“Dressing ethically is a way of telling a different story.”
– Camille Lambert
Saturday afternoon. A young French girl is on a shopping spree. But this is no mall and these are no H&M dresses; Camille is in a textile market in Asia. The française turned québecoise, who just turned thirty as well, is on a six-month journey to the end of the world… or rather, the beginning of the Silk Road.
Camille’s story began amid trunks of her mother’s old clothes in the attic; she has always loved clothes and textiles.
‘Every piece of fabric has a story.’ She went into fashion and for three years worked for a major Canadian fashion company, but there she discovered that this industry she loved was not quite as runway perfect as it appeared.
The fashion industry is the world’s second largest pollutant, after oil. Fast and cheaply made means fast and cheaply thrown out… and petrochemicals, nylon and polyester are not biodegradable. Five-dollar t-shirts also mean children working five-cents-an-hour shifts in sweatshops. Those children are out of school while local clothe-makers are out of jobs.
Camille got a glimpse of the story behind the cheap little black dresses in her closet. She did not like it, or the role she was playing in it. There had to be another way.
She went off in search of a different story. Her fashion quest took her to Asia; it is, after all, the world’s premier manufacturer of textile.
Laos first, where she saw traditional weaving looms for the first time. Artisans using knowhow passed down along generations, creating batiks, ikat, silk, and other fabrics in stunning colours and patterns. Textiles that told stories of their origins and of those who created them. Yes, this was fashion, with purpose and intention, and it was beautiful.
Cambodia next, where she strolled through the textile markets of Orussey and met with artisans and entrepreneurs committed to ethical manufacturing.
Such as Aude, a good friend and the creator of the clothing line Muudana (www.muudana.com): beautiful pieces that respect the environment and give jobs to local craftsmen. Or the organization PSE (https://pse.ong/) that takes Cambodian children off the street and provides them with an education and training to earn a living as artisans.
After Cambodia, perhaps Nepal, India, Mongolia, Vietnam. Not even Camille knows where her shopping spree will take her next.
She does know she must keep learning about slow, sustainable fashion, exploring the roots of textile, hearing stories, learning skills and lessons to bring back.
When she does return to Quebec, Camille wants to raise awareness within her community about the importance of mindful, informed consumption of mass-produced goods. She wants to talk about recycled fabrics and vintage clothing stores.
Advocate for clothing swaps, ethical brands, and Made in Local. Make family heirlooms and a circular economy the new trend among millennial’s.
Change the story of the girl on a Saturday afternoon shopping spree. I wish her luck as she goes on her way, charming in her mother’s bomber jacket.
Follow Camille on Instagram: @anotherfashionquest and discover organizations that, like her, are committed to doing fashion a different way: Muudana www.muudana.com, Fashion Revolution http://fashionrevolution.org/about/why-transparency-matters/
Photos of Camille with thanks to @muudana