My Breakup with ModCloth

Let’s be honest. It can be really tacky to air your relationship laundry out in public. But since my ex has been talking a lot, I needed to say my peace.

RIP Winston. The poster pup passed away recently <3

I have to say, I really didn’t see this day coming. We start off relationships with the best of intentions, and hope that they will last a long time. I felt so lucky, y’all. I pined for ModCloth for a long time before we got into a serious relationship. It was just a crush for the longest time, my wishlist would lengthen over time, but eventually, when my income finally allowed, we got into a pretty consistent and satisfying relationship of purchases. We had lunch together every day at noon, when the New Arrivals were posted daily. Thanks to this partnership, I’ve built up a really impressive collection of dresses, rompers, jackets, shoes and handbags. I don’t want to understate this; my fashion sense is on POINT, and a great deal of my wardrobe is from ModCloth. In September of 2014, I was so enamored that I declared my love publicly on this very blog nearly four years ago.

Anyways, I invested a lot in this relationship, and I was cool with spending my hard earned money there because it gave me a means to express myself through fashion, but especially because I felt we shared similar values. All of that changed last week when I found out my love, my primary clothing partner, was merging with Walmart. WALMART. I mean, people talk about waking up one day and not knowing who they’ve been with, but damn, I didn’t think I would have to experience that betrayal. Who have I dedicated all this money and time (okay, not so much time, but DEFINITELY closet space) to?

Since ModCloth actually isn’t a person, (sorry for anyone I was leading on ;)) I reached out to the founder of ModCloth, Susan G. Kroger to air some concerns, like a lot of my fellow jilted ModCloth lovers were. She

Seriously? This is how we end our over 5 year relationship, ModCloth?

responded by sending me a link to her blog post about the merger,  which didn’t in ANY way address the issues that were brought up. Listen y’all. I am not a fair weather partner. I was prepared to be IN it for the long haul. I didn’t want to stop spending all of my disposable income at ModCloth, and I wanted answers. How could this woman who started this feminist, empowering venture join with a company as insidious as Walmart, that seems to contradict all of ModCloth’s ideals?? I pressed on, naming the various issues her blog didn’t address. Rather than a thoughtful response, I got this. THIS.

Are you kidding me? I now know how Carrie Bradshaw felt when Berger left her with just that awful post-it note

I got dumped, y’all. Publicly.

Although to be fair, Pittsburgh Magazine quoted one of my many tweets chastising them, but I swear that was out of love and heartbreak. You have to call out people that you love that are making mistakes, right?

*** Okay… Break up analogy is over. I’m sorry, I had to. Don’t hate me. 

I really am bummed about this, and I know I’m not alone.

This is how I summed up my love letter to ModCloth a few years ago, after praising them for their inclusion with their models and no-Photoshop pledge; “While I’m feeding my fashion addiction I’m also supporting a company whose ethics and philosophy I’m totally down with, and as Carrie Bradshaw said, “I like my money where I can see it; hanging in my closet.”

A point that is really important to make before going any further, is that there is NO ethical consumption under capitalism. I’m not naive. The fact of the matter is, the system under which we live reinforces a hierarchy that creates massive inequality. Poverty isn’t an unfortunate side effect, the system is working as it is supposed to.

Lazy Caturday was like that dude that lurks in the wings, waiting to swoop in when you’re sad and vulnerable post breakup. I see you!

That being said, I like to try to be as thoughtful and ethical consumer as possible. I actually wrote about this concept five years ago in regard to places like Chik-Fil-A and Papa John’s. How you spend your time and money is a reflection of your values. Because of this, there are some places in Pittsburgh that I choose to frequent more because of the way they pay and treat their employees. For example, Mixtape in Garfield is a no-tipping establishment; they pay their workers a living wage and if folks do tip, the money goes to various non-profits in the area. Constellation Coffee, Black Forge Coffee, and other places in the Burgh are taking stands in regard to how they take care of employees, and because of that, I will go out of my way to spend my money there. I’d also much prefer to shop at a small business than chain or corporation.

This is where this whole merger with Walmart and ModCloth gets me. A friend of mine was commenting on a post that I made that ModCloth is a business like any other, that me and other folks shouldn’t be upset. This is short sighted for multiple reasons though; 1) If people want to personally try to be more ethical consumers, why is that a problem?  and 2) ModCloth has INTENTIONALLY marketed itself to be appealing to folks like me. As I said above, the very reasons I gave business to ModCloth are the same reasons I DON’T shop at Walmart.

*ModCloth has frequently been ranked a great place to work, and has prided itself on having a much higher percentage of women in leadership positions. Walmart has been the subject of multiple gender discrimination lawsuits.

*ModCloth has been super LGBT friendly, including transwomen as models, and posting pictures of same sex couples getting married in their bridal fashions. This inclusion in particular meant a lot to me. Walmart is NOT a friend to the LGBT community.

*ModCloth prided itself on providing employees with fair wages and a legit benefits package. Walmart has notoriously underpaid employees and directed them to sign up for food stamps and Medicaid. Rather than paying them a fair wage, which they can afford to do, they pass along the cost of their employees healthcare and access to basic resources to taxpayers as they pocket the money. This is positively shameful.

*Here is a damning one. ModCloth is (dammit. WAS.) an indie retailer. A small business, even as it expanded. Walmart is a small business killer. It puts companies that supply goods to them in choke-holds; demanding they charge low prices that make it impossible to make real profits, or else they won’t carry their products. Since WalMart has killed all competition, especially in smaller towns or more rural areas, it puts small business owners between a rock and hard place.

So… In summation, Walmart is the devil. Seriously.

I’ve deleted the app. While I’m sad, I must say that my wallet is relieved to take a breather. Really, how many rompers does one need?

So much floral. So many dresses with pockets!

I realize this post may not resonate with a lot of folks, and that’s cool. For me though, ModCloth gave me an extra means with which to express myself. I am pretty brave with my fashion choices, and I’ve learned that you can rock ANYTHING if you carry yourself with confidence. Like Stanley Tucci said about fashion in The Devil Wears Prada, “what they created was greater than art because you live your life in it.” I rocked a ModCloth dress and blazer when I went into my fateful interview for my dream job that I have right now. I was wearing a ModCloth dress when I officiated my best friend’s wedding. I wore a ModCloth dress the first time I testified in front of City Council. I was wearing a Modcloth romper when my longtime crush, the singer from Spill Canvas stopped mid sentence at a meet and greet to compliment me on how fabulous my outfit was. I wore a ModCloth dress and taco clutch when I tried to present Senator Pat Toomey with a “World’s Greatest Obstructionist” statue. These are big moments, y’all!

Anyways, this is probably a good thing for me, since I have enough dresses to carry me into the next century, but I do hope that more folks who loved ModCloth  as much as me speak out. I think the folks who made this decision underestimated how many of their high volume shoppers consider themselves conscious consumers. I don’t doubt the pressure the company was under to shake things up and make some type of change to maintain their viability in this wild economy, but I really doubt that Walmart was their only option. Modcloth, I love you, and I’ll cherish what we had.

Me and a lot of your other exes would still like to know; how do you justify abandoning the ethics and values on which you’ve built your business?