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20 Ethical Businesses to Support on Black Friday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday… they are THE biggest shopping days of the year in the United States and perhaps like you, I’m inclined to ignore them.

The problem? We’ve gotten to a point where small independent brands can’t afford to.

While the “shop, shop, shop til you drop” mentality doesn’t align with the business values of sustainable and ethical brands, consumer behavior has forced the issue.

The justification: If people are going to be shopping anyway, then why not give them better options?

So, if you’re inclined to shop the deals, here are 20 ethical brands that are offering Black Friday discounts and deserve your dollars:

vesta

WOMENSWEAR

Vesta | Modern & minimalist essentials for women that are 100% vegan. SHOP NOW >>

SixChel | Sustainable clothing, ethically made for women with purpose. SHOP NOW >>

Poppy Row | Size-inclusive luxury basics, offering sizes 2-28. SHOP NOW >>

Nine56 Studio | Made-to-order capsule collections, manufactured in Minneapolis. SHOP NOW >>

Harly Jae | Feminine, vintage inspired designs, responsibly made in Canada. SHOP NOW >>

PonyBabe | Eco-friendly loungewear, designed & manufactured in Brooklyn. SHOP NOW >>

GalaMaar | Timeless womens swimwear crafted in Los Angeles. SHOP NOW >>

milo+nicki | Cruelty-free & sustainable womenswear with Indian & Zambian roots. SHOP NOW >>

Sotela | A body-positive women’s brand, selling closet essentials. SHOP NOW >>

Dallas Daws | Limited edition, made-to-order apparel handmade in Minneapolis. SHOP NOW >>


cultural detour

MENSWEAR

Cultural Detour | A collection of accessories handcrafted from antique & vintage kimono. SHOP NOW >>

Mayor | Organic cotton, short sleeved, button-downs for men. SHOP NOW >>


novel supply co

UNISEX

Novel Supply Co. | A sustainable lifestyle brand, designed for the urban adventurer. SHOP NOW >>

THOM KELLY | Mens & womens plaid shirts made in the USA from sustainable fabrics. SHOP NOW >>

Be Kind Vibes | Mens & womens eco-friendly apparel for conscious adventurers. SHOP NOW >>


fair seas supply co

ACCESSORIES + CHILDRENS

Fair Seas Supply Co. | Organic Turkish beach towels for life’s great voyages. SHOP NOW >>

Regenerous Designs | Versatile, upcycled accessories handcrafted in the USA. SHOP NOW >>

Liz Riden | Handcrafted leather goods that work in every woman’s wardrobe. SHOP NOW >>

Mamachic | The do-it-all scarf for the do-it-all woman. SHOP NOW >>

Bevy Goods | Ethically-made handbags that take you from day to night. SHOP NOW >>

Pure Colour Baby | Organic baby clothing and accessories handmade in Canada. SHOP NOW >>


Market45

sustainable fashion products

5 Sustainable Fashion Podcasts You Need to Be Listening To

Alright, podcast lovers, this one’s for you.

Read on for my top 5 podcast recommendations in the sustainable and ethical fashion space…


MISSION DRIVEN MARKETING BY RISE CREATIVE

The Mission Driven Marketing podcast was started by ethical brand strategist Marisa Flacks, founder of Rise Creative. Launching in July 2018, Marisa has hosted guests from high profile brands like The Yellow Co., as well as members of the Ethical Writers Co.

This podcast is a must-listen for anyone who wants to learn how to effectively market an ethical brand.

My conversation with Marisa about launching a successful brand is on Episode 6 here.


spirit 608

SPIRIT OF 608 BY LORRAINE SANDERS

Spirit of 608 is a weekly fashion business podcast that empowers women and builds female thought leadership at the intersection of fashion, entrepreneurship, sustainability and technology (FEST).

Host Lorraine Sanders is a seasoned journalist who has featured guests, ranging from designers to doctors to strategists to fashion photographers — all who are influencing the sustainable fashion space.

