Monday, 22 May 2017

Quick Design: Ethical Spring Outfits!

Warm weather has finally hit Portland! It's been a long slog of a winter and I'm very happy to see the sun again! In celebration of our next week's weather forecast, I put together a few outfits using items sourced from companies that employ ethical production practices of one kind or another.

Ethical Spring Outfits

Outfit 1:
Skirt: Kopal NY: This company uses natural dyes in their production, partnering with socially responsible groups in India to build sustainable work and keep Indian textile traditions alive. 

Jacket: DL1961: made in the USA, DL1961 has found ways to reduce their water, dye, and energy use in manufacturing; they also focus on eco-friendly textiles like Tencel and ProModal.

White shirt: Fair Indigo: Fair trade company using Oeko-Tex certified dyes (regulates how chemicals can be used) and organic cotton (less chemicals = better for the earth/workers)          

Sandals: Nisolo: This company focuses on transparency, sustainability, and fair trade work by using leathers only as a by-product of the meat industry, providing above-average wages and healthcare to its workers in Peru, and publishing an impact report of their practices. I bought these to possibly wear in my upcoming wedding!

Outfit 2:
Tee: Calder Blake: Each piece from this small company is created start-to-finish (design, manufacturing, shipping) in California, with an emphasis on timeless, well-made designs that last the test of time
Skirt: Conrado: This company sources its material from deadstock (leftover fabric from other stores' clothing) and produces their items in a small family-run company.

Shoes: Veja: Widely touted as a gold standard in ethical fashion, Veja has transparent supply chain and fair trade practices, encourages eco-friendly farming practices, provides incentive for suppliers to NOT deforest their land, and uses eco-friendly materials.

Outfit 3:
Shoes: Matt + Nat: This vegan company not only avoids animal products, they incorporate recycled materials such as plastic bottles and bike tires in their products and supply their workers with a safe working environment and fair wages.

Pants: Matter: I recently listened to an interesting podcast from the owners of Matter, in which they described how they look at traditional textiles like Ikat and interpret them in a modern way. They focus on slow fashion and quality materials.

Crop Top: Groceries Apparel: This company's products are made in LA with non-toxic dyes. They have a great page explaining their product sources and focus on eliminating waste and reducing their carbon footprint.

Outfit 4:
"Love over Fear" tank: Siempre Viva: This company partners with workers in Mexico, providing business mentoring to women whose businesses then create the products for the line. They source natural, organic fibers and donate to charities. Plus, in the current political climate I think "love over fear" is a great message to send!

Shorts: DL1961: per above, better manufacturing practices = reduced environmental impact

Sandals: Frye: Made in the USA, Frye is well-known for their quality leather that can take a beating and look all the better for it.

Monday, 15 May 2017

An ethical alternative to my 10x10 capsule wardrobe!

I'm a big fan of the concept of "When you know better, do better." Recently I posted a spring capsule wardrobe incorporating new items from several mainstream stores. Since then, I watched the documentary The True Cost (it's on Netflix!), which dives into the deep and dirty world of fast fashion. Long story short, mainstream clothing stores want you to buy from them (duh), and they want you to keep buying from them (duh), so they make their clothing cheaply both in terms of cost and materials. Cheap clothing doesn't cost the company much, and it is designed to fall apart quickly so you have to buy more to replace it. To make cheap clothing, you need cheap labor and cheap materials, which leads to abuse and underpayment of workers and use of terrible chemicals and manufacturing processes that damage our world and the workers exposed to them.

This, and my subsequent research on the topic, has led me to want to make better, more intentional, and more ethical purchases when adding to my wardrobe. There are a lot of ways one can define ethical fashion, and I plan to write a whole post on what I'm learning, but here are several ways in which an item could be a more ethical counterpart to fast fashion:

1. Made in the USA: reduces carbon imprint for American shoppers and ensures better regulation of working conditions
2. Sustainable materials: using natural, renewable fabrics and materials
3. Sustainable production practices: reduce the use of chemicals, dyes, water, and energy
4. Reused/recycled materials to create a new product
5. Second-hand items: give a second life to an already-created item
6. Custom/made-to-order: reduces excess material use and stores' need to get rid of items seasonally
7. Buy one/give one: Toms is famous for giving away a pair of shoes for every pair purchased, which many companies have now adopted
8. Buying less: capsule wardrobes do a great job of this--using fewer items, more
9. Transparent supply chain: understanding where your items are sourced from gives the consumer the ability to decide if the company fits your own ethics
10. Vegan: some materials, like leather, are very harmful to produce in terms of the chemicals used, plus some people do not feel animals should be killed for human use. Additionally, vegan items are more likely to be made of plant-based products (see: sustainable materials)

I thought an easy way to start would be by providing ethical alternatives to my spring capsule wardrobe. Check out my new options, and see below for why they are a more ethical alternative to my original post!
 Ethical 10x10 Spring Capsule

Here's how the pieces I selected stack up:
1. Striped bell-sleeve top: Amourt Vert, where this is from, is made in the USA with non-toxic dies, sustainable fabrics, and zero-waste practices
2. White jeans, white dress, and navy top: Patagonia and Prana are leaders in establishing transparency in their supply chain, using better production methods, employing fair trade practices, and giving back to environmental causes
3. Striped short-sleeve top: Marine Layer is a US company that creates their products with a fabric made from recycled beechwood, and some of their products support local charities
4. White blazer and metallic shorts: these are mainstream products (BCBG and JCrew) but sourced from ThredUp, a second-hand store
5. Gingham skirt: this skirt is made-to-order in the USA; the store owner buys material specifically for each item ordered, thereby reducing material waste
6. Boyfriend jeans: AG denim is a pioneer in reducing the environmental impact of their production
7. Military jacket: Synergy Organic, who makes this jacket, are a fair trade company that uses organic cotton, which has less environmental impact due to not using synthetic chemicals to grow the cotton and less water needed to make the fabric.

What do you think of my ethical alternatives?