Friday, November 4, 2011

What is Fashion?

I'm sorry, I just have to post something new so that every time I open up my blog I don't see crotches (from my last posting on underwear)!

So I give you this beautiful quote from an amazing man. If you haven't seen the documentary about him, you really have to as soon as possible!

Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. 
Bill Cunningham

To  me, this quote helps explain why fashion is important. Fashion and clothing are two different things. Clothing is a physical t-shirt and a pair of pants, whereas fashion is a concept, an idea, an emotion, a real part of our lives. For eco-fashion to be successful, I feel that we must think about it as a more than just an organic t-shirt. It needs to be fashion movement, something that embraces sustainability yet also holds true to what fashion really is, and what it means to us.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Organic Unmentionables...

For a while now I've been needing to buy some new, ahem... underwear. But I procrastinated because I was not looking forward to finding some that fit into my rules. Obviously secondhand is out of the question for this one (yuck!), and I know I could purchase something made in the USA from American Apparel, but that feels like a bit of a cop-out. Plus I've been thinking that I'd really like organic fabrics for this particular item in my wardrobe!
Exhibit A: ugly organic undies

Scouring the internet, I came upon a lot of websites with organic cotton underwear, but quite frankly they looked really old-lady-like and not faltering at all. In addition they were pretty expensive, around $25 per pair.

Then I found a really neat looking company that specializes in pretty much exactly what I'm looking for: organic, socially conscious, attractive and stylish undergarments. They are called PACT (, and their philosophy is that...

CHANGE STARTS WITH YOUR UNDERWEAR. The purchase of PACT underwear is participation in a social movement: when you buy PACT underwear, you are supporting and encouraging organic cotton farmers, responsible labor practices, and businesses that form partnerships with nonprofit organizations dedicated to positive change in our world.

Pact's underwear is 95% organic cotton and 5% elastane to give it stretch so that it doesn't loose shape. Their cuts are young and attractive looking, and they partner with non-profit organizations. For example, some of their prints are created by artists from the Creative Growth Art Center which is an art studio/gallery that serves adult artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities. And the prints are really great!

In addition, Pact has made almost all aspects of their business socially responsible: from their supply chain, to their dying techniques, to their packaging. Check out this page on their website to see all that they do

The prices aren't the cheapest in the world, most range from $20 - $22 per pair, however there were many on sale for around $15. I bought a couple of pairs. I think it's worth spending the money if you get exactly what you are looking for. I also like their policy for your first order: if it doesn't fit right they will get you the right size for free! Oh and they also have men's underwear.

The next step in my eco-unmentionables will have to be the bra department. Which reminds me, you should check out this article from Ecouterre about a company in Japan who is recycling women's old bras into fuel...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Green Halloween?

Halloween having just passed, I feel like it's important to analyze the eco impact of what just happens to be my favorite holiday. I have to say it's difficult for me to criticize Halloween because I love it so much, and because I didn't do a great job of greening my Halloween this year...

Technically I did follow my rules, I made my own costume. I've been making my own Halloween costumes for years and I put entirely too much time and effort into them because, well it's what I love doing. Sometimes (like this year) I wasn't even sure I'd have a place to wear it. But it's not the wearing of the costume that I love, it's creating something fun, unique, and beautiful that really doesn't serve a point in the normal world. But therein lies the rub, creating something to be only worn once is pretty much as un-green as you can get. So how do I justify this and what does it mean for Halloween?

I don't think that we can go so far as to say that holidays like Halloween shouldn't exist because of how unsustainable they are. I think we should just each try to reduce our waste on Halloween as much as possible. Buying store bought costumes is the first no no. They are super cheap, made overseas, fall apart in one night, and are made from non-recyclable synthetic fabrics. If everyone made their own costume with things they owned, or purchased items from second hand stores, it would be much less of an impact. I will still stand behind people like me who buy fabric and make their own from scratch. The impact from making my own is much less than buying the pre-packaged, plus I plan to keep my costumes for years and years. I've already had several friends borrow my old costumes when they needed something to wear last minute on Halloween night. So see, they are being reused!

The thing is we can't say that Halloween shouldn't exist. That borders on very dangerous territory which takes being green to an extreme. If we say costumes for Halloween are wasteful, then I feel like you start to look into things like theater, arts, dance, and even sports, and could potentially say that these things are also expendable activities that use a huge amount of resources for costumes on a regular basis. I think the key to being successful in sustainability is making smart day to day choices. If we start attacking the things in life that bring meaning and beauty to the world, then we might as well live in a colorless bland world where everyone is the same.

Here is an interesting article from the ecologist on how to have a green Halloween, if you are interested:

And if you're curious, here is my costume from this year.

The white swan (from the movie Black Swan) -  I hand made my tutu trying to use real tutu making techniques and I hand made head piece made from an old headband and some wire. The base of the corset was made from old fabric I had lying around, but I do have to confess that I had to buy many yards of tulle and 2 yards of fashion fabric for the rest of the costume. So not the greenest, but also still didn't break my rules! :)

Happy Halloween everyone!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A particularly depressing episode of the Daily Show last night got me thinking...

The whole concept of eco friendly fashion is based off of something that I take for granted. I operate under the assumption that most people are concerned about the environment and global warming. That even though they might not currently realize the environmental impact of their clothes, they eventually will, and then they will start asking for more eco-friendly fashion goods. It's depressing to recognize to the reality in America which is that only 59% of Americans actually believe that global warming exists at all! Watch Jon Stewart's clip from last night if you feel like being depressed: 

"even as scientific projections of global climate change get ever more certain, public perceptions about climate change are getting ever more skeptical." Chandler, MIT news office

The people that don't believe in global warming think that scientists are trying to trick the public. They won't believe facts and can't understand the scientific explanations behind those facts so they dismiss them as fake. Here is an interesting article about a professor at MIT who is trying to find ways for people to understand climate change: 

I think this denial of climate change could be the major reason that the USA is so far behind Europe in eco-friendly fashion. I've always wondered why it seemed that Europe has so much going on in eco-fashion, and the US seems to be lagging behind. I suppose the key is taking things step by step. Hopefully some day everyone will realize that climate change is real and take steps to make change. In the mean time the rest of us who knew it all along will be way ahead of the game. **sigh** If you know someone who doesn't believe in global warming, try to convince them for me OK? 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Snapshot of a Local Eco-Conscious Designer

My friend, former classmate, and fashion designer June Monteiro has been growning her brand "Everything Enamour" for the past few years. She recently showed her Monarch Collection at Baltimore Fashion Week, and premiered her Isabella Blow Collection this September during Boston Fashion Week. As her classmate, I was always amazed by the creativity behind June's collections (her Monarch Collection is inspired by the various stages of the Victorian mourning period). Also I thought it was interesting that from the very beginning of building her brand, June decided to focus on sustainability.

Monarch Collection

I asked June a few questions about why, as an emerging designer, she has decided to take this route (which I would expect to be very challenging when you are starting a company)...

Why do you use sustainable fabrics? 
Isabella Blow Collection
I became interested in sustainable fabrics when our Professor at MassArt, Jenn Varekamp, told us about the damage the major design houses were doing to the industry. Although they're trying to use more recycled goods, most won't change to sustainable materials, especially if the alternative is cheap. I figured it may help for me to begin my career being more conscious of my materials.

What type of fabrics do you use?
I try to use organic fabrics whenever possible and primarily use natural fibers like silks, cottons, tencel, and wools. On a rare occasion I will use a blend, but I want most of my collections to be all natural. For my first collection I hand dyed a lot of my fabric and just bought them in natural tones.

Do you find it challenging because sustainable fabrics are more expensive?
Most of my fabric shopping is done online in wholesale bulk. So it's usually a 15 yd minimum with a small vendor. Larger vendors sell at a 25+ yd minimum. It is much more expensive to buy so it helps that I utilize the fabric in more than one look.

You can find out more about Everything Enamour on her website:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recap - Clothing Purchases

I've been really good about not buying a lot of clothes. It actually hasn't been too difficult. I just know that when I look into my closet, that's all I've got to work with! However, when Boston Fashion Week came up I found myself needing three different fantastic outfits for one week, and I realized I really wanted to buy something new! But I was good. I kept to my rules and did some second-hand shopping. Here's what I picked up:

Currently my favorite dress ever - this beautiful blue-patterned strapless dress. I got it second-hand from Poor Little Rich girl, and it's made in the USA!  Plus it's adorable. It didn't fit well on top at first, but I just sewed in a little elastic band to make it tighter, and now it's perfect!

