Eco-fashion tips, Uncategorized

The Sustainability Scale

What makes sustainable fashion so difficult? This year, the garment industry went from top three to the Number Two source of pollution worldwide. Clearly we haven’t made any progress in the last year.  How come?

The reason is because the market isn’t supporting absolute sustainability. We know that in the current climate it cannot be profitable to go from one extreme to another with a quick solution. Green fashion is a work in progress, and while 100% sustainability is an excellent goal to work towards, let’s break it down into smaller choices we can each make in the progress toward sustainability.

Natural Fibers

Natural fibers are overall more sustainable options. The best ones are:

  • Cotton
  • Silk
  • Linen
  • Hemp
  • Wool

One thing to remember when selecting clothing made from natural fibers is that they are often created in a manner of “cut and sew” using woven fabrics.  Woven fabrics are lacking the versatility of a stretch fabric, making it more of a labor-intensive process to create a properly fitted garment. This is why clothing made from woven fabrics will cost more and take longer to produce.

The benefit to working with woven fabrics is that you can accomplish sophistication in silhouette. The result can look polished, professional, even formal.  The benefit to wearing well-made clothing is you look better. Whether you work in sales or in an office, or are a weekend socialite, a well-dressed professional will be more respected and overall more successful.

Bigger Strides toward Sustainable Options

Organic fabrics:

The popularity of organic cotton has fluctuated, mainly due to the observation that cotton (like most any fabric) is still treated with chemicals in the milling process. There are some who feel it is not worth using because it isn’t 100% sustainable; however, it is my opinion that small steps toward sustainability are always worth taking. The water used to grow the cotton will not be polluted and the people who pick the cotton and work with it in mills will be free of the health risk.  Look for GOT certification when selecting organic fabrics, such as the dress pictured below, available in store at I Love You Bedford.

IMG_9087

Raw Materials:

Silk, wool, mohair and other materials are workable in raw form.  We understand the concept of whole foods, how it is better to buy a whole potato than a bag of chips. Just like with food, the closer you can get to designers working with the raw materials, the bigger the impact it will have on sustainability. For example the wool vests available for purchase on my website were made by hand using the raw materials. An added benefit to purchasing clothing made this way is it is very difficult to copy, ensuring your investment is a valuable original.

MercedesSaintClair-8408

A Sliding Scale

It’s dangerous to look for absolutes when working towards sustainability.  Eco-friendly products have come a long way in other industries: for example look at our current easy access to recycled toilet paper, and our ability to recycle plastic and glass bottles with utmost convenience. We can reduce the harm caused by one of the top culprits currently destroying the earth, not by thinking in absolutes, but by taking small steps. Look for clothing made with 100% natural fibers, pay a better price for them, and don’t give up on organics.  If we were to create a Sustainability scale from 1-10, I would place 100% natural clothing at 5, organic cotton clothing at 6, and handmade clothing from deadstock and/or raw materials as a perfect 10.

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Eco-fashion tips, Uncategorized

The Worst Fabrics for the Environment

We know what we like to wear, but do we know how it’s affecting the environment? Remember, the way we dress today is the Number Two source of pollution worldwide. Let’s see what can be done better by knowing what to avoid.

The Worst Fabrics for the Environment Include:

  • Nylon — When Nylon is made, nitrus oxide is released into the air, a greenhouse gas 310 times more toxic than carbon dioxide. The cooling process of creating this fiber uses an excessive amount of water. It is also not biodegradable.
  • Acrylic — The synthetic material used in sweaters and faux fur is cancer-causing according to the EPA, specifically consisting of polycrylonitriles. It is also not biodegradable.
  • Polyester — Often blended with cotton into tee shirts and stretchy dresses, polyester is made from petrol chemicals, the residue which is absorbed into the skin. Often new garments made from this material give off a toxic odor. It is also not biodegradable.
  • Rayon — Made from wood chips, the creation of this fabric uses an excessive amount of chemicals in the process.
  • Plastics — This one should be obvious but isn’t. If you feel bad about throwing a plastic bottle in the garbage after you drink your Nestle water, then do not buy any clothing or accessories in vinyl, pleather, or otherwise plastic, regardless of how shiny and cool-looking it might be. It can not be recycled, and is destined for a landfill.

wolford

What to Do?

Wear your nylons longer. It’s ok to keep wearing them even after they are torn.  Reuse your old nylons – be creative. They are great as a face mask for a costume. Always buy the best quality you can so they last longer.  The best pair (I’ve had mine for two years without any holes) are Wolford Velvet Deluxe and you can pick up a pair here.  Proper care also makes your clothing last longer, the best detergent to use for lingerie and hosiery or just about anything is Forever New. Just 15 mins in the sink and your tights are fresh again!

forever-new

Do not buy any more synthetic clothing.  Seeking out alternatives may feel like a difficult task at first, especially when brands make it so enticing to buy cheaply made clothes and it’s so convenient!  But together we must consider what it is doing to the planet and the public health worldwide. Instead of a faux fur jacket full of Nasty toxins, you can order a recycled silk fur piece from I Love You Bedford. There are also many pieces in the store made from Merino Wool sourced sustainably from carefully preserved quality deadstock so there is no need to wear anything acrylic.