This podcast is perfect for anyone looking for part inspiration, part tactical business advice, part education of the industry.

If you love a good failure-to-success story, start with this episode.


simply lived in

SIMPLY, LIVED IN BY NINE56 STUDIO

Simply, Lived In is a podcast started by Factory45’er Meg Floersch, founder of Nine56 Studio. Following the death of her father, Meg began to question the pace of her life and wondered, “What would it look like if I simplified?”

It’s with this mantra in mind that she interviews guests who are pursuing minimalism, slow fashion, local eating and living a more purposeful life.

This podcast is perfect for anyone who is inspired to slow down, live life intentionally and explore a more minimalist lifestyle.

My conversation with Meg about shopping ethically and always moving forward is here.


conscious chatter

CONSCIOUS CHATTER BY KESTREL JENKINS

Conscious Chatter quickly grew as an industry favorite when it launched two years ago. Boasting over 130 episodes to date, host and storyteller Kestrel Jenkins has interviewed industry experts from across the fashion world.

Whether it’s Mara Hoffman musing about mindfulness, Summer Rayne Oakes speaking about slow fashion or Andrew Morgan talking about The True Cost, there’s something for everyone.

For a refreshing perspective on environmentalism and feminism, start with this episode.


wardrobe crisis

WARDROBE CRISIS BY CLARE PRESS

With five stars on iTunes, the WARDROBE CRISIS works to decode the fashion system and dig deep into its effects on people and planet.

This podcast unzips the real issues that face the industry today, with a focus on ethics, sustainability, consumerism, activism, identity and creativity.

Host Clare Press is Australian Vogue’s Editor-at-Large, sits on the advisory board for Fashion Revolution Australia and has written three books about fashion activism.

Start with this episode featuring Kestrel Jenkins, host of Conscious Chatter, from above.


Know someone who is a podcast fiend and looking to learn more about the sustainable fashion space? Share this link with them!

Happy listening,

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45

sustainable fashion

September’s Featured Sustainable Fashion Products

This is the third part of a multi-month photography series, featuring sustainable fashion products on Instagram. You can see July’s products here and August’s products here.

I started this project to help integrate more ethical and sustainable fashion into the multi-million dollar Instagram shopping scene.

It’s also in preparation for the upcoming launch of Market45, an ethical fashion marketplace.

Featuring 20 invite-only brands that have launched through the Factory45 program, this online marketplace will be an easier way to shop sustainable and ethical fashion all in one place.

If you’d like to request early access for holiday season 2018, click here.

Now keep reading for September’s featured sustainable fashion products (all of them are Factory45’ers!):

DALLAS DAWS DESIGNS SLOAN JACKET

DALLAS DAWS DESIGNS | SLOAN JACKET

With what began as a creative outlet, Factory45’er Dallas Daws started experimenting with minimalist silhouettes that aimed to be both timeless and multi-purpose.

She wanted to create clothing that her customers could throw on to run errands, but still look put together for work. Over the years, Dallas has refined her aesthetic and developed the business she runs today, Dallas Daws Designs.

The Sloan Jacket that I wore for this month’s shoot is part of the new Linen Collection. It has pockets (win!), three-quarter sleeves for multi-season wear and is perfect for layering.

All Dallas Daws Designs are thoughtfully designed, sustainably sourced and handmade to order in the USA.

You can shop the Sloan Jacket, as well as other Dallas Daws pieces here.


FAIR SEAS SUPPLY CO. THE SAN CLEMENTE ROUND BLANKET

FAIR SEAS SUPPLY CO. | THE SAN CLEMENTE ROUND BLANKET

Inspired by the beaches of California, Factory45’er Tiffany Shown launched Fair Seas Supply Co. in 2015 with a collection of organic cotton round beach blankets.

Over the past three years, she’s expanded her product offering, added new collections and built a brand that’s been featured by The Boston Globe Magazine, Elle and other media. The Charleston Collection was also one of the featured products in CauseBox this summer.

One of my favorite things about Tiffany’s story is that when she joined Factory45 in 2015 she had no idea what she wanted to create. She only knew that she wanted to start a business, so when she landed on the idea of Turkish towels she ran with it.

Fair Seas blankets can now be found in retailers across the country, including the Four Seasons Hotel in Hawaii.

You can shop organic cotton Turkish towels and other accessories here.


MILO + NICKI THE SIESTA DRESS

MILO + NICKI | THE SIESTA DRESS

With a mission to empower women to go after their dreams, Factory45’er Nicki Patel started milo+nicki, an ethically-made, cruelty-free womenswear line.

The brand got its start in 2016 with a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $20,000. Launching with a six-piece capsule collection that was ethically made in NYC, Nicki has continued to grow her product line.

The Siesta dress (pictured above) is made from handwoven banana fabric (yes, that kind of banana!), hand-dyed with plant-based dyes and has GOTS-certified organic cotton lined pockets.

milo+nicki has been featured in the print version of Vogue, as well as Darling Magazine, Eluxe Magazine and other notable press.

You can shop the Siesta Dress and other milo+nicki pieces here.


REGENEROUS DESIGNS | BIG BRAIDED HEADBAND

REGENEROUS DESIGNS | BIG BRAIDED HEADBAND

During the production process of making your clothing, pounds and pounds of perfectly good fabric goes unused and is thrown away.

Factory45’er Alyssa Bird started Regenerous Designs as a way to use this discarded designer fabric, before it’s thrown out, and make versatile accessories.

Each piece is handmade in the USA of high quality fabric remnants — that means everything is limited edition and made to last.

You can shop all Regenerous Designs accessories here.


To see the rest of September’s featured products, come on over to Instagram by clicking here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

P.S. I am not an affiliate of any of these brands and do not receive any financial gain if you make a purchase. My only goal to bring more sustainable and ethical fashion options to your wardrobe.

August’s Featured Sustainable Fashion Products

I mentioned last month that I’ll be featuring a series of sustainable fashion brands and products here and on Instagram.

This is all in an effort to help integrate more ethical and sustainable fashion into the multi-million dollar Instagram scene where, for the most part, fashion bloggers and “influencers” are touting fast fashion and cheap deals.

But it’s also in preparation for the upcoming launch of the newest Factory45 project:

Market45, an ethical fashion marketplace.

Featuring 20 invite-only brands that have launched through the Factory45 program, this online marketplace will be an easier way to shop sustainable and ethical fashion all in one place.

If you’d like to request early access for holiday shopping 2018, click here.

And then keep reading for August’s featured sustainable fashion products below:

VESTA STUDIO HALF MOON WRAP DRESS

VESTA STUDIO | HALF MOON WRAP DRESS

In 2017 Factory45’er Kendall Wilson launched Vesta Studio, a collection of 100% vegan womenswear.

Born out of a love of high quality, luxurious textiles — that are also cruelty-free and eco-friendly — Vesta Studio is inspired by the philosophy of “buying less, but better.”

Each piece is made one at a time to reduce waste, lessen sitting inventory and to offer an affordable price point to customers.

Vesta boasts “versatile clothing for a life of simple beauty,” and the Half Moon Wrap Dress has been exactly that for me.

I wore this dress when I was seven months pregnant, and I’ve continued wearing it in the months after giving birth. It’s incredibly comfortable, very flattering (if I do say so myself), and I absolutely love the drape, texture and color of the fabric.

You can shop the Half Moon Wrap Dress, as well as pre-orders for the new collection here.


BOOB DESIGN ‘CHARI-TEE’ MOTHER

BOOB DESIGN | ‘CHARI-TEE’ MOTHER

I was first introduced to BOOB Design when my web designer gifted me with one of their maternity shirts for my birthday last year.

The Scandinavian company puts sustainability at the forefront of their business model, and I ended up purchasing several other maternity garments throughout the course of my pregnancy.

The thing that sets BOOB above and beyond other maternity wear (besides their fabrics and manufacturing) is that almost all of their garments convert into nursing wear.

So when BOOB reached out to ask if I’d be apart of their “Chari-Tee” campaign I jumped at the chance.

For every one of these tops sold, they donate 5 percent of proceeds to Every Mother Counts, a non-profit dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere.

You can shop the ‘Chari-Tee’ and other sustainable maternity and nursing wear here.


GOOD ON YOU ETHICAL SHOPPING APP

GOOD ON YOU | ETHICAL SHOPPING APP

So, this isn’t a sustainable fashion product you can wear but it’s an amazing product you can use the next time you ask yourself: “How do I know if a brand is ethical?”

Good On You is an ethical shopping app that rates over 2,000 brands so that you know exactly where they stand in ethics and sustainability.

The app uses a five-star rating system to assess the sourcing practices of each retailer or brand using the following labels: “We Avoid,” “Not Good Enough,” “It’s a Start,” “Good” and “Great.”

If you’re just starting out in your ethical fashion journey, this is a great tool to keep in the palm of your hand.

You can download the Good On You app and install the desktop plug-in here.


To see the rest of August’s featured products, come on over to Instagram by clicking here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

P.S. I am not an affiliate of any of these brands and do not receive any financial gain if you make a purchase. My only goal to bring more sustainable and ethical fashion options to your wardrobe.

sustainable fashion

How to Stand Out as a Sustainable Fashion Brand

Last week I was on “workcation” with my family in Croatia.

And one day, while we were driving on the winding island roads of Hvar, I saw a sign for a restaurant that caught my eye.

(This isn’t the first time that’s happened.)

The sign for the restaurant said:

Mostly homemade food.”

I looked at my husband and said, “Well, you have to appreciate their honesty…”

And then it got me thinking about the sustainable fashion world — and all of the new brands launching with sustainability at the forefront of their business models.

The good news is that in the past 10 years the term “sustainable fashion” has become more and more recognizable and well known.

The bad news is that the term is now often overused and sometimes even greenwashed.

Companies claim to be “a sustainable fashion brand,” but they use it as an overarching brand mark instead of explaining exactly how their company implements sustainability into their supply chain.

There’s really no such thing as “perfectly sustainable,” and I see red flags anytime a brand claims to be so.

With many of you being the future of this industry, I’d encourage you to think more deeply about the words you use to describe your sustainable fashion brand.

Because I think we can do better.

Yes, there are words like “conscious,” “socially-driven,” “eco” and “ethical” but how can you describe your brand’s ethos in a way that stands out from the rest?

And even more so, in a way that is transparent and honest?

One way is by getting specific.

Think about the words that your target customer cares about. Sift through the phrases that would peak their interest.

Because the truth is,

A sign for “homemade food” wouldn’t have caught my attention.

My mind would have just categorized it as another cute local restaurant.

Adding the word “mostly” not only piqued my curiosity but made me feel trust.

I knew that if I went into that restaurant to eat, I would know exactly which items on the menu were homemade and which ones weren’t.

And that same thought process can be applied to your own customers.

Because ultimately, that’s what they want to feel. A customer who cares enough to seek out sustainable fashion wants to be able to trust you.

To trust that what they’re buying is mostly sustainable.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Report: The State of Sustainable Fashion Entrepreneurship 2016

“You know what you should do?” said my friend Lorraine, who is the founder of the Spirit of 608 podcast. “You should create a report.”

“A report, like…” I trailed off, wondering where this was going.

“You know, like a media report that shows the state of sustainable fashion entrepreneurship. You could interview some of the designers you’ve worked with, poll your community and put together something with infographics and graphs that show your findings.”

I knew that following the Rana Plaza tragedy in 2013, there has been a surge of entrepreneurial interest in ethical manufacturing practices.

And after three years working with over 150 early-stage sustainable fashion brands, I knew that I could capture the shifts and trends I’m seeing daily.

We wondered if there was a way to also show what this means for the future of the fashion industry.