Getting an award (!) at the seArts show

I wore it working backstage at the seArts fashion show and then to the Launch Show at the Boston Fashion Week Tent that same night!

Cindy and I at the BFW Tent!

While I was at Poor little Rich Girl I picked up some great jeggings (which I am now quite frankly addicted to wearing), and this great long comfy sweater.
I guess my hipster camera app doesn't take the best clothing photos...
Also, way back in May I found this cute off-white long sleeved lace dress at Urban Outfitters. I couldn't believe it was made in the USA! I didn't know anything they sold would fit my rules. I almost wore it to a BFW show, but then changed my mind last minute.

My fabulous fashion friends at the Everything Enamour show!
Backstage @ the Liberty show
For the other Boston Fashion Week events I was a good girl, I didn't buy any more clothing and instead I reused things from my closet! For my friend June's Fashion show for her brand Everything Enamour, I re-wore the dress I made for my friends wedding in June.

Then for the Rising Design Liberty Hotel show, I wore a black dress that I've had for a while. It was simple but chic, and I think it worked well. I only have photos of me running around backstage that night!

With a few small exceptions, this is pretty much all the clothing I've purchased since April! I'm pretty proud of myself, but I wish I could notice more of a change in my bank account!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Investing in your clothes - fix it don't toss it?

A new eco-related problem with modern consumer behavior is the tendency to throw away broken things instead of fixing them. It used to be that if your TV broke you got it repaired, or if the seam of your dress came undone you would sew it back together. Now that we have fast fashion, and constantly changing technologies and products, people are less and less likely to take the time and money to repair something that is broken. Instead they throw it away and buy something new.

I do my best to mend any clothes that tear or lose buttons. I try to get the most out of my clothing (especially since I've started this blog!). One thing I realized I do is alter clothing that I don't wear into something more desirable, so that I get more use out of it. For example, I had a dress that I no longer wore, but the print was cute. I ended up cutting off the top half of the dress and turning the rest into a skirt. Now I wear it all the time! I've also altered the hemlines of boring dresses and shorts, chopped off sleeves, and made jeans into shorts. The only problem is that I have a habit of doing these alterations 10 minutes before I run out the door for work in the morning... but that's just something I need to work on.

Anyways, I've been very successful in the - fix or re-invent my clothing - area. However, I've been curious for a while about taking things to the next level. So I conducted a little experiment!

Exhibit A: My favorite pair of black pumps, perfect for work or play. I purchased them about a year ago, for around $70. One heel broke off this summer. I was bummed.

Usually I would have thrown away the shoes and bought new ones, but with my eco rules hanging over my head, I decided to get them repaired by a cobbler. Yes a cobbler! They still exist! I brought them into the local cobbler near my work and dropped them off for about a week. Once I picked them up they were like new! The heel was fixed and they put new bottom-heel-pad-bits (sorry I don't know the technical name) on each shoe. The only problem was the price tag... $30!

OK to be fair I didn't do my research and just went to the closest cobbler near work, but really? $30? It's almost half the cost of the shoe. I would feel OK paying that much if the shoe was a designer brand and cost a few hundred dollars, and I'm sure the cobbler business isn't exactly booming, but still.

So the conclusion to my experiment? Well I'm happy my shoes were fixed and I didn't need to buy new ones, but I'm a little disheartened by the whole experience. I'm sure I'll get more things fixed in the future, but I think for now I'll stick to fixing whatever I can on my own.

**Just a side note: for technology items (like TVs) I personally don't think it makes sense to get them fixed. By the time you get a new tech item home from the store there is already a new technology or a cheaper version available. It's impossible to keep up!**

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I'm back and I've been busy!

I haven't written in soooo long, but I have a really good reason. One of my other side-projects that I do when I'm not working at MIT (and not writing in this blog, and not doing all the other things I like to do) is to help coordinate Rising Design Boston, which is a collaborative that aims to support and celebrate emerging local fashion designers. I took the lead on putting together two fashion shows for this year's Boston Fashion Week. These last few weeks were crunch time and I was up to my eyeballs in planning for the shows... but they went really well!

The first show was a fundraiser for seArts in Gloucester. I was a huge success and seArts had a great turnout. Then last Thursday, Rising Design had our big show for Boston Fashion Week at the Liberty Hotel as part of their "Fashionably Late" series!

