Mariposa Vintage Explains the Slow Fashion Movement
Conchi Ruiz Cabello shares how everyday consumers can be more mindful about their fashion decisions.
With the fashion industry being one of the greatest sources of waste in the world, it’s becoming increasingly important to make educated and mindful decisions about where we source our clothing. In an effort to learn more, we decided to talk to Conchi Ruiz Cabello, the owner and curator of Mariposa Vintage about what everyday consumers can do to be more mindful about their fashion decisions.
Mariposa Vintage is an online retail space that seeks to lessen the impact fast fashion has on the planet by rescuing vintage secondhand goods that may have seen better days, repairing them and selling them on an online platform. Most of the goods are colorful and unique, made of natural fibers and have travelled around the world.
RIM: What is slow fashion?
The way I understand slow fashion is making more conscious, sustainable choices when you buy your clothes. It is buying better-made garments that will last longer and can be combined easily with other garments that you would wear over and over again despite the trends. It is buying less and choosing better.
Over the past couple of years, the slow fashion movement has exploded and shoppers have become more aware, or at least curious about where their clothes come from. Consumers are starting to read their labels and question how a ten-dollar sweater from H&M was made, and in what conditions… I like to think that we are starting to use our purchasing power more carefully and selecting brands, or shops that care and source their products ethically.
There are many ways to transition to an ethical wardrobe. One is to buy sustainable brands, of course. But if you can’t afford it, there are plenty of other ways. Shopping vintage is one of them!
Vintage items are used, so you are recycling, reusing and reducing waste altogether. It is normally affordable and you can buy from and support small businesses like Mariposa Vintage, or source your own. Either way, you will be supporting local charities. Vintage garments are better made and unique: you will rarely come across two pieces that are the same and the odds of running into someone wearing the same dress are very slim! And my favorite part: each piece has a story behind it, from its past life.
RIM: What motivated you to begin Mariposa Vintage?
I had been shopping and sourcing vintage for years. But I never thought much of it. I enjoyed it. That was it. Vintage gave my personal style a nice twist. Last year, I lost my full-time job and I went through a bit of a breakdown. Let’s call it a soul-searching phase! I was trying to reconnect with myself and find something that would bring me joy.
One day, I started posting vintage items for sale on Instagram very quietly. Nobody knew. I would put my heart into each photo and caption, but I was not trying to impress anybody, I was just telling stories and sharing about something I love. And the response I received blew me away. It was like magic. These dresses were from my own personal collection and were selling faster than I could handle at that time. Soon I was sourcing daily, building a website and scheduling events. My first market at the Arcade in Providence was a dream come true! I will never forget that night.
RIM: What impact does buying used clothing (versus buying new) have on the environment?
The impact is huge! Thirty-two billion garments are produced for the US market each year and sixty-four percent of them end up in a landfill. By choosing to shop vintage, or used clothing, you are not only making a style choice. You are showing the world you care. We have to change our buying patterns and specifically buying garments that you will wear twice and throw away shortly after. It is not just about the garment itself. It is about the resources that went into making it. About the labor that produced it. Shop less, do your homework and choose carefully. Wear until it falls apart. Donate, resell and swap if necessary.
RIM: Why do you focus on natural fibers?
My collection has evolved a lot since I opened the shop a year ago. But style, color and fiber are still my compass. One of the biggest environmental costs of fast fashion comes from the use of synthetic fibers. Polyester is present in the majority of today’s clothing, and it can take decades to degrade. Besides, linen is so comfortable and durable. Silk comes in the most vibrant colors! I do carry some fiber blends that include synthetic occasionally, if the piece is too special to let go. It is still second-hand and better in my rack living another life than in a landfill.