Un armario verde
I met Luīze in a swap party she organised one month ago in Barcelona. The event was very cozy. She prepared some food and beverages, people were friendly and at some point, they were sharing some experiences of the garments they were about to swap. I wanted to know more about her lifestyle, so I manage to arrange another meeting where I could ask her some questions.
Luīze Ratniece is the creator of “Un armario verde”. She is obsessed with textile waste and many other things. When she was a child she wanted to be a fashion designer and now, after having tried the worlds of journalism, international NGOs and the Academy, she is approaching the fashion world on the other side. She arrived in Barcelona in 2013, now she has a doctorate in demography at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and is a certified consultant of the Marie Kondo method. Then there are the events that she organizes and the blog – two posts every week – A Green Wardrobe where she documents her adventures of a life and, above all, a closet, sustainable.
Why did you start “The Green Cupboard”?
I had been playing with minimalism and capsule cabinets since 2014, I had stopped shopping, I was doing my spreadsheets to see what clothes I had and if I put it on. I tried to implement all the lists of “small steps for a more sustainable life”: turn off the tap, buy without a bag, separate the waste, fly less, etc. but always returned to the subject of clothes, reorganized the closet, again discarded something else. The exchanges were born from an affrustration that nobody in Barcelona made a second free and communist hand, I began to organize events that I would like to attend. And the same thing happened with the blog, after years reading all the blogs of minimalist cabinets that I could find, in 2017 I decided to write that blog I wanted to read: one more political, more imperfect, more honest and less repetitive.
In addition, I found the universal uniform of the capsule blogger so absurd, all those neutral tones and the same clothes for all! This is the main reason because every week I document what I have put on, which is proof of:
1. The constant repetition of clothes as something good and necessary (30 wears, how about 100 wears?) and
2. The wide range of aesthetics that one can wear with a very small wardrobe. In my smallest closet moment last year – about 40 garments in total, summer and winter – there was no lack of colors or patterns.
How do you ensure you always stay true to your ideas?
My constant fight is rather to introduce a little mischief and embrace imperfections, to assume that any aspiration to lead a sustainable life living within this society will never be pure and perfect. I have a whole team of animators – my mother, my partner, my therapist – reminding me that reality is complicated and that living necessarily leads to contradictions.
It has also been years that my mentality has completely changed and, what from a point of view immersed in fast fashion and sale cycles may seem like “temptations”, it does not touch me. I get excited seeing clothes discarded on the floor next to the containers but the marketing efforts of clothing brands leave me completely cold. For example, in the six months that we have a year, the only thing to dress that I bought have been two pairs of shoes (some of the most sustainable on the market: Veja), a pair of tights and five pairs of socks.
“It has also been years that my mentality has completely changed and, what from a point of view immersed in fast fashion and sale cycles may seem like “temptations”, it does not touch me.”
What is the best advice you have been given?
It will have been a wall in Ciudad Real in 2008 that put “make your mind a threat”. It’s still my desktop background and every time I open the computer it reminds me of the importance of constantly educating ourselves and being critical of the information received.
What are some steps that people can take to start being more sustainable with their options?
It is above all a change of mentality and, obviously, it is not pleasant, hence we all live with a degree of cognitive dissonance. Think of landfills and realize that everything that does not rot will be there for decades. Think of suffering that our cravings for a shirt with sequins of 3 euros cause in people, animals and the environment. And then take all that frustration and do small things. Improve the footprint of our cabinets is as easy as stop buying new things and put what we already have until it falls into chunks. Then you put some patches on them and you keep putting them on.
“Think of landfills and realize that everything that does not rot will be there for decades.”
What are the three simple things that everyone should be doing to ensure that they are living a more sustainable life?
- Reduce your consumption of products of animal origin.
- Try the experiment of stopping buying new clothes for a while.
- Learn to take care of your clothes: wash little and cold, dry lying, sew buttons, darn holes, mending rips, etc.
When did you start to do clothes exchange events? Do you think it works so that people do not buy in excess?
After an impromptu mini-exchange in my flat, I made a real event in October 2016 in my Ateneu. They were a great success since the first edition and I’ve already been ten.
The unrestricted exchanges open a space to play and think without the additional pressures of money and multinationals. I know that there are users who have stopped buying in general – me among them – because, once this abundance of clothes has been lived, it is difficult to return to the logic of scarcity and constant acquisition. I like to say that in “Un armario verde” we have the best return policy, hence each one can experiment and expand their comfort zone.
If you could only live in a clothing item, what would it be?
A dress, of course, the most versatile garment of all time. And, if it has to be one in particular, it would be the blue silk that my mother made for her in 1995 and, after some arrangements, I’ve been wearing it since 2016. The material is wonderful, the sewing is perfect (and it reminds me of how much what remains for me to learn), and vintage has never been more magical.
The next swap party she is organising will be the next 14th of September, here all the info: