How much do you know about who made the clothes you’re wearing? June 15th marked the opening night of Purchasing Power: Chicago’s Relationship with Conscious Consumerism, an exhibit that makes viewers think about this question. The aim is to raise awareness about the unethical and unsafe realities of the modern fashion industry for the environment and for the majority of people who make our clothes. The walls of the gallery are lined with staggering facts about how much clothing we consume and throw away. For instance, the world consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year; Americans specifically send 10 million tons of clothing to the dump each year. The people making these clothes are subject to incredibly long hours and poor conditions—many of them are children.
The exhibit asks viewers to think about these facts in light of their own consumption, but also provides encouragement for change. It showcases a number of businesses in Chicago that are paving the way for a fair and sustainable fashion industry and serving as alternative sources to purchase clothing and accessories. On display are various beautiful garments, pieces of jewelry, scarves, and bags.
Purchasing from Loom, like the other featured ethical brands, is a way to empower the people who made the product you’re buying. When you buy a scarf from Loom, you not only have a beautiful piece to enjoy, but you know that the artisan who made it was paid a livable wage. This exhibit proves that choosing where to purchase from can have a powerful impact on people and the environment. Loom is proud to be a source to use that power for good.
The curator of the exhibit, Shifra Whiteman, is in the process of developing her own ethical fashion brand, Pintl + Keyt, which was also part of the display. She said that the exhibit was created with students in mind—and it truly is a learning experience.The first step to change is learning, so check out Purchasing Power at the Hokin Project Gallery at 623 S. Wabash. The exhibit will be open Monday through Wednesday from 9am-5pm until September 22nd. If you have any old, frayed, or holey clothes or linens, you can bring them with you and they will be sent to the Chicago Textile Recycling Center.