Skip to content

Don’t Text Gok

December 5, 2011

Teacher“Thanks. It used to be my sister’s”.

This is my regular retort, so overused and worn that I ought to have it printed on a t-shirt, or perhaps tattoo it on my forehead. Here’s the pattern: my sister gives me her reject clothes, I wear them, people compliment me, and I have no choice but to come clean. After all, I can hardly take the credit for clothes I neither chose or paid for. Other than these donations, I tend to wear clothes I’ve owned for far-too-many years, clothes from charity shops and more recently, castoffs from my daughter’s friends… and she’s only thirteen! So this is me. No sense of fashion. No one ever says: Annie, I saw this and just had to buy it for you… it’s so your style. Never. Because I have zero style.

But before you text Gok, pleading with him to ‘sort me’ by taking me clothes shopping and parading me semi-naked on a shopping centre cat-walk… please hear me out. What I’m after is a new look. I’ve recently started my teaching training. Forget potato-printing and nativity plays though, it’s only those aged sixteen and above that I’ll be attempting to enlighten. And herein lies part of the problem: I’m almost thirty-seven, but unfortunately look considerably younger. A month or two ago I got asked for ID in ASDA, when attempting to buy wine (Fair Trade, of course). Yes, I ought not to be complaining, but when I finally qualify I want to be able to ooze authority and ‘teachery-ness’. I don’t want it to be assumed that I’m only a couple of years older than those I’m teaching. Thus, I want a ‘teacher’ look. Not too frumpy, not too daring, not too ‘young’… not too much to ask for, is it?

So when I finally have the money, inclination, motivation and time to purchase this new wardrobe, in which direction shall I head? Charity shops? Maybe, but whereas tops usually work out quite well, I’ve often found that it’s bordering on the impossible to buy charity shop trousers/skirts that fit me properly.

My ‘living simply/ethically’ ethos directs me next to fairly-traded clothes. The main suppliers are generally via catalogues or online. This is a pain as I then can’t try on clothes before buying them (which is never wise). Also, they cost a fortune. I don’t have a fortune to spend – not even half a fortune. I’m not a teacher yet, remember.

Marks ‘n’ Sparks? Perhaps. They do stock some fairly-traded clothes, but not enough that I’d be able to select several complete outfits, especially so if you consider footwear. Also, I’m not sure I’m affluent enough to ‘Per Una’ myself (M&S’s trendier women’s range, in case you weren’t aware).

Primark? Much easier on the wallet, it has to be said. But such cheap clothes freak me out somewhat. Just glancing at them makes me see children in sweat-shops. No purchase is worth supporting unfair-trade, especially something as non-essential as new outfits. However, since Primark was ‘trashed’ via various TV documentaries a couple of years ago, it has pulled its socks up. It doesn’t claim that its socks, or any of its wares, carry the fair trade logo, but it does purport to be an ethical trader  (http://www.primark-ethicaltrading.co.uk/).

High profile companies (such as Primark and McDonalds) boasting such cheap goods, have come under so much pressure to change, they could hardly fail to respond. I wonder if it’s the ‘middle-market’ stores that we ought to be avoiding – ones that lack strict ethical standards, but which aren’t so cheap that they’ve come under enough scrutiny as to be exposed, and forced to change. Or is this simply self-delusion? Attempting to convince myself that it’s acceptable to shop at Primark, just because I can get more for my money?

Who knows? Well, I expect God knows, to be fair. My best bet is probably to pray before I finally set out on my image-altering shopping expedition, and to take it from there. That, or just to hope that my sister buys herself several new ‘teachery’ outfits in the near future, and soon tires of them.

(Annie, who hangs out here: www.annieporthouse.com )

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Tonksthecat permalink
    December 5, 2011 10:29 pm

    Thank you Annie, as a former teacher in my late 30’s and a dedicated vascillator between charity shops and High street shops (when ‘pass-on’s let me down) I was ticked by your post.

    The other week I looked into this theory of the mid-price retailers being worse than Primark these days and found on “labour behind the label” website an ethical clothes manufacture comparison thingy which rated these compaines on paying a living wage to supply chain bods. (It doesn’t include Fairtrade cotton, environmental sustainability and animal rights)

    1/5 = Debenhams, fat face, h&m, peacocks, gap, fcuk, River Island
    2/5=Tesco, Burberry, Matalan, Sainsburys
    2.5/5= Arcadia
    3/5= Asda George, Primark(!),
    New Look 3.5/5= M&S, Monsoon/acessorise,

    A friend who works for Gap in this sphere said “It’ll be about ensuring the vendors have clean dormitories for their workers, payment of minimum wage, and not employing anyone under the relevant school leaving age for the country, Fair trade are usually small farmers and there is only so much to go round the big retailers – China cannot be fair traded so they are out of the figures.. at Gap we a whole team devoted to working with and educating our vendors – its possible we were late with the info”

  2. December 5, 2011 10:50 pm

    Ah – interesting! I am not surprised about Primark, New Look, M&S and Monsoon’s rating… but I didn’t think Asda George would be up there in the 3/5!

    Ultimately, the companies solely dedicated to Fair Trade (Traidcraft, for example, who sell clothes) must be the 5/5 scorers, as they find where there is need, set up projects, then sell the goods over here, etc. But then they are teeny tiny compared with the big stores, and can’t possibly sell anything like as much as, say, M&S can. Sad, but true.

    So ought I to by FT clothes from M&S to encourage them and enable them to sell more and more FT, or buy from Traidcraft who have been ‘at it’ for 30 odd years and know what they’re doing?
    Or will the couple of items I purchase make no difference whatsoever to the state of the world…?!

  3. Hannah Turay-Selli permalink
    January 26, 2015 2:56 am

    Need information regarding used clothes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: