever read:

    Deluxe: how luxury lost it's luster

    It completely changed the way I
    thought of high end fashion(in a good way)

  24. I am in the same situation as Katherine. I left higher-paying jobs to stay at home and raise my sons. It has been difficult financially, but I am so glad I made this choice. It was right for me. Still, I often don't have a choice between a $50 blouse and a $200 blouse. In general, my choice is neither. I make as much for myself as I can because I can squeeze more out of $50 worth of fabric than I could go out and buy ready-made for $50. My issue has been the temptation to purchase cheap fabric of unknown provenance (and sometimes unknown CONTENT--horror!) in order to get the quick fix. To purchase cheap, synthetic yarn to use for knitting. I really don't have to do that. I could buy less and get nicer yarn of better quality, and the same with fabric. And I really am at that point...I want the less and the higher-quality. I am now working to figure out just what that will mean to me in a practical sense--this instead of that. Someday I am sure my life will be different and I will be, once again, a more frequent consumer of ready-made goods and I will purchase those thoughtfully as well.

    Thank you for the encouragement and the support because I do feel that your post offers support all of us who think this way.

  25. Thanks for this thoughtful post. I'm looking forward to reading the comments, but I just wanted to say first that I totally empathize with you. My feelings toward UO are mixed. On the one hand, they sell clothes and items catering to a certain aesthetic that hasn't always been easy to find in other stores, particularly when I first started shopping there as a teenager. I remember them carrying vintage items when I was one of the few kids in my high school to wear vintage, and while I couldn't afford their items, I still felt validated. I know people crab about how they turn things like toy camera photography (one of my hobbies) into a hipster cliche, but at least they are introducing film photography to a new generation of teens and keeping it alive. On the other hand, I highly disapprove of some of their business practices, which include copying indie designers and turning out poorly made reproductions of their work without permission. I think they also encourage passivity in some customers. Their clothing is priced competitively (because, like you said, so much of it is poorly made) but a lot of their housewares and random items (including the aforementioned toy cameras) are available elsewhere in indie businesses for the same prices or less if people are willing to do a tiny bit of searching. I have a few things from UO that I really love and I intend to squeeze as much use as I can out of them, but, like you, I'm turning to higher quality items sold by indie stores, both for my own good (it's a bummer having a closet full of stuff so worn out that I can't even donate it or make it into something else) and because I don't want to see those places close.

  26. Great post! I also enjoyed reading the comments and seeing how people from different incomes and backgrounds reached the same conclusions about consumption. I've noticed that the world of blogs I read often focuses so much on consumption, like someone said, of the great new clothes for fall. So it's really refreshing to hear people be honest-- most of us can't afford Toast or the like, and so we're left with the choice of buying from dubiously-ethical retailers like H&M, Urban Outfitters and so on, or not buying anything at all, or buying from thrift stores. I grew up wearing hand-me-downs from my cousins, thrift store purchases for the rest. I buy pants as infrequently as possible (usually once the old ones have had holes for an embarrassingly long time) at JCrew or Gap or Express since they carry long sizes, but I get so mad when Gap jeans fall apart quickly and I wonder if I should start shelling out for Loomstate or something. As for Urban Outfitter's cool factor, I guess I tend to be the kind of super-hipster-snob who thinks that once Urban gets their hands on it, it's past it's prime. I do love their house goods, but I figure it would always be better to find more unique items somewhere else. I guess I think I'm too cool for Urban, guilty as charged. I loved the post about shopping phobia, too. A lot of my clothes are really horribly worn out, but since I work in a casual place, I don't have to bother. I have friends with more corporate jobs though, for whom this is a much bigger deal. They have to spend money on work clothes, and want to look as good as possible for as little money as possible, while shopping as infrequently as possible. This led to a really chaotic trip to Nordstrom Rack where I sketched articles of clothing I'd like to try to make myself and my friend tried on one cheap top after another, finally to realize the ones she liked were already starting to unravel. Sigh.
    This is super disconnected, but I wrote about the same things earlier here: http://amyinegypt.blogspot.com/2009/05/i-make-my-new-years-resolution.html

  27. It's so funny--how we've all struggled with these same issues--of ethics, and value, and the easiest option. As my garment sewing gets better, I've really had a hard time buying cheap things I'm relatively confident I can make myself--and the same for expensive things, at times as well! & while I know fabric and beads and any number of supplies can have just as dubious a background as finished goods, it still feels better to cut out the middle man of marketing.

    Lately, when I find myself having that feeling of just wanting something new to wear, where H&M or the Rack might have been the easiest choice, I've made myself go to the thrift store instead. It doesn't always work but sometimes it scratches that itch.

    In any case, wonderful post and love the comments here.

  28. I don't create in/for an eco market, so my decisions are largely about other things. Mainly quality and a lot of ideal-detail vs. sewing/cutting time and cost-effectiveness. But I do make decisions deliberately, and it's so true about compromise. Even if for sanity. I was obsessing over purse hardware (line not out yet) and one night I could not sleep.

