Guest blog by Christal Earle, founder of Brave Soles
As a concept, sustainable fashion can seem confusing when you dig down into it.
In fact, you could be easily forgiven for thinking that it’s only about apparel, materials, supply chains and an elite education in how to basically re-configure the world as we know it.
I get it. I used to think that way, too.
It’s also tempting to put ideas like sustainability into categories or buckets in our mind. Our brain likes to be able to do that with information that can easily be separated to be understood. Much like the different colored bins we use to separate our waste and recyclables, sustainability is often thought of through what you are doing versus what you aren’t doing. Or, how you’re helping versus how you are causing harm. It’s even thought of as how you are succeeding at your mission or failing.
Life is busy, time is precious, and in the end, there are just so many messages coming at us that it’s overwhelming just thinking about the sheer volume of information that we are all just trying to find our humanity through.
And, to top it all off, it seems to rise in waves of issues, doesn’t it? For a while it seems like the whole world is talking about fast fashion and it’s devastating impacts. But then, out of the blue, carbon emissions are a crisis du jour. And then, just when we are working to process and absorb how completely irreversible the damage may be, we suddenly get broadsided with a new crisis around oceans or forests or waterways or glaciers or the myriad of manifestations that books and movies prophesied about well before this century.
The bottom line is that it’s a lot to think about.
And yet, there is something that I have found in the midst of it all that is refreshing and gives me hope.
When much of our life experience leads us to believe that we live in a zero sum world, our default is to lean into concrete numbers, data and results. When you launch a business, one of the first things you need to do is consider who the competition is in your space. As a founder, you are asked to consider who out there is possibly doing what you want to do or doing it in a certain way that you need to take note of. This is just business.
I think many people may think of sustainable fashion in the same way: like we are all somehow competing in a zero sum game where there is only so much to go around. But we have found the reality to be very different in our four years of experience with Brave Soles.
And what if the business of fashion has a higher mission as a whole? A bigger story we are all helping to create? What if, when a brand does something good, we all celebrated the good and shared stories and ideas together that helped to lift up us and our world?
At Brave Soles, we have found that the hidden superpower in the world of sustainable fashion is about celebrating good for the sheer pleasure of realizing we all benefit from that good. Generosity of ideas, celebration and spirit is what truly sets us apart.
What if, when a brand does something good, we all celebrated the good and shared stories and ideas together that helped to lift up us and our world?
Fast fashion is obviously destructive for the planet and over consumption is the enemy of equity. It’s pretty clear to point to all the outside factors of why it hurts us.
But, as Elie Wiesel, a Jewish concentration camp survivor once said, “The opposite of love isn’t hate - it’s indifference.”
Do I hate fast fashion? No, I love people and therefore I want to build a world that honors those we share it with. Do I hate overconsumption? No, I love equity and believe that our choices are powerful and help to turn back the tides of injustice. Do I hate greed? No, I love the power of generosity and sharing what’s possible with people like you.
The hidden superpower of sustainability and fashion is for people like you and me to dig into our humanity, to live generously and to realize that we are connected to what we buy, what we own, and what we choose to love in this life.
It’s not easy, it’s not fast and it’s not cheap. But it is simple, it’s the most efficient way forward and it’s priceless. It starts and ends with a question. And for me, that question is,
“Who do I want to be?”
I wish the same for you.
As the founder and chief optimist of Brave Soles, Christal Earle calls both Toronto and Cabarete, D.R. home. From starting a global charity in 2000 to living between two countries for 10 years, she has kind of done it all.
Brave Soles was born out of her love for people, planet and great shoes.