Tag Archives: sustainable fashion

I can get 5 shirts at Forever 21 for the same price as 1 shirt from an independent designer, why bother buying indie?

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Yes, it’s true that trendy looks can be found for super cheap at fast fashion stores and large chain retailers like Forever 21, Zara, and H&M. However, it is important to think about what is being perpetuated when people choose to give their money to these types of retailers over supporting more small time, independent designers. Fast fashion and large chain store retailers are focused on one thing and one thing only: the bottom line. Getting fads out as quickly as possible at the cheapest price is their main business agenda, and in doing so they promote a destructive shopping culture and seriously hurt the success of independent designers who promote innovative design and positive business practices.

– Forging Authenticity –

Forever 21 has been sued over 50 times for copyright infringement; the fast fashion retailer has blatantly knocked off designs from big name brands like Diane Von Furstenburg and Betsey Johnson to smaller, independent designers like Trovata and Foley + Corinna. This is one of the many unethically sound ways these types of retailers are able to keep their prices super cheap. Knocking off from other designer’s work allows these companies to avoid having to pay a creative team of designers, thereby allowing them to charge less for their products. What’s worse is that the courts almost always side with the copycat. Since copyright laws are so complicated when it comes to fashion, the stealing of designs is really hard to nail down. By buying into these cheap knockoffs, design integrity is compromised. What was once a gorgeous, highly detailed design with amazing drape and feel becomes a low quality look-a-like with shotty craftsmanship, void of almost all stylistic detailing. The originality and innovation that went into the design is diluted when cheap knock-offs become representative of the original look – hurting the success of the designer who exerted time, energy, and dedication to creating the concept. The mentality of, “If I can get the same look for $100 less, why buy the real thing?” is detrimental to an independent label.

– Lacking in Longevity –

Fast fashion retailers and chain stores make products from the lowest quality materials they can get away with, resulting in a super short lifespan of the product. Ingenious from a strictly business perspective: the cheap products last just about as long as the trend and when they fall apart, consumers simply throw them away and replace them with next weeks cheap fad… a never ending cycle of robotic (ergo thoughtless) consumption.

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Purchasing from an indie brand, however, you can be sure that true thought, time, and energy went into every aspect of the design. Materials are hand chosen and each stitch is placed with precision. Independent brands are focused on creating products that last. Yes, they will be more expensive, but that is because they are made from quality materials that will not fall apart after a few wears and washes. So, even though it may feel like you are spending less by opting to buy cheaper items, in the long run you save more by investing in more expensive, higher quality items that last.

– Humanitarianism –

It is no secret that big chain retailers use large factories, usually overseas (even though Forever 21’s factories are actually in LA), where workers are paid practically nothing for their labor and forced to work long hours in horrible working conditions. This is another major way they are able to keep prices so low, and so long as people’s buying choices revolve around the price tag, these retailers will continue to get away with exploitive practices.

Smaller, independent designers are much more in tune with the consequences of their business practices. Because the designer plays multiple roles in the business, they have a hand in each step of production from design, to manufacturing, to the end sale. Independent designers have a focus that is lost in large retail corporations – they make it a point to be responsible with their business. Many even take it a step further by using their business to give back.

– Voting With Your Dollar –

The next time you are choosing where to shop, remember that you are really voting with your dollar. Do you want to promote mass-produced, low quality fashion fads that rely on the exploitation of workers, or do you want to support original designers who use their business for good? The choice is yours.

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Sarah’s Bag – Inspiring Brand, Empowering Women

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“Empowered women mean empowered societies,” this is  the motto of inspiring accessory brand, Sarah’s Bag. This Beirut, Lebanon-based business paves the way for sound supply chain practices, proving that fair labor does not compromise gorgeous and innovative design. Sarah’s Bag employs women at risk as their artisans, who hand make absolutely original clutches and handbags with lavish embellishments including embroidery, cross stitching, intricate beading, crochet and so much more.

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Founded in 2000, Sarah’s Bag has grown to employ more than 150 women across Lebanon who have taken solace and found empowerment in the opportunity presented by Sarah to take control of their lives; finding work that helps them contribute to their communities and support their families in a world that otherwise casted them aside. These women congregate together to hand stitch designs that showcase their skills, giving them a space to connect with each other while producing magnificent works of art for the world to enjoy.

