Walking into Kamali's Wal-Mart


Day 1

Many of us struggle with the ethical questions raised when eco-clothing gets cozy with mega-corporations like Wal-Mart, Target or Payless.

I stumbled across an article praising Norma Kamali for her work with casual and career clothing for women for Wal-Mart. While she’s doing organic tees for the retail giant right now, not all of her clothing is from sustainable fabrics.

Why not go all organic?

Kamali considers designing at a different price point (according to her site) perhaps “the most exciting opportunity of her career,” and a chance to promote women’s “self-esteem”. Huh?

Day 2

I stopped writing last night because I had to force my husband to understand Norma Kamali and why I think it’s a mistake that she has partnered with Wal-Mart.

It bothers me that Norma Kamali thinks Wal-Mart is a good fit for her designs, that there will now be more organic cotton that needs to be amassed way too quickly for a huge market, that nobody goes to Wal-Mart looking for organic anyway”¦

“But isn’t it better than not offering organic cotton at all? Would you rather they not do anything organic or sustainable?” my husband asks.

“Right,” I say.

I go to bed staring at the ceiling, wondering why we as Americans need to own so much.

Day 3

I wake up to my Starbucks French roast and remember my friend in Nederland, Colorado living in a yurt, making fun of me and how eco I am when I drink coffee from Starbucks. This is a friend who has marched on Wal-Mart (until I told him he should start by being nice to his girlfriend before getting in Wal-Mart’s business).

Moving coffee-time to the front porch, my 87-year-old neighbor comes out and asks me when am I going to fertilize my yard.

“Never!” I say, to which she grunts, turns and goes back inside.

My yard is all clover and moss and beautiful. Like growing organic cotton, it has its own moods and I like it that way. I wish everyone could have a natural yard like mine.

I sip my coffee and make sure I get every last bit of liquid consumed. Somebody worked hard for it.

I research the effects of organic cotton farming for a corporation as large as Wal-Mart, hoping I’m going to find the facts that back me when I come across this excerpt from Coral Rose of Eco Innovations in Future Fashion White Pages, “A collection of essays by a diverse and international group of contributors. Designers, manufacturers, farmers, professors, models, business owners and creative directors add their experiences and wisdom, producing a unique and multifaceted view of the apparel and textile industries. The book not only proposes solutions to environmental problems, but addresses the financial outcomes of sustainable practices and offers individual business perspectives.”

I will never be able to write this article for EcoSalon, I think.

We are all walking contradictions whether we’re Wal-Mart or Amy DuFault.

We all try to do our best and hope we’re going in the right direction.

We will never be perfect.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing about what we (I) need to do better. Maybe it’s good to call yourself or someone else on something once in a while. It just might make us a little more human.

Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.