Discover more from Blackbird Spyplane
Is buying used clothes unethical??
Plus: Why popping brands do evil things & Yassir Lester on rocking morally ambiguous jawns
Today’s a special edition of “Personal Spyplane” in which we chill atop a mountain in a state of GORPED-OUT CONTEMPLATION & sagely consider yr questions about the intersection of jawns …. and morality.
@ilyagram asked: “Is vintage the solution to eco-conscious fashion?” while @chapelperilous came at the same issue from another direction: “Thoughts on thrift / second-hand reselling being environmentally beneficial vs. socially unethical? Lately I’ve seen folks throwing it in with the term ‘gentrification,’ viewing it as capitalizing on / stealing from a platform that’s supposed to be utilized by those of low income…”
This is the 1st time we’ve heard of this argument (which @chapelperilous emphasized he wasn’t making, only paraphrasing) and damn, it is dumb as hell. It’s not as though copping a SICK TRACY CHAPMAN T-SHIRT for $20 at Goodwill OR for $120 thru an Instagram seller means that a less-fortunate person will be denied clothing … Our economically precarious / immiserated brothers & sisters face a crushing number of problems in this country, but a lack of access to inexpensive clothes isn’t near the top of the list. 2 the contrary, there’s an overabundance of (artificially) cheap s**t getting made and then carted to landfills or literally SET ON FIRE when it goes unsold — by “artificially” cheap we’re referring to the huge hidden costs of a mass-produced garment, e.g. the environmental impact of producing, distributing & eventually trashing it, not to mention the exploitation of the workers who made it.
Secondhand clothing is a beautiful thing — among other virtues, a fire old jawn reminds anyone who sees u FLEXING IN IT that u don’t need to endlessly re-up on new s**t just because marketing tells u to do so. And u can zero in on the bogosity of the “thrifting is bad actually” argument by inspecting the idea of something that’s “supposed to be utilized by those of low income.” Go down that road and you wind up arguing that access to Goodwill should be financially means-tested… That’s corny / evil thinking that echoes fake-populist POLITRICKAL SNAKES who argue against obviously good s**t like free public college by saying, “buhhh, then a millionaire’s kids can go to school for free” when what they really mean is “my rich donors don’t want their taxes to go toward improving other ppl’s lives.” The analogy we’re making here between universal social programs & vintage resellers is not one-to-one (who’s the donor-class equivalent here — ZARA and Urban Outfittters??) but the underlying moral logic holds.
In summary: cop used jawns / cop fewer jawns / cop ZERO jawns all day.
-Goodwill’s online store — if u dig deep — contains gold.
-The Blackbird SpyMall contains secondhand treasures we spot in our Mach 3 recon runs.
-Fantasy Explosion is one of the present-day vintage-reseller GOATS and follows Blackbird Spyplane on Instagram so clearly their taste-level is Mach 3+; we also f**k with Constant Practice, Monarch Studios, Somewhere Someplace, Way Out Cache, Moth Food
@charliefranco “What footwear has New Balance comfort but doesn’t give money to evil s**t? I realize that this may be an impossible question, but the recon has been unbeatable so I had to ask.”
Wow — Throwing Fits’ resident GROMMUNIST ANGEL “Chancleta Chuck” came thru with 1) an accurate assessment of Blackbird Spyplane’s recon (it is “unbeatable”) and 2) a thorny thicket of a question. New Balance is a fascinating case study for looking at the jawns <—> ethics continuum... On one hand they make classics & do popping collaborations … OTOH their founder & chairman has given $$$ to right-wing goons including the president… On the other other hand they r one of the few major brands to produce a bunch of sneakers in the U.S. … Tho on the other other other hand — as we know from watching Norma Rae (& reading BBSP homey Naomi Fry’s recent essay about its enduring relevance) just because something’s made domestically doesn’t mean laborers are being treated right: just look at L.A. garment-workers’ current struggles for better pay.
