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4 Things To Remember When You Shop for Clothes

There are things every single one of us can do to help alleviate the damage done by the traditional fashion industry. Here are the big four:

1. ) Buy local

At the most basic level, when you buy from a local designer or from a local boutique more money stays in the community. According to SustainableConnections.org, “Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.”

Not only are you investing in your own city, but you’re also reducing your individual environmental footprint, creating jobs, and putting your tax dollars to good use.

Putting that into dollars and cents, Businessweek reported “for every $100 spent at a locally owned store, $45 remains in the local economy, compared with about $13 per $100 spent at a big box store.”

2.) Buy “indie”

Support independent designers who are conscious of the production process all the way through. Many of these designers are mindful of where they source their fabric and are involved in the manufacturing from front to back. Some are even doing the sewing themselves in small independent sew shops or incubators.

The stories behind companies like Piece x Piece, Seamly and Manufacture NY are a refreshing glimpse into transparent clothing production.

thrift-shop-photo mombot3.) Buy used

Huge progress can be made by consumers purchasing second-hand. It is imperative that we start making use of the resources already available to us instead of buying new clothing.twitter-bird

Any remaining stigma against thrift shopping has gone out the window with the popularity of consignment chains like Buffalo Exchange, Plato’s Closet, and the many local thrift shops popping up all over the world.

Second-hand clothing has even entered the tech scene with websites and apps such as Bib + Tuck, Twice, Poshmark and Nifty Thrifty, boasting beautiful user interfaces that encourage the purchase and reuse of someone else’s unwanted clothing.

Not only are the price tags competitive with the fast fashion giants, but many of the garments appear to be practically new. It’s a win-win for your wallet and for the planet.

4.) Buy less

Buying less is ultimately the solution that can change the world. (And no, it will not lead to an economic Armageddon.)

Considering the fact that society’s throwaway consumption habits are at an all-time high, there are ways to use our dollars more economically and efficiently than buying six H&M dresses for $9.99.

Instead, you can use that same $59.94 (6 x $9.99) to buy an ethically-produced dress from a local designer and wear it for years to come.

I’m not advocating to stop spending. I’m advocating to use your purchasing power in ways that go beyond wearing something once and throwing it away.twitter-bird

And if that’s all a piece of cake, here are a few secondary factors to keep in mind:

seamly-coLook at labels

It can’t be said enough. Do you know where your clothes came from? Who made the t-shirt on your back? Are you comfortable with the possibility that your jeans were made by a modern-day slave on the other side of the world?

Look at the labels on your clothes and ask questions. You can start here.

Wash cold & hang dry

In the United States, the average household does 300-400 loads of laundry per year. A whopping 1,000 loads of laundry are started every second of the day — that’s 13,000 gallons of water per household. Three-quarters of the carbon footprint from a load of laundry comes from drying.

And let’s not forget the amount of chemicals and phosphates that are used in laundry detergent and then leaked back into our water supply, depleting aquatic ecosystems.

To reduce your individual carbon footprint: always wash cold, hang to dry and use phosphate-free laundry detergent.


Have alternative solutions to add to this mix? Tweet me your thoughts at @factory45co.

Photos courtesy of Fashion Revolution Day and Chic Vegan.

 


 

11 Indie Designers Making a Mark in Ethical Fashion

In an industry of bottom lines, shareholders and cut corners, it’s refreshing to find the people who still view fashion as art. Rather than churning out millions of identical garments, there are designers who have chosen to stay true to the beauty of what fashion can truly be.

Given that these designers still have to compete (in some capacity) with the H&M’s of the world, it’s even more admirable to find those who have also integrated ethics and sustainability into their business models.

These indie designers are staying true to their art form while trying to make the industry a little better along the way.

Moriah Carlson and Alice Wu of Feral Childe | I only recently discovered this bi-coastal design duo, and I’m so glad I did. Moriah and Alice work from studios in Brooklyn and Oakland, respectively, and manufacture their label in NYC’s Garment District. Each garment from the line meets at least two of the sustainability guidelines listed on their website.

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Julia Kastner of Eva & Paul | I was introduced to Julia over email a few months ago and instantly devoured her website. If there’s one thing I struggle with in my own wardrobe, it’s finding sustainably-made jeans, which is why I always resort to buying a stretched out second-hand pair. Julia has found a way to produce 98 percent organic cotton jeans while keeping the price-point under $200. The rest of the materials are fair trade and everything is sewn in the USA.

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Elizabeth Brunner of Piece x Piece | I’ve been a long-time fan of Elizabeth Brunner’s since first meeting her in San Francisco in the summer of 2012. Elizabeth uses sample fabric swatches that are discarded by the pounds from design houses and pieces them together to create one-of-a-kind garments. By making use of what would otherwise be waste, Elizabeth has created a stunning collection made by hand in San Francisco.

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Britt Howard and Rosemary Robinson of PGF House Line | Britt and Rose are the joint-genius behind the Portland Garment Factory. I spent some time with them in 2012 while revamping the design for the “Versalette 2.0.” Although they primarily work on other designer’s products, they have found the time to put together their own line of unique designs being sold all over the country. Everything is manufactured in their self-owned factory in Portland.

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Kristin Glenn of Seamly.co | My former partner-in-crime at {r}evolution apparel, Kristin now designs her own label of versatile clothing made in Denver from deadstock fabric. I swear by the Seamly high-waisted leggings (as I’ve told many of my friends), and the revamped and redesigned Versalette is still being sold under the Seamly label.

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Nicole Bridger of Nicole Bridger | Last year, I heard Nicole Bridger speak at ECO Fashion Week in Vancouver. She founded her company on the belief that fashion doesn’t have to sacrifice a commitment to the environment, so she puts a personal emphasis on transparency. All Nicole Bridger fabrics and materials are ethically-sourced, and are often renewable or biodegradable. Ninety percent of the collection is manufactured in Vancouver while the other 10% is produced in Fair Trade certified factories overseas.

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Betsy & Emily Nunez of Sword & Plough | I’ll never forget the splash that sisters Betsy and Emily made with the launch of their Kickstarter campaign in May 2013. With a goal of raising $20,000, their quadruple-bottom-line bag company that uses reclaimed military fabrics, raised over $300K. All S&P bags are made in the USA with upcycled materials that use 95% less energy than conventional bags.

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Tara St. James of Study N.Y. | Study is a sustainable womenswear label based in Brooklyn. Because it doesn’t adhere to the typical fashion calendar (which is now up to 52 seasons a year), all of the designs are seasonless. Much of the brand’s focus revolves around the story of each garment, the hands that made them, and the ethical materials that were used.

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Although the price points of some of these brands may seem higher than you’re used to, it’s important to consider the timelessness and durability that comes with clothing that is ethically made. All of these designers create garments that will last season after season, and most will stand the test of time as the trends change.

Thank you for supporting ethical and independent design.

This post originally appeared on ShannonWhitehead.com. You can see it here.

Photo credit: Feral Childe, Eva & Paul, Piece x Piece, Portland Garment Factory, Seamly.co, Nicole Bridger, Sword & Plough & Study NY.


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