So after our conversation, I got to work.

And thanks to Lorraine’s help and encouragement, the participation of some of my most dedicated Factory45’ers and the execution of my talented graphic designer, today I’m releasing Factory45’s report on The State of Sustainable Fashion Entrepreneurship 2016.

This 13-page study contains original case studies, infographics and anecdotes from 30 exclusive interviews with independent designers, as well as findings such as:

  • 82% of the brands interviewed know the people who make their products are paid a fair and living wage. Compared to 2% of traditional retailers.
  • 100% of the brands interviewed know where their products are made. Compared to 61% of traditional retailers.
  • 88% of the brands interviewed feel there is more access to sustainable supply chains than there was five years ago.
  • It now requires 99% less in startup capital to start an independent brand than in 2014.

sustainable fashion entrepreneurship

Despite what the mainstream fashion industry wants you to think, it is now easier than ever before to launch an independent fashion label. And with persistence, there are new sustainable and ethical brands proving every day that it can be done.

You can read the full report here.

And if you like what you read, please share the link with your network. I’ve put together an easy copy-and-paste description to go with it:

Factory45 has released its 2016 report on the State of Sustainable Fashion Entrepreneurship. Did you know that it now requires 99% less in startup capital to start an independent brand than in 2014? Read the full report here: http://bit.ly/2fDrsop

Thank you so much for reading and sharing.

With your support, I’m looking forward to bringing even more sustainable fashion to the marketplace in 2017.

 

 

 

 

P.S. If you are a blogger or reporter and would like to use the report for a future story, please contact me directly at shannon@factory45.co.

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

Over two years ago, I got an email from an old “blogger friend.”

My {r}evolution apparel co-founder and I had written a guest post for his blog during our 2011 Kickstarter and doing so had catapulted our campaign from around $40K to over $64K.

His large and dedicated fanbase of readers had been the exact target market our clothing company was trying to attract. And thanks in large part to them, we became the highest-funded fashion project in Kickstarter history at that time.

The blog was called The Minimalists.

Several years later, it was a surprise to hear from him again and even more surprising to receive the following request:

Howdy! Long time no see. Do you have any interest in doing an interview for our minimalism documentary?

minimalism-film-2

On May 3, 2016 I attended the Boston screening of Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things in a jam-packed, sold-out theater.

Joshua and his co-creator Ryan now have a following of over four million readers and have been featured on ABC News, BBC, The Today Show, NPR and The New York Times, among other notable press.

The film, directed by Matt D’Avella, was named the number one independent documentary of 2016, won pre-screening awards at international film festivals, and has shown in 400+ worldwide screenings.

In the film, I was able to talk about the marketing messages that the fast fashion industry feeds us, why we look to fashion to make us happy, and how our clothing choices play into global consumption.

The documentary also asks, How might your life be better with less?

And it examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life — families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker.

You can get a taste of Minimalism by watching the trailer here:

As my mother-in-law said after she saw the film, “Minimalism isn’t for me, but I get it,” the point is not to transform into a minimalist overnight.

I do hope that the messages in the documentary provoke deeper thought about what we really need to make us happy, how our purchasing decisions impact the rest of the world and what it would feel like to find happiness from within.

To watch the film in full, the online screening is available here.

 

shannon-signature-e1463530563728

 


 

Fashion Revolution

What is Fashion Revolution Week & Why Should You Care?

Three years ago this week, a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed in the middle of the workday, killing 1,134 workers and injuring over 2,500 others.

The workers who perished in the worst tragedy in the history of the world’s garment industry were making the clothes that we buy — from western retailers such as, J.C. Penney, Joe Fresh, Benetton, The Children’s Place, Inditex (the parent company of Zara), The North Face and Wal-Mart, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign.

Igniting a long overdue call-to-arms by a concerned group of educators, designers, journalists and consumers, “Fashion Revolution Day” was created as a global movement to commemorate those lives lost, while promoting a conversation around supply chain transparency.

