Green, Eco, Ethical, Slow, Sustainable

Photo Apr 06, 12 01 35 PMFashion

“I’m keeping that little red dress!”  Your closet can still have that pizazz and be sustainable and mindful.  What I love about fashion is that it is like wearing a piece of art made by imaginative designers and the artisans that craft it.  I also love that my clothes reflect what I want to say to my world.  It changes.  It can be sassy, artsy, sleek, sensual, comfy, colorful, adventurous, minimalist, elegant, sacred or full of bling! I have been in both the slow and fast fashions worlds due to my age – so naturally when it came on the market, I fell into “fast fashion”, which is inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends.

I was forced to fall rapidly out of “fast fashion” because in my 69th year my skin became “the canary in the coal mine” – an indicator (with a severe rash) of what I could and could not eat, what I could and could not put on my body. Through my healing process, which I did all naturally, I became aware that it wasn’t just my laundry soap that needed changing, but my clothes as well!  I no longer could put synthetic materials – especially nylon, acrylic and polyester – on my body without a reaction.  Not once had I ever thought of it as wearing fossil fuels. But I do now! This was a hard reality for me because it meant letting go of wonderful favorite items in my closet and then the thought of the expense of redoing my wardrobe made me cringe. As I went through my clothes I was amazed how much of my wardrobe had synthetic blends.

Shopping was a whole other matter – looking cross-eyed at hundreds of tiny labels hidden in the seams and only being able to walk away with a T-shirt made with 100% cotton – because almost all the clothing were synthetic blends. This was three years ago, a bit before the time that most designers or brands were again embracing natural/organic materials, mostly due to the “sustainability” pressure in the fashion industry.

Little did I know that I would have my first foray into the world of “Fashion Sustainability.” But now I am hooked on fashion that is “green, eco, ethical, slow, sustainable” or what ever term you want.

12 things in this world of “Fashion Sustainability” that I probably wouldn’t have paid attention to if it had not been for my debilitating rash:

1.  Slow fashion

Slow Fashion is the “movement of designing, creating, and buying garments for quality and longevity, being conscious if they are made from sustainable materials. It encourages slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and (ideally) zero waste”. The new collections are released twice or maximum three times per year instead of “fast fashion” that churns out about 52 micro-seasons per year.  Tara St James of Study NY’s advice for new designers: “The fast fashion model is to make trendy clothes that are not made to last. They are not designed for longevity simply because they won’t even be valid after a couple months. If trends aren’t going away and you’re going to embrace them then design properly and responsibly, innovate with technology, use recyclable materials, and create a closed loop supply chain.”

To understand more on Fast Fashion here is an excellent video with Assefeh Barrat for BBC : The Price of Fast Fashion.

2.  Sustainable fashion and materials

To be able to lower costs of producing clothes, many synthetic materials which were made to mimic natural ones were introduced into the fashion industry and it was hard for the natural materials to compete – especially when some synthetics were wrinkle free. So, a lot more clothes in one’s closet at lower costs that you don’t have to iron.  What’s not to love?

Today some people are saying that our synthetic clothes are just not healthy for you, and I agree because I have had firsthand experience with that.  The clothes that do not cause a reaction to my skin are made from only natural products like hemp, linen, cotton, wool, cashmere, silk, bamboo or viscose.  Even with these materials today there is so much more to learn.  For example, not all cotton is made the same.  Is it regular cotton, organic cotton, or re-cycled cotton which all have their pros and cons.  Learn here:

Dariadara (IG dariasandronescu) has compiled this very detailed free ebook “How to pick the right material” showing the properties and sustainability of clothing materials. She outlines that our choice of materials goes beyond their natural properties.

Natalie Kay has for 6 years blogged about sustainable fashion and is influential on Instagram about “slow fashion”.  Her latest blog is very comprehensive on the subject and she even admits that her understanding keeps evolving.  Basically for a garment to be considered ‘sustainable’, it should be “eco-friendly, ethically-made, lasting, and accessible.”

The online magazine and instagram The Green Edition by Laura Cooper has great blogs about the best places to find sustainable fashion.   Laura has great blogs on a selection of brands and tips on making your wardrobe more sustainable.

3. I’m not into the “not buying anything trend”

but…. I love supporting businesses that are trying to make a difference for our planet and are really evolving with eco-understanding. They are also motivating the next generation of outstanding designers who are not just using the eco-buzz words to grow their businessI was happy to find that three labels that usually match my sensibility are some of the front-runners of sustainability: Patagonia, Eileen Fisher and Stella McCartney.  Now there are an increasing number who are embracing sustainability; you just have to research companies that have your style and here are a very few to get you started:

Sustainable fashion can have a stigma that you have to sacrifice style but Yes and tries to prove that wrong. Founder Marci Zaroff is living proof that you can be both a “tree-hugger and a fashionista”.

Study NY is defined by “conceptual design & sustainability” and with complete transparency in their supply chain with well-made, beautiful clothes.

I  love this Canadian company’s transparency – since 2006, Kowtow Clothing makes a conscious decision to only use renewable and sustainable fibers and is ethically manufactured.

Threads4Thought  I love their moto “Wear the change you want to see”

Pact works with 100% Organic Cotton.  It is hard to find all cotton in atheletic apparel, socks, and underwear.

People Tree  Pioneers in London since 1991, their core mission has always been that “every product is made to the highest ethical and environmental standards from start to finish“.

Sustainability matters to Garnet Hill.  Two words describe their design ethos today: “Beautiful, Naturally.™”  One of their brands is Eileen Fisher.

Their way at Everlane is exceptional quality, ethical factories & radical transparency.

Plus if you do not want to buy new clothes, you can always buy from “pre-loved clothing boutiques” or thrift stores.  Vintage stores are a favorite of mine and I also have many “vintage” pieces in my closet because, well, I am 70 and I have simply had them that long!

4.  Discovering unique upcoming fashion eco-designers

I wear my jeans for a very long time but if I was to buy a new pair I would probably buy them at G-Star Raw.  Denim is one of the most problematic sectors of the fashion industry because its production pollutes and wastes water.

Gabriela Hearst’s Spring Summer 2020 show was a Carbon Neutral Show, an industry first. Her luxury line has made a commitment to green luxury and eco-friendly high fashion.

Jenn Charkow is a young, edgier designer and I admire that since 2010 with her company Stone Crow Designs she has always been aware of the environment.

5.  I am more conscious of shopping ethically

Ever wondered who made your clothes, what their lives look like or how much they were they paid?  I may know the clothing label but not the answer to those questions on most of my items. I am finding, according to designer Orsol de Castro, that even a “lot of companies can’t even answer that simple question—that’s how complicated the supply chain is.” These sites may be a beginning:

The Indie Get Up is a great resource for finding ethically-sourced and local brands especially for men.

The Green Hub has experiences, tips, and advice plus a brand directory,

My Green Closet has a directory that is a starting point to find more responsible brands.

Here is a company focusing on beautifully designed ethical brands.  Made Trade is owned by Carley Pater and family-run with Andy Ives and they empower marginalized cultural artisans around the world by making their products more easily accessible.

6.  I have always loved buying handmade and crafted items from artists and I love talking with them about their story behind their art and discovering their eco-sensibilities

Here is one example:  Goddess Gear’s clothing are handmade in Colorado since 1998 and are made of natural materials including hemp.   They had a booth at Paragon People’s Fair in Crested Butte (which I also was a part of) and I came home with their hemp jumpsuit!

Photo Apr 02, 7 56 11 PM

7.  I enjoy the artistry of creating new combinations with my existing clothes; haven’t quite posed with them yet on Instagram but that is changing with my new Instagram feed @lotusmclifestyle

Many Instagram sites display their sustainable wardrobe as diaries of their closet with details about what they are wearing. Some are creating challenges for other people to participate so that they will share also. Lots of interaction between followers and a fun way to learn and get creative ideas that may apply to your closet. Some recent challenges are #workinappropriate, #quaranatinestyle (due to the coronavirus), #stayconnectedootd, (outfit of the day) #loveyourcloset.  If you follow Instagram, here are just a few sites:

Mariko Sandico-Lee @marikoashley “Some slow, ethical & secondhand fashion”

Ming @commute_fix “I love clothes so much that I draw portraits of them”.

