MY ETHICAL WARDROBE: SHORTS

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When I shared with you my sustainable resolutions, I mentioned that I’ve recently developed a bit of a thrift-shopping problem. By that, I mean I’ve been treating thrift-shopping as a free pass when it comes to sustainable lifestyle practices. And in many ways it is: I’m not encouraging the creation of anything new that will contribute to waste or tacitly support unfair and unethical manufacturing proceses. That’s great and everything but, umm, I can’t shut my wardrobe doors anymore. I started dabbling with the idea of starting a shopping fast while I spend some time sorting out my personal style and planning my shops more consciously – but all the while, I was still finding excuses for my crazy unplanned thrift-shopping, like, okay, my wardrobe isn’t shutting but that’s because my bedroom in my apartment is really small.

This whole situation came to a head when I found myself on People Tree late at night with 4 amazing sale items in my shopping basket. But, if I was brutally honest with myself, I had no idea if I needed them, if they went with anything in my wardrobe, or how buying them fitted into my budget.

So I decided to step away from the computer and embark on a project to create a wardrobe that’s small in size and big in ethics. Today I’m kicking it off by sharing with you my shorts: what I own, where they came from, what I like about them and what I don’t.

The necessity of this project for me was really emphasised when I counted my shorts. I had decided to share my shorts first because ‘I should start with something easy’ and ‘I don’t own many shorts’. Wrong. These days I don’t often wear shorts, which apparently is a different thing to not owning many shorts, because…

I OWN 14 PAIRS OF SHORTS.

WHAT?!

Let’s take a look:

Shorts 1

…This is outrageous…

ETHICAL WARDROBE Denim

…Keep scrolling…

Black shorts

There you have it. All 14 pairs! Considering I wear shorts, perhaps, once per week and there are probably only four months in Canberra when the weather is warm enough for me to wear shorts… well, you do the math. Owning 14 pairs of shorts is pretty silly.

So let’s analyse what the heck is going on in this unintentionally long post.


PAIRS 1 – 6:

Shorts 11. Red paper bag shorts

 Are they ethical? No.

Where & when did I get them? ChicaBooti (similar to Forever 21), 2010.

Where were they made & what from? Made in China, polyester.

What do I like about them? I like the colour, style, and the self-tie at the front.

What don’t I like about them? The material doesn’t have any shape left. They just… hang.

Do I wear them? I used to wear them all the time – now I wear them from time-to-time.

Verdict? Keep and try to restore shape. Any ideas on how to do this?

2. Lemon floral high waisted shorts

Are they ethical? No.

Where & when did I get them? Dotti, 2010.

Where were they made & what from? Made in China, polyester.

What do I like about them? I like the style and fit – so much so that I once had a tailor make copies (shorts #5 and #14).

What don’t I like about them? They feel a bit short these days. The floral pattern feels a bit pastel and dated for my taste – though I justify keeping them because I don’t have many light coloured items in my wardrobe.

Do I wear them? I used to wear them all the time – now I reach for them rarely.

Verdict? Giveaway. Any takers?

3. Green ‘Hitched Hikers’ shorts

Are they ethical? Yes. Handmade in India in a fair trade cooperative.

Where & when did I get them? MATTER, 2014 (happily, I won these in an Instagram competition).

Where were they made & what from? Made in India, 82% cotton, 18% silk.

What do I like about them? I like the style and length of these shorts, the material is super soft, and obviously I love the ethics.

What don’t I like about them? The colour. It doesn’t feel like me.

Do I wear them? Rarely.

Verdict? Sell/giveaway. Any takers?

4. Pleated blue and purple patterned shorts

Are they ethical? Yes. Made in a fair trade cooperative in Kenya.

Where & when did I get them? ASOS Africa, 2013.

Where were they made & what from? Made in Kenya, 97% cotton, 3% elastane.

What do I like about them? I really like the colours, the pattern and the weight of the material.

What don’t I like about them? They feel a bit too volumous, are sometimes hard to pair with tops, and are quite short at the back.