Three years after its inception, Fashion Revolution Day has become Fashion Revolution Week and tens of thousands of consumers from across the world will be asking brands, #whomademyclothes as part of a global social media campaign.

Catwalk-athinakorda

As activist Livia Firth points out, you can “become an active citizen through your wardrobe,” and here’s why you should:

1.) Not only is fast fashion cheating its workers, it’s cheating you.

It’s no secret that fast fashion retailers such as Zara, Forever21 and H&M design clothes to fall apart. It’s the foundation of their bottom line.

The fast fashion business model is dependent on consumers buying fashion in excess. The clothing only lasts a few washes so that you’re prompted to go out and buy more.

“When you go to make a purchase, take a look at the product and ask yourself: ‘Am I being cheated?’” Maxine Bedat, co-founder of eCommerce company Zady told Fortune. “If a product from a fast fashion chain is falling apart before you’ve even bought it, it’s not a deal. It’s the fast fashion company trying to get you to buy something that is quick on trend but slow on quality.”

2.) “Discounts” aren’t really discounts.

The “discounted” designer labels you think you’re buying from outlets like TJ Maxx and Saks’ Off 5th have likely never seen a designer label before, according to Jay Hallstein in “The Myth of the Maxxinista.”

In fact, the “excess” or unsellable items that you think you’re getting at a fraction of the price are likely produced in an entirely different factory than the designer brand you think you’re buying.

As Hillary Crosley writes in her article for Jezebel, “The jig is up: Big brands like J. Crew, Gap and Saks’ Off 5th aren’t selling you discounted or out of season merchandise at their outlet locations. You’re just buying lower quality cardigans and patterned pants.” 

The reality is that outlet stores (under the name of brands like J. Crew and Banana Republic) have actually become fast fashion retailers of their own. In an effort to keep up with the rapid pace of the giant fast fashion brands, these outlet stores must lower cost and lower quality to compete on price.

JacobsWell_Sumitra

3.) Fashion is a $3 trillion industry and many of its workers are children and marginalized women.

The next time you chase a sale for $4.95 dresses, ask yourself: “How is that possible?” Seriously, think about it. How does that dress magically appear in front of you at such a cheap price?

Somewhere, someone has to pay for it and it’s likely at the cost of indentured servitude. Yes, slavery.

As of 2016, there are an estimated 27-30 million enslaved men, women and children across the globe, according to non-profit Made in a Free World.

There are people in countries such as Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Bangladesh and India who are forced to work against their will. Whether they’re picking cotton or tanning leather, they don’t earn a penny for making your clothing. They are literally bound to a life of enslavement with very little hope of getting out.

CottonFarmer

4.) Fast fashion is anti-feminist.

I’m not about to go on a political rant, but if you do consider yourself a feminist then it’s time to start thinking seriously about how your values are reflected in your closet.

Of the 1000+ people who died in the Rana Plaza factory collapse, the vast majority of them were young women. It’s estimated that 80 percent of the women working in garment factories in developing world countries come from rural areas to seek out a better life with little education.

“Many face working excessive hours – often 14-16 hours per day – with forced overtime and no job security, for poverty wages and without trade union rights recognized,” Ilana Winterstein, a director at Labour Behind The Label told HuffPost UK Lifestyle. “They suffer poor health, are victims of sexual and physical abuse and cannot afford to send their children to school.”

With inadequate health and safety checks, in the worst case resulting in tragedies like Rana Plaza, Winterstein says the repression of trade unions means that workers are too fearful to speak out about their reality.

5.) You actually have the power.

That’s right, you have the power to change an industry that so desperately needs to be revolutionized.

Fashion is the third-most damaging industry to the planet — after oil and animal agriculture — and it’s all so that we can we can enjoy a little retail therapy.

I don’t think any of us would try to justify the deaths of 1,134 people for our fashion needs, so why do we keep buying and supporting the brands that we know don’t deserve our dollars?

