Fashion forward?

22nd May 2013 by

I wouldn’t really classify myself as a fashion-forward person. I don’t ‘shop till I drop’, take any notice of the upcoming seasons or Fashion Week and I generally hate wearing anything that has a label in sight. So that said, I would classify myself with more of the ‘make-do-and-mend’ category. Which brings me to my shoe story.
My shoes are falling apart and I wonder where to draw the line of giving them up vs mending them. Let’s start from the beginning.

I purchased the leather sneakers in 2010 from quite an expensive shop. I wouldn’t normally go in there but I was given a gift card. I was already torn from the start because:

a) although I’m not a vegetarian, I try not to purchase items which are made from leather. Most of their stock was leather.
b) I was curious about the ethics of the company.
c) I didn’t really need a new pair of shoes.
d) Should I just re-gift the gift card?

After much umming and awing I came to the conclusion that I would go and do it. I resolved myself by doing a bit of research and taking the plunge. Fast forward to the present and honestly they are the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever had. I’ve worn them every single day and they’ve been really good to me thus far. I’ve realised DSC_0005that feet are very important, after all they support your whole body. I hadn’t been treating them very well and these sneakers were easing the pain. I’ve already taken them to a cobbler once to glue the fronts of the shoes back together and now the seams are breaking open and unfortunately the glue’s coming apart. My question now is what to do. Do I try to keep mending them? When do you let them go?

Fair and ethical fashion is quite a topic these last few decades, some would say not nearly enough. In light of the very recent tragedies in Bangladeshi clothing and shoe factories, the debate has heated up.  Here at Otesha, we have our very own workshop on getting ethical about fashion, we blog away about  it, and have alumni involved in brilliant fair fashion projects.  But how do I get into the act myself?

On our site, we’ve got a brilliant fun action list for Fashion.  I definitely try to keep to it although I’m the first to admit I’m not perfect.  Keep in mind our tips when going out and buying something.  And remember, you can make a difference out there in what you purchase.  And if you think you’ve got it all down, check out our challenges to keep pushing yourself towards sustainable living.

Sewing-Needle-and-ThreadFor now, I’m going to get my needle and thread out, ignore my friends teasing me about my gaping shoes and attempt to sew the holes together.  Wish me luck!

2 Responses to “Fashion forward?”

  1. Sam White says:

    I once patched some shoes with old inner tubes! Worked wonders. I’m not sure there are many things you can’t fix with old inner tubes.

  2. Thalia Eccles says:

    Hi Laura!

    Nice to hear others are struggling with this.
    I too had a beloved pair of leather shoes which i got years before i became a conscious person! I restitched them three times, as the cobblers refused to fix them. I can recommend that you get two things to help with this: a curved upholstery needle, and either waxed cotton thread, or better nylon thread (thick) as most cotton thread (and even the waxed one i used) has a tendency to break down…hence the three lots of stitching. All in all they were the most comfortable shoes, and although some thought it odd that i went to the effort to fix them, i did so with love and they repaid it ten fold. Do NOT throw them away, when i moved house i made the mistake of throwing away my old faithfuls, and regretted it immensely…they could still have been resoled and restitched if i had just taken the time.. :( It is why, even though i avoid leather products generally, i have chosen to by another pair of all leather shoes (from a great small company that makes good/cheap hand made shoes here is South africa – so lucky!!) as i know that they will last me much longer than any others, can easily be repaired, were as ethically made as possible, and that although i am supporting an inhumane farming system it is still the best of a bad lot….rather that than buy non-leather shoes and risk child labour, environmental damage, or any others on the list of associated abuses present in our clothing industry.

    Best of luck and happy stitching (hope you fingers are not too sore)


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