Episode 186: Slow Fashion Is Not A Trend, with Mikaela Friedman

Slow fashion is not a trend. It’s a way of life. A community of passionate, creative people. A movement fighting for a better future.
In this episode, Amanda is joined by artist and slow fashion superstar, Mikaela Friedman (Mutiny Market, Shop Slow, Psychic Outlaw). 

We talk about a lot of things in this episode:

  • Shop Slow, a new slow fashion boutique in Austin, TX that focuses on artisanal clothing made by collective of makers with a focus on recycled textiles.  Check out the Shop Slow website here: shopslow.co
  • Why shopping small/local keeps the money within the community versus far away with a shareholder,
  • How we take the slow fashion movement out into the world outside of social media,
  • How we can make the slow fashion movement stronger and more inclusive. After all, slow fashion is not a trend. We are fighting for some serious changes! And we need a lot of people fighting alongside us!

 

Also, in this episode: Amanda talks about the state of the slow fashion movement and the challenges we face as a community.  And yes, we’ll talk about “that Remake thing.”

Read this:
 Slow Factory has hit reset on its climate school plans. What happened? Bella Webb, Vogue Business.

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If you want to share your opinion/additional thoughts on the subjects we cover in each episode, feel free to email, whether it’s a typed out message or an audio recording:  [email protected]
Or call the Clotheshorse hotline: 717.925.7417 

Transcript

Welcome to Clotheshorse, the podcast that feels as if it has lived three weeks in the space of one. Woof!

 

I’m your host Amanda and this is episode 186.  And it is a good one! Today I’m joined by artist and all around slow fashion superstar, Mikaela Friedman. No  joke, Mikaela is one of the raddest people I’ve ever met.  She makes these amazing painted upcycled cowboy boots. She is also a key part of the slow fashion scene here in Austin via her work with Mutiny Market and the Slow Fashion Fest, and she’s part of Shop Slow, “a ‘slow fashion’ boutique featuring artisanal handmade clothing by a collective of makers who sew custom + one-of-a-kind apparel with a focus on recycled materials & environmental consciousness.” I am beyond excited for you all to meet her because this conversation with her got me so excited about the future. And it definitely started a lot of wheels turning for me.  We’re going to talk about Shop Slow, how we take the slow fashion movement out into the world outside of social media, and how we can make the slow fashion movement stronger and more inclusive.

 

I’m not going to share any small business audio essays this week because there is something else I need to discuss with you…this week’s opening segment is going to be a little longer than usual. But! I promise to work as hard as possible to get all of them into the remaining episodes of the year!

Last week Dustin and I drove all the way to Pennsylvania and back.  If no one took a pee break or needed to eat/sleep, it’s a nonstop 24 hour drive each way.  We aren’t quite that brutal…so we (perhaps also foolishly) broke each direction into two 12+ hours of driving each day.  

 

We listened to some of our favorite podcasts (currently we like to listen to Bandsplained and 30 Songs That Explain the 90s together), we also sang along to a lot of 70s/80s pop country hits, and of course we talked about a lot of stuff.  Like so much stuff. Okay, we did manage to talk about the Smashing Pumpkins for SEVERAL HOURS. But we also talked about something that has been on my mind for a long time.

 

Or specifically, something that I started to have an inkling of back in 2021, kinda talked about in 2022, and really, really began to occupy my thoughts in 2023.

 

No, it wasn’t fake food or what kind of dolls were supposed to live in the Laura Ashley dollhouse (yes, I somehow own one). 

 

Instead it was this: how do we create real lasting change via the slow fashion movement?

Because there are times that the slow fashion movement has felt kinda like an echo chamber.  We aren’t reaching enough new people. In fact, there are times where the community has felt sort of cliquey. Sort of closed off to the outside world.  And that lack of openness, of outreach, of expanding ourselves beyond the comfort area of one another, holds us back. Because the reality is that we will never take down fast fashion or combat climate change or end the exploitation and waste of “fast everything” if we aren’t bringing more and more people into the fold. 

 

Nothing changes without people. It’s always ironic to me that climate change and fast fashion and the plastic pollution crisis…they are massive problems created by people…and the solution is (here’s the ironic part) PEOPLE.  You, me, everyone we know, and lots and lots and lots of people we have never met.

 

For quite a while–and I know I have said this to y’all before–I have felt that the slow fashion community is not as inclusive and welcoming as it has to be in order to succeed.  The biggest organizations, influencers, and brands in this space are still centering the same group of people that fashion itself has always centered: young, thin, often white, wealthy, conventionally attractive people, able bodied people.   That’s like a tiny, tiny percentage of the people on this planet. And it’s just this teeny little fraction of the people who need to be a part of what we are doing.  Interestingly enough, slow fashion has to be as unlike the fashion industry as possible if it’s going to succeed. Unfortunately we see too much of the fashion industry’s culture and way of doing business carrying over into the slow fashion world. Perhaps because so many of the loudest voices and leaders within this movement came from that industry in the first place.