Here are a few photos of the fabulous collections! (photos by Will Mann)

Pretty Thoughts by Erica Templeman "Equinox Collection." Made entirely of latex!

Sarka's Collection by Jen Griffith "Playdates Collection." Vintage inspired!
Margaret Lawrence's evening gown, lovely!
Felicia Verry Mota's gown, I seriously want it...
Ray Rodriguez "Hanes Collection" YSL inspired made out of re-purposed Tshirts!
Shalyn Webber "Lichen Collection" inspired by Victorian cemeteries.

Now technically all of these collections can be considered Eco-friendly fashion through my rules, because they are produced by hand in the USA. However Jen's collection used vintage and re-purposed fabrics, and Ray's was created entirely from re-purposed Hanes Tshirts. So those two collections deserve special recognition!

Overall the show was a huge success, however I have to say I'm relieved it's over and I'm looking forward to having more free time. And even though I haven't been writing, I've come up with a bunch of blog topics to write about, so stay tuned!

Also check out Rising Design Boston's Website!
I made the new logo - you like? :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Patagonia's Common Threads Initiative

There's been a lot of rain this week, and just the other day I was admiring my Patagonia raincoat thinking how I should purchase more clothes from them. They've been ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainability. If you go to their website the second tab in the navigation bar is called "Environmentalism."
So it was something of a coincidence that my friend Rachel sent me this yesterday, an email about a new eco initiative from Patagonia, one that encourages consumers to buy only things they need, to use what they buy for a long time, and to repair things if they break. Here is a bit more about the Common Threads Initiative...
Patagonia's Common Threads Initiative – a partnership with its customers to reduce consumption and its resultant environmental harm.

“The Common Threads Initiative addresses a significant part of today’s environmental problem – the footprint of our stuff,” notes Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder and owner. “This program first asks customers to not buy something if they don’t need it. If they do need it, we ask that they buy what will last a long time – and to repair what breaks, reuse or resell whatever they don’t wear any more. And, finally, recycle whatever’s truly worn out. We are the first company to ask customers to take a formal pledge and be partners in the effort to reduce consumption and keep products out of the landfill or incinerator.”

Patagonia in turn commits to make products that last and help repair quickly anything that breaks. To help customers put back in circulation used clothes, Patagonia and eBay Inc. have joined forces to launch a new marketplace for customers to buy and sell used Patagonia gear. Patagonia’s Common Threads Initiative store on eBay establishes a new model for consumption: It marks the first time a major retail brand actively encourages its customers to buy and sell used products on eBay, and it is eBay’s first multi-seller branded store.

The collaboration between Patagonia and eBay was born out of their common interest to extend the useful life of products. eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace, has, over the past year, developed innovative new initiatives that extend the impact of its inherently sustainable business model. The eBay Box, launched as a pilot in September 2010, encourages buyers and sellers to reuse packaging; and eBay Instant Sale, launched in October 2010, encourages customers to sell and/or recycle their used electronics. The Patagonia Common Threads store on eBay becomes not only the latest example of eBay’s commitment to sustainable commerce, but a new model for consumption within the apparel industry – one that emphasizes product, reuse, and tapping the full useful life of clothing.

I really respect Patagonia's environmentalism, and I think the Common Threads Initiative is exactly the kind of thing we need to see from more brands. It's just hard because from the brand's perspective they are essentially saying "don't buy a lot of our clothes." What I hope is that consumers will see the honor in that. They are not only refusing to cave to the fast fashion ideology, but they are also standing behind their products... Essentially saying, yes it's made well, and it's going to last a long time, so please use it for as long as you can. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Three Wolf Moon Shirt is Eco Friendly!

I was going to post a quick example of how living by my eco-friendly rules can kinda stink. My example was going to be that sometimes you just want to buy something that is silly and awesome, not super practical, but fun and something that you'd definitely wear.

My example was going to be the amazing Three Wolf Moon T-shirt!

I've wanted one for a while... I mean obviously because it is so awesome... and also because of the amazing reviews on Apparently it's pretty magical in a lot of different ways.

