Letters from RMM

Appropriation or Evolution

By Rachel Maskell

Hello Bella!


How are you this gorgeous day?


This week has been pretty full - working on a fashion exhibition for my visual merchandising class and getting ready for a market on Saturday. With some help I built 3 free standing walls for the exhibition...building isn’t too different from sewing, it all requires a lot of measuring and attention to detail. 


While I’ve been building and producing I have been listening to Wardrobe Crisis by Clare Press. One of the topics that comes up frequently in her work is cultural appropriation. But, it isn’t just on her podcast, it’s buzzing around the fashion industry quite prominently. And I’m sure there are some who would love to swat it away. 


I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic too. It’s obvious when it’s done poorly, thank you Kim, but there are a lot of nuances that can go unnoticed unless you know the backstory and understand the history. As consumers this is hard to do. We may see a brand making efforts on the runway or in their ad campaigns but then hear about all the ways they screwed up. It’s confusing sometimes for me as a consumer so it must be incredibly challenging for the industry. 


What I do know is that we are evolving as consumers and because of that the industry has to catch up and evolve with us. Just like any relationship the way these sensitive topics are brought up and introduced matters. When your partner isn’t listening to your concerns you know it. Or when the response is met with little regard to execution, frustration ensues. Our relationship with brands is not much different. We want to be heard and met with integrity and understanding. 


Which means it often comes down to intention. 


Is that brand utilizing that model or choosing that design to check off a box? Or are they giving credit where it’s due and recognizing that the population is diverse and we are not a trend.


You? What do you think about this topic? Any best or worst examples that stand out to you? Would love to hear if you have a moment. 


Big love,


RMM

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Can we ever be sustainable?

By Rachel Maskell

Hello my lovely friend,


How are you this beautiful autumn day?


A few weeks ago I was having brunch in LA with some friends. And, of course, the topic of fashion and sustainability came up.  One friend simply said I don’t believe in sustainability. It was bold but I wasn’t surprised. It’s something I have been hearing before...how do you define it, how do you achieve it, are brands really adhering to it or are they just green washing?



By its very definition sustainability assumes no depletion of the earth's natural resources. Although I think we could do better as a society to reduce our consumption, it seems unrealistic and potentially not even desirable to stop altogether. Perhaps just by using the word ‘sustainable’ we are setting ourselves up for failure, taking on an unachievable lofty goal.



What we need is a real solution. One that empowers change that lasts and new ways of thinking. What we need is something cyclical, that honors the paradigm of giving and receiving. 


As my friend put it, “what we need is regenerative fashion.”


The food movement opened the conversation and continues to propel it forward with regenerative agriculture. Putting back into the soil the nutrients and minerals we depleted. This can be done for the textile industry as well but also for brands. An example he gave is TOMS and the first ‘one for one’ initiative. This approach to social responsibility is growing but can go further...oh so much further. 


I think the approach to regenerative fashion can be dynamic and creative, allowing brands to give back in new ways, to participate in the conversation that aligns with their values, and still support the needs of the planet now. 


I choose to participate in the movement through the resell of vintage natural fibers and accessories. Finding items that still have life and value to add to a wardrobe. I choose to work with pre-existing materials and limiting the purchase of new items. I look for ways to rework things before throwing them out, even conventional trash. 


So now it’s your turn. How do you participate? What does sustainability or regenerative fashion mean to you? Does one resonate more than another? 


Drop a line if you have time. 


XOXO,


RMM

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The hidden influences

By Rachel Maskell

Hello Gorgeous!


How’s the weather where you are? Fall is in the air here with cold mornings and warm afternoons. My wardrobe is changing - along with longer hemlines the colors are shifting into a more muted palette. 


But weather isn’t the only thing that impacts what I wear, or what we wear collectively. One of my favorite things to learn about is the influence of politics, war, economics, and globalization on fashion. I think it’s one of the best ways to learn about our history and to put into context what the world was like and how we functioned in it. 


Take as a primary example: WWII. During this time there was rationing of metal and fabric. Women were brought into the workforce so their clothing had to become more practical. “Make do and mend” was a call to action for all women to repurpose clothing. Men’s suits became women’s suits. Wide shoulders from the 80s were influenced by the 40s and the shift into a more masculine silhouette. 


I don’t want to bore you if this kinda info isn’t your thing. My point is that fashion isn’t an isolated industry. It’s a visual representation of the era we’re in. It’s a reaction to the people and their environment. And it’s constantly evolving.


As long as people wear clothes fashion is not going away. But it does need to change, and it will. As we become more environmentally and socially conscious and as more and more options become available we have the opportunity to redirect the industry. This will likely be a bottom up movement, coming from the smaller voices that band together and take action through their buying power and social reach. 


It’s up to us to stop trivializing fashion and to recognize its influence on us and our influence on it. What we wear now and how we choose to wear it will impact future generations. What’s your future look like?


Big big love,


RMM




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Spotted in the dust

By Rachel Maskell

Hello my friend!


Happy Virgo season. This is my favorite time of year as it’s my birthday month and new beginnings. 


We just got back from the Playa. It was my fifth year and Kaliana’s first, although she only stayed till Thursday morning...thank goodness!


While out there amongst the art, the lights, and shiny things I spotted a lot of leopard print. Not only in my wardrobe but just about every tenth person had some reference of a big cat on their costume. This of course made me delighted and also got me thinking. Why so many spots?


Yes, I recognize that it’s in all the shops. H&M was covered in it last time I went. But I think there is more to it than that. Big cats use their spots to hide and camouflage into their surroundings while we wear it for the opposite reason. We want to be noticed. We want to stand out and exert our dominance. We want to be sexy and fierce. We want to be playful and strong. And we want the feminine. So in walks the cat. The Big Cat. 


Perhaps the leopard is the totem of this time. Representing a strength and dignity we all need. Representing the power of the feminine and our individuality. These are characteristics of resiliency that will serve us well into the future. 


It’s time to sharpen our claws, work on our ROAR, and dare to put on our best spots. 


This year is going to be FIERCE. 


xoxo, 


RMM



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You do You

By Rachel Maskell

Hello my beautiful friend!


How are things? 


I went from full on travel, to home, to full on Burning Man prep crafting hats, sewing lights, and creating my first art couture all upcycled chain vest. (See pic below). I’ve been so busy in the physical world I’ve trailed off in the digital world. How does one keep up?!


Last night I had a phone call with the camp teacher that Kaliana has been attending. Ms. Karen is a retired Waldorf instructor and deeply understands the psychology of child development. We spoke about Kaliana’s behaviors and how it relates to her going into first grade: her tendency to emotionally manipulate me, her demanding language, and bedtime challenges. 


Ms Karen shared some insight about this sacred time; how they’re developing their individual self and finding more ground and awareness in the world around them. It can be scary and overwhelming which can lead to very challenging behaviors. She offered plenty of tools to help but the one that stood out most was setting boundaries energetically by putting on my imaginary crown, standing tall, and exuding the vibe of Queen/King of my domain. 


This is not rocket science, I know that. This is also not new to me. Except, at this point in time it couldn’t be more poignant. As her world shifts she pushes and pulls on me, the safe space. What she is looking for and needs is stability. A loving pillar. 


The reality is that we all need this. We are flailing around looking for a point of stability and reference that tells us we’re safe, we are loved, and all is well. 


The difference is as an adult we can, and should, seek this stability within ourselves. Take some deep breaths, tune in to our inner guidance, and step off the hamster wheel. I know, easier said than done. 


I mention this now because so many things are changing. The pace of the world and the demands on our time are ever increasing. Feeling out of sorts is becoming the new normal and I’m afraid if we keep looking outside of ourselves for stability we will be lost with the herd. 


Let’s not get trampled on or caught up in everyone else. Now is the time for You. What do You want? This is the deep inner You. What makes You happy and thrive? What does your imaginary crown look like and how often do you wear it? 


Choosing You isn’t selfish. It’s the greatest gift the world can receive right now. 


Big love, 


RMM







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Some things deserve a second chance

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Darlin’!