Use your old tee shirts as rags for dusting. Give your old clothes to another person you know will wear them, instead of the charities which end up sending most of it to landfills.  Have a trusted tailor keep up your favorite garments with regular repairs.  Check the fabric that clothing is made from before you buy (or accept as a gift for my blogger pals) anything new to make sure it doesn’t have these toxic materials. By avoiding toxic fabrics and caring for our nylons so we can wear them longer, we can ensure the future generations will have cleaner air and water.

 

 

 

 

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shop, Uncategorized

Earth-Friendly Fashion Tips

greenwashing vs. commitment
There are several very small brands who have committed their practices to work towards sustainability.  Being locally made is one way a brand can be eco-friendly, because the carbon emissions from overseas shipping of the materials and garments is greatly reduced. On the other hand, big global brands use sustainability as  a title to stage another PR stunt to distract from their very questionable business practices. If these larger brands were truly interested in creating a sustainable product, they would show a commitment storewide. I am skeptical of the larger brands’ so-called sustainable side projects because they take credit away from the brands who have worked hard to make the commitment. Often undercutting the prices by using slave labor, the greenwashing actually makes it more difficult for the smaller brands to assert their sustainable products in the market at a fair price point.

Artisans- real vs. fake
How do you identify signs of real artisan-made details in clothing? Manufacturers have created machines to successfully mimic the effects of embroidery, appliqué, knitting, sequins and other embellishments originally done by hand.  What cannot be made by machine is crochet, beadwork, and draping. If something is in the former group, it my be mass produced at a lower price.  Generally, the poorer the quality, the shorter the lifespan of the clothing and the sooner it goes into a landfill. If you notice a technique that can only be done by hand, then the clothing is usually better quality, more valuable and the price will be higher.

Free_splash

 

Local is Better
Mahatma Ghandi’s Swadeshi movement was devised to create a self-reliant local economy.
“According to the principle of swadeshi, whatever is made or produced in the village must be used first and foremost by the members of the village. Goods and services that cannot be generated within the community can be bought from elsewhere.”
One of the results of the movement in India was manual labor being respected, Swadeshi followers could weave their own cloth from a loom that was thought to be obsolete at the time. They set their own prices for the handmade cloth, and no longer needed to rely on Great Britain. Living the Swadeshi lifestyle also means eating locally sourced foods, and in that way it is a life that is in harmony with the natural world. It’s also very noticable that economics and eco-conscious often go hand in hand with this principle.

The Choice is Yours
On Earth Day and Every Day, you can choose better clothing for the earth by selecting clothes with artisan-made details. Steer clear of the PR circus and go for lesser known local brands that have chosen the high road to sustainability. Always buy something that was made nearby first before going to stores which carry imported clothes.  Last, make it a priority to buy quality items only to keep our clothing out of the landfills.

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Basic vs. Fashion

The climbing support for slow fashion recently is giving us hope; however, it’s not cohesive in its direction.

Some say, “Why shell out for a unique garment when it’s noticeable that you wear it again?” to them, I paraphrase David Byrne, “When you wear the same outfit, people recognize you.” And look at him now.

1983 --- David Byrne Wearing Big Suit --- Image by © Deborah Feingold/Corbis

1983 — David Byrne Wearing Big Suit — Image by © Deborah Feingold/Corbis

Which brings us to the basics.  They’re a great backdrop for jewelry, and a crisp white shirt definitely has its appeal, but it’s also dangerous.

watch fob necklace7-26-2010 6-29-54 PM

What happens when someone gestures wildly at your statement necklace, glass of Shiraz in hand?   Suddenly your investment piece becomes your favorite pajamas!

audreytuxedo

It depends on the individual, yet I recall my first job merchandising at Nordstrom where we separated the displays into “Basic,” and “Fashion.”  The two did not mix on the sales floor.  We proudly placed the Fashion items facing forward.  This was to draw the thrill seekers in hopes to enrapture them in the latest and greatest Ready to Wear had to offer. Further back in the store, we grudgingly put out the basic items, more or less out of obligation.

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the personal fables

Obama answers my letter, do you think it’s adequate?

One day while I was catching up on current events, I noticed an initiative on behalf of the president to create hi-tech textiles in the US- and it spurred many thoughts on the current state of the industry. So, I collected my thoughts and wrote him a letter, overviewing what I’d like him to help fix.

president-letter

president-letter

When I dropped the envelope into the letterbox, I felt a lifting sensation, as though something good was going to come of it.

obama-letter

I was thrilled to see his response today- I wonder what others may think.  Do you think his response was appropriate?

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press

Dior & I

#tbt to the time I covered Dior and I for Creem Magazine, in this personal opinion/review, “C’est Diormatique”

What’s most thrilling about this documentary is how the process is revealed, and the work is mainly created by hand!

The film is showing in theaters across the US starting today- here’s my initial thoughts on the Raf Simons Doc.

Dior-and-I

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