So I figured the Three Wolf Moon shirt, as much as I wanted it, had to be outside of my eco parameters. But then I discovered that the shirt is even more awesome than I previously thought! The company that makes it, The Mountain, claims to be "America's Greenest T-Shirt Company"! They have a whole page on their green efforts:
  • They create, develop, dye, and print the shirts in Marlborough, NH and ship from Keene, NH. So by not shipping from overseas they reduce their carbon footprint.
  • More than 80% of the T-shirt cotton is grown in the USA.
  • They use waterbased vs. petroleum based inks.
  • Shirts are pre-shrunk cotton, so the shirt size and print should last long.
  • Have Oeko-Tex 100 Certification (chemical free).
It just goes to show you that eco-fashion is starting to become more and more common, and you might find it where you lease expect it!

... and I can't wait for my magical powers!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Few Good Links

I've been meaning to write for a while, but I'm oh so busy! SO to keep your eco-conscious minds amused, check out these links I found: round up of where to buy used goods in Boston. About half are about clothing stores, but it's always good to know where to buy used music and books too!

Really interesting article by Charty Durrant (via Etsy) on the fashion industry and how it fundamentally conflicts with sustainability.

Her outlook for the future:
Our challenge is to find a way to resynthesise the extreme polarities of our time: on the one hand we have globalisation and all its negative financial and ethical ramifications, and on the other we have the new consciousness: a One World view. Globalisation has misunderstood and misused this concept for its own ends. We have misinterpreted our connectivity and as a result are more disconnected than ever. Now we have to learn to express ourselves and reconnect with integrity. In the end the true antidote is to adopt an attitude of voluntary simplicity. A manner of living and being that is outwardly more simple and inwardly more rich. A way of being in which our most authentic and alive self is brought into direct conscious contact with every part of our lives.

Happy eco reading!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Eco On The Road - San Francisco CA

My sister and I got very lucky in San Francisco. While traveling by bus from Golden Gate Park to the Golden Gate Bridge a fashionable young woman behind us must have overheard us talking about shopping and told us that the Renegade Craft Fair was taking place that day at Fort Mason. The name alone was enough to win us over.

The Renegade Craft Fair is a huge free-to-enter craft fair with hundreds of homemade items and artwork. It was almost overwhelming how large it was, there were mobs of people looking at the rows after rows of what I would classify as vintage inspired-bohemian-chic style arts and crafts.

A lot of the jewelry and prints were really good. My sister bought a little adorable ceramic hanging pocket vase made by jfish designs which came with a little air plant inside. It was fun trying to take care of the plan over the rest of the trip. I hope it's still alive.

jfish pocket vase

I was on the hunt for a vintage pocket-watch necklace, but never found one that was quite right (though there were a lot of options to choose from - which actually may have been the reason why I couldn't decide).  I ended up finding a very cute dress with a great print on it from Maryink. They are based out of Nashville TN and print all of their designs by hand. It's a super cute dress with a super cute design, and it was only $40!

bad photo of the dress, but you can see the design, I added the belt.

We had a great time at the Renegade Craft fair and if it were coming to Boston I would totally go again (looks like next stop is Chicago in September).  Here are a couple other designs I loved but didn't buy.

Wood ties by Wood Thumb - seriously so awesome -
I should have bought one of these - jewelry by Oh Hello Friend -

Monday, July 18, 2011

Eco On The Road - Santa Cruz CA

The last two weeks I took a vacation to the beautiful west coast of California and Oregon. It was a pretty amazing trip in so many different ways: gorgeous scenery, beautiful weather, friendly people, happenin' cities, and delicious food. The whole 9 yards. One of the other interesting side effects was that I got to see what the west coast has to offer when it comes to eco-friendly fashion.

Santa Cruz, CA
I didn't get a chance to shop in LA (though I'm sure I missed out on some amazing vintage shopping) so the first town I took time to shop in was Santa Cruz. The downtown really surprised me with a slew of vintage and antique shops. There was plenty of eco-friendly shopping to be had, however my favorite two stores I want to highlight specifically:

Eco Goods was a shop with only eco-friendly items in it. It was pretty great. They had everything from clothes, to shoes, to bags, to accessories, all of which were either organic, recycled or non-toxic. The clothes seemed a step up from the hippie-ish threads of a store like the Hempest, but not quite creative enough to for me to consider them fashion forward. There were some nice simple items (like a black jersey dress), but at a price tag of over $100, it was to simple for me to want to spend my money on it.

