I have been thinking about the future a lot. I’m thinking about the future of the fashion industry, as I shared recently. I’m thinking about the future of our planet. And I’m thinking about my own future, and so today’s post is finally giving you a glimpse of what I’ve been thinking about for the past several months.
A few times in my life, I have made decisions where I just know.
One of those times was my decision to move back to my hometown of New Orleans in 2012 and take a year to redirect my life’s course. At the time of the decision, I had been so unhappy, and so it was a welcome change that my year in New Orleans was one of the happiest years of my life. That year also happens to be the year I started this blog, though my interest in sustainability and fashion had been building for 4 years by that point.
After that year, I made a decision to move back to New York to begin working in the fashion industry on social responsibility, while continuing to blog. This was not a decision that I just knew. It was hard in ways I still can’t articulate and very confusing. I’ll attribute it to a bad case of “Saturn Returns” (if you’re 27 or 28, do yourself a favor and Google this). But even in my fog, the content I shared here deepened as my own understanding of the industry evolved and as the awareness of others outside of the industry grew from tragedies, such as Rana Plaza, and trends, such as minimalism.
The way I personally evolved as I stepped into my life back in New York was surprising. I became really passionate about Ayurveda, alternative medicine, and taking ownership of my own health. I started hiking and developed a personal relationship with nature that I had never experienced or even witnessed growing up. I read Mary Oliver’s poetry, often as part of my burgeoning meditation practice. I began exploring systems thinking and the possibilities of the Circular Economy. I started composting at home and bought a farm share in a CSA. I deepened my belief that business can be a catalyst for positive social change. I claimed my identity as a writer and wrote over 125 posts on this blog exploring how we can all become more intentional about the decisions we make, starting with the clothes we wear everyday, as we strive to live our values.
Over the last few years, I experimented with bringing some of these new interests and experiences into my writing here, though I held back, thinking that a reader interested in fashion might not be so interested in the other things I was learning. Slowly, though, as my understanding of sustainability grew, I began to see just how interconnected all of these ideas were. Yet once I understood how big the picture was/is, this blog began to feel too small to hold all that I had discovered.
So last September, I wrote a draft of a final post for this blog. I knew the time had come for me to end This I Wear. But I got scared, and I started asking for a lot of other people’s opinions. Many well-intentioned friends and readers encouraged me to keep going. As life swirled around me and I chose to resist my intuition about other big life changes too, I let this blog sit, waiting patiently for me to act on the decision I knew I needed to make in order to move forward.
Sometimes in life, we just know. I know that as much as I’d like to know what’s next, so I can direct you to a new fancy project with a new fancy Twitter handle, that right now I only know that my first step is to bring this site to a close with so much gratitude to all of you for sharing this with me.
At the same time, I know that the fashion industry still has a long way to go. We need more voices than ever to demand change and bring awareness to the need for new ways of thinking, living, and yes, even buying. So, in parting, I’d like to offer two things to you:
1. Get comfortable living in the gray area, because sustainability is the gray area. It’s complex and our understanding of what is best for people and planet is always evolving. Yes, as humans, we all crave certainty, but unfortunately, the only thing certain about sustainability is uncertainty. If someone claims to have “figured it all out” or to offer “the most sustainable option”, be skeptical, challenge them, and ask questions. Trust those who are willing to be honest that they’re still figuring out how to make their products and processes more sustainable, and trust those who are willing to admit when they’ve been wrong.
2. Explore your own connection with clothing and see what you learn about yourself. Fashion has a bad reputation of being frivolous, but how we dress ourselves is anything but surface level and it often reveals a lot about us and our values. I’ve made you a special worksheet with questions you can use as a guide for digging deeper. You might choose to journal on the questions on your own, or you might ask someone to interview you or use it as a tool to learn more about friends and family. Download the worksheet here.
Before I close, I will share one more thing. Each year, my favorite posts to write became my New Years’ intentions (here and here). I didn’t write a New Years post this year, but I did choose a word. “Wild” has become my invitation to step back into trusting what I know to be true. To me, it means being fearless, letting go of worrying what others think, and questioning the “rules”. It means following the flow, allowing myself to experience joy, and trusting myself fully. It gave me the much-needed courage to finally step into what’s next for me, even when I don’t know where it will lead just yet.
I know we are becoming collectively more aware of the impact our clothes have on people, the environment, and even our own wellbeing. It’s always hard to see how we’re changing as it is happening, but looking back over the last 4 years, it’s so clear just how far we have come.
I’m so grateful to have shared this site with you, and I hope you’ll keep in touch! First, don’t worry – the site will stay active so you can come back and read as you like. If you do want to be notified when I’ve got a new project to share, sign up for the email list here. You’ll find me actively posting on Instagram in the meantime. Thank you so much for sharing these last 4 years with me!