It is no secret that my love affair with all things Billy Reid has been going on for a while now. I love his fall collection so much, it almost makes me want to bypass my favorite season of summer, almost. Not that anyone could give a fig about my fashion opinion. For Valentine’s Day, David gifted me another Billy Reid sweater, and I gifted myself a Billy Reid shirt tunic that could also double as a great bathing suit coverup for my favorite season. Perfect Valentine’s for me!
Part of my appreciation for Billy Reid stems from my desire to seek out and purchase more of my consumer goods that were manufactured somewhere in the United States to try to contribute to what is left of the American manufacturing industry. I am particularly sensitive to the Southern textile industry. My Mississippi grandmother worked in a textile factory sewing jeans for a large part of her life, until the factory shut down and moved to Mexico. My Pa-Paw was a poor cotton farmer, and in Ma-Maw’s youth, before she moved on to stitching in mass quantities, she grew up picking cotton. Now there are very few cotton gins left in the state of Mississippi and I don’t know how many textile mills remain. So much production has been moved overseas with regard to the textile industry in our country.
Now, it is nice to see that there are beginning to be more people who, like me, are willing to pay a little more money for goods made in the United States by people who are paid living wages. After reading about sweatshop fires in Bagladesh or factory dormitory living conditions in China, who could not? I read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Price of Cheap Fashion. Also, it helps the economy of communities here in the South and there is not much that I wouldn’t do for that.
Anyway, following Billy Reid on Facebook is a great way to find out about other Southern products, and so today I found out about Zkano, an Alabama-based socks manufacturer. Do you know how hard it is to find socks that aren’t made in China? Seriously, I cannot remember the exact statistic from Overdressed, but it is something like 95% of socks in the world come from China. The socks are reasonably priced and fun, and I don’t know when was the last time I was so excited to buy a pair of socks.
And then there is Alabama Chanin. Most of their clothing is handmade by people working in their own homes, making some of their products more expensive than what I can realistically afford. However, they also have a line of Studio-Style DIY kits, where they send you everything that you need and instructions to sewing beautiful garments. I love this idea, and since I now own a sewing machine, have taken one sewing class, and will soon be taking other sewing classes, this gives me something to work for. Maybe making this shawl wouldn’t be so hard, right? Or how about this skirt? I would love to feel the satisfaction of having contributed to make something that beautiful.
Ma-Maw has been gone from this earth for 10 years this May, Pa-paw for over 20 years, but I love that I can find ways to think about them and their lives through ordinary choices that I make about what I buy and what I wear.