Idle Hands My sister and I walked by the doors before they opened, mesmerized by the pretty dresses and cowboy boots in the windows. We made sure to go back after breakfast once they were open. Once inside, it was even better. There was a wide array of really interesting clothing, graphic t-shirts, jewelery and shoes. Most of the styles seemed to be either bohemian or western inspired, but all very fashionable and different. I could have stayed in there for hours.

And now here is the coolest thing about Idle Hands... everyone who works in the store is an artist/designer, and also sells their items in the store! So the woman who made a particular row of graphic t-shirts and clothing was working behind the counter. When my sister bought a necklace she was told, "if you have any problems with it just come back on a Thursday and the girl who made it will be working." Such an amazing concept! I love supporting local designers and the way this business worked and the quality of the merchandise was really inspiring.

My road trip was off to a great eco-friendly fashion start! Check back later this week for posts about what I did in San Francisco and Portland!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Helz Yeah Rule #3!

Rule #3 of my eco-fashion project is to sew more of my own clothing, and after starting with the rules in February, I've finally actually made myself a dress!

This weekend was my good friend's wedding, and I decided a long time ago that I would try to design and make my own dress to wear to it. That way I've made something for my lovely rule #3, and also wouldn't have to spend $$ on a new dress. Of course even though I had this plan in my head for months, I didn't start the dress until a week ago, and I finished it the night before the wedding. It's OK though, it worked out great! I got it done!

Sewing late into the evening...
The first thing I decided to do before making this dress (and probably the reason I procrastinated so much) was to make my own slopers. For those who might not know the sewing lingo, a sloper is essentially a very basic pattern that fits my exact size. I make it customized to my measurements, and then I can alter the sloper to draft more complicated patterns. It ended up not being as hard as I imagined, and now I have something I can use again and again to make clothes that fit me perfectly!

The next step was to start drafting the pattern for the dress. The final design might not look too complicated, but believe me it took some working out. Let's just say that pattern drafting is a really good way to practice your fraction adding skills.

Stella was helping by, um, keeping all the patterns safe?
Then putting it all together was pretty straight forward, no major problems. I used this very pretty blue and green patterned polyester fabric my friend no longer wanted. So except for a couple of hours of my own time, the dress was essentially free. Oh and I conquered my fear of invisible zippers! I honestly don't know how I didn't figure them out at MassArt, but all I did was watch a youtube video and it was the easiest and most amazing experience. The zipper just disappears! Magic. Highly recommend.

And tada! The final product! I was pretty happy with it (as you can see by my grin - though that might also have to do with the awesome wedding, and a few glasses of wine).

Thanks to Eric for the photo!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

This Week's Eco Boutiques

So I just moved to Porter Sq two weeks ago, and lucky for me there are a few awesome stores in the area. I'm going to focus on two that are definitely eco-friendly.

This store is pretty much as eco as you can get. They have everything from jewelry to house hold items to bike accessories in their store. It's definitely not a clothing store - more of a one stop shop for all things green. They even have a little drop off center for recycling in the back. I'm planning on returning to safely dispose of a broken compact florescent light bulb I have at home.

When I was there I bought two of these fabulous cloth food bags which are perfect for bringing lunch to work without using plastic bags or tin foil. They are washable and totally cute! Now if I can just get myself to actually pack lunch in the morning...

Sudo Shoes
Sudo Shoes
They post a lot on facebook:
Sudo is a all vegan shoe store, which means every part of the shoe (including the glue) is animal free. So the shoes are ethically conscience (no animals hurt) and also sustainable since most shoes are made of microfibers... Ok, to be honest I'm not really sure why a microfiber is considered to be sustainable. When I went into the store the women called the shoes "eco-friendly" and I wished I had asked her exactly what she meant. I think it's because producing leather and using other animal byproducts uses a lot of natural resources and creates harmful emissions, while microfibers do not. 

What I like most about Sudo is that while they have some incredibly expensive (albeit gorgeous) vegan shoes, they also carry brands like Steve Madden and Saucony as a cheaper alternative. I didn't buy any shoes when I stopped in Sudo (because I was still dealing with my Berk's Groupon dilemma at the time), but I think this would be a great place to shop when I need a new pair of shoes.