So hold all that in yr head, then consider the environmental impact of manufacturing, plus the abject animal-cruelty of the leather industry … and u realize that every major brand engages in some degree of the above, because in the system as currently configured, evil s**t is unavoidable. When it comes to “ethical purchases,” the market will only ever offer u a narrow range of false and/or mostly symbolic options — i.e., u can boycott Uber, but if u take Lyfts instead yr rocking live & direct with yr man Peter Thiel. The mind-f**k here is that even when brands give money to good causes they can still do world-worsening s**t like prevent workers from unionizing, abet cruelty to animals, create kilotons of pollution to create kilotons of stuff no one actually wants or needs, and dodge taxes while the social-safety-net frays ...
This is where we crash up against what Marxist scholars refer 2 as “the impossibility of ethical jawns-copping under capitalism.” The way forward isn’t to stop caring — it’s important to be mindful of this stuff and spend yr $$ accordingly — but to realize that, as battlefields go, deciding which brand yr gonna cop a jawn from is far from the most meaningful zone of political action, and putting too much prominence on it is a waste of passion & energy that u could aim elsewhere, like, for instance, the fight for universal healthcare or, on a more-local scale, groups like The Garment Worker Center.
And if u decide u don’t wanna cop 990s but do want to stride upon marshmallows there r always Mono Runners and Speedgoat 4s, baby.
“Can you separate the jawn from the artist??” — @blackbirdspyplane
We are the uncontested no. 1 newsletter for “unbeatable ethical reasoning” on dope under-the-radar joints, but that doesn’t mean we can’t ask questions ourselves. We put the query above to comedian & BBSP homey Yassir Lester, after we learned that his personal archive of cherished possessions includes a Michael Jackson t-shirt, above right, that he rocks proudly, to this day, despite the many heinous allegations against Jackson.
Blackbird Spyplane: Real talk, this shirt makes us a little uncomfortable. What’s the deal?
Yassir Lester: “OK, let’s dig into it. It’s from his This is It tour, which never happened, because he died before it started. I was working on a TV show last year, and one of the ladies on the crew was wearing this. I’m a big Michael Jackson fan, so I went up to her and said, ‘I’ll give you $100 for that right now.’ She said, ‘Not a chance.’ But I kept thinking about it, and one day in January I go on Grailed — I’m trying to get into the habit of not buying new clothes, because there’s so much waste — and there it is.
“So I get the shirt, my girlfriend sees it and says, ‘It’s dope — you can’t wear it.’ And I say, ‘Watch me.’ She says, ‘Why? It’s not so edgy that it’s brave, and it’s not so benign that it’s nothing.’ I was, like, ‘Valid point, but I like it.’ My thinking is, take the date when the first allegation against him is supposed to have happened — you can enjoy anything MJ-related that happened before that. And this shirt is a picture of him as a child — who’s coming after him?”
Blackbird Spyplane: To what extent are you ‘trolling’ when u rock this?
Yassir: “That’s the bummer: It might seem like I’m trying to get a rise out of people when I wear it, but I’m not that person. It’s just a thing that I like that happens to get a rise out of people. It’s at this axis of nostalgia and the idea of, like, when does responsibility override nostalgia?
“Here’s what I’ll say. There’s no world where you can pay me to rock a Bill Cosby shirt. No world. But comedy is so low on the ladder of important art that if a comedian’s a monster it’s like, ‘Peace, we don’t need more comedians’ — whereas, Michael Jackson?? Michael Jordan doesn’t even hold a candle to what Michael Jackson accomplished. Maybe everyone has someone like this, where no matter what they were accused of — no matter what they did — you love them so much you just won’t care.”
“Can you pull off dope fits while protesting or is that inherently lame?” —@tomdoesntloveinsta
We’ve explored this important Q re: ethical-jawnage before, including in the inaugural edition of Personal Spyplane, here. The quick answer is YES AND YES.
YES, take a protest as an opportunity to get off a fit if that gives you extra momentum out of the crib and keeps you at the protest longer, and YES, it’s worse than lame to treat a protest like it’s a fashion party / grid-pic fodder so bear in mind that yr dope fit is merely an extra touch of beauty u r contributing to the much more beautiful and important spectacle at hand, i.e. mass solidarity against evil s**t — also, remember that pairing protests with a strike, job-walk-off, or other organized threat of withheld labor is a time-tested way to give demands even more power no matter what u r rocking when u do it.
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