Sarah of Gallagher and Maddi of Opaline Hue share a little bit about themselves and their journeys with consumerism and ethical fashion. From a young age, both of us felt the pressures of American consumerism and bought into the trap of materialism. In an article titled Materialism and Magazine Advertising During the Twentieth Century, the researchers describe that advertising intended to bring about a culture of consumption in the 20th century. Because this intentional shift in advertising was successful, consumerism began to address the desire for meaning in life, replacing religion in that day. We can both distinctly remember feeling as young girls that having more had meaning. After discussing with each other the change we hope to see in how we as a culture consume, we wanted to share a bit of our stories first.
After that year I proceeded to attend schools where the dress code was just dont show your belly button or wear a top that looks like lingerie (we found a way around that too). I have to say, shopping was SO overwhelming after that! I really wanted everything. I tried to think of a better word to describe that but everything is correct. I couldn’t just have a pair of jeans, I needed each shade of blue jeans, plus a white pair, a red pair, pink, and maybe some fun turquoise too. Then I needed, what like, 3-5 tops to go with each? Gah - talk about am overwhelm for my little brain. Because my parents wouldn’t buy us clothes (beyond absolute necessity), and my allowance wouldn’t make a dent at Hollister, I resorted to second hand shopping and resale shops like Plato’s Closet. (Though in the past I resorted to it, thrift shopping is now a preference for me.) What this limitation in means of acquiring a middle schoolers dream closet did for me was force me to imagine how just a little could go a long way.
In high school my love for fashion took a turn for the better when I realized how cool it was that people could actually make their own clothes. At a church event I learned how to make a basic circle skirt and that night I became hooked on sewing. My leader and I got together often for the remainder of my high school years as she continued to teach me everything she knew about sewing.
My sophomore year of college I began taking classes in patternmaking and construction and I remember feeling so alive in those courses, so sure that this was something I could see myself doing long term.
It was in 2015 that I saw a movie called True Cost that changed my perspective once again on the fashion industry I felt passionate about. I always knew the industry wasn’t as shiny from the inside as it looked on the outside, but this movie shook my understanding and led me to ask a lot more questions.
In 2017 I chose to go back to school at FIT after having already graduated with a liberal arts degree in 2014. It was the greatest adventure of my life. I soaked up every bit of my second-chance education and this one year program had me living and breathing fashion design until ungodly hours. I’ve never worked so hard or enjoyed my work more in my life. Through seminars and friendships I dug more into the concept of sustainable and ethical fashion and clearly wanted to pursue this after graduation.
I had more than enough clothing. I wasted a lot. It wasn’t until I learned more about the industry that these childhood pains began to grow into a realized stance. I was not a middle school sustainable fashion pioneer. I was just a teen who wanted to look hot without spending a fortune or think too hard about what I would wear. My dream was ‘I just woke up like this’ to be my reality. So because of the financial limitations and the overwhelm of everything I felt I needed, I began to choose garments that paired well with others, that could be reworn without looking like it, that could take me further.
I was a young adult in two outdoorsy states: Idaho and Colorado. Spending my college years and beyond shaped by outdoor culture took these childhood seeds and I grew into sustainable fashion lover without the “sustainable fashion” label. Brands like Patagonia and North Face began to teach me about quality in a garment and why that mattered. I only wanted garments that would last just shy of forever. In these communities, the people I spent time around wore a few things on repeat, mixing and matching. There was still status in how one dressed, that never changes with humans. Brand label was still important as people sized each other up. But in this community I felt at ease, as it brought me back to those 6th grade years of peacefully wearing less because I knew it looked and felt good. There wasn’t so much to think about, so much I needed to have. My clothes did their job - keeping me warm, wicking my moisture on a hike, giving me some social status, making me feel cute. I loved not having to think about it as much.
I’ve had two disparate experiences of fashion: Consumer and Creator
On one hand, for my entire adolescence I had a pretty serious shopping obsession. To this day I struggle with the insurmountable advertisements in our inboxes, social platforms, etc. There seems to always be something that I can’t live without but somehow I’ve gotten better at deciphering what is actually a need vs. a want (my parents wish I’d learned sooner).On the other hand, as a teenager I also fell in love with constructing my own garments, and eventually designing them too. This medium of art has fueled and fulfilled me in a way I couldn’t have dreamed and I’m so thankful to have been inspired by those before me and to have the tools and skillset from FIT to create and perfect new designs all on my own.
What I hope for, as a creator and also a business owner, is to also help redeem this industry from both the inside and the outside. I want to aid in the movement of sustainable, ethical fashion in the way we produce clothing but I also want to help shift the mindset of the consumer. Clothes don’t have to be superficial. They don’t have to make us feel desperate for acceptance the way I felt growing up in suburbia. We should be able to buy things that are both useful and also help us celebrate who we are and stand up for what matters to us.
Gallagher launched Spring 2019!
When I began Opaline Hue, I really drew on these experiences I had with fashion growing up. People who know I started a brand immediately dub me a fashionista - which really isn’t true. I just love the craft of garment making and I think we need more clothing that mimics the outdoor community in an urban context. I want to bring that culture of ‘quality and needing less’ to everyday life. I want more clothing that is ridiculously high quality and comfortable, that makes others feel at ease because they don’t have to think about getting dressed or worrying about what they might need. I believe that an ethical supply chain and kindness in business should just be a given. The elements I bring into crafting a healthy and kind business come from those early days in how consumerism and fashion, or lack there of, shaped me. Through Opaline Hue, I hope to encourage a desire for less in our closets and a love of what we have.
Opaline Hue launched in the Spring for a pre-sale and officially launches this Fall!
Confessions of a Shopaholic Reformed: Sarah’s Online Shopping Hacks
- Screenshotting is the new window shopping: I’m here to admit that I have a lot of iphone albums. One of those albums is called my “shopping screenshots” because it contains all of the fleeting items that I’ve screenshotted to remember to buy (or not buy?) later on.
- Shared Wishlist: For the few items that I know I can’t live without but are an “investment item” my husband and I share a note on our iphones (we do this for groceries too!) so that he knows what I’m saving or wishing for when a special occasion comes along. Like the iphone album, this list also makes for easy editing and allows for additional photos (see above) and link sharing.
These two digital hacks are ways for me to keep myself in check when I find something that I “can’t live without” on instagram or my email or the web… tbh I’m adding to one of these every day but hardly pulling the trigger at all.
Below is a guide from Opaline Hue: Thrift Shopping a Capsule Wardrobe, which will give you 9 steps as a guide to thrift shopping a wardrobe unique to you that lasts! Grabbing it will also sign you up for both the Opaline Hue and the Gallagher mailing lists. You won’t be disappointed.
Thank you for reading! We also welcome you to share your experiences with consumerism and ethical fashion with us. You can reach us on instagram @shopgallagher and @opalinehue.