To Wash Or Not?

Earlier this week, Levi’s released a graphic showing how much water could have been saved if everyone wearing Levi’s in California had washed their jeans according to the care instructions:

151023-DroughtInfographic

Talk about putting things in perspective. 35 billion liters. All because we’ve been programmed to think our clothes are not clean if they aren’t washed after every use. Kate Fletcher, the founder of the slow fashion movement, put it this way:

“Keeping clean used to be about disease prevention, but now the culture of whiter than white has weakened our immune systems, lined the pockets of detergent manufacturers, and led to the startling fact that the energy needed to wash your favorite garment is about six times that needed to make it.”

You read that right: 75-80% of the total environmental impact of a shirt is due to consumer care. On average, garments are washed after 2-3 days of use, yet only 7.5% of laundry is actually heavily soiled. Continue reading

Does fashion need to hit the brakes?

Fashion is on the fast track these days, and consumers aren’t the only ones struggling to hang on. Designers feel it too, and some are even opting out.

Raf Simons

Earlier this week, Raf Simons announced his exit from Dior. Yesterday, Alber Elbaz announced his coming departure from Lanvin. All told, it’s been a big week for the fashion industry – but this is part of a much larger trend.

Alber Elbaz Continue reading

Magnifeco

Sometimes the hardest part about being a conscious consumer is finding a brand or designer that shares your values. There are so many places we could put our dollars, but since no brand is willingly going to advertise “Hey, we use child labor” or “By the way, this shirt is full of toxic chemicals,” how do you know if you’re actually supporting the change makers?

Unfortunately there isn’t a clear cut answer here. In order to truly know what you’re getting, you’ll have to do some leg work. While there are companies out there who have adopted a model of transparency with their customer, there are others who work overtime to make sure they’re saying the right thing, even though their actions may not line up. Thankfully, there are resources available for consumers like you. Continue reading

Clothing Reconstruction

Otherwise known as: what happens when you take scissors to your clothes.

Let me preface this post by saying this is not something I excel at. Other than changing a few hemlines over the years, I have never looked into my closet and wondered which item I wanted to cut apart that day. This idea is daunting in some respects, because why would I tear apart an item I paid for? Somebody took the time to make my clothes and they look just fine as they are – in fact that’s why I bought them…

Valid points all around, but what about those clothes that you don’t love anymore? Or the one with the awkward fit or the stain on the collar or the hole in the sleeve? Most likely those pieces are headed to the trash can (provided that they aren’t in good enough condition to be donated). If that’s your answer – congrats! You are 100% average. That’s because the average American throws away 68 pounds of clothing every year. Continue reading

Poverty Inc.

Where do our donations go? We dutifully pack up our gently used clothes, accessories, and shoes and take them to our local Goodwill, clothing drive, or thrift shop, but what happens next? We assume these items are sold at bargain prices or given to those less fortunate, but is that really the case? What if our donations aren’t doing the “good” we intended?

What if they’re actually causing problems instead of solving them?

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 8.51.19 PM

The documentary Poverty Inc. addresses these questions for a variety of industries beyond fashion, but each situation boils down to the same message: in order to eradicate poverty across the globe, we must adopt a new relationship with impoverished countries – one based on partnership instead of paternalism. Continue reading

Brand Profile: H&M

Wait a second… H&M?

Yes, you’re in the right place. This post profiles the king of fast fashion.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 4.44.48 PM

A few years ago, H&M graced the fashion industry with the introduction of its Conscious Collection, a line of sustainable fashion choices that are “good for people, the planet, and your wallet.” CEO Karl-Johan Persson proclaimed, “At H&M, we have set ourselves the challenge of ultimately making fashion sustainable and making sustainability fashionable.” So, they outlined their commitments:

  1. Provide fashion for conscious customers
  2. Choose and reward responsible partners
  3. Be ethical
  4. Be climate smart
  5. Reduce, reuse, recycle
  6. Use natural resources responsibly
  7. Strengthen communities

They established the Global Change Award to encourage innovation in the textile industry. They created a recycling program and have collected 20,000 tons of garments for re-use and recycling since 2013. Gosh that sounds lovely. Continue reading

Brand Profile: Nurmi

Yesterday I was on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. The high was when I discovered Nurmi, a really cool brand based in Finland. They have some great stories behind their product and they take transparency to a whole new level (more on that in a second). A few minutes later, I hit a serious low when I read that after this season (Fall 2015) they’ll be ceasing all operations to re-evaluate the business.

Gahh, the disappointment. You may wonder why I’m taking the time to write about a brand that’s about to go offline: I think their situation is a good representation of the challenges faced by sustainable and ethical fashion brands around the world. So, let’s take a look… Continue reading

Sustainababble: Defining the Newest Buzz Word

Before getting too far into the life of this blog, it’s important to clarify what I mean when I talk about sustainable fashion. In recent years we’ve been bombarded with words like ‘green’ and ‘eco-friendly’ – so much so that they’ve almost completely lost their meaning. ‘Sustainable’ seems to be charting a similar path. According to this infographic, the word itself is unsustainable:

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 3.42.04 PM Continue reading

Clothes To Die For

Think of the last time you went shopping: when you were drawn to an item, what was the first thing you did? You probably reached out to feel the fabric, pulled the garment off the clothing rack to get a good look at it, and, if it passed that first evaluation, took it to the fitting room to try it on. During this process, did you ever take a look at where it was made? Did you, by chance, wonder who stitched the seams, sewed on the buttons, or attached the zipper? Did you ask yourself how old that seamstress was, or what he or she did for fun? I can tell you I did not do any of those things, but like any savvy shopper I certainly looked at the price tag.

In the documentary Clothes To Die For, directed by Zara Hayes and commissioned by the BBC, one is invited into the lives of a few young women who had worked in garment factories in the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh. Interviewers asked these women what they thought about the people who bought the clothes they produced, and one response in particular stopped me in my tracks:

“The girls who wear these will remember us one day.” Continue reading