Tag Archives: sustainability

How to Shop for Sustainable Fashion

We all want to be better. Look better, act better, eat better. But when it comes to fashion, American’s rarely think about what it means to dress better.

In this context, I am not using the word better to mean more designer brands, or clothing that fits well.

To me, “dress better” means:

  • Buy clothing with minimal environmental impact.
  • Buy from brands that give back in some way.
  • Shop from manufacturers who have a humanitarian supply chain.
  • Consume Less.
  • Re use more.
  • Love every item.

For those of you who want a better understanding of what I’m talking about, watch this piece about Fast Fashion by John Oliver on HBO’s Last Week Tonight:

“In 2013 American’s purchased on average 64 items per person.”

-John Oliver

So instead of buying 64 non-sustainable, cheaply made clothing items that won’t last, maybe this year you decide to limit your purchases to 24 items and to get all of them either second-hand, or from sustainable companies. That’s still two items a month! And instead of items that fall apart after 6 months, buying sustainable also means higher quality. These are things that can last a decade!

Brands that I love:

Tonlé –  This is an amazing brand! They make “Zero-waste fashion” by salvaging large quantities of scrap fabric and turning it into sell-able, beautiful, fashion. This is how all clothing should be made!

Swedish Stockings –  Yes even stockings/tights can be purchased from a sustainable source. On average these cost $20/pair which is comparable to brands such as Banana Republic.

Nisolo –  This is an amazing shoe brand that hand crafts leather shoes at a very reasonable price. Nisolo is committed to using local resources for their shoes, and every single shoe is made by hand. Price range: $90 – $250 on average for a pair of shoes. Nisolo means “Not Alone”. This brand is a constant reminder that our daily choices can impact others.

Pact – My lovely boyfriend Pact Socksbought me some boot socks from this company for the holidays. Pact makes socks, underwear, undershirts, camisoles, pajamas, leggings, and baby clothes from organic cotton! They have tons of styles, and even have socks for flats! Their motto – “We make clothes that don’t hurt people”. I’d compare prices to Express and The Limited, but the quality is much much better. No child labor, no sweatshops, no pesticides; shopping here is a no-brainier.

Pact Image

Cuyana – This isn’t the first time I’ve raved about Cuyana. I have purchased two tote bags from Cuyana and am so impressed with the company and the quality. For leather accessories there is no better brand out there. Every item is carefully crafted and look and feel way better than standard designer bags. A large tote costs about $160 and trust me, it’ll be softer leather than any tote you’ve felt from any brand at the mall. I’ve adopted Cuyana’s motto as my personal motto: Fewer, Better Things.

Everlane – This brand is all about Radical Transparency. So much in fact that the order page for every item comes with a Transparent Pricing guide that shoes you exactly how much each step of the process cost to make the garment.

Everlane - Transparent Pricing

Everlane is also transparent about their manufacturers. By partnering with small manufacturing shops around the world, and working closely with the owners of each shop, Everlane guarantees that the laborers who sew their clothes and farm their cotton  are paid a fair wage and have safe working conditions.

For the holidays I bought three items from Everlane for my boyfriend: a cotton t-shit, a cotton long sleeve button down shirt, and a leather belt. All three items were wonderful quality and the fit is impeccable. My friend Theresa purchased two of their silk sleeveless button ups and we couldn’t believe the quality of the fabric. It’s the thickest, softest silk that I’ve ever touched!

 

To learn more about  Consuming Less and Loving Everything You Own, check out my previous posts on living with a Capsule Wardrobe.

In the next post: I’ll reveal a way to re-use clothing that probably don’t know exists.

Stitch Fix #1 and a Message About Our Consumer Nation

The purpose of this post is two-fold: 1) To continue my journey into a life of “Fewer, Better Things”* and 2) To review my experience with the company Stitch Fix.

*The motto I’ve adopted from the amazingly socially reliable company Cuyana

I recently watched a movie on Netflix called The True Cost. The True Cost is a documentary uncovering the truth about the wasteful and harmful nature of the fashion industry. The “Fast Fashion” industry is the #2 polluting industry globally, second only to petroleum.

If you’re not convinced yet that buying 50 things on Black Friday is directly impacting our world in a very serious way, here are a few statistics that might pique your interest in learning more:

  • Fashion’s engine is powered by an estimated 40 million garment workers, most of whom make less than $1 per day.
  • The average American disposes of 80 lbs of clothing each year.
  • Fast fashion clothes are full of toxin chemicals including LEAD! (read more here)
  • Cotton farming is responsible for 2.6% of the world’s water use.
  • An estimated 17 to 20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment and an estimated 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used throughout the world to turn raw materials into textiles. 

So what does all of this pollution and inhumane labor get us? A closet full of cheap clothes and pockets stuffed full of cash for the few fashion executives. So is it worth it? As part of my journey into defining and wearing a Capsule Wardrobe I cut down extremely on my fashion purchases. The first item that I bought was an amazing tote bag from a wonderfully sustainable company, Cuyana. I never realized that spending $160 on one bag could feel so good, but knowing that I put my money where my mouth is when it comes to buying clothing from responsible companies was outstanding.

Check out this list of companies that have been rated among the top by EthicalConsumer.com.

Links to a few of my favorite sustainable brands:

Now let’s talk about Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix #1 (8/5/15)Here it is in all it’s glory! If you haven’t heard of Stitch Fix and want to learn more, check it out here.

Prior to scheduling this fix, I filled out the lengthy style guide (which was very fun). I even included a specific note to my stylist regarding what I wanted to see in my first fix. I specifically asked for a black blaze, and not to include pants, shorts, or skirts. Not only did my stylist, Amber, follow the instructions to a T, she also included a My note from Amber, the stylistlovely message regarding the items she chose and why. I created a Pinterest board filled with fashion pins to help Amber understand my style. I highly recommend doing this. Amber even mentioned in her note that it was helpful 🙂Style Cards

The fix also comes with a “style card” for each item which shows you how to mix and match it with items in your closet to have a stylish put together look. So let’s take a look at the items I received.

Fix #1: My First 5 ItemsItem 1) Adrianna Circle Bib Necklace, by Zad, $34.00

Item 2) Dita Sleeveless Ponte Dress, by 41Hawthorne, $68.00

Item 3) Corinna Striped Dolman Top, by Market & Spruce, $48.00

Item 4) Kaylie Solid French Terry Blazer, by Tart, $128.00

Item 5) Liffey Button Down Top, by Skies are Blue, $58.00

After trying all of the pieces on, and mixing and matching with items in my summer capsule, I decided to only keep one thing; Item 3. I was also very close to keeping Item 2, and probably would of if it had been a brighter color.

I was also disappointed that 3 of the 5 pieces were Stitch Fix specific brands (41Hawthorne, Market & Spruce, Skies are Blue); meaning not something you can buy somewhere else. This wouldn’t bother me if they had a sustainability or eco-friendly statement on their website about their brands, but until I see that it makes me like this a tad less, but I still want to try it a few more times. This method of having handpicked items delivered to me should compliment the Capsule Wardrobe lifestyle well. It’s especially useful since I live in a smaller town without access to non “big box” clothing stores.

Pros: Everything fit, I’d score this a 7/10 for my style (not bad for the first try), a few items were very nice quality

Cons: Next time I will specify no jewelry, does not offer sustainable brands (that I’m aware of)

My take home message:

Stitch Fix, please add some sustainable brands to your lineup. I’d happily pay $30 more per item if I knew they came from companies dedicated to ending the “fast fashion” epidemic.

Zady Brand Manifesto
Zady Brand Manifesto