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Tag Archives: sustainable clothing
So, I may have a few first dates coming up. Just a hunch–I possibly gave my number out this weekend and last weekend to a few very eligible guys.
Luckily, I have guidance on my first-date outfit. Greta Eagan of FASHIONmeGREEN shows off some ensembles that will have him taking you home to meet the parents in no time:
I discovered the new designer Avery by Wang through the recently defunct EcoSalon (R.I.P.!). She’s only shipped her first collection in late September. But her earnestness and class–just read her email updates–shows through in her pieces. They are simple, pretty without being saccharine, and possess a soft utility.
I preordered this washable silk dress, nervously crossing my fingers that this untested designer would deliver.
It arrived neatly rolled and tied up in its sash in a biodegradable shipping bag, which is so refreshing compared to the overdone packaging of most brands and stores! I slipped the soft silk on for a day at work. And I can say I’m so pleased with it that I’m going to order some of her simple silk tops next … when I build my shopping budget back up.
I chose this track because it’s soft, pretty and feminine and yet still cool–like this dress.
Dress, Avery by Wang; tights, Uniqlo (they ripped quickly, so I would recommend investing in Wolford tights that will last a whole season), oxford pumps, Steve Madden; vegan purse by Cornelia Guest, available at Compassion Couture; sunglasses, Eco Optics; wrap bracelet/necklace, Snash Jewelry, available at Artist & Fleas in Williamsburg or on Etsy; lipstick, Jane Iredale.
We’re solidly into fall, so this post could have come a bit earlier. But honestly, I need to space out the self-aggrandizing street style posts, which is why I waited so long to put this up. I hope you enjoy it regardless. There are some eco-friendly goodies in this one:
Fair trade striped top by LemLem, skirt by Topshop (one of the less egregious fast fashion stores); leather necklace by Brooklyn artisan, vegan purse by Cornelia Guest, available at Compassion Couture; Fendi shoes; Aid Through Trade bracelets.
This week I wanted something fun for this fun outfit. This song isn’t by any means new, but there’s a good chance you haven’t heard it. Enjoy!
I always complain about the lack of work-appropriate, sustainable fashion options. Solution! Amour Vert is my new favorite sustainable store.
For example, this new dress: it’s classic, and though it comes with a sash, can be belted or worn as a loose sheath. It feels so soft on the skin, and would work at the office or on a date. It’s just a pretty dress! (That also happens to be made in the United States out of Peace Silk.)
The website is full of stuff like that: chambray shirts, preppy skirts and striped tops make me want to get preppy. And there’s not a pair of oatmeal-colored, wide-legged yoga pants in sight!
So many thunderstorms in NYC lately! (Which I absolutely love, of course.)
Summer rainy days call for ditching the flip-flops and silky dresses for something more cozy. So peep my third picture in my green street style series. This outfit relies heavily on finds from my hometown Annapolis, where consignment is less heavily picked over:
Madewell chambray shirt, $20 at Annapolis consignment shop; Reco upcycled jeans; Steve Madden wedge sneakers; Coach cross-body bag, $50 at Annapolis consignment shop; Blu Democracy bamboo racerback tank; heart earrings from Goodwill Annapolis; neon peach watch from Parisian fast fashion shop; Duane Reade Umbrella.
As you can see, not everything in my outfit is sustainable. I’m working on it.
I often discover wonderful green things that I love and love to share. Here’s what I’m obsessed with this month:
reco Skinny Jeans
I bought these babies for sale, but I would pay full price!
Not only do reco jeans fit like a designer dream, the fabric is recycled in an exclusive process that’s so innovative, universities have been studying it. The zippers, buttons and rivets are non-toxic, the packaging is made from recycled materials and the tags are printed on either recycled paper or plantable seeded paper–no leather.
Oh, and they are designed in New York. You know I love that. I would fully support your switching to exclusively wearing these jeans.
Go on, do it. Your sexy butt and the environment will thank you.
You can try them on in person at Kaight on the LES.
Farmers Market Tulips
You’ve probably scene the masses of beautiful tulips gathered at bodegas. Well, pass them by and continue on to the farmer’s market to grab a bunch from a local farm. I bought a bouquet on Monday, and as of Wednesday night they looked just as fresh and beautiful! I’m so obsessed I bought a bunch for my apartment as well as my office.
Happiness is tulips on your table.
Hot tip: Get flowers that are closed tight and put them in ice water for maximum bloom time.
I love TOMS. It isn’t a walk to the yoga studio or a weekend stroll around the flea market without them.
But now I have a pair that won’t embarrass me at work: the wedges. They’re massively comfortable, fairly affordable and–you probably already know this–TOMS donates a pair to someone in a developing country for every pair you buy.
It’s a win-win.
Hot tip: Get them a half size up from your normal size.
In a perfect world, we would all buy organic clothing made in Brooklyn by reformed former bankers, dyed with rainbows and blessed by a Buddhist monk.
We do not live in a perfect world.
I obsessively look for sustainable clothing that looks passable in the office or out at night. And even with my best efforts, I would say about 20% of my closet came from a “sustainable” designer or brand–40% if you include thrifted, vintage and used items. Yes, stuff is out there, but you have to work within some strict parameters and you really have to search. (You can keep track of my current favorite picks on Pinterest.)
I just love trendy, fun items. I want red jeans! I went a shirt with a peter pan collar! I really want a neon cross body purse. The typical New York girl who isn’t making $200,000 a year would head to one of many “fast fashion” stores to pick out some trendy things. But you’re reading this, so I’m assuming you don’t want to knowingly saddle yourself with bad karma, and bad debt.
Good news, readers. It’s not all bad in the world of cheap, trendy clothing.
Behold, your guide to each and every one of the cheap stores you frequent the most, as sourced from my research for a story on LearnVest:
The Good: AA has plenty of organic clothing, and has some sustainable initiatives beyond the norm, like recycling and donating extra materials, installing solar panels on its factory in L.A., subsidizing public transportation for employees and providing a bike share. All its clothing is manufactured exclusively in the U.S., and it provides health insurance, English classes and meals for its workers.
The Bad: The CEO had been accused in several lawsuits of harassing female employees. Plus, I have heard rumors (unconfirmed) that female employees are impolitely nudged into doing those lewd advertisements you see around town.
My Conclusion: Very eco-friendly as far as fast fashion goes. I personally will continue shop there for basics, but you need to make the decision for yourself.
The Meh: No eco-friendly items (no surprise there). It has energy-efficiency initiatives in stores and offices, and has reduced the packaging and shipping energy it uses. It claims that it’s working on more initiatives. AT has principles and guidelines for suppliers, conducts third party unannounced audits and works with noncompliant suppliers to improve or terminates the relationship.
My Conclusion: Not impressed. It isn’t terrible, but as I’m not super pumped about Ann Taylor in the first place, why not just head somewhere else? The only reason why I would go there is that they have petite sizes, which is key for my 5’2″ frame.
The Good: The Green Room section of the website features eco-friendly and fair trade clothing and accessories. The company is carbon neutral, and reduced its carbon footprint by cutting air freight from 75% to 10% of goods.
It is also part of the Ethical Trade Initiative association of companies (a European group of trade unions and organizations that work to improve global working conditions). ASOS has code of conduct, has independent audits of suppliers and works with noncompliant suppliers to improve or terminates relationship.
My Conclusion: Yes, yes, yes! While sometimes I have trouble figuring out exactly what makes everything in their Green Room green, and some of the things are terrifyingly expensive, I feel confident that this company is going in the right direction, and have no qualms giving them my money. Plus their stuff is some of the cutest out there, hands down.
The Bad: CR, besides having trash-tastic clothing, has no eco-friendly items and doesn’t even pretend to have sustainable practices. While it has guidelines for suppliers, it hasn’t exactly started any independent audits yet.
My Conclusion: Stay far, far away.
The Bad: No eco-friendly items or sustainable practices.
The Meh: Has standards for suppliers; conducts independent audits.
My Conclusion: I wasn’t that pumped about Express anymore anyway. So this is just another reason to forget about them.
Gap Inc. Including Banana Republic and Old Nayv
The Good: Gap is part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and is working on more initiatives. It has a code of vendor conduct, makes unannounced visits to suppliers and works with noncompliant suppliers to improve or terminates the relationship.
The Meh: No eco-friendly items.
My Conclusion: Gap hasn’t done anything egregious, and there is really no eco-friendly equivalent to the staples at both Gap and Banana Republic for work-worthy wear. So I would say shop and hope that Gap follows through on its promises.
The Bad: No eco-friendly items or sustainable practices. A 2002 lawsuit alleged sweatshop conditions, and it’s currently being sued again for labor practices. F21 was also accused of using child labor in Uzbekistan along with Urban Outfitters and Aeropostale by the International Labor Rights Forum. Finally, Forever 21 has a long history of copying small-time designers’ work and passing it off as their own, having been sued several times.
My Conclusion: Sad to say, since F21 has been coming out with some lovely, trendy and affordable pieces lately, but I would go elsewhere. Sorry! (Meanwhile, I will guiltily wear the neon pink lace bra I bought in January until it wears out. And then never go back. I promise!)
The Good: This British expat pioneered affordable sustainability with the Conscious Collection (which I LOVE), is the #1 user of organic cotton worldwide (organic cotton is blended in with the conventional cotton in many items); and is part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
If you’re a fan of companies that actively try to bring women into the decision-making process, you could do worse than H&M, which has women in 71% of management positions, and goes 50-50 on the board of directors.
The Bad: Was found out for destroying wearable clothing in 2009, but has since stopped that practice.
The Meh: Has a code of conduct with independent audits, works with noncompliant suppliers but has no stated policy on termination for non-compliant suppliers.
My Conclusion: Go for it! You want something trendy and cheap that you can feel good about? March your butt into H&M and snap it up. Love, love love.
The Good: Just a few eco-friendly items. Reduced energy use at stores and offices, reduced gas use in shipping, increased recycling and is working on more initiatives.
The Mixed: Accused in 2007 of using slave labor by newspaper investigation; published Code of Conduct in 2009; conducts independent evaluations.
My Conclusion: I love Top Shop’s stuff, I really do. But I just can’t quite get behind them yet. They say they have eco-friendly items, but as of right now, it’s just one brand of jeans. Show me a little more, Top Shop, and I’m allll yours.
Urban Outfitters, Including Free People and Anthropologie
The Bad: Oh boy, this one is a doozy. UO has no eco-friendly items or sustainable practices. It has no labor guidelines, and was accused of using child labor in Uzbekistan along with Forever 21 and Aeropostale by International Labor Rights Forum. Urban Outfitters has zero female board members out of six. Shall I keep going? Okay, Urban Outfitters has even stolen the design and ad copy off an Etsy jewelry designer. Ouch.
What makes it worse, is that Free People and Anthropologie have such a global, peace-loving vibe. Yup, it’s all a sham.
My Conclusion: You know what? Anthropologie’s stuff doesn’t look good on real people anyway. And Urban Outfitters is overpriced. So I’m just going to wave goodbye to this whole company, and good riddance.
The Bad: It has no eco-friendly items, and has paid only lip service to sustainability by reducing paper and energy use and increasing recycling. I don’t think that makes up for the number of catalogues it sends out.
It does have sourcing standards with independent audits, but those audits must not be working well, because it is currently being inspected by U.S. investigators for using child labor.
Oh, and Victoria’s Secret’s heavy-handed photoshopping is just out of control. Give me a break, please.
My Conclusion: Do I need to say it? I’m just so over this brand. Its stuff is trashy, overpriced and conventional. And there are so many pretty little boutiques around the city that do it better.
The Good: A few eco-friendly items. Has improved energy efficiency and has a couple sustainably-built stores, including a LEED-certified one.
The Bad: Has a code of conduct with inspections, but was accused last fall of using slave labor by a Brazilian TV report. Zara responded saying it would “strengthen supervision.” I wonder how that is going?
My Conclusion: Whatever, Zara. You’ve lost me.
I often discover wonderful green things that I love and love to share. Here’s what I’m obsessed with this month:
Endangered Species iPhone case from Anicase
When I finally gave in after two years and got a new iPhone, I needed a new case, but I wanted to be thoughtful about it. First I bought this sustainable wood iPhone case reminiscent of a Leica camera. It got lots of compliments … until I dropped it and it broke into pieces. Kind of misses the point, right?
Then Daily Candy turned me on to Anicase, which makes adorable endangered animal iPhone cases. Choose your animal, and 10% gets donated to protecting tigers, pandas and more. Inside, you find a map of where your chosen animal lives, with how many are left in the world and how it’s being harmed.
People love this case, especially the little ears that stick up! Just note that I wasn’t able to find information on what exactly it is made out of, but I suspect plastic.
My apartment is almost always cold, especially when I get out of a steamy shower at seven in the morning! So I needed a robe with serious fluff. Agatha of A Good Hostess Knows When to Use the F-Word told me that Restoration Hardware has the fluffiest robes ever, but investigation revealed they are not organic. Sad news indeed.
No matter, I bought a robe from Green Robes and it is great! It falls right past my knees, has a heavy, yummy weave of organic Turkish cotton, and big arms that feel like a hug. It comes in a whole range of colors, including bright white or a creamy, unbleached white like I have. The website is a little jank, but don’t let that scare you off.
The Battalion Pants
These pants by The Battalion are literally the best pants I’ve ever had. The bamboo, organic cotton and spandex pants are a bit pricey, but I promise the price-per-wear will be pennies by they time you are done.
First of all, they look really nice. The details like the belt loops and pockets give them a classy feel. They are thick enough that nobody can see your underwear through them, unlike many leggings. And they are the softest things I’ve ever felt, with a fleecy inside that feels like pajamas.
They are the perfect traveling pants, but I wear these probably twice a week, and to NYFW as well.
I apologize for all the fashion talk lately, but it’s that time of year–it’s New York Fashion Week and anorexia and glamour are in the air.
I’m not very much into that scene, but with a little bit of savvy networking, I managed to score a ticket to the Greenshows on Friday morning at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. (This little blogger is growing up!) That’s how I found myself waiting in line outside the Box, a room in the tents at Lincoln Center, where contemporary ethical designers were showing their autumn/winter 2012 ready-to-wear lines.
The Box is not for runway shows, as my friend warned me. It’s just models standing around on podiums, looking bored, until a photographer stops in front of them. They they perk up and give a good fierce face. It’s sort of fun.
While we waited to get in, a fashion consultant popped by to talk to my friend, and it was clear she wasn’t really familiar with the sustainable design scene. “Oh, I’m here for the Concept Korea show. Wait, what’s this? Oh, the Greenshows. Cool, yeah. That’s what I’m here for.”
I got the impression everyone there was just killing time before the big names, seeing what was around. And that’s cool, because I guess that’s what Greenshows is for: to show all the cool stuff that sustainable designers do to people who have no idea. But for me? No way man, I know this shit.