Zeena Shah @heatzeena “Art director & stylist”

Leah @unmaterialgirl “Former fast fashion addict turned slow fashion activist”.

8.  I haven’t spent the time to create or buy capsule wardrobes yet. Makes sense if I was needing job wardrobes. But I am an artist and can even wear pajamas to work if I want!

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But…..check out Vetta  where you can shop by capsule.  Beautiful 5 bought items of clothing will create 30 outfits.

Pointers on how to create your own seasonal capsule at this site who what wear  using loved items already in your closet and then add quality items that you shop for once a season. Their golden number for your capsule is about 37 items.

9.  Enjoying the community on social media that are consciously navigating in this fashion landmine

Many begin on Instagram as sharing/modeling their everyday outfits and then that evolves into a way of living by being a sustainable fashion blogger and influencer for change.  Here are a few that have stood out to me:

Natalie Kay @sustainablychic “Because fashion can exist responsibly”

Kathleen @consciousnchic “Live your Best sustainable life”

Candice M Tay @candicemtay “Slow fashion diary . sustainable living”

Aditi Mayer @aditimayer  “Decolonizing Fashion & Sustainability”

Dacy Gillespie @mindfulcloset “STL & virtual personal stylist”

Venetia La Manna @venetiafalconer “recovering hypocrite + climate activist on a mission to slow fast fashion”

10.  I have always loved quality & exquisite craftsmanship in what I buy but now it truly means you buy less

And, we can all do our part by buying fewer, better clothes.

Quality does last!  Like this Harris Tweed Jacket that I have worn for over 40 years! Below I have paired it with other items responsibly thrifted or bought.

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11.  Not feeling like I need a new outfit for every occasion. Don’t care anymore if someone has seen me in the same outfit

Be creative by giving the same outfit a different look or heck, what is wrong with the same look.

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12.  I have always repaired or recycled my clothes to consignment/thrift stores or made cleaning rags, but now I find there are many other options besides carrying a bag to Goodwill

Research shows that a garbage truck’s worth of clothing and textiles is landfilled or incinerated every second – hence we are buying way too many clothes and not recycling them!

*Repair  Instead of throwing away clothes can they be repaired?

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*Recycle by taking clothes to “pre-loved clothing boutiques” in your area or do it online with secondhand sites: RealReal or Poshmark or ThredUp

JC Penney and Macy’s, for instance, have partnered with ThredUp to sell “gently-worn” clothes in a couple dozen locations.

*Return to the brand companies where they repair or redesign them. Certain brands like Patagonia (Wornwear.patagonia) and Eileen Fisher (Eileen Fisher Renew) are selling their pre-worn garments.

*Host or go to a swap meet soiree where you rid your closet of unwanted clothes and swap them with others doing the same.  A fun time with invites and the clothes are free.

*Rent them instead of continuous consumption of clothes.  Instead of buying that outfit there is an option to rent clothes for a monthly fee at Rent the Runway. Bloomingdale’s, Banana Republic, and Urban Outfitters are the latest to offer the services to this online site. This is perfect for that special occasion where you may only wear that dress once. Or at Armoire for a monthly fee, you take a styling quiz, they help style you, you chose 4 items and have them delivered to your door.  Return each item at your leisure with prepaid envelope but you also have an option to buy.

Back to what I said before about my clothes reflecting what I want to say to my world.    My clothes can be sustainable and still say sassy, artsy, sleek, sensual, comfy, colorful, adventurous, minimalist, elegant, sacred or full of bling! And, I want to add one more thing that I want my clothes to reflect; that I am wearing the change that I want to see: A healthy planet and a healthy me.

April 22, 2020 will mark 50 years of Earth Day and the theme is Climate Change.    Happy Anniversary!  

 

          Learn, Give Thought, Be Inspired, Take Action……..Bring Back Balance

Cover art by Lotus McElfish

Lotus McElfish lotusmcelfish.com

IG @lotusmclifestyle

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