Do I wear them? Rarely. But looking at the photo – I actually don’t mind these on me.

Verdict? Keep and try to work into my wardrobe.

5. Royal blue high waisted shorts

Are they ethical? Sort of – I had a tailor copy shorts #2 when I travelled to Indonesia in 2011 (and I paid a fair wage – more than the shorts #2 retailed for in store!) but I’m not sure where he sourced the material from.

Where & when did I get them? Indonesia, 2011.

Where were they made & what from? Made in Indonesia, I assume polyester with chiffon overlay.

What do I like about them? I like the colour and style.

What don’t I like about them? These days they feel a bit short…

Do I wear them? I used to wear them all the time – now I reach for them once in a blue moon.

Verdict? Keep, unpick and resew the hem in a slightly longer length.

6. Navy blue high waisted shorts

Are they ethical? Thrifted.

Where & when did I get them? Salvos Fyshwick, Australian Capital Territory, late 2015.

Where were they made & what from? I think these might have been handmade judging from the elastic waist, and no tag.

What do I like about them? I bought them because they were a slightly longer length and navy seemed like a good neutral, but I like these elements less than I thought I would…

What don’t I like about them? They crease very easily and I would prefer a button and zip rather than elastic waist, as it feels more polished.

Do I wear them? I took them to Perth over Christmas 2015 and wore them quite a bit then, but haven’t worn them since.

Verdict? Keep and re-consider next summer.


PAIRS 7 – 11

ETHICAL WARDROBE Denim

7. Grey paper bag shorts

Are they ethical? Thrifted.

Where & when did I get them? Anglicare Morley, Western Australia, late 2014.

Where were they made & what from? Made in China, 55% cotton, 45% nylon.

What do I like about them? Not much. I bought them because I was sad, wanted to buy something, and they seemed similar to shorts #1…

What don’t I like about them? They crease very easily, are a bit of a ‘nothing’ colour (and not in a good, neutral way)

Do I wear them? No.

Verdict? Giveaway. Any takers?

8. White toweling shorts with palm tree print

Are they ethical? Yes

Where & when did I get them? A Question Of, 2014

Where were they made & what from? 100% organic Cotton.

What do I like about them? I bought them when the sports luxe trend was taking off, which isn’t reallly my style. But they’re actually quite versatile and I wear them quite a bit if I’m doing something active like hiking, travelling, and occasionally to bed…

What don’t I like about them? Very short.

Do I wear them? Occasionally.

Verdict? Keep. At least for exercising.

9. Too-small denim cut-offs

And so we commence looking at my attempts to find suitable cut-off denim shorts.

Are they ethical? Sort of; re-worked vintage by Hearts and Bows.

Where & when did I get them? ASOS, 2010 or 2011

Where were they made & what from? 100% cotton denim.

What do I like about them? Well, not much since these have actually never fit me. Are you like, ‘what the heck?’ Yeah, me too. I held on to these because I wanted to replace them with something similar, but in my size (which I finally did with shorts #10) and it seems I didn’t trust myself to be able to find a replacement without the aid of the original…

What don’t I like about them? Well they don’t fit. So there’s that.

Do I wear them? No.

Verdict? Giveaway.

10. Thrifted Levi’s cut-offs

Are they ethical? Thrifted.

Where & when did I get them? Salvos Fyshwick, Australian Capital Territory, late 2015.

Where were they made & what from? Unsure, 100% cotton denim.

What do I like about them? I finally found well-fitting denim cut-offs in a thriftshop – yay! And they’re Levi’s – yay! I was REALLY patient in searching for these, and I’m glad I waited.

What don’t I like about them? If it were up to me, I would have cut them off a bit longer, at least on the sides, but I guess I can probably get away with it because they’re cut-offs… right…?

Do I wear them? Yes.

Verdict? Keep.

11. Thrifted dark denim cut-offs

Are they ethical? Thrifted.

Where & when did I get them? Salvos Fyshwick, Australian Capital Territory, late 2015.