Rewind to Friday morning, as I pawed through my closet looking for an appropriate outfit. I wanted to wear something eco-friendly, yet good enough for NYFW. So I pulled out my favorite pair of The Battalion pocket leggings, a Study NY cropped, cotton sleeveless top, a Theory cropped jacket (not eco-friendly, but a classic), wrapped a Peace Treaty scarf around my neck, and topped it off with an H. Fredrikkson upcycled gray tweed cape. All my gear–the camera, pen, card carrying case, phone, etc.–went into my new, made-in-NYC, upcycled leather and tapestry purse with fair trade ikat lining. Satisfied that I was repping the eco community and didn’t look completely embarrassing, I gave myself a cat eye with tarte eyeliner, applied Afterglow lipstick, and headed out the door.
As soon as I walked inside the box, I found myself in front of an H. Fredrikkson model who was wearing my cape, but in a brown wool. Here’s what I’m wondering: Are fashion shows kind of like marathons? As in, it’s such a faux pas to wear the race shirt the day of the race. So is it a a similar faux pas to stand in front of a model and take her picture, to realize you are wearing the exact same pants? I mean, not that anyone could tell. They look a wee bit different on a professional model. I’m 5’2. On a good day. I’ll just, you know, take it as a sign of my impeccable taste.
But it left me scratching my head a bit. Are these designers not turning out anything new for this fall? Some of it looked really familiar, especially the plaid Study NY cape. I was worried someone would look at my stuff and realize it was so last season. Nope, looks like it’s next season too! Well, that’s sustainable right? Not running out to buy something new every season is fine by me.
Alright, let’s get to the goodies. Here are the the pictures from the show:
Bamboo By United Bamboo
Bamboo By United Bamboo
Not pictured: Luis Valenzuela, Victoria Simes jewelry, Natalie Frigo jewelry, Nettie Kent jewelry, Ursa Major Collection jewelry, East Fourth Street jewelry, Shannon South Remade in the USA handbags, Collina Strada handbags.
Coral necklaces. Fur. IKEA furniture.
We all know you shouldn’t buy these things. Coral is rapidly dying from ocean acidification and changing climate conditions without our harvesting it for jewelry. While I don’t include “animal rights activist” among my list of self-identifiers, it’s hard to get fur that is consciously raised like the meat at the farmers market. And IKEA furniture is both the progenitor and creator of a disposable economy of waste.
But what if you already own these things from before you went through your sustainable awakening?
I have all these things and more, items that I’m not necessarily proud of, attractive detritus from typical status-seeking American consumption. I don’t want to spend the money and resources to replace it. Is it more sustainable to set an example by purging my closet of nice leather boots, fur coats and strip-mined jewelry? Or is it better to hang on to the long-lasting pieces and accept that life is a journey? I would say the latter.
Or I could just be deluding myself. I really like my fierce, red coral necklace from Vienna that seems as if it would prick the fingers that try to touch my neck. Even if I rarely wear it except on those rare occasions where it’s both below freezing and it’s an appropriate occasion, I still like to bury my face in my mother’s silver fox fur coat from the 80’s (thankfully back in style and divested of its démodé bunch sleeves). Though, the fur coat warrants a whole other discussion that you can find in this Elephant Journal post. IKEA furniture, well, my apartment came furnished with it. I’ve filled out the rest of my space with used and antique, real wood pieces, but the table and Murphy bed are square and center.
What are my options? I could:
A) Forget the whole thing and buy whatever strikes my fancy. Fortunately I’ve outgrown that.
B) Put a minimal amount of effort into finding locally-made, sustainable items, when convenient, and keep the old stuff. Easy, but not exactly thoughtful.
C) Do a partial purge to get my closet down to the minimum viable possessions, and put effort into thoughtful purchases in the future. That means continue to wear everything from leather boots to fur coats to conventional jewelry.
D) Purge my closet of anything that isn’t sustainable. This would mean taking some to consignment stores and Goodwill, and throwing the rest that isn’t fit for consumption out, thus contributing to waste, but living a model lifestyle moving forward. Also, that would be expensive.
I choose C. But tell me: What are your thoughts?