In the weeks since the horrific collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory — and subsequent deaths of more than a thousand factory workers — we’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a conscientious consumer. As Americans, we’re privy to more and cheaper goods than ever before — and as globalization spreads and the means of production move further and further away, we’re less and less connected to what we buy.
It’s pretty clear that something’s got to give.
Enter Elizabeth Cline. In her new book, Overdressed (
not out until the end of August already out, with the hardcover to be released in August), she delves into the rise of cheap, fast fashion, and — by traveling to China and Bangladesh — documents first-hand how our desire for more and newer clothing is impacting the environment, the culture and workers’ lives.
As style editors and fashion lovers, both Winona and I have grappled with wanting to give you, our readers, affordable, accessible options, while also honoring our desire to support fair worker practices and ethical businesses. In the coming weeks and months, we hope to bring you a lot more coverage on conscious, sustainable fashion, alongside some of our affordable shopping guides. There is no such thing as a “perfect” consumer, but we believe in giving you as much information as possible so you can make the decision that’s right for you.
After the jump, I talk to Elizabeth Cline about how we can be better educated and more conscious clothing consumers.
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It’s really cool that H&M is building upon its Consciousness Collection — ethically sourced and sustainable clothing — with its new Consciousness Exclusive. You might have seen Helen Hunt wear one of the collection’s dresses at this year’s Oscars. And last year, Ginnifer Goodwin wore one of their dresses to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. But here’s the thing — regular H&M is the epitome of fast fashion. It’s the business model they rely on. So while I applaud them for offering up some sustainably produced garments, I wish they’d incorporate those practices into their regular line, instead of creating this environmentally friendly collection once a year. In the meantime, these clothes are pretty, but whether their in-person fabrications live up to the styling remains to be seen.
There are lots of buzz words in the sustainable, I mean, eco, I mean, green world of fashion and who is really to say which one is better than the other? You. Thanks to the world getting ever the more politically correct, you need to have a reference guide to be sure you know what you’re saying – and not offending.
Though we praise the hippies of the ‘60s for getting us thinking about more sustainable ways to groove in our hemps and organic cottons, only in the late-‘90s and early 2000 did the idea of eco fashion even hit mainstream or have sites dedicated to following it.
Why not take a look at the eco-fashion-lingo lineage through the years to catch us all up to speed? Keep reading »
I hope you like the dress I’m wearing in today’s “What Are We Wearing Today” because you’re going to see an awful lot more of it. That’s because, as of today, I’m trying out the Uniform Project. What is the Uniform Project? Started by Sheena Matheiken in 2009, the U.P. is meant to get consumers to reconsider how much they really need and to get creative with what they already have. Sheena wore the same little black dress (she washed it frequently, duh) for 365 days, to show people that they could make do with less. The challenge was to make it look different every day. As she styled herself through the project, she also raised funds for the Akanksha Foundation, a non-profit organization providing education to underprivileged children living in Indian slums. The message was: with sustainability and responsibility, we can have fun with fashion and give back to our communities. Keep reading »
Surevolution is a sustainable jewelry, home goods and accessories company that works with thousands of artisans that produce beautiful, handcrafted goods. Their mission is to run their company in a way that respects people, cultures and nature, while helping to alleviate poverty and offer fair trade solutions. Lucky for me and you, they’re having a sale right now, and everything (everything!) on the site is 60 percent off with the coupon code FF60. That means you can get gorgeous one-of-a-kind pieces at jaw-droppingly affordable prices. And you get to feel great about where your money’s going, too! The sale runs through May 31. We’ve picked out some of our favorite pieces after the jump, but you should really check out everything they have to offer! Keep reading »
Along with hemp and soy, bamboo has become a popular fabric source with the eco-friendly crowd. Perhaps seeing a brand that tells you an article of clothing is made from bamboo influences your purchase—you’re being environmentally conscious, right? Not quite, says The Wall Street Journal, which recently took a closer look at the bamboo fashion industry that has long been marketed with words like “sustainable” and “green.” Turns out, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken a stance against bamboo fibers, stating in a notice that they “are made using toxic chemicals in a process that releases pollutants into the air.”
While well-minded designers may look to bamboo because it has a fast regrowth rate, the processes necessary to create fabric aren’t “green” at all: “The bamboo used in textiles has to be heavily manipulated to go from stem to store. To create fabric, it’s chopped up and dissolved in toxic solvents—the same process that recycles wood scraps into viscose or rayon. Indeed, bamboo fabric technically is rayon.”
Wow. So, how many bamboo pieces in your closet are way less appealing now that they’re less wholesome and, as WSJ says, essentially made of rayon? [WSJ]
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