How’s it going? We’ve made it back to Sac town; it was a bit of an adjustment coming back, but after spending the past week getting the house sorted it feels good to be home. 


I picked up some more amazing silk scarves while in London for the shop. Ribbon scarves are in and I found several at thrift stores that I just hand washed this morning and set out to air dry. They’re so pretty blowing in the wind. 


I know there is still a bit of stigma around buying things second hand. There’s a fear that there are cooties or something lurking in the fabric that makes it unsafe. Or it’s uncool because it’s not what’s in season. Or someone will find out and think you’re too poor to buy new. 


The thing is, even these beliefs are outdated. 


We have access to laundry facilities in a way that they didn’t when cooties were actually a thing. We can wash the clothes we purchase. This should be done for new or used clothes after we buy them. 


How does anyone stay up to date with what’s in season when the amount of seasons in fashion has gone from 2 to ‘52 micro seasons’ with fast fashion anyway?

I think the positive outcome of this insane production and design schedule is we can wear what we want, what makes us happy. There’s no hard and fast trend since it’s constantly changing. 


Fiscal responsibility is a lot sexier than being broke and dealing with credit card debt. Fast fashion brands capitalize on this because they know we don’t want to spend a lot of money on clothes. The problem with their model are the garment workers on the other end. Until they are getting paid a fair working wage it feels unfair to me to be a bargain hunter for clothes that likely won’t even last. 


Second hand means feeling good about the environment and women’s rights when purchasing. Knowing that most thrift stores go back into caring for communities in need and no new chemicals or production runoff was produced through the clothes is empowering. 


Plus there are so many amazing things at thrift stores! I know not everyone has the time to sort through all the other crap that is also there so that’s why I’ve started my shop and request line


Together we can change the perspective of second hand making the most of resources that are already available.


Big big love,


RMM

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There’s always room

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Gorgeous!


How are you? How’s your summer holidays? 


I was going to write last week but it was the last day on our boat trip and WiFi wasn’t easy to come by, so I postponed. 


Last week was also the end of #the100dayproject and my #100days100outfitsnothingnew challenge. Between lots of travel, a few special events, and changing seasons it was a good challenge for sure! Mixing things up wasn’t too hard, took a little more thought and coordination, but the only way to really be different day to day requires boldness. Some days I felt it and others were pretty DT. 


The hardest, of course, was in the packing. In this case there absolutely wasn’t always room. It’s a constant reorganizing and sorting and shedding of items. The boat trip required even more shedding. 


But the things that don’t require physical space, there was, and is, room for more. Room for more banter. Room for more fun and play. Room for love and friendship. Room for self growth and appreciation. 


There’s space for all sorts of intangible things. The question is...what will you pack? 


Big big love,


RMM



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When being single isn’t cool

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Darling!


Happy summer vibes to you. I’ve started on our summer holiday and currently in Croatia. It’s hot but absolutely lovely here. 


When we breezed through NY on our way across the pond we went to an amazing picnic where we were asked not to bring any single use plastic. It was the first time I had been to a party or picnic where that was the request. It was wonderful and a little challenging since we weren’t local. 


But I was thrilled that this was a thing. James was so committed we found paper cups to bring. They also had cool canned water called Liquid Death. Super fun. And the challenge is good. 


When you start becoming aware of plastic you realize it’s everywhere. From small bits to cover tops of bottles to the bottles themselves and endless toys. It’s not that I have a solution but there are brilliant people out there who do. As consumers we must be aware and participate in doing things differently. And this includes our clothes. Polyester is plastic. Plastic comes from oil and wars are often fought over oil. 


I don’t think I will be able to break my habit overnight, especially while traveling but single use plastic isn’t cool. It's never single...it doesn’t go away it changes. 


My solution for now is to carry a water bottle, a reusable straw, and my own bags. To limit my use of plastic when and where possible. To not buy poly fabrics. To support innovation and make an effort to change behaviors. 


What are your solutions? How are you breaking the plastic habit? Would love to hear your thoughts and strategies. 


Big love,


RMM

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