Is Socioeconomic Status Still Limiting Style?

Just a few days ago my Fashion Club at school held a “Diversity in Fashion” discussion with people from different cultural organizations on campus. We focused on a few questions that were important to this group of people; one of them being “does your socioeconomic status affect the way you dress?”.

It was unanimously agreed upon within the group that the answer was an absolute yes. However, while this was especially the case 10 or 20 years ago, is the answer to this question beginning to change?

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Ever since I was young my mom would give me a budget of a few hundred dollars each school year to spend on my seasonal wardrobe. I had to choose carefully which pieces I spent my money on. Did I want to splurge on a pair of jeans I would wear over and over again? Or did I want to head to the fast fashion stores for a few trendy items?

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It really was a fun little game to me. Fun until I had spent my entire budget and later found a pair of shoes I loved but were no longer in the budget, that is. It is definitely hard to create a diverse wardrobe with endless outfit opportunities when you can’t afford to shell out the money for every item you love. However, new fashion trends and brands are making this easier and easier.

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Macklemore made thrift shopping cool in 2012 and it has been a trendy thing to do ever since. I guess this is one positive thing we can thank modern-day rappers for. Thrift shopping gives us all an opportunity to find trendy, vintage pieces at an affordable price point. It even gives us a chance to find brands we wouldn’t otherwise be able to buy. Before 2012, thrift shopping was viewed as an activity for those who couldn’t afford new clothing. However, current trends in the industry have shaped it into an acceptable and fun way to shop.

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Fast fashion stores are also trendier than ever. Stores have completely re-branded themselves to fit the latest styles showcased on the runways and by celebrities. Target is the perfect example of this. It is a store available to everyone all over the country, whether you are in the city or suburbs. Target has recently launched new brands that focus on trends prominent in the industry today. They have even launched a plus size fashion line with these same fashion-forward pieces.

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I was able to find this jumpsuit for $18 on the sale rack at Target. Not only are the prices at these stores more affordable, but they also offer a vast selection of stylish pieces in the sale section. If you are smart about the way you shop, it is absolutely possible to be fashion-forward on a budget. Not to mention my shoes are also from Target! I have been on the hunt for a pair of white mules for awhile now and was able to find the perfect pair for less than $50.

However, anything becoming more affordable always come at some sort of price. In the case of fashion, that cost is ethics. As clothing becomes cheaper, unethical practices in the fashion industry become more prominent. Big corporations are stealing smaller artists’ designs, toxins are being released into the environment, and children are working long hours in factories in Third World countries. The issues are endless. Our struggles in America are causing greater struggles in countries halfway around the world.

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So while we may be happier here that we can finally afford to be fashionable, others around the world are suffering because of it. There really is no way to win unless we can find a way to make fashion affordable and ethical.

Do you agree that it is becoming easier to be stylish on a budget? How do you feel about the hidden costs behind this? I would love to hear your thoughts below!

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The EILEEN FISHER Experience

Innovative, collaborative, friendly… These are the three words that first come to mind when I reflect back on my experience this summer as a Social Media and Public Relations Intern at EILEEN FISHER. Now that my ten weeks interning at such an impactful company are over, I wanted to share my experience been involved in a fashion company that is doing so much good for the world.

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EILEEN FISHER is a company that is changing the way we think about the fashion industry. Before working here I viewed the fashion industry as an industry that was destructive, doing more harm than good, and a place that was strictly for companies looking to make a profit. Now I see that fashion truly does have the power to change the world, aside from increasing confidence in the women who wear the clothing.

EILEEN FISHER has pledged to achieve 100% organic cotton and linen fabrics by the year 2020 in their campaign called Vision2020. They want to ensure all of these fabrics are made without harmful pesticides and without injuring workers in the supply chain process. The company is also in the process of finding a way to move more production to the United States, where their denim, bags and belts are currently made.

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I had the awesome opportunity to be involved in the EF X CFDA Remade in the USA pop-up shop, which you may have read about on Fashionista. This project began when three social innovators were chosen to create a capsule collection, repurposing older, damaged EILEEN FISHER clothing that was donated back into the company through the GREEN EILEEN program. This collection consists of three main parts- #stainsonstains, felted jackets and sweaters, and reconstructed pieces.

The #stainsonstains tanks are featured in the picture above. These are tank tops dyed by the fabulous Teslin Doud, using all-natural dyes such as onion skins, eucalyptus leaves and avocado pits. These natural dyes cover any stains that may have previously been on the shirts, bringing a whole new look to a piece that was once viewed as ruined. These tanks are perfect for those who are guilty of constantly spilling things on themselves!

The felted sweaters and jackets are each made from sixteen to twenty recycled sweaters, sewn together to create a stunningly unique piece. Carmen Gama is the social innovator that specializes in this technique, searching through piles of sweaters to find those that will pair together perfectly.

Last but not least are the deconstructed pieces of the collection, featured in the picture below. Lucy Jones focused on these tops and bottoms, analyzing hundreds of GREEN EILEEN items to discover which ones were salvageable. She focused on finding pieces that had enough fabric that was useable and undamaged in order to match different colors in the same fabrics to create pieces in the classic EILEEN FISHER shape.

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My favorite project of my internship was helping out with the Remade in the USA Collection. I think the pieces in this collection make it much easier for a younger customer to relate to the EILEEN FISHER brand. Not only are the pieces made with the environment in mind, but they are classic pieces that can be viewed as more youthful by the younger customer like myself.

Working at EILEEN FISHER has made me much more conscious of clothing that cares. I have learned that when I choose fast fashion I am also choosing to support child labor, unjust working conditions, chemically-dyed clothing, an untraceable supply chain, and an overall unethical company. Why would anyone choose to support this? We wouldn’t if everyone was educated on what these fashion companies are really up to overseas. The next time you buy your clothing consider where it is coming from. Perhaps then you will choose to invest in one piece that is supporting safe practices rather than five that are leading to the destruction of the environment and factory workers.

I am excited for what is in store for EILEEN FISHER in the fashion industry. I can’t wait to see what new and innovative project they come up with next. Be sure to follow the brand on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to see the inspiring campaigns that they will be sharing in the upcoming weeks!