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? :)