Where were they made & what from? Unsure, 100% cotton denim.

What do I like about them? The colour, the shape and length of the cut-off, and they’re super comfortable.

What don’t I like about them? They’re a bit big and probably not the most flattering cut, but this is pretty much overrideden in my mind by comfort and the casual occasions I wear these for.

Do I wear them? Yes.

Verdict? Keep.


PAIRS 12 – 14

Black shorts

12. Black dress shorts 1/3

Like the denim cut-offs, my hunt for black dress shorts seems to have been pretty chaotic.

Are they ethical? Secondhand.

Where & when did I get them? Ebay, early 2015.

Where were they made & what from? Made in China, viscose.

What do I like about them? Not much.

What don’t I like about them? Too short and tight.

Do I wear them? No.

Verdict? Giveaway – any takers?

13. Black dress shorts 2/3

Are they ethical? Thrifted.

Where & when did I get them? St John’s Op Shop Albany, Western Australia, late 2015.

Where were they made & what from? 95% cotton, 5% elastane.

What do I like about them? I think these were the black shorts I was looking for all alone – easy to wear but dressy (and long!) enough to wear out.

What don’t I like about them? Nothing as of yet.

Do I wear them? Yes.

Verdict? Keep.

14. Black dress shorts 3/3

Are they ethical? Sort of – I had a tailor copy shorts #2 when I travelled to Indonesia in 2011 (and I paid a fair wage – more than the shorts #2 retailed for in store!) but I’m not sure where he sourced the material from.

Where & when did I get them? Indonesia, 2011.

Where were they made & what from? Made in Indonesia, I assume polyester with chiffon overlay.

What do I like about them? I like the style.

What don’t I like about them? These ended up being slightly shorter and tighter than the royal blue copy (shorts #5).

Do I wear them? No

Verdict? Giveaway. Any takers?


Phew. I don’t know about you, but that was a pretty tiring start to this whole process. Examining what you own and why is pretty confronting.

BUT I’m feeling very satisfied and pretty confident that what I will keep reflects my personal style accurately. Now the next stage is ensuring that the things I won’t keep will be passed on sustainably. To that end, if you’re interested in any of the pieces I’m not keeping, please get in touch and I will deliver it, or send it to you for the price of postage.

Next in the series – denim jeans!

Yours Fairly,

Ashlee

 

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2 Comments

  1. March 19, 2016 / 3:59 PM

    My first thought was holy moly that’s a lot of shorts! But then I thought; is it? I don’t know, I have two but that’s a result of laziness more than anything ha!

    The Vetta Capsule Kickstarter has got me thinking about how many items of clothing we really need, given their 5 pieces supposedly make 30 different outfits. Have you defined what a “smaller” wardrobe looks like to you or are you kind of just seeing how you go?

    Looking forward to more posts, definitely keen to be introduced to more ethical brands.

    Thanks Ashlee!!

    • Ashlee
      March 19, 2016 / 4:12 PM

      That was my first thought too, and I think it’s safe to say that it IS a lot of shorts. Way too many for one person, in my opinion.

      In terms of what a smaller wardrobe looks like, I’m not putting any numbers on it at this stage. But I think this process will make it clear what I do and don’t wear and why. For example, if you break it down, I would wear maybe 4 of these pairs of shorts regularly, there’s some pairs for which I could probably count number of wears on one hand… I would say this is true of my whole wardrobe. I tend to wear the same things week in, week out – but yet have a lot of stuff?

      I think it will also be helped along by consciously considering my personal style. As you can probably see from this post, I went through a stage in 2011 (in my fast fashion days when abundance was everything) when I decided that coloured and patterned shorts were my jam. So I bought a bunch and, in Perth, I was even able to wear them all through winter. So in many ways, the numbers reflect that stage of my life, which I have moved on from, but hung on to the old stuff anyway…

      I like the idea of the Vetta capsule, or any capsule. We all have too many clothes and could survive – and probably be much happier – with far fewer.

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