Many clients don’t know this, but prior to being a massage therapist, I went to fashion school and worked in the industry for publications and brands like Italian Vogue or brands like Bergdorf Goodman. Outside of my work as a massage therapist art, design, fragrance, and fashion are still my big passions.Over the past decade, I’ve also spent a lot of time learning about both climate change and 21st century issues. Recently, while looking around on these subjects, I learned via the 2015 documentary The True Cost, that the fast-fashion industry is one of the largest producers of industrial waste. Additionally, globalization has completely changed the way luxury goods are made. Items that are considered status symbols, and became that way because of the craftsmanship and artistry that went into them are now made off-shore, then finished off in France or Italy. That expensive handbag: It is no more special than a handbag from Target. Personally, I went to fashion school to create and make things that require hours of mastery, to make items that were unique, and special. Now, so many luxury goods are devoid of meaning. Now I find, some of the best places to find handmade things and brands that are special are on sites like Etsy.com or while scrolling through social media. I especially love brands that recognize their place in the world as stewards of their workforce or that they need to give back in some way.
Here are some of my more recent favorite sustainable brands made by crafts people and shops I like to frequent for amazing finds:
Why I Love It: A Bay-area based brand of clean, easy knits and ombre-dyed pieces committed to zero waste fashion. They start their design process by visiting scrap factories in Cambodia and working them all into a collection from there. They also staff Cambodian garment workers (some of the most exploited workers in the world) to provide sustainable garment industry jobs.
Why I Love It: I am a print girl! I have tried minimalism and it just does not work for me. Magpie Goose is an Australian brand designed by Megan McGowan. It is made with prints designed and manufactured by 4 different remote art centers of Aboriginal peoples. Magpie Goose offers more opportunities for economic advancement of native-Australians.
Why I Love It: Of-the-minute sophisticated and ethical fashion founded by Yael Alfalo in 2009. This LA-based brand use sustainable practices and vendors throughout their supply chain. On their site, they also have a section educating their consumers about what they can do to contain their own waste through purchasing and caring for their clothing.
Why I love it: Well-made basic handbags made in the Brooklyn Navy Yard by fashion veteran Roy Campos who saw the fashion manufacturing industry in New York evaporated over-night. All bags are made with locally sourced leather and metals for zips and are made per-order. They also have a area where you can even have a bag custom made just for you!
Why I Love It: Very colorful fashion designed by self-taught Guatemalan designer Isabelle Springmuhl who graduated high school and applied to a fashion design program. She was denied from entry into the program due to having Down’s Syndrome. She has been teaching herself how to design clothes and created Down to Xjabelle to share her passion for life a beauty. She uses traditional Guatemalan textiles in her designs hand woven by Mayan women.
Why I Love It: Okay. So it’s not clothing or design. It’s my new favorite thing. It’s coffee, but it is super delicious ethically farmed and traded coffee with a cause! Oregon-based Happy Cup is a coffee company devoted to creating sustainable jobs with living-wages for people with Down’s Syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Such employees are involved with production from roasting coffee beans to packaging.
Things you can do to break the crazy fashion cycle and keep in mind:
Create a capsule wardrobe. Swap out your clothing 4 time a year and limit all your clothing, bags, and shoes to 30 interchangeable pieces.
Ask yourself: Will I wear this 30 times? This along with creating a capsule wardrobe will make your choices more sustainable and lead to less once or twice owned things.
More clothes does not equate to more stylish. Usually, the most stylish women have a very minimal wardrobe. They learn how to mix and match things together.
Don’t keep to seasons. All of that’s for show anyway! Just watch the colors and fabrics you buy. Try to keep to fabrics and colors that can be worn year-round. At this point with all the micro-seasons that were created by fast-fashion stores like H&M and Zara and all the saturation by social media, anything goes, but if you stick to seasonless colors and fibers or learn how to layer, you can make a small wardrobe stretch!