Meet Marielle—a woman who does not settle for mediocracy. A voice for slow fashion and size inclusivity, Marielle advocates for brands to take responsibility of their business practices. We sat down with Marielle to discuss why slow fashion begins with you, the consumer.
What does shopping ethically mean to you?
For me, it boils down to consideration. I have really intertwined slow fashion with my approach to curating an ethical wardrobe. It means every purchase I make takes months, not seconds. Who made this garment or accessory? Is this the most ethical option for a piece I know I will wear? Can I see myself wearing it on repeat, for at least 30 wears? Do I truly require this item?
I think ethically shopping—ensuring that garments are made with fair paid labour in safe working conditions—is more than that narrow definition, and also encompasses the ethics of owning more clothing. Another pair of shoes. That bag you just have to have.
How did you make the transition to slow fashion?
I started when I was 18, when I was introduced to Nokomis, an entirely Canadian designed and produced shop that used to reside on Whyte Ave. I learned the value of a quality garment and the importance of investing in your wardrobe. I feel lucky because when I first started buying my own clothing as a young adult, I learned very quickly how to save up, decide what is essential and a re-wear a piece without it losing its initial lustre. I owe so much of who I am to that shop and the values it instilled in me.
How do you justify the price point of slow fashion?
I think I consume a lot less fashion than most would assume. I typically buy a handful of pieces a year. The price, while a significant hurdle and a mark of the ongoing privilege within the slow fashion community, has become manageable since the cost per wear is relatively low, and the quantity of purchases I make per year is low.
Why do you shop ethically?
Because someone is always paying for it. I think we have the luxury of being removed from that reality in Canada, but logically if fabric on a bolt costs X amount and a t-shirt is being sold for less than the raw material, you need to acknowledge that somewhere in that supply chain someone is absorbing that burden so you can wear a cheap $5 t-shirt. And I have the privilege to choose better, to ask brands to do better, to vote with my dollars for an industry that pays everyone fairly throughout the supply chain for their labour and effort.
Fashion should never be prioritized above the basic human rights and needs of another human being. It’s as simple as that.
What are you most proud of that you have accomplished during your time as an ethical blogger?
Without a doubt, I’m most proud of encouraging brands to expand their sizing—to open up slow fashion to a variety of bodies that are often excluded. To use my platform to push for great intersectionality across the board—be that size, age, race and gender. This is a revolution and we need to ensure we’re all fighting to create space for everyone to take part in this shift.
There are two ethical clothing brands that have used my exact measurements to grade their patterns to fit more bodies. I am really proud of that, to imagine people that look like me, that are plus size, being able to wear a beautiful garment because I asked, pushed, encouraged, spoke up.
How do you care for your clothing?
I hand-wash most of my clothing in ice cold water in our bathtub with eco-friendly delicate laundry soap. Glamourous, I know. I fix things with they break and if they no longer are serving me, I try to give away my clothing to my friends. I think the part of care that is often overlooked is how we care for things that don’t fit anymore or just don’t want anymore and how can we keep trying to give that piece an even longer life.
What are easy ways to tell that something is ethical? Red flags, things to look for?
Price. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
How do you keep your personal style while still shopping ethically?
Oh gosh, this is by far and away the hardest challenge for me because, ethically, I don’t feel stunted by lack of choice, but as a plus size person, that style pool gets shallow quickly. I fight for pieces I love, I request custom sizing if there’s ever a piece I really want, even if it’s not listed in my size. I use accessories and makeup to spark creativity and I would argue the way I consider pieces more clearly helps define my style. For me, style is rooted in creativity and play, and by having a smaller wardrobe I am forced to push and challenge myself on the daily.