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Sarah’s Bag is an inspiration – really shedding light on the fashion industry and the vast opportunities it has to support and help communities in need. Rather than sourcing cheap and unfair labor in mega-factories, why not source individuals like these Lebanon women who, with just a bit of instruction, can produce not only gorgeous designs, but high quality pieces that will last lifetime, while at the same time improves the lives of others.

A truly magnificent display, this brand should be commended for their tremendous effort and success in combining fashion, business, and humanitarianism.

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Watch a video about the story behind the amazing women artisans that hand make the products of Sarah’s Bag here:  http://bit.ly/176zBTw

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Transparency Tuesday – Fashioning Change

 
Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 4.41.21 PMFinally, the myth that sustainable clothing is harder to find and more expensive than normative fashion brands has been dispelled. Introducing Fashioning Change, an amazing, innovative eCommerce platform based in San Diego that finds less expensive, yet equally trendy, sustainable alternatives to the large brands you usually shop. Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 4.41.46 PMFashioning Change builds your own virtual changing room by asking you a series of questions including your budget for fashion products,

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Personality,

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style,

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brand preference,

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and which donations you care about most.
Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 4.45.34 PMYour changing room is then formulated and you can browse items by your personal style, causes, personality, or “likes”. You can also explore larger categories like Women, Men, Children, Brands, and Looks.

We want to thank Fashioning Change for making sustainable fashion more accessible to the masses and starting to change the idea that sustainable = expensive. I.F. gives Fashioning Change an A+, be sure to check them out at http://fashioningchange.com and build your personal changing room for free!

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“I love a vexing, thorny question. And perhaps there is no question in fashion today more troublesome – and overdue – than that of what fashion would be like outside an endless cycle of consumption. Let’s face it; our experience of fashion today is so dominated by buying stuff that it’s almost impossible to imagine fashion in any other format. Fashion is buying high street and high end. It is watching, shopping, purchasing. In the consumer society we organize our ideas about fashion around commerce and consumerism and end up becoming dependent on them. And yet this incessant cycle of consumption is not all that fashion is, was, or can be. We are, so to speak, shopping ourselves short. By elevating the power of what we buy to be the ultimate arbiter of fashion innovation; we are missing out on fashion’s other-than-market potential; on the multitude of fashion moments that flow from who we are, not from just from what we buy again and again. With consumerist fashion’s emphasis on looking from a distance, we are also straying even further from fashion’s original meaning – as a group activity of making and doing. And what is more, it seems that consumerism is creating an anachronistic form of fashion itself. For we know that fashion always reflects its context; and today its context includes sustainability. So when we see fashion as achievable only through ever-greater consumption; this blinkered ‘performance’ is quite simply, no longer fashion.” – Kate Fletcher

The Vexing Question of What Fashion Would Be Like Outside The Endless Cycle of Consumption

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Transparency Tuesday

Business Transparency is extremely important to I.F. On Tuesday’s, I.F. will spotlight fashion businesses and/or organizations both large and small that are making innovative moves toward making the fashion industry a little less opaque.

Honest by.

honest by

Click me to visit honestby.com

THE HONEST BY PHILOSOPHY

“We believe Fashion is about beauty and that the story behind fashion can be equally beautiful.
We want to give our customer the opportunity to shop with complete awareness of what they are buying.
We want to produce all of our products in a life friendly way.
We believe in the health of our clients skin.
We want the impact of our products and activities on the environment and human health to be as small as possible.”

Honest by. is the ultimate transparent fashion business, giving customers absolutely all the information possible about their garments, from detailed material information:

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manufacturing details, carbon foot print, to an extensive break-down of the price calculation:

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Each and every detail concerning the production, manufacturing through to consumption of the products is considered, outlined, and analyzed in a sussinct and understandable manner. There is even advice provided for how to best dispose, post-consumption; “**For optimal decomposition: please remove all polyester garment labels and components before disposal. These are not biodegradable.

The business model of Honest by. is truly admirable, and frankly only really feasible with the current size of the business – which is being run out of Honest by. owner and designer, Bruno Pieters’ studio in Antwerp. What is even more admirable is the fact that when faced with the opportunity to expand, approached by large department stores to carry his line, Pieters declined. The stores refused to allow the display of the price calculation break-down to customers, and for Pieters, compromising this definitive aspect of the company wasn’t up for negotiation. We commend you, Bruno Pieter, choosing transparency over profit is so rare in companies these days.

Honest by. truly thinks about every single aspect that its business practices affect, as well as the consequences of those effects. Customers can truly feel their buying is honest and ethical when the purchase from Honest by., and for that we give Honest by. an A++.

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