Spring is here with crisper, bluer skies and pink and white blooms peaking in from the branches sprouting with the first signs of greenery. Here in northern California, the rainy spell seems to linger on stubbornly, but we are still getting our share of gorgeous, sunny days with balmy 65-70F (18-21C for the rest of the world on the saner metric system). For those of my readers still waiting for spring (or fall, depending on your hemisphere of habitation), hang in tight, because warmer weather is just around the corner. In the spirit of spring which symbolizes birth, germination, and life starting anew, I have put together a few recent style finds cobbled from the internet and personal experience to share some unique style options inspired by the slow fashion movement.
It’s no secret that the fashion industry is the third biggest pollution causing industry in the world, next only to oil and coal. Fast fashion, propagated by the likes of companies such as H&M, Uniqlo, Zara, Forever 21, Joe Fresh and the like, cause rapid turnover of apparel with new trends being promoted every week which combined with extremely low prices have caused a 400% increase in apparel sale and a staggering amount that finds its way into landfills. The end user, exuberant with his/her purchasing power, keeps on buying and throwing away clothes once they are no longer in style (which again is ephemeral and dictated by retail) and this adds on to the burden of landfills, where they take eons to decay. Add to it the problem of unethical supply chain, extremely poor and dangerous conditions of manufacturing (look no further than the collapse of the ill-fated Rana Plaza in Bangladesh which killed dozens of workers forced to work under pitiful conditions for North American retailers) such as sweatshops in developing countries to keep low prices even lower, and you have a social, economical and environmental catastrophe in your hands. For those of you who are interested in learning more about the true cost of fashion and how it is negatively impacting our planet and people, I urge you to watch this documentary “The True Cost” (available to stream on Netflix). This movie was an eyeopener for a fashion vulture like me who wouldn’t think twice before going into stores such as H&M to snag a good style deal. And although other retailers like Ann Taylor and J. Crew are also not fair game in disclosing their supply chain which leaves us with very few retail alternatives to shop at, there is still hope in terms of some companies selling beautiful, unique clothes to ramp up that style quotient while dealing in sweatshop free, fair trade practices. These are some that I found online, which I have either purchased from or am planning to support to champion the slow fashion movement. Check them out if you can for unique style pieces that will make you feel good and make heads turn!
(Photo source: Mata Traders)
Mata Traders (USA)
A US based company (they have an outlet and warehouse in Chicago) run by three best friends, the name “Mata” means mother in Sanskrit and is an ode to the female power or “Shakti”. The tagline for this company, crusading for slow fashion, is “Ethical fashion” and true to their motto, they engage in fair trade practices supporting over a dozen families in India and Nepal. The clothes (women’s apparel) are of an elegant, minimalist and modern cut with colorful Indian prints. Mata Traders actively encourages traditional practices such as screen and block printing for their clothes which makes their purchase even more meaningful. They ship internationally as well and refund returns within 30 days of purchase (customer has to pay for return shipment which is non-refundable). Here is their shipping and return policy.
(Photo source: Seźane)
The first French fashion house to retail exclusively online, Sezane embodies the classic style of the French woman (that je n’ais se quoi that we lesser fashionistas can never figure out) and is the brainchild of former model Morgane Sézalory. True to its French aesthetic, this brand brings you clothes from their locally sourced shops with no intermediaries and only select clothes are made in small batches with no bulk production. Pieces are effortless, minimalistic and very French (I own one) and they ship worldwide (flat fee of $15 to USA via DHL). For further dose of French chic, you can visit them at their store (fancily called L’Appartement or La Librairie) in Paris. Another great gem in slow fashion.
(Photo credit” Locher’s Paris)
When a brand’s tagline reads “Sweet Parisian Fashion label that likes it a bit rough and dirty”, you know that you’ve hit the jackpot in spotting the quirkiest fashion brand that ever was! Locher’s has one simple ideology, infuse a little bit of naughtiness to old world charm infused, minimalist clothing to elevate to them a different level that will make you stand out in the crowd. Handmade and sown in Paris by Parisian designer Nicole Locher, these clothes laced with humor (who can resist a bunch of embroidered french fries strewn on a charcoal backdrop of a cosy sweatshirt or a sneaky “little terror” embossed below an embroidered mouse head or a French cuss word nestling neatly on the backside of your garment?) bring whimsy and a smile to a woman’s day choc-full of routine. One of a kind, sweatshop free and that comes with worldwide shipping, Locher’s is surprisingly affordable (prices are cheaper than J. Crew) for a French brand. A delightful find, I cannot wait to get something wicked from this store and I recommend you do as well! Here is their shipping and returns policy.
(Photo source: Everlane)
Pioneered in San Francisco and now with a full fledged studio in NYC (with one outlet in SOMA, SF), Everlane champions the cause of ethical, slow fashion by selling directly from the manufacturers/factories and cutting out middlemen. They pledge and exhibit complete transparency in the retail supply chain and even showcase the partnering factories in Asia. Rooting for fair work conditions, living wages and superior quality made with sustainable fabrics, Everlane sells both clothes and accessories such as shoes. US customers can shop online or by visiting them in NYC or SF. For international shipping and other queries, please contact Everlane.
(Photo source: People tree)
People Tree (UK)
As championed by the documentary “The true cost”, People tree was and continues to be one of the early crusaders for sustainable, fair trade and slow fashion. Clothes made by hand and out of sustainable materials, which are good for both human and the planet, this company champions the value of slow fashion. The result is unique, one of a kind prints (mostly India) and beautiful dresses, blouses and bottoms. Plus, they also carry men’s apparel (yay!) This is a UK based company with office in London and ships to Europe, UK and USA. Friends across the pond, I strongly encourage that you show them some love next time you shop online!
Photo source: Alice Nightingale Etsy store
Alice Nightingale (Australia)
I stumbled upon Alice Nightingale’s delightful Etsy store after chancing upon this Youtube video by Un-Material girl, a blogger from Australia, who is a recent convert to the slow fashion movement and in light of this new awareness, tries to showcase local talent who make clothes locally. One of them is Alice Nightingale, who is a seamstress and literally designs, cuts, and sews darling tops, dresses and bags which are extremely unique since she makes the prints herself and they are full of whimsical Australian characters! Alice also trains novices in sewing and knitting and is a proponent of local, ethical and sustainable fashion. She ships worldwide as well. Visit her Etsy store or contact her via Etsy to learn more.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blogpost and getting new ideas to shop, all while supporting this very important cause of creating a better world for man and nature alike via the slow fashion movement! fast fashion kills in more ways than one and being detached from the source of our clothes or being apathetic to the plight of the poorest of the poor slaving away in sweatshops to make that $3 tee for you to be worn for only one season, does not help either. Always remember to ask who made your clothes and where were they made and you will be surprised to see that the answers are almost always not provided by traditional retail. The more we know, the more we learn, the better educated choices we can make. If you are shopping on a budget, then look out for fair trade labels on sale or shop the sale section of your local boutiques. Best of all, join the slow fashion movement at Fashion revolution to end exploitation of human and this world. Thank you! For my other fashion related posts, click here.
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