Thursday, February 01, 2007
ethics vs. style
some of you know that for the last year-and-a-half or so, i have vowed to myself to stop buying clothing manufactured in sweatshops by huge corporations. actually, i'm not really buying any new clothes at all unless they are made by someone i know, or another small, independent designer. my goal is to have my wardrobe consist solely of self-made, indie or vintage! that will be a great feeling. there are a few categories i've considered exceptions to the rule... things that i've always considered difficult to make like bras, jeans, coats, though eventually i hope to conquer each of these areas too (check these out! i definitely need to try 'em...)
anyway, shoes are an area i haven't quite figured out how to deal with. in particular, i've been in need of some new sneakers for many years now, but never seem to find any that i like. and now that i've started walking to the Y, my old thrifted sneaks that i've been wearing for over 10 years just aren't cutting it anymore. so in december, i was on the subway and saw a girl wearing the pumas pictured above. it was love at first sight: the colors (with no jock-ish white anywhere on them!), the metallic leather, the slip-on factor, and that je ne sais quoi... i was smitten. so i went online and looked them up, and found that they were still available and reasonably priced. but this little voice kept nagging at me, telling me i'd better dig a little deeper and find out more about Puma, knowing in my heart it would lead to nowhere good. but i kept hoping, thinking 'hey, they make that yoga line with christy turlington, so they must be ethical, right?' but sadly, i found out the bad news: according to co-op america, 'Puma has been repeatedly implicated in egregious violations of workers' rights in China, El Salvador, Indonesia and Mexico. A 2003 Sustainability Report makes it sound like Puma is beginning to work on improvements. And Puma has made moves to remove vinyl from its shoes. But it appears that Puma has a long way to go before it becomes a green company.' sigh.
so where does that leave me? i decided to check out what simple has to offer. these are my favorites, but somehow they just don't make my heart race like the pumas do! their reputation, however, is stellar. this whole thing makes me feel so shallow... it's like choosing between the hot trampy girl with the criminal past and the virtuous girl next door. ack! it's a micro-example of an issue i've encountered more and more recently: why does ethical design seem always to have that 'crunchy' esthetic? i hope this will start to change as labels like 'green', 'sustainable', 'organic', etc become more in demand as well as more available. any advice or suggestions of other ethical shoe companies would be hugely appreciated. in the meantime i'll be hobbling to the gym in my treadworn old kelmes...