Fashion Is Not Saving Lives, It Shouldn't Kill People Either: The True Cost Tackles Cheap Clothing

I just watched The True Cost on Netflix and I urge you to do the same. The documentary explores the adverse impact of dirt cheap clothing on the people who make them and the natural resources they are made from.

For us, consumers, fashion is fun. Fashion should be indulgent, but it shouldn't be irresponsible. Fashion can be expensive but The True Cost will make you reconsider buying that cheap thing.

People are dying from how our clothes are made. Garment factories are collapsing and killing the workers in them. They knowingly ignore these problems because pressure to keep costs low from these fashion companies is very high. If they cannot fulfill orders for a certain price, there will be another factory to do so.

At the most emotional part of the documentary, a mother Shima talks about being a garment worker. "There is no limits to the struggle of Bangladeshi workers. People have no idea how difficult it is for us to make the clothing. They only buy it and wear it." She then talks specifically about the collapse of Rana plaza (with a reported 1133 deaths, it's the biggest death toll from an industrial disaster) and starts to tear up. "It's very painful for us. I don't want anyone wearing anything, which is produced by our blood."

The True Cost Shima Mother Interview Firth

Rome Diary Day 1

Did you miss out on my Paris trip?! See what happened here, here, and here.

Let's talk about flying and my luck.

The airline emailed me that because there was a fire at Fiumicino (the airport I'm supposed to land on) our flight might be rerouted to Rome's other airport Ciampino.

Maybe, I don't know. My friend also doesn't know where she was landing. And she's on another flight.

Paris was happening again.

She had an earlier flight so we decided she would wait in the airport so we could just get lost together instead of having to find each other after. It's the lesser of two evils. But we didn't even know if our flights would end up in the same airport..

Fortunately, both our flights ended up arriving at Fiumicino. Phew right? Wrong.

Side note: I sat next to a couple. They kept making out. Fortunately I slept through most of the flight. Unfortunately, when we were landing they decided to shove their gopro on the window for 30 minutes. I was at the window seat...

Because of the fire, I'm assuming, I ended up waiting for my luggage for more than an hour. It was horrible. The conveyor churned out 10 bags and then nothing the majority of the time.

My friend ended up waiting in the airport for 4 hours. She wanted to murder me.

We made our way to the train station to get our tickets. We ended up being stuck behind this older couple who spent like 20 minutes - it felt forever - asking questions and getting their stupid ticket. There were two other lines and people who were there after us left before us. Eventually I ended up queuing up at another line and actually almost ended up getting to the booth before my friend did. It was such an infuriating experience.

Finally we ended up on our train. The train has compartments designed for big luggages and I thought that was interesting.

We ended up sitting next to an older nice lady. She was had a horror story of her own. She was from San Diego, I think, and had a morning flight and didn't fly until night time. Or something like that.

Point is, shit happens. Getting lost and ending up in unplanned situations is part of travelling. Be prepared.

Thankfully everything else went smoothly after that. We stayed at a place right across to Termini Station. Like in Paris, we stayed near the train station so we can easily go to the airport when we leave. Also it turned out to be a useful reference point when we got lost in Rome.

The area outside our building was really sketchy. The street was dirty. There were people who loitered outside our building and I didn't feel safe.

Inside the building was fine. Our airbnb host met us on the first floor almost immediately and took us to our apartment on the fifth floor. The building had this minuscule elevator. It was like a 1.5meters x 12 inches. You could fit maybe 4 people side by side - uncomfortably. It also had two doors you had to manually close otherwise the elevator wouldn't operate.

Our host was really nice. Unlike Parisians, I find Italians friendly and hospitable. "Rome is better" our host Maria joked.

Her husband (who doesn't speak English) was there too to show us the place. Again kitchen, bathroom (with a hairdryer bless), and bedroom (with an air conditioner! Rome is boiling).

I had asked if she had any advice for staying safe - I truly felt unsafe - and she didn't understand what I was asking and she insisted because she wanted to help. She said it may seem like it but everything is fine in the area.

Thankfully she was right. We never had problems.

She also asked the relation between my friend and I. I thought it was the boyfriend/girlfriend conversation again(lol). But her curiosity was more on how an asian person was with a white person. Multiculturalism is a thing Rome... She asked if we met while travelling and we're like nah we're bffs from Canada.

But like in a less sassy way.

She told us where the grocery store was; how to use the air conditioner and the water boiler in the bathroom ; and to eat gelato. #coolstorybro

Then we ended up talking about Pope Francis who she referred to as Papa Francesco. My friend and I thought it sounded funny but they really do refer to him as that. We referred to Pope Francis as Papa Francesco during our stay there.

Indefinitely too tbh.

After they left we got settled and went to the grocery store. Conveniently, it was right across our building. Again we bought some water, bread and cold cuts to bring with us to travel. We also got chocolate and chips. #haul

On our way back someone almost spat on me. We were going up the stairs to reach our building and somebody spat from the balcony. Not cool.

Then we took a nap. Two hours or so later, we woke up.

We decided to roam the city with no plans. Given the circumstances of the day, keeping it light seemed right.

We passed by a park. We went to a basilica. It's a special church designated by the pope (here's an explanation of the difference). In Rome, they populate the city. They have elaborate sculptures and artwork. They're beautiful.

Paris Diary Day 3

Missed out on day 1 and 2? No worries, I got you. Read 'em here and here

On our third and final day we booked a fancy dinner. The kind of fancy we had to book weeks in advance. More on that magical dinner later...

First, we went to Starbucks. They have collectible city, country mugs that can only bought in the corresponding countries. They had 'Paris' and 'France' so I took both. They had pancakes so we ended up having breakfast there. We went for seconds, lol.

Then my friend wanted to mail post cards and so we went to the post office.

After we made our to an area called Le Marais and spend our afternoon there.

Our Airbnb host notified us there was a  music festival happening today. Restaurants, cafes, and even stores hosted musicians to come perform at their establishments. As we walked around the city we passed by a few performers. The normally quiet streets of Paris came alive.

Also, it was Sunday and we noticed many stores were closed. It was weird but I was like 'okay, Paris...' It's nice for the employees though.

On the way, we saw two women arguing on the streets. Not just women, French women. Typically this is amusing by itself but because Parisians are reserved, this was a rare treat we were witnessing.  My friend was looking at the map while I discretely watched them. It was tres magnifique.

On the way we saw a place with cats on the window. And then more cats. Turns out the place was a cat cafe. We already ate breakfast but since we've never been to one we decided to go in. We needed reservations. Fortunately, the lady was nice enough to accommodate us without one. We both had teas and mini desserts. Mine had a white bug (lice?) in my raspberry but I didn't say anything because the cats were cute and I am weak to cute.

Most of the cats were sleeping. They had 3 rules: you can't pick up the cat, you can't pet a sleeping cat, and you can't wake them up. It was a little bit of a bummer. However one cat was awake and sat next to the window behind us. Then it became interested in my friend. It sat on her lap and examined her sweater. It was magical. It didn't come to me, but I'm okay with being magical adjacent.

After we finally made it to Le Marais. It's a place where the streets are narrow and stores - that are open, yay - populate the place.  It seemed to be a tourist area (it was busy) but there is something very French about it.

The stores are more contemporary. Think Sandro and Maje (Michael Kors and Kate Spade if you're a basic bitch). We did see COS and Uniqlo. In general disposable, cheap clothing isn't really Paris's style. I love that and I think that's why their style is so infamous. They're more considerate of what they buy and there are no Forever21s or Dynamites to taint their wardrobe.

What was so bizarre however was we kept seeing stores with multiple locations in close proximity. We saw, I think 2-3 Maje stores. The biggest culprit was The Kooples. We saw 5 in the span of like 30 minutes. After the second store or so, we started pretending we've never heard of it and that we should go check it out.

I mean, one was 'opening soon...'

Also located in Le Marais is the Picasso National Museum. The museum was only open for another hour  and something minutes. So we kinda felt rushed. It seemed small to me, but it turned out to be 5 floors. The design was also more modern (read lots of white, simple).

The collection includes pieces from, I feel, all of Picasso's periods. Cubism, African, sculpting, Blue, Rose. Even his early Realism work (I didn't know he did this) and pieces of artwork from his personal collection.

Seeing the work Picasso made in his lifetime - the styles and mediums he worked in - was inspiring. It reaffirmed that it is important to continue to grow and evolve despite of age, how established you are, and even if you develop a 'signature.'