The Fakers and the Changemakers

It seems as if every brand knows the right things to say when it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR). They all have their codes of conduct in order, along with a nicely polished list of values – amounting to an altogether lovely image of their business. Links to pages titled ‘CSR’ and ‘Sustainability’ are popping up on everyone’s websites, all the way from luxury brands to fast fashion powerhouses. Pressure from trade unions and NGOs has made such commitments unavoidable – at least for any company that cares about its reputation. If everyone is doing such an incredible job of upholding their values and strictly adhering to the guidelines they’ve laid out, why did the Rana Plaza building collapse? Why are there still children working in sewing factories? Why can’t garment workers feed their families, even when they work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week?

Somewhere along the line, we seem to be lacking in follow-through. But when all we have is a company’s word, how can we tell the difference? We can try to sift through audit reports and analyze the data, but most of us won’t take time to do that. Each of us has a limit when it comes to evaluating purchase decisions: in addition to researching the variables of style, price, and fit, it is unrealistic to ask that shoppers also invest time trying to navigate the murky waters of social responsibility in the supply chain. Past a certain point, we either give up our search for information and buy, or we give up on buying at all. Continue reading

Matters of Cost

If I had to pay me to make my clothes, I couldn’t afford it.

Ignore the reflexive nature of that statement for a minute and allow me to explain.

Back in November I took a course at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn where I learned how to drape muslin on a dress form and turn my creation into a paper pattern. Naturally I got it into my head that after this one course, I would never need to buy another piece of clothing because I’d be capable of making my own. While I did make significant strides in that direction, I am by no means there yet – or even close. Since taking the class, I have made a total of one skirt. Slow clap? Continue reading

Brand Profile: Cuyana

Fewer, better.

There’s a mantra you don’t hear every day (at least not from anyone who’s in the business of selling).

How many brands can you think of that are truly interested in helping you curate a wardrobe of long-lasting, high quality pieces that you’ll love for years to come? How many would advise you to edit this collection of yours carefully and thoughtfully, taking time to contemplate any additions and evaluate where there are genuine holes to be filled?

Odds are, this is a pretty short list. In the fashion world of today, the goal is to sell a lot and to sell it quickly. Brands use every method at their disposal to keep you coming back, even though your closet doors are no longer adequate barriers against the mass of clothing you already own. If brands can make you forget your role as an editor and a curator of your personal style, even for a minute, the chance you’ll make an impulse decision increases exponentially. So, likewise, will their sales.

We are bombarded with messages saying we need more stuff. Newer, shinier stuff than the stuff we already have. But is this true? Continue reading

Material Files: Cotton

We love cotton – to the tune of nearly 120 million bales per year. That’s how much cotton was produced globally during the 2014/2015 harvest year. Cotton accounts for about 1/3 of the global fiber market, making “the fabric of our lives” a very accurate statement. What is it that makes cotton our favorite?

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To start, it has all the characteristics you could want in a fiber. Cotton is what’s called hydrophilic (think water-loving). This property alone means cotton has a natural wicking ability, resists static, and is easy to clean. It’s shape and diameter make it comfortable against your skin, and its breathability keeps you at a pleasant temperature. All told, cotton is not a hard sell. Without any additional help, cotton lends so many beneficial features to our clothing. Continue reading

Sustainable Fashion – In 3D!

The fashion industry is constantly churning out something new…obviously. But every once in awhile, something comes along that absolutely disrupts the industry. I’m talking invention of the sewing machine kind of disruption – like I said, it doesn’t happen every day. You’ve probably already guessed what this post is about: 3D printing. It’s been transforming processes in other industries, but it also has the potential to flip the fashion industry on its head. I started looking into this the other day and my thoughts took off running as I tried to capture a sense of all the possibilities and ramifications of 3D printed fashion.

Let’s start with what it is: additive manufacturing. 3D printers extrude layers of raw materials (think plastics and metals) to create 3D objects – all guided by digital designs (CADs). It has both industrial and manufacturing applications: from medical devices to construction tools and, you guessed it, fashion items. Many brands have already put 3D printing to the test – and I’m not talking about some obscure brand that you’ve never heard of… Continue reading

Brand Profile: Teeki

New year, new you – right? If you’re one of the 66% of people who set fitness goals for 2016, it’s time you hear about Teeki. Especially if that new fitness regimen of yours involves sun salutations.

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Built on a love for the earth, Teeki is an eco-conscious active wear line with sustainability woven into its core. All of its factories are located in California, meaning more American manufacturing jobs and a smaller carbon footprint. Furthermore, they use recycled polyester fibers created from plastic water bottles. Continue reading