I haven't written a blog post since last January and it was all about reflecting on the past year. This time I am writing more about the direction I want the store to go. We are headed into a new decade and I started thinking about how decades of the past are known for certain things. You probably can guess that my favorite decades are the 60's and 70's based on the music and fashion from those years. What was this past decade known for? What will be the next decade be remembered for? I don't really even want to think about what 2010-2019 will be known for haha (memes?)...but what if the 2020's will be known for something really cool? Like clothing stores in Airstream trailers?? Small businesses dominating? The end of fast fashion? A girl can dream.
Before Halloween, I found a patch that said "Disco Queen" and I knew I had to have it. I have been listening to a lot of music from the disco era and just love that whole culture...the disco balls, men's suits with bell bottoms, spandex and bold colorful women's clothing, the hairstyles, the music of course and the dancing. So when Halloween rolled around, I just decided to go full on disco. My sister sewed the patch onto a jacket I thrifted years ago. I have never had so much fun in a costume and kinda realized that it wasn't that different from my style daily. This past year at the store, I started shifting towards becoming a total vintage store and I have found some challenges with this but also some successes that I didn't expect. Vintage is highly respected in Austin which I love and I think it is making a comeback across the board BUT it still doesn't sell as quickly as new clothing so I wanted to share some of the reasons why I love vintage and why I want my store to become total vintage and handmade in 2020.
The most exciting thing to me is finding unique treasures that have a history. Finding Levi's from the 60's is like hitting the jackpot to me. I met a friend that had an entire room full of vintage Levi's so we partnered together and I have been selling parts of her collection. Every piece of vintage is unique and that is what I love about it. It would be very rare that you cross someone on the street wearing the exact same vintage piece as you. And to me, that makes us more unique and you can express yourself through fashion a little bit differently.
The second thing that I love about it is it is better for the environment and its more ethical than buying a new piece of clothing that has the label "Made in China". When I started Ramblin' Rose, I knew I did not want to be a part of fast fashion. I started looking for brands made in the USA. My dad has always been ehhh let's say passionate ;) about NOT buying things that are made in China so that always stuck with me. It was harder than I thought to find affordable clothing that is made here in the USA. I found that it was extremely hard to make a profit from sustainable fashion like I wanted. So unfortunately, I started with some low end brands that did have the label "Made in China". I wasn't proud of these products but I was just trying to build a business that was profitable WITH a goal to build a brand strong enough to tranform into a vintage shop. As most of us know but put to the back of our minds, fast fashion has a huge impact on the environment and it isn't sustainable and it effects so many people that work in the industry. If you want to learn more, you can watch the documentary called "The True Cost". Warning: this documentary isn't easy to watch.
Some of the things that really stuck with me from The True Cost were that out of 40 MILLION garment workers, 85% are women. They make $2-3/day and these are not 8 hour days. They travel for hours to get there, work long days, then wake up the next day and do it all over again. The buildings they work in could collapse at any moment and they have before, killing hundreds of people. The clothing industry is the #2 polluting industry on earth only behind the oil industry. Good news: there are people high up the chain working to change the way clothing is consumed AND we can be a part of this.
Something I think about A LOT is that we need to do better as consumers. When we make a purchase, we are voting. When we purchase clothing that is Made in the USA, we are voting to support clothing made here in USA where we have regulations on working conditions. When we purchase clothing that has a tag "Made in China" or "Made in India", we are voting to support working conditions that have no regulation. It is a harsh reality. For us to wear the latest trend, women and children have to work in factory conditions that are not regulated. Their pay is not regulated, their environment is not regulated, the factories put out crazy amounts of toxins that contaminate their water sources. It is also important to pay attention to the fibers that our clothing is made of. Polyester is a big one that you will see everywhere. Essentially, it is plastic which never decomposes (or takes 200 years or something crazy). It is insane to me that cotton and hemp are being produced in the US, shipped overseas, then sent back to us as the product. THEN after we wear it once or twice, it is sent to thrift stores where only 10% is resold here in the US. The rest of the clothing is bundled and shipped BACK to countries like Haiti where it sits in landfills. I can go on and on about this topic but I will move on and if you ever want to discuss it with me and help me make a difference, please reach out. This is a huge goal of mine in 2020 and I feel that in Austin, we can make a difference because I know so many women that feel passionate about this too. The local makers and vintage curators in Austin have been my inspiration for this and I know that we have the power to make a difference even starting at the local level then expanding that vision.
The 3rd thing I love about vintage is the clothing was made much better, typically made by hand. My grandmother made my mom and her 9 siblings' clothing including their prom dresses and school clothes and anything they saw that they wanted, she would make it. The thought of wearing handmade is so much more special than a factory made garment, especially something from one of my favorite decades.
Something I also want to mention is this is not about me shaming people for shopping at Target, Forever 21, H&M, Amazon, and even boutiques that sell fast fashion. I was a part of it in the beginning of my store and I have frequented those places for clothing before I owned my store. I am not judging anyone. If anything, I just want to start a discussion with my followers about what I have learned recently so that maybe we can all start thinking about small changes we can incorporate into our lives that can make a huge difference in the world one change at at time. And this is a change that can be FUN for you. It certainly is for me. And if you don't know what to look for, I would love to help you find a fun vintage piece!
One of my proudest accomplishments this year was going into business with some of the most amazing women from locally owned businesses in Austin and starting The Caravan Co-op. In the Co-op, you will find handmade products and all styles of clothing. One of the shops in the store is called Thrifted Feels, owned by Dominique Kirven. Her section's focus is sustainable fashion. She upcycles clothing from thrift stores. She even has a podcast called Thrifting Minds. Check her out. I have so much fun working with her and I love her experience with fast fashion (she was a manager at H&M) and her inspiration for her store. She also showed me some badass disco songs which I will leave ya with to come full circle witcha disco queen, hunny.
Rock Your Baby- George McCrae
Thank you for reading!
Peace and Love