little luxuries

Why is it a luxury for people to have fundamental rights, such as safe working conditions? I ended my history discussion questions with this question. One my of assigned readings for this class is from Rosalind Williams' Dream Worlds. I read chapter 6 this week and it is really causing me to question so much about consumer culture, the sustainable/slow living culture, and real life for the majority of people (at least how it appears to me). It's clear that sustainable/slow living isn't cheap, at least not upfront, which makes it incredibly difficult for the number of people living from paycheck to paycheck or with limited incomes (like students college and high school) to live this ethical lifestyle. It's even harder when you don't know the quality of a product, because it is not as mass produced as products found in stores like Walmart or Target or at your local mall. It's one of the many reasons I started this website, and while I actively try to find affordable ethically produced objects I must admit it is very difficult. Granted I know that the money I invested in my Brother Vellies, for instance, is money well spent because the craftsmanship is impeccable and I like to think of it as the shoe equivalent of a cast iron pot. I know not everyone has the ability to spend nearly $300 on pair of shoes (side note: I saved my Christmas money to buy them as a Birthday gift). And while there are more affordable options like thrift shopping or buying stuff off ebay (which is also where I bought my second of BV's  for $35) or catching an amazing sale on certain items, like the BV's at Nasty Gal for less than $100 #nolongeravaliable. These are not all options for a lot of people, thrifting takes time, a lot of time to find good items and knowing where to go (which takes even more time). Yes, I've lucked out a few times when I have gone and found gems but a lot of times it times a few hours which is not the best option when you are pressed for time. Finding good deals online takes a little bit less time, but it is still a considerable amount of time, luck, and following the right people/sites. Then however there is this issue of quality. When I ordered my BV's it was before Kanye, Zendaya, and Kendall Jenner were wearing them and before they won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award. There were pretty much no sites (blogger and otherwise) that really displayed the shoes. They were mentioned a few times various major fashion magazines, but never really as the focal point. Know that has changed which is great, but at the time, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I ordered the most expensive object I had ever purchased, I think I was 16 or 17. I was honestly terrified, especially when riots broke out in South Africa and slowed down the process of my shoe delivery (it took 6 months). This actually petrified me, because I thought I was getting ripped off, but BV stayed in contact with me through the entire ordeal. When they arrived I actually hated them (mainly the shape), but I also hated this pair of black shorts I bought from J.Crew but I ended falling in love with both  of them. They were very different from anything I had ever owned before, but I soon grew to love them and was ecstatic I took the chance. The thought of actually hating them was nerve wrecking because they do not offer refunds, so I would have lost nearly $300. This is a reasonable fear, which feeds this idea of buying lesser quality items because there is less to lose financially. You never know the quality when you buy stuff online, where most ethically produced items live. On a different note, I bought shorts from Punjammies, a while back and I thought they were amazing and perfect, design wise they are, quality wise not so much for a few of my pair that started to rip and tear a few months in. The fabric worn down rather fast which is really disappointing, because they were not too expensive (I think I bought them during Black Friday, when they were having a sale). If I had known that 3 out of the 4 pair I bought would fall apart I wouldn't have bought those three pair. The shorts themselves were well made the fabric just wasn't thick enough, but that's kind of hard to tell online. Which brings me back to my original question. Why is it a luxury for people to have fundamental rights, such as safe working conditions? So many of the product I feature (or plan to) are scuttle on the cusp of luxury (I going to define that as below approx $600 with luxury being $700+ for a single item, I realize this isn't the most accurate scale but I did it to include Shinola watches in a general sense [ further reasoning: a Shinola (or any $600 dollar watch) wouldn't be considered luxury next to a Rolex (or any other watch above $3k) so technically the price scale varies between object categories]), but even then these ethically produced objects for sustainable/slow living are considerably more than other objects. I always say these more expensive items reflect the true cost of the item, were it to be made in an ideal world or closer to ideal. I still believe this to be true, but my bigger question is why humans allow for this to happen. How can we as humanity justify the price of cheap objects? Objects made with near (or in some cases) slave labor. Why is doing/supporting the right/better thing considered a luxury, not affordable to most? Why is it a luxury for people to have fundamental rights, such as safe working conditions and a living wage? I aim as I go into this new year (I realize February) that I will be able to showcase more affordable options (and detail them on the map), create some sort of guide for thrift shopping (not entirely sure yet it could be another map and probably will be), and also put a notice up of sales (which even is sometimes still to expensive). 

Share this:

, ,



Post a Comment