“We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.” -Pope Francis
Have you ever noticed the chaos of most fast-fashion stores? The layout often becomes disorganized and unkempt. There is a pressure to hurry up, find, buy, and choose before someone else might claim what you were slightly interested in (especially during big sale events). We sometimes forget our own worth in these events, and as a result, we become numb to the needs of others.
This has become the norm; It is easy and tempting to be complacent by deeming ethical shopping as “too much work” or “too complicated.”
Stewardship does not have to be complicated.
We are, in fact, called to be stewards of creation—to care for the gift that it is. One of the ways in which we can do that is to see and serve the one in need as stated in Scripture, “My son, deprive not the poor of his living and do not keep needy eyes waiting” (Sirach 4:1). A living wage—a fair wage—is often overlooked in the fashion industry. From the ones who sew the garments to those who model the product, too many are working in poor conditions and struggling to live a full life.
If you take time to read some of the stories connected to the hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes, which seeks to highlight the dignity of those in the fashion industry, you will learn the ways in which they have been previously overlooked, and how we can take action.
Litany desires to uphold the human dignity of both those who work in the fashion industry and those that receive the clothing by promoting intentionality in the way each item is crafted. This is Litany’s effort to see the other and share the responsibility of caring for those we encounter.
By reorienting our vision to realize that “everything is connected: beauty, care for creation, the person, quality of work and workers rights, society and the economy,” we step out of the immediate-gratification mindset that causes us to justify or ignore important issues.
It begins with our thought process—how we take things in. As we tune ourselves to knowing our own needs and those of others, our actions will soon follow in response.
So here are few ways to lean into the call of stewardship:
Look deeper into things. The small effort of checking the hidden tag to find out what materials are contained in the piece or a quick Google search about a company’s ethical practices are ways to care for creation. You step away from immediate gratification when you look deeper into what and who is involved.
In allowing your heart to become sensitive to the practices in the fashion industry, you will develop a sense of reflection when you enter a mall or new boutique.
We reflect and marvel in ordinary moments when we seek to live a fullness of life and desire that for all; in other words, “We are speaking of an attitude of the heart, one which approaches life with serene attentiveness, which is capable of being fully present to someone without thinking of what comes next, which accepts each moment as a gift from God to be lived to the full.”
Discover your personal style and rest in it. The more you understand why you wear certain colors and materials, the more particular your purchases will be. Steward and cultivate your personal style as a form of self-care and loving yourself with dignity. The pressure to purchase new clothing is off when we sit in our closet with a creative mind and compose outfits from what we have. Your personal style will be your compass in making outfit choices. If you are having trouble putting things together, create a mood board for reference or play music that you would describe as “the soundtrack of your season” (sometimes we dress according to
the music we are listening to in the moment).
Know your needs---and the needs of the others involved.
YOU: Do I already have a shirt in this same style and color? Do I need another? Why? Will I wear this item for multiple occasions? Is this something I have been saving money for?
OTHER: Is the person who made this recognized for their labor? Are they paid a fair wage in this company? If not, I will look for a similar item that suits my needs at a thrift store or ethically based company (even one that has at least some ethical practices).
As we make strides to see the other, we begin growing in our capacity to steward creation and respond to our neighbors’ needs sufficiently.