 

But rather than bringing the way of doing things in the fashion industry into this movement, we need to be looking at other successful movements as a model.  We need to adopt the techniques of grassroots movements. We have to mobilize a community of all kinds of people who will educate and mobilize the people around them. And on and and on.  People are what give movements power.   

 

One thing I was telling Dustin as we drove was that I had read a Vogue Business article that was published early this year. And then I read it on a near weekly basis since then.  And it was so powerful to me, but I didn’t see anyone else talking about it. I wanted to discuss it, share it with you all like 100 times since then, but I felt afraid.  And that’s because this is a pretty beloved organization in the slow fashion movement. It’s one of the accounts that really got me into slow fashion in the first place.  I will say that over time I became sort of, I don’t know, let’s say I was questioning what they were really doing, what the real results of their work was because something felt off.  Back in October, I officially (and quietly) unfollowed them for sharing some really blatant misinformation in their stories.

 

The article in question is “Slow Factory has hit reset on its climate school plans. What happened?, by Bella Webb.  It was published in February. I will share it with you in the show notes because I think it is a very important read, less because of the Slow Factory information, and more because of the questions it raises about the sustainability/climate change/slow fashion movements.

 

For those of you who don’t know who Slow Factory is, they are a non profit organization “Radically imagining & creating solutions addressing climate change through art, design, education & science/ System change for Collective Liberation.” That’s from their instagram bio.  And they are major players in this space, with more than 600K followers and funding/partnerships with MIT, the UN, Adidas, Vestaire Collective, and Swarovski.

 

So basically the writer, Bella Webb, was originally assigned to write basically an easy fluff piece about what Slow Factory was going to do next now that it faced some issues with its climate school. It was intended to be a really positive story about Slow Factory. But at every turn, people were turning up who had very negative experiences working with the organization, with lots of very bad stories to tell.  Ignoring this element of Slow Factory’s story became unavoidable.

 

From the article:

 

Vogue Business first began exploring a story about Slow Factory’s 10th anniversary and the upcoming opening of its school in August 2022. Soon after, a group of former contractors and collaborators came forward with concerns about the organisation and its plans to open the school. This group claims Slow Factory overpromises on what it does or can deliver. They say it is an “open secret” that Slow Factory has a “toxic” culture that undermines its objectives, particularly uplifting and empowering people from the global majority.  

 

The principal allegation among those with concerns is that the non-profit has overstated its impact, especially on social media — and particularly around job creation and programming. “We are deeply concerned about Slow Factory’s potential to cause harm at the institutional level by diverting attention, funding and public support away from organisations that actually do the work Slow Factory claims to do,” say the members of Anonymous Collective. They also question whether Slow Factory has the “thematic expertise or staff” to run a project like the climate school, having left a trail of disillusioned contractors and collaborators in its wake.



Bella Webb does an incredible job of weaving together the threads of this story.  And I gotta say, the things she covers are not fully surprising to me because I have seen similar situations over the years with other organizations and movements. Here’s another paragraph from the article:

 

They point to its 10-year impact report, published last summer, where Slow Factory states that it has provided career counselling, internships and apprenticeships, community care, childcare, youth programmes, mental health support, access to arts and culture, and collective healing. Former contractors say they are not aware of evidence of such programmes being delivered during the time they worked at the organisation. The non-profit doesn’t specify who received these benefits or how they were delivered in the report.



The article goes deeper into a lot of overstatements and inaccuracies in Slow Factory’s claims about its impact and the number of people it really reaches.  It’s all really disheartening.  Once again, go read it.  It’s a long read with lots and lots of info.  No wonder I had to read it like 50 times this year alone.

 

The part of this story that was most disheartening to me–but once again, not altogether surprising based on my experience working for brands that were attempting to merge social justice with capitalism, I guess I just wanted better for Slow Factory–is that is a very toxic place to work, with bullying, gaslighting….a workplace described as “chaotic, tense, and hostile” by the Anonymous Collective.  “Workers would be ‘punished’ for dissent and offering what they saw as constructive feedback.”

 

More from the article (and these are quotes that I just felt so viscerally from my own work experience within the fast fashion industry…I wanted this to be so much different)”

 

One says the experience “shattered” their confidence, another describes their time at Slow Factory as “the unhealthiest I’ve ever been”, and another says, “I didn’t know who I was when I left. They took everything from me.”  

 

“There’s a disconnect between the public face and what’s going on behind closed doors,” says one former contractor. “Despite all of the rhetoric about anti-colonialism, taking time and healing, it was a relentless culture of overwork, hierarchy and paranoia about loyalty.”



All incredibly disappointing. But to be honest, I have heard whispers from various friends and sort of peers in the sustainability/slow fashion space about how volatile and sometimes cruel working with Slow Factory could be.  I just kinda filed them away as outlier, isolated situations.

 

But I think by now you can see why I was not interested in being the first person in the slow fashion community to discuss this article.  The power dynamics in the slow fashion world are just as intense as any industry or social construct…and I am a one-person project with no power and lots to lose.