    Anyway, thanks for this article. Interesting...

  29. Wow, there are some mega comments on this post! I just wanted to chime in and thank you for a well-written, thought-provoking post. I would much rather save my pennies for a quality garment than buy mass-produced garbage (although there is certainly garbage in my wardrobe!)

    My own personal UO story, though, comes in the form of finding the EXACT Casio watch I had seen on the UO website for $65 USD (plus shipping + duty to Canada...an "online only" item) at Zellers for $13. Including tax. It was a small victory for me!

  30. Anabela,

    I really appreciate this post, it provides a nice insight into how you administer this blog and the thinking happening behind your aesthetic applications. I follow several design blogs but find myself too often exhausted by the excessive encouragement to consume, in the way of shopping, to keep up with any of them seriously. Many of the biggest design blogs have an overtly marketing way of presenting art and design, but do it without a responsible eye to the backstory of the products they feature. In my mind, truly top tier design creates aesthetically sound projects, while maintaining the integrity of the process and the maker. Unfortunately this comprehensive picture is so rarely presented alongside the finished product.

    I think it's so SO important in this time of such heavy greenwashing and supreme sustainability, that handmade doesn't get forgotten as an equally relevant standard of quality. Which means that people have to talk about this stuff more often, thoughtfully, without apology for sounding idealistic. It's too critical an issue, and one that good design blogs have an obligation to address. So thanks for fighting the good fight and for posting this eloquent reminder.


  31. I am an indie business owner and appreciate your insight, really. And thank you for your honesty, too.

  32. i found you via jen altman of nectar and light and i really really appreciate your thoughts here. at this time in our global economy and society, locally and independently run businesses deserve our attention. it can apply across the board. i myself strive to spread the word about independent bookstore as opposed to the massive, impersonal and aggressive amazon. but it can apply to food, to drugstores, to music and as you say, to art and boutiques.

    thank you for helping me feel confident that there are more people who care about where they put their money.

    will be linking on my blog...

  33. wow. what a well-thought-out, educated post. thank you, dear.

  34. beautiful! i hope this inspires people to think a little bit more about the choices they make when shopping. even if this just means thinking about something before you buy it - where does it come from? what was sacrificed for it? why bother paying full price?

    decisions are something that require the ability to make one consciously - without a critical thought, how can one be truly conscious.

    thanks for reaching out!!

  35. ps. what about buying used? (often) great quality, lower prices, consciousness of the clothing chain of consumerism.

    the conscious consumer is the best kind.

  36. Love this post. I am not a fan of Urban Outfitters. One season working at Anthropologie turned me off of their company. I was disappointed to learn that they did things like put returned clothes (with missing buttons and stains) right back on the rack to sell at full price. I try not to shop there but it is hard. It's a struggle to pay close attention to where my money goes. This is a good reminder. Thanks.

    well said.

    Every point you make is excellent. I'm also guilty of the buying cheap clothes, here and there. I often hope that the person who made the cheap garment I'm buying doesn't sleep on the floor next to their sewing machine in some factory.

    Being an independent designer myself this topic really hits a lot of nerves.

    there's so much more I could say, but I'll just say "thank you"

  38. I am so glad you said that. I feel 100% the exactly the same and couldn't have said it better myself.

  39. I just found this blog, and really enjoyed this post.

    I have very mixed feeling about Urban. I live in Philadelphia, and actually worked for the company that supposedly designed most of their early stores. On the one hand, they rip people off, donate money to despicable people like Santorum, the clothes are overpriced and poorly made, the owner is a champion jerk, and from everyone I know who has worked there they treat their employees badly (and oddly).

    On the other hand, I think they are a major part of supporting the creative environment here. I think design students who wouldn't otherwise stay here after school often go to work at Urban and then eventually go out on their own. Likewise if you are at all creative and need a job, they are likely to hire you. Sure, they exploit you, but that's better than going broke. And I suspect that by promoting their pseudo-handmade things they create a market for genuine handmade things.

    I do also have to admit taking some delight in people buying things from a Philadelphia company to be cool. It seems subversive somehow.
    (not the same michelle as above)

  40. Online shopping is great, except when you have to pay duties for stuff that crosses the border.
    tRed has few great online shoe stores....maybe that's a good thing. And they are offering different packages to the their customer and as well as other few offer’s.

    Skechers UK

  41. i have seen different kind of interesting comments on the sites but i also want to share some important information about tReds a UK base shoe company which is offering different kind of shoes for both male and female.

    for more information visit the link that is given below
    DC Shoes UK

  42. This is pretty relevant for me right now. I am trying to be more conscious of what goes in my fridge and inevitably in my stomach as well. I haven't been shopping in a long while and I should probably take the same approach to my wardrobe as I do the kitchen.

  43. great post! i too cherish the pieces that were a little more expensive and they turn out to be the ones i like wearing most. They look so simple, but they have exactly the right shape. I even get compliments wearing these... so it was definitely worth the extra cost.