It’s not too late to get educated, stay informed and make your own individual impact. With the help of Fashion Revolution Week, it’s the perfect time to start.

Find more information on how to get involved here. Attend a Fashion Revolution event in your city, by browsing the event list here. Photos courtesy of www.fashionrevolution.org.

 

shannon-signature-e1463530563728

 

 

Please forward and share this post to spread the word about Fashion Revolution Week and help your friends become informed. We have the power when we use our voices.


pre-2-blog

5 Brands Effectively Telling the Sustainability Story

There’s no denying it: “sustainability” is one of the hottest branding buzz words out there. From Nike to Ikea to H&M, it seems like everyone is attempting to jump on the “eco-train.” But as time goes on, consumer response is proving that the giants can learn a thing or two from the smaller players.

I looked at five brands telling their sustainability stories effectively and authentically. The biggest takeaway? None of these companies are pushing “green” or “eco” branding outright. Each of these different methods empowers the consumer in subtle ways, while encouraging involvement and engagement.

1.) Kings of Indigo

In 2011, Amsterdam-based Kings of Indigo (K.O.I.) launched as a small, sustainably-minded denim brand. Three years later, its fourth collection is hitting stores and selling in 160 retailers worldwide.

Operating on the belief that a pair of jeans should be worn for as long as possible, K.O.I. implements a “Triple-R” philosophy: recycle, repair, reuse. Customers are given special K.O.I. repair kits and pop-up events are hosted for in-person “repairing parties.”

While K.O.I. uses organic materials and fair trade labor, the brand flourishes on one message of sustainability that customers can get personally involved in. The story is in the denim. By promoting recycle, repair, reuse, K.O.I. customers are investing in much more than one pair of jeans — they’re investing in a garment with a story.

kings of indigo

2.) Pima Doll

This Pima cotton collection is designed in New York and hand-made in Peru. Sensitive to the waste of the traditional fashion industry, Pima Doll uses the cotton scraps and upcycles them into one-of-a-kind hand-knit pieces.

Pima Doll has a sustainable mission of transparency, sharing the details of both its workers and its materials. Despite its upstanding ethics, the clothes speak for themselves and can hold their own with the most “fashion forward” brands.

Pima Doll has been featured in mainstream fashion magazines, such as Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue and a multitude of editorial spreads. While the sustainability story is clear, it’s the design that makes an impression on consumers. The most successful “eco” brands are the ones whose products sell first and sustainability sells second. twitter-bird-light-bgs1 

pima doll

3.) imogene + willie

With 20 years of experience in the denim industry, Carrie and Matt Eddmenson launched their own label of blue jeans in 2009. Inspired by their grandparents and the heritage of U.S. manufacturing, imogene + willie was born from a desire to bring a lost art back to its original culture.

Each pair of jeans is handmade in the USA using indigo-dyed selvage denim. With modest roots, the founders have integrated family and history into its brand seamlessly — and it resonates with their customers. The imogene + willie messaging is authentic, genuine and feels as easy as a broken-in pair of dungarees.

imogene and willie

4.) Prairie Underground

Founded by designers Davora Lindner and Camilla Eckersley, this independent womenswear line has been manufacturing in the USA for almost a decade, while also using sustainable fabrics in every collection since its inception. And yet the founders admit to doing very little in the way of marketing.

By leaving the marketing to a loyal following of unofficial brand ambassadors, the popularity of Prairie Underground is owed to word-of-mouth from end users. Sustainability has been embedded in the DNA of the brand since its first days and that in itself is a story worth engaging in.

As the founders said in a past interview, “We approach this activity in the most human way; we’re proud of what we do and want to share it with others.”

prairie underground

5.) Zady

Recently named one of Fast Company’s 10 Most Innovative Companies in Retail, Zady has already made its mark in sustainability having only launched in August 2013. A lifestyle destination and shopping platform for conscious consumers, founders Maxine Bedat and Soraya Darabi founded Zady on the premise of purpose, heritage and prosperity.

