Fashion

9.15.2017

Broke AF: Kaitlyn Ann Fitzpatrick in San Fran

With summer winding down and our closets making their obligatory seasonal rotations (albeit begrudgingly), we returned yet again to the West Coast for this month’s edition of Broke AF. This time, our team landed in moody San Fran at Shop Painted Bird with model Kaitlyn Ann Fitzpatrick and photographer Yasmine Diba.

While we may be young, broke, and artsy AF, we’re certainly not sacrificing style. And the dreamy duo of Fitzpatrick and Diba are—lucky for us—simply experts on balancing finance with fashion. We can’t think of a better pair to host this month’s edition of Broke AF; check their looks, Fitzpatrick’s musings on slow fashion and lessons from her sisters, and some inquiries into her passion for writing, below. 

My sisters are seven and eleven years older than I am, and the reasons why I know about anything cool. Since they were in high school and college, they showed me what movies they were watching, sent me CD mixes of the bands they were getting into while I was away at camp, and started taking me with them whenever they went to see what they could find in a day of thrifting. We grew up forty-five minutes north of LA, and when I was younger, we would drive down to visit the cluster of their then favorite thrift stores on Melrose. I started loving my secondhand finds when they took me to American Vintage for World War II era dresses, and I came out with a navy Boy Scout uniform, a mesh Cubs practice jersey, and the electric blue bomber jacket that I wore every day of fifth grade. We loved Wasteland and Aaardvark and American Rebel, and it felt unbelievably cool to be the kid wandering around those rooms, among people who felt more stylish and authentic than anyone I’d ever seen.

I reiterated anything my sisters told me, like that sifting through musty aisles of other people’s stuff in search of something to love beats spending an hour at the Urban Outfitters sale rack, deciding which cheap fabric, regurgitated curation, and unsustainable business ethics to be duped by. As much as I learned what is cool from my sisters, they taught me what to resist.

My sisters are seven and eleven years older than I am, and the reasons why I know about anything cool.

Last winter, I learned about Remake, a nonprofit group in San Francisco whose agenda is to bolster the movement of consumer autonomy and awareness in fashion. Before working a bit with the women at Remake, I admittedly knew much less about the social and environmental consequences of fast fashion than I do today. In the past, I understood that most contemporary garments are pumped out of overseas factories, which is bad. I didn’t understand that a good 80% of the globe’s 75 million garment workers are women between the ages of 18 and 24—women my age who live in a world that won’t manage for them pursuits like education, like mine.

The world instead packs them like sardines into the toxic buildings where they earn their families’ incomes, no matter how costly that may be in terms of health and opportunity. A year ago, I’d never heard of Rana Plaza, the eight-story commercial garment factory in Savar, Bangladesh that collapsed in 2013 due to grossly ignored structural inadequacy. More than one thousand garment workers were trapped and killed inside of the crumbled structure that day, and four years passed before I knew anything about it. Millions of consumers vote with dollars every day that keep fashion monsters like ASOS, Forever 21, H&M, ZARA, and Victoria’s Secret at the top, and these are the same bullies that perpetuate the bullshit.

I have a consumer mindset through and through. As much as I hate to admit it, my world largely revolves around the dollars I spend. What I’m proud of is my ability and decision to withhold contribution from the unethical business beasts of fashion that rob, defect, and murder the land, economy, and bodies of innocent people across the world. I buy things that other people owned once, because I’m buying it from them, or the good, humble people running small scale business at Painted Bird and the likes. Slow fashion and smart, conscious consumerism are about personality and doing the right thing. That’s what I’m about. That’s what my sisters taught me.

When did you start writing?

I wrote the first thing that turned out to be for my own catharsis when my first childhood dog died. Ede, our all black German Shepherd, was a police K9 of my dad’s with the Culver City Police Department for about six years. When Ede retired, he was ours. After school on my last day of 2nd grade, I watched our veterinarian euthanize him in the backseat of my dad’s police car, and on our way out, the Camino Animal Clinic’s receptionist handed my sister and me pamphlets of poems and literature written by and for grieving pet owners. I read them all in tears on my parents’ driveway, and wrote my first poem later that week.

What is your favorite aspect in this medium of expression?

I think this goes for all things creative, but I never have any idea what I’m writing about might become. In the past, I’ve started writing about the motorized kid Jeep that I got for my fifth birthday, and found that I was actually meditating on the history and complexities of my mother’s and my relationship. In this regard, we discover private intimacy with ourselves when we write that we could never predict. We multiply into as many selves as a piece allows. I end up having conversations with myself at eighteen and thirteen and nine, which, believe me, is more liberating and empowering than as maddening as it might seem.

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