I have to say I love having these eco options so close to home!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Instant Impluse Shopping

Hey ya'll, sorry I've been MIA lately. I've had a lot of stuff going on, moving my apartment being one of them. But now I'm all moved in and happy in my new place, hurrah!

So I think I'll go on a little rant today, because, well, why not.

I realized I have an issue with this new fad of internet email deals like Groupon, Ruelala, Living Social, Gilt Groupe, etc.. I feel like every morning when I go to check my email, it's just filled with bs emails about bargain buys. I can see why consumer like these companies, you can get great deals on all sorts of things. However how often do we really need what we end up buying? They are all impulse buys. I'm not planing on buying a new french cookware set, but there it is on Ruelala at such an amazing discount, how can I not? Because they do it under the guise of being helpful, these companies have figured out a way to invade our brains without us realizing it, and it ends up making us spend money on things we never would have purchased otherwise. It's instant impulse shopping. No longer do you walk buy a shop window and frivolously buy the shirt on display, now you can purchase whatever you want with one click. The purchase is so instant that we don't even think about it. Because of this blog I've been thinking a lot lately about not buying things I don't need, and these websites honestly just keep pissing me off. I find myself searching Ruelala every day hoping I might find something eco-friendly to buy, and then I step back and say, why? What do I need? If I need something specific, I should go to the store and buy it, not hope it shows up on this site. Plus not to mention that practically everything I buy online doesn't fit me or looks different once I get it home... and how often do I return it? Yeah, exactly. So you know what I just did? I unsubscribe from Ruelala, Yelp Deals, Groupon, and Urban Outfitters. It was actually kinda scary, but I tried not to think about - I just did it instantly with one click. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Time's running out!

Of course I leave things to the very last minute... I just realized my Berk's shoe Goupon is going to expire TOMORROW May 24!! That means I have to find a time to get over to Harvard Sq by the end of the day tomorrow (or I wasted $30), and I still don't know what I should buy that's eco-friendly!

My friend Rebecca shared a few good links that point out a problem with the structure of Toms Shoe's charitable giving. Since they produce the "give away" shoes elsewhere and give them out for free they are taking away business from local shoe manufacturing companies and are wasting money and resources by shipping the shoes to these communities. Basically they are hurting the economies of the communities they are supposed to be helping, plus all that extra shipping and wasting resources is definitely not eco-friendly. 

I think I'm going to take Toms Shoes off my list of companies that are OK to buy. Instead I'll buy a pair of Reef or Teva flip flops, as both companies just launched eco-initiatives. But let's see if I even make it over there to use my Goupon!

I've been a busy bee lately and not posting much, but I'll get back to it soon. I'm moving my apt this week so after that's over I'll have some more free time!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An eco-shoe dilemma!

So I have a Groupon for Berk's Shoes in Harvard Square. Great right? Well now that I've started doing my eco-fashion thing, it seems buying shoes isn't so easy. Especially when I'm limited to a particular store.

Let me start by saying that I find the eco-friendly shoe world to be utterly confusing. It's hard enough for a consumer to determine if a clothing garment is eco-friendly, but for shoes? It's even more difficult! There are a variety of different materials used such as leather & plastics, production involves chemicals and glues, and while some of the leather may be from Italy and "handcrafted" the other half of the shoe could be made in China with who-knows what kind of materials and working conditions.

Walle and his plant in a shoe - he knows what's up
Because of this there are many different criteria under which a shoe could be considered "eco." I found a good list of eco-friendly shoe brands on this site: Planetshoes considers shoe to be eco-friendly if they meet one of these criteria:
  • Made from sustainable natural materials that can easily be recycled or biodegraded.
  • Made from recycled materials.
  • Made of vegan materials.
  • Fair Trade and/or ethically produced.
  • Energy used to make the shoes come from renewable resources like wind or solar.
For my sanity, I'm going to also use Planetshoes's criteria, because my own "rules" seem a little too stricted in the shoe department.

I've been trying to research the eco-friendly practices of some of the brands Berk's carries. And actually (I'm not surprised) Berk's is pretty good. They sell quite a few eco-friendly shoe brands.

Eco-friendly brands Berk's does carry: Arcopedico, Birkenstock, Chaco, Kigo, Merrell, Naot, New Balance, Reef, Teva, The North Face, Wolky.

Some of these brands are really great! But they aren't exactly what I'm looking for - I don't need sandals, and I don't wear the chunky style of many of those brands.  Unfortunately the brand I like the best from Planetshoes's eco list is not carried by Berk's, but you should still check them out: Naya.

One thing Berk's does carry is Tom's Shoes. I was sort of on the fence about Tom's because they aren't specifically eco-friendly. They say they use Earth and eco-friendly materials whenever possible, and although they manufacture their shoes in Argentina, China, and Ethiopia, they say they require their factories to adhere to their standards of fair wages and good working conditions. These things don't exactly fit my rules, but I think their philanthropic mission makes up for it. If you don't know, for every pair of shoes purchased, Tom's donates a pair to a child in need.  Pretty awesome.

Hmmm and cute!!

So what does everyone think? Can I buy a pair of Tom's shoes and stretch my eco requirements since I have a credit to Berk's? I vote yes, but I'm curious to see other's opinions... 

Also I stopped into the vegan shoe store Sudo Shoes near Porter sq this weekend and was very impressed. I plan on going back and giving you a full report!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mobius Wearable Art Show Pics

So the show last night went really well! There were a ton of people and a lot of really interesting and innovative designs. Here are some photos of my "Little Red Re-design."

Yay! Success!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Little Red Re-design

So after a few weeks of procrastinating and a few days of hard work, I've finally finished the garment I'm submitting to the Mobius Wearable Art Show this Friday May 6! Yay!

Thanks to my fabulous friend in her modeling debut: Rebecca Woodbury! 
The idea behind this garment was very eco-fashion inspired. I wanted to take normal objects, especially ones that are broken or ready to be thrown away (like the umbrellas), and give them new life by transforming them into something interesting and unexpected.

If you remember my previous post about this show I was planning on making a dress out of only the two broken red umbrellas. Well I pretty much made the dress (see photo below), but I thought it turned out way too normal-looking and boring. I didn't feel that it qualified as "wearable art" so I decided to re-think things a bit. The skirt I ended up using I made for a school project a few years ago. It's made of 1800 red rubber bands. I had always really liked the skirt never really liked the top that I made with it. So I ended up cutting up the umbrella dress, adding a hood, and now I have a new, better (I think), wearable art garment!

the umbrella dress as close as it ever came to existing...

Details on the show!
Mobius Wearable Art Runway Show
Where: Mobius, 725 Harrison Ave, Boston MA
When: Friday May 6 @ 7pm
Suggested Donation: $10 general, $5 friends of Mobius, students & seniors

My designer friend June Monteiro won the Word Art contest and will be showing two pieces in the show as well! It should be a fun and interesting night! 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day!

Happy Earth day! Don't forget to get your free cup of coffee from Starbucks today by bringing a reusable mug!

My pal Emily pointed out to me that Gilt Groupe (which is like Rue La La I think) is having an Earth Day themed sale with eco-friendly brands! What a great idea. Here is one eco-boutique they were promoting today which looks particularly neat:

Doucette Duvall  "practices environmental and social responsibility by manufacturing the entire collection in New York City's historic garment district, using pre-existing fabric and trim, shunning extraneous garment bags and hang tags, and shipping in recycled boxes only. Look for the "little green dress" in each collection as a reminder of their commitment to Madame Earth. A portion of the proceeds from the lgd are donated to the non-profit group, Build it Green, who share a similar reuse ideal.  For more information, please visit:"

from fall 2009 collection
This got me thinking, what else is happening in the fashion world for Earth Day?

I stumbled up a local company named Proxy who had a ethical fashion show last night to celebrate Earth Day. I wish I had known about it!

Proxy is based in Somerville (around the corner from my aerials class!), and looks pretty awesome. It's an ethical fashion company that believes in sweat-shop free manufacturing, and fair trade, socially responsible apparel; while still being fashion forward and supporting emerging designers. They have a blog, and it looks like they are consistently putting together awesome events like this fashion show, a sample sale, and a clothing swap. I'm going to start following them and try to go their next event.  I've been looking for a company like this in Boston since I started this blog!

And finally, in honor of Earth Day I think we should all go outside and hug a tree... actually no. Let's be more progressive! I think we should each make an eco-resolution instead, like trying to cut down on your waste (fashion or otherwise), and trying to recycle more. Earth Day is a good day to remind us all to do our part for this little planet we call our home!

I heart mother nature.