Zady combats fast fashion by supporting domestic and locally-sourced handmade products of the highest quality. The story is in the maker and Zady engages the consumer by communicating the beauty and substance that comes with style.

The founders are conscious about not appearing “preachy” in their messaging. Instead, they focus on providing engaging material that demonstrates the devastating impact of fast fashion while providing a beautiful alternative. Their positive, no-shame policy has been well received by shoppers and has likely attributed to Zady’s success.

zady

Want more content like this? I’ll send it right to your inbox when you subscribe here.

Images courtesy of ZadyFelix Photography, Pima Doll, Henry & June, Seattle Mag, and Forbes.

Ignore the Hype: Eco-Fashion Can Be Easy

This is a guest post from Beth Stewart, Strategic Director of Redress Raleigh.

There are so many things that people are expected to do as ‘eco-minded’ individuals – buy organic, not eat meat (or eat only certain kinds), ride a bike everywhere, take five minute showers, etc – it can be overwhelming. In addition, people are becoming more and more aware of the perils of fast fashion and the detrimental effects your purchasing choices can have on both humanity and the planet.

Redress_ResponsiblyMade_SquareGraphic - smallAs I have mentioned before, there is also a substantial amount of greenwashing or mixed messaging being spread through the media about what “eco-fashion” is and who is doing it.

However, dressing responsibly and making responsible apparel choices may not be as complicated as you think. There are many different aspects to consider when picking out your outfits and accessories – from water usage to chemicals to human ethics to type of material to location of production … just to name a few. As with every industry, there are trade-offs within fashion and textiles as well.

Luckily there are more and more fantastic options popping up for the ecochic customer. Consider these categories the next time you are shopping for clothing and accessories:

  • Upcycled
  • Made in USA
  • Handcrafted
  • Vintage or resale
  • Natural dyes
  • Fair trade
  • Organic or eco-friendly fabrics
  • Little to no-waste patternmaking

Honestly, the best approach is to ask yourself: “What matters to me the most?”

Is it using the least amount of resources?

Consider buying vintage, resale, upcycled, or products that are created using little to no-waste patternmaking. In addition to Goodwill, many communities have resale or consignment stores where you can find gently-used clothes at bargain prices. High-quality vintage sellers can be found in online shops. Raleigh Vintage is a personal favorite and they ship all over the country. Upcycled goods are often tagged on social media too and sites like Etsy lend themselves to more one-of-kind pieces. Zass Design is doing fantastic things with upcycled jewelry pieces.

Or perhaps you strongly believe in supporting the organic movement and avoiding chemicals that pollute waterways?

Consider looking for organic fabrics and natural dyes. Gaia Conceptions uses organic fabrics and natural or low impact dyes. And Patagonia continues to innovate both in recycled and new eco-friendly textiles and materials.

Or maybe you want to purchase items from a more-established standard that is working toward making sure people are treated fairly and receive decent wages for their work?

Then Fair Trade is a good option. Indigenous and Synergy Clothing incorporate both fair trade practices and organic fabrics in their designs. Symbology also works with artisans in India to create most of their textile designs.

Or is it that you delight in getting to know individual designers and supporting the local community?

Consider looking for handcrafted, Made in the USA items. Companies like Lumina and Appalatch produce their goods solely in the U.S. Lisa Stewart handcrafts gorgeous leather accessories. Many cities host periodic marketplaces like The Handmade Market, The Big Crafty, or Northern Grade featuring exclusively handcrafted and/or American-made goods. Find one in your city.

Regardless of what you decide, keep in mind that the industry is continuously striving to be and do better, just like you. Another way you can help move the industry forward is to continue asking questions and seeking information on who makes your clothes and what they’re made from.  twitter-bird-light-bgs1

Currently, there is no one perfect eco-fashion line out there. However, we are fortunate that there is an amazing variety of eco-chic fashions available! This allows us each to dress with our values and our style in mind.

“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” – Coco Chanel

Photos courtesy of Redress Raleigh and Shecky’s