 

Here’s the thing…I haven’t come back to read this article 50 times because of the Slow Factory stuff (although I do think it is important to talk about).  It’s one paragraph in particular and it was at the heart of my conversation with Dustin. I’m going to read it to you right now:

 

There is a pattern emerging among social media savvy non-profits whereby the leaders act more like influencers, developing a “cult of personality” that undermines the drive for decentralised power, says Minh-Ha Pham, an associate professor at Pratt Institute and author of Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Social Media’s Influence on Fashion, Ethics, and Property. This can divert attention from the actual problems non-profits exist to address and warp public perceptions of what constitutes meaningful impact. “Popularity can so easily stand in for expertise. This isn’t making workers’ lives better in the Global South, it isn’t making the environment safer, it’s just creating new internet celebrities.”



This paragraph really hit home for me. 

Because here’s the thing in the slow fashion world: most of the labor that most of us are doing is completely unpaid (or very nearly unpaid). And if we want to get paid for it…we have to work with the brands and groups that have money. To get them to want to work with us, we have to have the social media following that makes it feel like a win for whoever is doling out the money.  It puts a lot of focus of resources like time on social media, versus actual work in the community.  You need money to do work in the community, but you also need to create all this social media content to maybe some day get the money.

 

And basically what this has turned into is a movement that’s not really doing that much in the outside world.  Some organizations–like Remake–use their funding to sort of manage an army of volunteers around the world who do the community work, holding events, sharing info on social media, etc.  

 

But in general, slow fashion and sustainability are still acting as a bit of an echo chamber, with many of us just kinda talking to one another, but not reaching a lot of people outside of our immediate social media community. That doesn’t mean that we should stop sharing information and having these discussions with one another…but real talk: we have to reach people who only look at instagram for home decor inspiration or to look at influencer posts. We need to reach people who only use Facebook or Pinterest.  We need to reach people who swore off social media back in the MySpace era, or who have never used it.

 

To be honest, I don’t give a fuck about Taylor Swift, or the Kardashians or any other celebrity. What I care about are all of the people within our community. All of the people out there who haven’t joined our community yet, just the regular people like us. Because guess what? It’s all of us (and the people who don’t even know yet) who innovate. Who get shit done. Who make major change in this world.  We are the creativity that forges the path to a better world. 

 

I’ve always loved NPR, and specifically Story Corps and This American Life.  And personal podcasting as a whole. Maybe it’s a reason that I gravitate towards podcasting as my medium is that these platforms are places where we get to honor and realize that every person out there has a story. Passions. Knowledge. Experiences. Every person has a lot of really important things that they bring to the table. That’s what I love about this community, and why it’s so important that we grow it.  I think we have a lot more success as a community, and then a movement in accomplishing our goals by leaning into and honoring what makes every single person around us special, including ourselves.  Here’s another way in which we need to abandon the way the fashion industry operates. We do this by centering people.  By welcoming people. By caring for people. Because the industry does not do that.  But slow fashion can and will.

 

That was kinda at the core of my conversation with Dustin.  How do we reach people who generally don’t care about fashion, who don’t even know about fast fashion, who aren’t in our immediate circle…but who are so important to making change a reality.

 

I have had this idea for a while about going to speak to various church groups.  Visiting schools. Doing more library presentations. 

 

We talked about other ideas. Commercials on television.  Radio ads. We got stuck on billboards for a long time because then you reach everyone driving by.  And I don’t know about you, but I do read billboards. And if one had the Clotheshorse aesthetic, I would be particularly captivated.

 

I said, “imagine a billboard on your way to work that just showed the mountains of discarded fast fashion in the Atacama Desert (in Chile) that just said ‘your old clothes are right here.’ And then a url for a website to learn more about fast fashion.”

 

We got hung up for a long time on putting a billboard in downtown Portland that just said “Sorry, Nike IS fast fashion.”

 

We are still hung up on that one so if anyone wants to make this happen, let me know.

 

But these are the kinds of ideas I’m thinking about.  I’m still marinating on it all. Specifically these questions:

 

  • How do we get this knowledge to more people?
  • How do we make this community more inclusive and welcoming?
  • How do we make real impact?

 

I definitely want to do more IRL community outreach and events in 2024.  Being settled in to our new place will make this a lot easier, especially now that I get to dictate my work schedule and I have more flexibility for making things happen.  Do you have some ideas? I want to hear from you!



So Dustin and I had this whole conversation last week.  And I told him “you know, that conversation with Mikaela is the perfect episode for talking about that Slow Factory piece. I’m gonna do it!”

 

It’s funny how things will happen at the same time that can either totally destroy your progress OR reinforce what you were thinking.  Maybe even take your thoughts in a new direction. 

Now we are going to talk about Remake, another big player in the world of sustainable fashion/slow fashion.

 

I have been largely invisible to this organization for the past few years.  In the beginning, it hurt to be left out of yet another round up of the best sustainable podcasts.  I felt like it was an indicator that my work was bad.  That I was delusional about putting together a quality podcast. That I was just doing things “wrong.”  I told myself that my work would get better with more practice, more learning, more time…and one day they would find my work of a decent enough quality to share.  Or at least acknowledge.

 

But over time, with some real reflection, I realized that I am not “on brand” for their organization.  They focus on a more youth and beauty driven aesthetic. They work with influencers and models.  They kinda have their own “in house” podcast produced by a staff member.  And to be fair, I am doing things, speaking about things, in a way that is very different from the way they are doing things.

 

And I’m fine with all of that because for some, the appeal of influencers and wealth is how we bring them into the slow fashion movement. Remake is reaching those people. It’s important work.  And furthermore, they do a great job of mobilizing all of these passionate volunteers all over the world to spread the word of slow fashion.  It’s important!

 

 I embrace that the community I am building is different, a place for the “weird babes” (as Dustin calls us) who have felt alone in our desire to make the world better.  Now we have a place…and it’s with one another!

 

There was one weird thing–the weird things come in retrospect, right? Earlier this year I was updating my website with press links and I used google to track them all down.  And it was the weirdest thing…I found a Remake blog post that quoted me, as if they had actually consulted me for the piece.  I want to be clear that Remake has no interest in even acknowledging me over the years. It felt a little weird, but I figured it’s a volunteer driven organization, maybe someone listened to Clotheshorse here and there. I didn’t think about it again.

 

Around the middle of the day on Friday, as I was sitting at my desk working, I received a notification that Remake  had tagged me in an Instagram post.  And you know what? I was excited.  Like finally I was being seen! It was that weird feeling of wanting the popular kids to notice you, eventually coming to peace with the reality that they never will…and then being semi-embarrassed about being excited when they finally do acknowledge you. I had never been contacted about any kind of collaboration on something, so I assumed they were just doing another podcast recommendation round up. Maybe I had finally reached a quality level that felt worthy of them!

 

When I saw the post, my heart sunk. Well, that’s kind of an understatement. I felt sick and sad and humiliated all at once.  The “post” was an out-of-context quote from the caption of a post I had shared in April of 2022! Meanwhile, I have discussed retail therapy so many more times since then, in much more complex terms and even using stories from my own life.  Like, if you want to talk to me about retail therapy not being therapy…well, I can talk about that with you.  Need a quote for a post? Just reach out to me.  Want to work on a post collaboratively? I’m just an email away.  

 

When I tell you I had to dig deep to find the source material from the quote that Remake used…let me tell you, it took some time.  Once again, it was in the caption of a post I made in April of 2022.   

 

You know what? I’m going to read you the whole damn caption from that post on April 25, 2022:

 

If you’ve listened to the podcast, then you’ve heard me talking about my “worst job ever,” working for a so-called “feminist” retailer. That job made me sick, both physically and emotionally. Every once in a while I like to check out their IG grid to see if people are starting to see through their bullshit. This week I noticed that they had a post saying something like “shopping between zoom meetings is self care.” 🤮

 

The thing is…this kind of “retail therapy” nonsense has been used as a marketing story for years, picking up major momentum during the first year of the pandemic. I’ll never forget receiving an email from Asos as my life was going down in flames that told me “you’ll feel better if you buy something.” Ummm….the thing is, most of the time when I buy something from a fast fashion retailer (like Asos) I’m super disappointed because it smooshes my boobs into a rectangle or makes me feel bad about my body. So I end up feeling WORSE than before I did the shopping.

 

Shopping as a form of self care (ie, “retail therapy”) is often categorized as a “maladaptive behavior.” What’s that? “Behavior that prevents you from making adjustments that are in your own best interest.” Other examples of maladaptive behaviors are passive aggression, withdrawal, and avoidance. In other words: things that make you feel worse in the long run.

 

To get down to brass tacks /rant a little: I have bipolar disorder. I’ve been dealing with it since my teen years and I have had some really, really hard times. I have caught myself many, many times using shopping as an emotional bandaid. I’ve seen it play a huge role in both manic and depressive episodes. And with very rare exceptions, it has not made me feel better. I get SUPER ANGRY when brands use mental health as a reason to shop, whether it’s by creating product around mental health or explicitly telling us we should shop to feel better. I find it especially ironic that an employer who threw a massive monkey wrench into the stability I had found with my illness is telling others to shop for self care.

 

Okay, here’s my question for you: what do you do to cope with your own ups and downs (that doesn’t involve shopping)?



So Remake–without ever contacting me–took one small part of that caption–once again it’s close to two years old at this point–they took this part:

 

“I have caught myself many, many times using shopping as an emotional bandaid. I’ve seen it play a huge role in both manic and depressive episodes. And with very rare exceptions, it has not made me feel better. I get SUPER ANGRY when brands use mental health as a reason to shop, whether it’s by creating product around mental health or explicitly telling us we should shop to feel better.”

 

Just cherry picked one small part of a much bigger picture, from a person who writes and share on the internet almost every single day.  From a person who has not only an instagram account, but an email address, a phone, a linkedin account, and on and on… it would not have been hard to find me.  Remake’s post also added that in addition to being the host of Clotheshorse, I also have bipolar disorder.  

 

Imagine.  It’s your big moment when you’re going to get recognized for all of your hard work.  And it’s just to tell more than 100K strangers that you have been coping with a mental illness for decades. An illness that has lead to self harm, hospitalizations, and many very difficult days.  Yes, I talk about my bipolar disorder with all of you. But that is because you are my community, my friends…my people. And it is one tiny piece of a much larger portrait that is Amanda Lee McCarty, host of Clotheshorse.  All of you know that.

 

I read that post and cried.  It felt cruel.  Like the only interesting thing of note about me is that I have bipolar disorder.  I’m going to level with you all: when I list things about myself, bipolar disorder is like #30 on the list.  I mean, like all of us, I am a complex person.  I’m more likely to list that I have a Hello Kitty tattoo as an important part of my character.



And you know, here was the other thing…why I felt so devastated. 

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 19 years old. I was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility after a suicide attempt. This had followed months of not being able to sleep, of increasing paranoia and anxiety, of shutting myself off from everyone and everything. I basically just went to work and school and that was it.  Soon I stopped going to school because I was afraid people were looking at me.  It was a lonely and scary time.

 

But I just didn’t suddenly develop bipolar disorder overnight. The symptoms had been intensifying for years.  I grew up in an environment where the only person who was allowed to express feelings was my mother. So I never talked about the anxiety, fear, sadness, depression that I was experiencing.  The form of bipolar disorder that I have at that point was very rapidly cycling.  I would be happy and laughing at 10 am, drowning in despair by 11 am.  It was very difficult to hide, but I worked hard to do so. Yet my mom would constantly accuse me of being moody, telling me that it was a weakness and it would ensure that no one would ever like me.   

 

I began to isolate myself from everyone and everything.  I never hung out with my friends.  I stayed in my room as much as possible or went on long walks alone.  I just read magazines and tried to tell myself that I had to learn some self discipline about my moods or my life would be ruined.  I think of my teenage years as a very solitary time, which seemed contrary to all of the general opinion that these were supposed to be the best years of my life.

 

Eventually my mom asked me to move out because of my moodiness. She said I was too depressing to have around and no one liked me.  It was weird, because once again, all I did was hide my feelings. I felt like this unlovable monster. I couch surfed for a while, staying with various friends until I worried that their parents would call CPS and have me sent to a foster home.  Eventually I moved in with a friend whose mother was largely absent.

 

I was a straight A student. I aced the SATS. I had glowing recommendations from anyone ever.  My teachers literally paid my college application fees, drove me to my job at the mall, gave me lunch and books and so much care that I had never received from my own family.

 

And when I got a scholarship to NYU–a big deal for a low income kid from a small town–my mom responded with “well, wait until they learn how moody you are. You might lose it.”

 

By the time I received that diagnosis at 19, it felt partially like a relief and partially like an indicator of what a shitty terrible person I was, just as my mom had always said.  I kept it largely a secret, because the few times I would finally open up to others about it…it would be weaponized against me any time I expressed concern or feelings about anything…that any emotions I had were just a symptom, not to be taken seriously.

 

Now, to be clear… I am not ashamed to have bipolar disorder. It took me a LONG time to reach that point, because people around me told me that I should feel ashamed. Because it would turn into my defining characteristic.  It obscured my real talents and qualities.  

 

 No one should be ashamed for any disease, illness, or condition that they have.

It doesn’t make us less smart.

It doesn’t make us less talented.

It doesn’t make us less valuable.

We all matter here.

 

But I have felt that hurt of bipolar disorder overshadowing anything else that was good at about me.  I have been dismissed because of it.  I have been robbed of my voice because of it.

 

So back to Friday…I’m sitting at my desk just feeling miserable.  I got up and paced around.  I made some tea. I paced around some more. 

 

Meanwhile, I began to receive messages from some of you.  You were SO STOKED that this organization had done an interview with me. That they were finally recognizing Clotheshorse!  Somehow that made me even sadder.

 

I want to be clear again that I was never approached about working on something together. No one asked for a quote. No one asked to use my work.

 

I swear I just sat at my desk for an hour staring into space. I didn’t dare look at that post again because I just didn’t want it to be real. I felt like I was the problem, being too sensitive, perhaps I was proving my mom’s own belief–that my feelings were a problem. I tried to talk myself out of feeling terrible.  I decided I would just let it go and never look at that post again.

 

Finally Dustin came into ask me something and I just blurted out what had happened. And he was like “that’s so fucked up.”

 

The rest of the day is a miserable blur.  I talked about it in the stories of my personal, private account. I talked with some close friends.  But I felt kind of powerless to do anything about it. Why? There are some really intense power dynamics at play in the slow fashion/sustainable fashion community.  There are big players with a lot of power.  Speaking out against them is a fast track to a bunch of angry DMs.  And I just don’t need it.  I’m about to move 1600 miles across the country. I’m getting over shingles. The holidays are a hard time for me as someone who is NC with my mother.  My stress glass is overflowing!

