Clothes Make the Man

So 8 months ago when I sold my Evo 8 and bought an Insight my life hiccuped a little. In many ways the Evo had been the thing that had anchored me in the real world of normal American Society. I knew things would change-and they did. Slowly at first, but the changes came. I changed much of the music I listened to-the harder alternative punk and metal didn’t ‘feel’ right in the Insight-the music that one preforms a perfectly orchestrated 4 wheel powerslide to is very different than the soundtrack to an 85+mpg commute; 120 mph sounds drastically different than 120mpg. I grew my hair out some, and my beard followed suit, both changing from harsh urban styles to softer more natural ones. And then there are the clothes-I realized today at work that I was clothed head to toe in organic cotton and hemp mixed with polyester fibers from recycled soda bottles and felt the need to share a bit on how we got to this point in our fashion lives.

We have chosen to dress our children well-very well infact. When this first started a year or so ago I about laid an egg at the price of some of the outfits Bird was wearing, but Mia was able to get virtually full price (and often better) for them on EBay after we had outgrown them. In some extent we were leasing their clothes. About the time I sold my first dream car for my second, Mia switched from one boutique brand to Hanna Anderson, a very similar psychological switch. As Honda was pushing their products towards a more sustainable future, so was Hanna. They are committed to producing 10% of all their clothes from organic fibers, and have adopted the European ├ľko-Tex standard for their synthetic fibers-infact over 50% of their line now matches it. The clothes are simply amazing. Ok, the cost a ton, but because they are sized intelligently our kids easily get twice the wear out of them, and the clothes are virtually indestructible. The testimonials on the site are to be believed-our kids wear them daily for 2-3 seasons and they don’t shrink, fade, or fray. So when you finally are finished with them they can go thru another generation or fetch a very tidy price on EBay. All this alone would be a Big Win for us, add in the sustainable fabrics and manufacturing processes and I’m All In. Plus the clothes look amazing while not overpowering the kid’s personality like some of the boutique clothes can.

Awhile back Mia was reading to me that Hanna was striving to get more of their clothes organic. I happened to be reading on the bed with a good view of my closet and noticed that I didn’t own any organic clothes. All this even though I knew cotton to be perhaps the most intensely sprayed crop on Earth. So after Mia and I lost our weight on Weight Watchers and needed clothes that fit we strove to purchase more ethically. First hit again, was the price. Organic jeans from Patagonia are $100-easily 3x a pair at Gap. But looking at my closet again I saw shirts I had been wearing for 8+ years, and several pairs of pants for 5+. A pair of pants at Gap costs less than a tank of gas or a dinner out with the family-but it last 5 years? Either that is the steal of the century, or something ain’t right in the accounting.

Like so much in our Fast Food lifestyle the costs are prorated out to the seventh generation. We are blessed enough to have the money to spend, what right did I have to make my grand kids suffer the environmental costs of me wearing cheap shirts? So we began to switch over to more sustainable fibers-hemp, organic cottons, polyester spun from recycled bottles, Prana even carries a line of shirts made from recycled shirts-and you can send yours back in to be recycled when your done. A note on Prana and Patagonia clothes-their core market is 22 year old mountain climbers (If you are not broad of shoulder and very narrow of waist make darn sure you get their ‘regular’ fit!)

The upside of buying high end clothes is similar to buying organic food. With the higher price comes a decided increase in quality. In this case it is not from heirloom cultivars, but in the much better fit, high tech fabrics, and great cuts. Mia looks drop dead gorgeous in her new clothes! The biggest part for us is that we are voting with our dollars. And like organic you find ways around the price-buy off season and shopping clearance can cut the price in half, and only buying what makes your heart sing cuts your wardrobe in half. Hanna, Patagonia, and Prana are Green Companies that Get It. Gap and Gymboree only care about making a return on their investments, which is not to say that Green Companies aren’t, but that their business plans reflect our world view and we choose to support that.

Plus, now if the going ever gets really bad I can smoke my pants.

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