As you know from previous blogposts, I am concerned about the clothes I purchase, not just for myself, but for my kids as well. I have four kids, so this can be quite a challenge. I fear that I may have given you the impression that I am unsympathetic to the plight of the average mom, who finds herself having to clothe her kids on a limited budget. The last thing I want to do is guilt-trip another sister in motherhood! We’ve all got enough on our minds without the added stress of outside shaming and berating! I also want to make it perfectly clear that I am learning about this, and sharing what I learn with you, not to “teach” you a lesson in consumer responsibility, but to invite you to join me in my quest to be a more conscientious buyer. When I write I am writing for myself as much as I am for you. I don’t want you to feel guilty for what you buy, I just want to shed some light on alternatives that might bring about more lasting solutions and a more wholistic approach to shopping, if that makes sense.
I have written before about why I think we need to shift our concern for fashion from a purely esthetic perspective, to one of fairness and sustainability. Having four kids myself I’ll be the first to admit that this can be quite a costly endeavor. So I have suggested going for used clothes, preferably purchased at a charitable non-profit, though I do know from first hand experience that you get a much wider selection in for-profit shops, since they have the resources to collaborate with other charities and make their bins available country-wide. The prices tend to be higher in for-profit shops, due to the labor involved, and the fact that they need to make a profit on top of their charitable donations. When shopping at for profit stores I wait for their sales, which normally range between 30 and 50%, and I subscribe to their email list, so I can get notified ahead of time, to be able to know what I need to purchase, and then try to go on the members advance sale, which provides an opportunity to get a wider selection than going on the regular sale days.
Nonetheless, we do choose to buy new three to four times a year (for the two Eids, for birthdays, and for the beginning of school), and we purchase all our underwear (including undershirts, long johns, pjs, and socks) new, no matter what. You occasionally find new items in used clothing stores (still in packaging or with tags, this is where I get my compression stockings, as they are ridiculously expensive otherwise), but that’s the exception, rather than the norm. Just these items can really add up to quite a bit of money in a year, and for a family of six, all the more so. I have frequently purchased in the clearance racks and open-package bins of my local supermarkets in the past, because that’s the easiest and cheapest way to get what I need when I need it. Because I’m becoming more conscientious of the message this is sending to these mega-businesses, and because I’ve come to learn that the ones I’ve shopped at regularly engage in some sort of unethical labor practices, on top of the fact that they are putting local vendors out of business, I am constantly seeking out better alternatives.
I am happy to say that there is one place that has frequent blowout sales, good quality, and strong ethical standards when it comes to sourcing and labor practices, they claim to have local oversight (not just contract without accountability), and they don’t allow for subcontracting (which is where a lot of the abuses happen). This company is available in North America, but sells online all over the world, and it’s called Gymboree. We have two shops near me, and I have purchased from them before with great satisfaction (the clothes that I bought for my oldest were still fit for regular wear by the time they reached my youngest: that’s durability!). They only sell clothes up to size 12 (as in 12 years old), but that covers the most demanding years (unforgiving stains, holes in the knees, growth spurts, etc.), and they also sell underwear! I have already shared with you my favorite place to shop for women’s clothing: Shukr, so I won’t go any further on the women’s side in this post, also because I’m planning a summer post for mesdames.
Until next time, I wish you conscientious shopping,