 

I’m also frustrated that I missed a half day of work because I was too busy crying and feeling miserable. That’s a tough situation when you work for yourself: if I don’t work hours, I don’t get paid. I’m angry that this whole stupid thing affects various aspects of my life. Like, there’s $300 that I lost because of some thoughtless instagram post.

 

Here’s the thing: I talk about my bipolar disorder with all of you here and there because it is one element of my own experiences as a person working in the fashion industry, as a person who has worked hard to limit my own consumption, as a person who cares about shit. And I also don’t want other people to feel shame for their own experiences.  And you know what? It’s my story to tell.  And you are my people. But it’s also not the headline. 

 

It’s quite another thing for an organization that has ignored me for years to decide to use without talking to me. I’m  not a mental health influencer.  Neither my podcast nor my account are about mental health.  So it feels like such a weird choice when there are plenty of great people out there doing work in the area of mental health awareness.

 

 It was hurtful. It was traumatic.  I felt exploited for the sake of likes and follows, by a much bigger organization that has the funding, recognition, and opportunities that I only dream of having.  By an organization that has always made me feel like I’m not good enough. That post just reinforced that they still think I’m not good enough. No one had enough regard for me as a person to reach out first.

 

What’s happened since then? Well, not much.  I woke up Saturday hoping that it was a bad dream, but my inbox was flooded with messages from many of you.  I didn’t know what to do.  On one hand, I wanted it to go away because it was really embarrassing.  How humiliating to think  maybe you were doing a good job but really your mental illness was just fodder for a post about retail therapy.  TBH, I don’t think they needed that quote and I’m still not sure why they went back to a post from April 2022 to find it. So weird.

 

On the other hand, I didn’t want it to happen again.  And it illustrated everything I had been talking about with Dustin last week, everything I had been thinking about for months: how do we take this community out of social media? How do we make people feel welcome and valued (because they are).  How do we eliminate the scourge of competition in favor of collaboration? Because there is a lot of weird competition and lack of support within this community right now.  And I don’t like it. We don’t win when we’re trying to take down one another.  In fact, the whole world loses when we decide to hold one another back.



So I sat down at my computer—in my bathrobe–and I wrote out something to share on Instagram. And I gotta tell you…you all just showed up to share kind thoughts, support, encouragement.  I have never felt so loved and appreciated in my entire life.  And I have to say…the last two years in Texas have been so isolating and lonely…and it turns out all along I was part of this huge, amazing community. What a life changing experience!

 

I haven’t heard from Remake.  Some time on Friday (I think in the evening), they commented on an old post of mine from last month (once again, what’s with the old posts?) saying that they had dm’ed me. I have no DMs from them, maybe because my anti-troll filters are filtering out something they said in their DM.

 

At some point on Friday, Remake pulled that slide from their post and turned off commenting. 

 

That said: I am human. I have just experienced something deeply hurtful and traumatic. A DM is not the way to address a public humiliation and violation like this. Send me a @#$%ing email. Apologize publicly. Treat me with respect. Honestly, they are just proving how unimportant I am in their eyes. The responsibility for “fixing” this should not fall on me.

 

I have this plan that I am going to write an email to them.  I tried this morning, but I just felt my mom telling me that my moodiness (aka my bipolar disorder) will always overshadow everything I do. That I can’t actually be of any value to this world because of my brain. 

 

Maybe tomorrow I can.  Maybe y’all have some suggestions for what I should say?  I just don’t know yet.

 

Many of you support Remake in a variety of ways: with your time, your money, and even sharing their content with your community. I do not think you should stop doing this. The work we are doing collectively is far more important than this incident.  A stupid hurtful thing on social media pales in comparison to the rest of the human suffering happening on this planet thanks to late stage capitalism.  We have to keep the work going and I know that Remake has helped a lot of you do that work and find your own voice.

 

At its core the most important part of this movement is the people, right?

 The movement does not exist without all of these humans who are working towards the same goal. And because this entire movement is built of people, of course mistakes will be made. That doesn’t mean that the work of these people is no longer valuable, no longer important, no longer heartfelt. But what it does mean is that apologies have to happen. Accountability needs to happen, because we all need to be tender and thoughtful of the other humans within this movement.

 

And while I wish this whole thing would just go away, have never happened…I can’t help but see it as another symptom of some elements of the slow fashion community not working well right now.  Over the weekend, I received messages from various people who talked about their own negative experiences (some downright traumatic and hurtful) working with various organizations within the slow fashion world, including Remake.  It made me really sad. I want this to be better. I don’t want us to be cliquey or shitty like the fashion industry.  This is not supposed to be an exclusive movement, limited to only a certain group of people.  If we allow it to be that way, we will accomplish nothing.  The world–the planet and its people–all lose out.  We have to do better.

 

Okay, well that’s all I have for you and it’s a lot…so now we are going to jump into my conversation with Mikaela. It ties so well into everything I have talked about so far, and just relistening to it during the editing process got me so excited about the power of community!

Thank you to Mikaela for spending some time with me and getting me really excited about the future of slow fashion. I hope y’all are feeling the same way! I’ll be sharing all of Mikaela and Shop Slow’s info in the show notes. I hope you visit the store IRL if you visit Austin.  It’s so cute and it just feels so special and homey. I’ve been obsessing over this dress I saw there and I might have to give it to myself as a holiday gift before I leave Austin.  

 

Okay, one last thing: I want to remind you fo the secondhand reseller survey!

 

I think there is still A LOT of confusion and misinformation out there about resellers: who they are, why they do it, how much money they make, and where they source their inventory.

 

I put together a survey that will collect data and thoughts from as many secondhand resellers as possible.

 

This info will be used for a future episode of the podcast in the new year revisiting the world of reselling.  I also want to share your thoughts, etc on future social media posts.

 

I’ve engineered this survey to be as fast and painless as possible! And I really appreciate any of you who take the time to participate.

And guess what? Any secondhand reseller who completes the survey will be entered to win a 30 second ad spot in a January episode of Clotheshorse. One winner will be chosen at random.

 

But wait….there’s more! I want to get as many responses as possible because I think that will make the information I’m collecting more useful and accurate. I am dreaming of 1000+ resellers taking the survey.

 

So…if 500 resellers take the survey, I will choose TWO winners of ad spots in January.

If 1000 resellers take the survey…I will choose FOUR winners of ad spots in January!!

 

This is a pretty sick prize because Clotheshorse has become one of the top fashion podcasts in the world so your business will be in the ears of many rad people from around the world! Last week, it was the #18 fashion and beauty podcast in the US.

 

To be entered in the contest, you have to complete the survey by December 15.

 

You know, earlier in the episode, you probably noticed that I used the phrase “weird babe.” Obviously a gender neutral term, as a nonbinary weird babe myself.

 

Dustin first called me a “weird babe” back when we started dating. And at first I kinda bristled at the notion. Like “how dare he call me weird!!!”

 

But the truth is…I am weird. I have always been weird. I literally read the encyclopedia for fun as a kid. I dress like I’m in a cult (if Laura Ashley designed the uniform). I have built (with Dustin) complex backstories for all of our cats. I collect artificial fruit.

 

I’m weird. Dustin is weird. My friends are weird. We are weird babes. All of us. Many of us (myself included) have felt left out, watching from the sidelines in the past. We care so much about things that other people don’t even know about (yet). And we support one another.

 

This amazing community of weird babes got me through the pandemic. You have gotten me through the last few days. You inspire me on a daily basis. You challenge me to learn more, reflect more, and work harder. You motivate me to keep going.

 

WEIRD BABES WILL CHANGE THE WORLD.

 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Want to Support Amanda's Work on Clotheshorse?

If you want to share your opinion/additional thoughts on the subjects we cover in each episode, feel free to email, whether it’s a typed out message or an audio recording:  [email protected]

Or call the Clotheshorse hotline: 717.925.7417

Clotheshorse is brought to you with support from the following sustainable small businesses:

Thumbprint is Detroit’s only fair trade marketplace, located in the historic Eastern Market.  Our small business specializes in products handmade by empowered women in South Africa making a living wage creating things they love like hand painted candles and ceramics! We also carry a curated assortment of  sustainable/natural locally made goods. Thumbprint is a great gift destination for both the special people in your life and for yourself! Browse our online store at thumbprintdetroit.com and find us on instagram @thumbprintdetroit.

Picnicwear:  a slow fashion brand, ethically made by hand from vintage and deadstock materials – most notably, vintage towels! Founder, Dani, has worked in the industry as a fashion designer for over 10 years, but started Picnicwear in response to her dissatisfaction with the industry’s shortcomings. Picnicwear recently moved to rural North Carolina where all their clothing and accessories are now designed and cut, but the majority of their sewing is done by skilled garment workers in NYC. Their customers take comfort in knowing that all their sewists are paid well above NYC minimum wage. Picnicwear offers minimal waste and maximum authenticity: Future Vintage over future garbage.

Shift Clothing, out of beautiful Astoria, Oregon, with a focus on natural fibers, simple hardworking designs, and putting fat people first.  Discover more at shiftwheeler.com

High Energy Vintage is a fun and funky vintage shop located in Somerville, MA, just a few minutes away from downtown Boston. They offer a highly curated selection of bright and colorful clothing and accessories from the 1940s-1990s for people of all genders. Husband-and-wife duo Wiley & Jessamy handpick each piece for quality and style, with a focus on pieces that transcend trends and will find a home in your closet for many years to come! In addition to clothing, the shop also features a large selection of vintage vinyl and old school video games. Find them on instagram @ highenergyvintage, online at highenergyvintage.com, and at markets in and around Boston.

St. Evens is an NYC-based vintage shop that is dedicated to bringing you those special pieces you’ll reach for again and again. More than just a store, St. Evens is dedicated to sharing the stories and history behind the garments. 10% of all sales are donated to a different charitable organization each month.  New vintage is released every Thursday at wearStEvens.com, with previews of new pieces and more brought to you on Instagram at @wear_st.evens.

