Monday, April 29, 2013

The story of my new boots


I bought a new pair of boots on the weekend. I love them - they are black, fit exactly right,  and have a cool chunky exposed zip. Classic with an edge. Perfect with jeans, perfect with winter dresses. You can spend decades looking for the perfect boot, so I am really really really glad I found it.

And the best part is that the boots were made here in Australia. I can't remember the last time I saw shoes made here in Oz, but these were. Admittedly they were on the pricey side, but every time I thought about getting a cheaper pair I kept having images flash in my head of the poor people buried alive in the clothing factory collapse in Bangladesh. Sure, the other boots might have saved me a few dollars, but at a morally reprehensible cost to somebody else. And that I just couldn't do.

So I paid the big bucks, and walked out of the shop happy that I had chosen a pair of boots that were made in decent conditions by well paid workers right here at home. Plus these boots can be resoled and reheeled for years to come - if I look after them properly, I should have them for a long long time. My well made, well looked after boots will be the very antithesis of fast fashion. And even though I have pretty much blown my entire clothing budget for the year on them, I think I've made a good choice.

I know I touched on the subject of fast fashion only a few weeks ago, but this latest tragedy has made me realise once again how far removed we are, as consumers, from the production conditions of so many of the things we buy. There's a great opinion piece in today's Age newspaper, and one of the points made really struck a cord with me. The author states:
How much are my modern first-world luxuries dependent upon the dark satanic mills of a Dickensian global south? And if I would never buy battery hen eggs then why on earth would I buy clothes made in similar conditions?

Exactly. So that's my goal from now on - if I can't be making my own clothes (or those of Tyger) I shall be doing my utmost to make sure that the clothes I do buy are from companies whose workers get fair conditions and proper pay. I might not have a bulging wardrobe, but at least I won't have a guilty one.


  1. What an eloquent, thoughtful and thought provoking post.

  2. I love reading posts by ethically conscious sewing bloggers. It makes me take more pride in my craft. However, I don't mean to be a downer (or maybe I do), is it enough to sew your own clothes if you're using fabric made of cotton or another fiber that is picked by exploited labor? What about the production process? Do the workers who make the fabric get exposed to toxic chemicals? I don't really know about textile production, but I don't think the exploitation starts in garment factories.

    This is a thought that I have had for a while now. I try to deal with it by buying more vintage or thrifted fabric than newly produced fabric. I think everyone should keep in mind that sewing your own clothes doesn't mean you are completely boycotting the exploitation process.

  3. That's a fair and very valid point, Michelle. It's another reason why finding out the provenance of anything you buy is so important, and why we should be pushing companies to make their entire supply chain processes as transparent as possible.

    I try and use remnant fabric as much as I can, for example - while I can't guarantee that the fabric hasn't been produced under less the perfect conditions (due to lack of available information concerning this), at least I know that by using it, I'm not letting it go to waste, which often happens in the textile industry.

  4. tragic, tragic story.

    Interesting comparing the chickens to people. i never bother buying free range / organic because I've always thought that people come first, and when there are people out there suffering I'm not devoting any of my concern (or dollars) to animals. That probably makes me a bad person, but whatevs.

    I read a bunch of the comments to the bangladesh story on the news sites, just made me mroe depressed. If yuo don't buy the clothes, then all these people will be out of a job.. if you pay them better wages things become unaffordable.

    I'm reading a book right now (World War Z) and while the premise is stupid, it's actually a really interesting look at how you would rebuild when everythings gone to shit - people having to learn to do everything themselves, relying on locally made everything. Is that the only solution? I just think life is what it is, and it sucks for a lot of people.

    That was a lot of nonsense. It's hard to reconcile. Good on you for being more ethical, but for the average joe (probs including myself), it's not going to happen :(

  5. I wonder about the fabric I sew with, the food I eat, the things I buy. I wonder who makes this stuff and how it finds it's way to me. I try to make the best decision I can and while it may not always be the best choice we can only try our best to do what we can.
    PS I agree, it can take years to find a great pair of boots and looking after them will help them to last years!

  6. Are they RM Williams? Just wondering as I am after a new pair of boots to and would like to buy made in Australia.

  7. Such a timely post. I last bought a pair of boots 7 years ago. I'm still wearing them. They still look great. New heels and soles every couple of years. I'm with you on a smaller but more ethical wardrobe.

  8. Ooh, go one better *next time* and go cruelty free! and

    Both on Smith St, Fitzroy.

  9. Great post Jorth! I can completely understand how excited you are to get the perfect pair of boots :-) 13 years ago I found a pair that fit my wider than average legs. They were Italian made and cost $399 (back then a fortune) It took me ages to pluck up the courage to spend that much money on a pair of boots. When I finally did I wore them to death. I actually had them re soled and heeled about 5 or 6 times. Recently while I was in London they finally split and I had to accept that they could not possibly be fixed. So I left them behind in the bin in our hotel in London. I felt really bad. Like I was leaving a friend behind. They were the best money I have ever spent on any clothing. Now I am trying to replace them. No luck so far :-(

  10. Hi Ronniie

    The boots are by a brand called Topouzian, and I purchased mine from Zomp. Although I've heard the RM Williams ones are fantastic, too.

    xo Leisl

  11. Hi Liesl,

    Thanks for the information. Unfortunately zomp don't have any of the Topouzian boots in my size - 10. But I have an RM Williams store close by so I will go in there and see what they have.

    Have a wonderful week,


  12. They're not made in Australia, but I've got a pair of flat tan boots on layby at Peter Sheppard - with hand-stitched soles :-)

    They cost heaps, but I will wear them to work until they look tatty, then I'll wear them on weekends until they can't be repaired again.

    Not something I can do with a pair of heels - so I can definitely justify the price.

    OTOH, Anna Fiori has a shop in the Block Arcade, and they have a factory somewhere in Brunswick (I think). They make fairly conventional shoes, but they will make to order for much the same price - things like changes in heel height, colour, and difficult to fit feet.

  13. Anonymous7:03 am

    I was just mulling this tragedy over today after busting out our warm weather clothes (we are in Canada). While we buy exclusively from thrift stores, including my sewing fabrics and are the lucky recipients of hand-me-downs (4 children) how complicit are we?
    On another note: always a treat to start a new season with new boots-yum!


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