I moved to France 3 years ago to help other Americans find sustainable clothing brands when travelling to Paris.
As a personal stylist, how can I feel guilty about finding people clothes to wear? It’s my job and it makes people happy. But having an ethos of zero waste makes things complicated. This is my Jerry Maguire quandary. Sometimes I want to stand up and just scream "stop buying more stuff!"
But I silence myself and dive deep back into the romanticism of shopping in Paris boutiques. It’s one of the reasons I decided to do this job. It’s one reason why my christmas season in the past had been so , well, merry.
You’d think that shopping for products that were actually good for the environment was the solution. But is it? I guess it depends on what you assumed was the problem. That there were products not good for the environment...ok, and is that it? Is there another presumption? I always presumed that there were good and bad things for the environment and for the most part, our society as well. That’s why you have brands like Method cleaning products, Typology cosmetics and H&M Conscious Collection.
I never thought “shopping for ‘good’ products” was an oxymoronic phrase until now. A red light buzzes slowly flashes on and off on the word ‘shopping’ like a misread credit card. After a couple years living in Paris, my thoughts have changed...a lot.
Shopping is very much an action verb, generally implying to buy something.
As an image consultant, I talk to people about their insecurities around their height, their beauty marks they don't want seen, not feeling ready to be visible, others wanting to be more visible. There is always something to buy, even fabric to recreate items they have in their wardrobe already or tailor items that compliment their body better.
It’s harder than you think though. It’s always the little stuff that gets in the way…like ethos.
Here is where it gets sticky as I polish off a pistachio macaron. It’s the eventual buying of products that mostly one doesn’t need- that is the problem. And as the French Minister of Ecology, recently said, the problem leads to “overconsumption.” I’ve heard that activist statement from a political before.
It seems as though when I moved here from San Francisco, I had all that I needed: a job as a personal stylist, a project with the government of France to expand my vision globally, of sustainable fashion. I was excited to bring Americans here to learn all they could and buy all they could of ‘good fashion’ in Paris.
Who wouldn’t like to do that? To shop for people, just sustainable products? I can show you how to put together an outfit in 2 min, create your next interview look in 5min and buy a whole new wardrobe for you in under 3.5 hours. I am one of the best, most efficient shoppers you’ll ever meet.
There is this huge problem. What are we to do with our extra income, our extra time and our alternative therapy sessions? And what are retailers and designers (to which I was one) to do with their our designs, creativity, and ...extra inventory?
It makes me feel in a very precarious position. I started putting disclaimers on my marketing materials about me recommending products to clients. "Buy at your own risk of over populating the planet with more clothing." `or... "Hire me only if you need me." I felt like patagonia instead of saying “don’t buy this jacket,” say “don’t engage me as a stylist and personal shopper” ...if you don’t really need me. Of course of their campaign sales increased for that 2013 Black Friday sale but I digress.
Maybe we should just ditch the whole thing and focus on what’s most important in life, like family and love and laughter and deepening of our own soul. Until then, I have to get ready for my next client and meet them in the Marais.