Deco Denim is a startup based out of San Francisco, selling clothing and accessories that are sustainable, gender fluid, size inclusive and high quality–made to last for years to come. Deco Denim is trying to change the way you think about buying clothes. Founder Sarah Mattes wants to empower people to ask important questions like, “Where was this made? Was this garment made ethically? Is this fabric made of plastic? Can this garment be upcycled and if not, can it be recycled?” Signup at decodenim.com to receive $20 off your first purchase. They promise not to spam you and send out no more than 3 emails a month, with 2 of them surrounding education or a personal note from the Founder. Find them on Instagram as @deco.denim.

The Pewter Thimble Is there a little bit of Italy in your soul? Are you an enthusiast of pre-loved decor and accessories? Bring vintage Italian style — and history — into your space with The Pewter Thimble (@thepewterthimble). We source useful and beautiful things, and mend them where needed. We also find gorgeous illustrations, and make them print-worthy. Tarot cards, tea towels and handpicked treasures, available to you from the comfort of your own home. Responsibly sourced from across Rome, lovingly renewed by fairly paid artists and artisans, with something for every budget. Discover more at thepewterthimble.com

Blank Cass, or Blanket Coats by Cass, is focused on restoring, renewing, and reviving the history held within vintage and heirloom textiles. By embodying and transferring the love, craft, and energy that is original to each vintage textile into a new garment, I hope we can reteach ourselves to care for and mend what we have and make it last. Blank Cass lives on Instagram @blank_cass and a website will be launched soon at blankcass.com.

Gabriela Antonas is a visual artist, an upcycler, and a fashion designer, but Gabriela Antonas is also a feminist micro business with radical ideals. She’s the one woman band, trying to help you understand, why slow fashion is what the earth needs. If you find your self in New Orleans, LA, you may buy her ready-to-wear upcycled garments in person at the store “Slow Down” (2855 Magazine St). Slow Down Nola only sells vintage and slow fashion from local designers. Gabriela’s garments are guaranteed to be in stock in person, but they also have a website so you may support this women owned and run business from wherever you are! If you are interested in Gabriela making a one of a kind garment for you DM her on Instagram at @slowfashiongabriela to book a consultation.

Vagabond Vintage DTLV is a vintage clothing, accessories & decor reselling business based in Downtown Las Vegas. Not only do we sell in Las Vegas, but we are also located throughout resale markets in San Francisco as well as at a curated boutique called Lux and Ivy located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jessica, the founder & owner of Vagabond Vintage DTLV, recently opened the first IRL location located in the Arts District of Downtown Las Vegas on August 5th. The shop has a strong emphasis on 60s & 70s garments, single stitch tee shirts & dreamy loungewear. Follow them on instagram, @vagabondvintage.dtlv and keep an eye out for their website coming fall of 2022.

Country Feedback is a mom & pop record shop in Tarboro, North Carolina. They specialize in used rock, country, and soul and offer affordable vintage clothing and housewares. Do you have used records you want to sell? Country Feedback wants to buy them! Find us on Instagram @countryfeedbackvintageandvinyl or head downeast and visit our brick and mortar. All are welcome at this inclusive and family-friendly record shop in the country!

Located in Whistler, Canada, Velvet Underground is a “velvet jungle” full of vintage and second-hand clothes, plants, a vegan cafe and lots of rad products from other small sustainable businesses. Our mission is to create a brand and community dedicated to promoting self-expression, as well as educating and inspiring a more sustainable and conscious lifestyle both for the people and the planet. Find us on Instagram @shop_velvetunderground or online at www.shopvelvetunderground.com

Selina Sanders, a social impact brand that specializes in up-cycled clothing, using only reclaimed, vintage or thrifted materials: from tea towels, linens, blankets and quilts.  Sustainably crafted in Los Angeles, each piece is designed to last in one’s closet for generations to come.  Maximum Style; Minimal Carbon Footprint.

Salt Hats:  purveyors of truly sustainable hats. Hand blocked, sewn and embellished in Detroit, Michigan.

Republica Unicornia Yarns: Hand-Dyed Yarn and notions for the color-obsessed. Made with love and some swearing in fabulous Atlanta, Georgia by Head Yarn Wench Kathleen. Get ready for rainbows with a side of Giving A Damn! Republica Unicornia is all about making your own magic using small-batch, responsibly sourced, hand-dyed yarns and thoughtfully made notions. Slow fashion all the way down and discover the joy of creating your very own beautiful hand knit, crocheted, or woven pieces. Find us on Instagram @republica_unicornia_yarns and at www.republicaunicornia.com.

Cute Little Ruin is an online shop dedicated to providing quality vintage and secondhand clothing, vinyl, and home items in a wide range of styles and price points.  If it’s ethical and legal, we try to find a new home for it!  Vintage style with progressive values.  Find us on Instagram at @CuteLittleRuin.