Being AWEAR and conscious in your clothing isn't something that's always obvious to people around you. But really, it's about wearing what you believe in and feeling good about it.
Bianca shares her thoughts on what wearing a low impact lifestyle on her sleeve means to her ::
"We recycle, vote with our forks and use LED light bulbs to minimize our carbon footprints, but how many of us literally wear our beliefs on our sleeves? I recycle and use toxin-free skin care products, so wearing this organic knit, made in the USA dress on my body feels natural. Being vegan, sporting these colorful peep-toe platforms comforts me in knowing no animals were harmed just so I could look cute.
And driving a hybrid to minimize global warming makes even more sense when the bag I carry is made with a carbon-neutral manufacturing process. I enjoy knowing that I am living in a way that is also in alignment with who I am in the larger world.
Like coordinating a favorite outfit, learning how to AWEAR your values on your sleeve makes getting dressed each day so much more meaningful."
Dress (by Myrrhia, via Ecohabitude, no waste manufacturing and organic, made in USA fibers)
Peep-toe Platform Shoes (by Cri de Coeur, vegan)
Bag (Alcantara Spa vegan bag, designed by Rebecca Moses, made using the 1st carbon-neutral certified fabric)
Amethyst Jewelry (by Fanta Celah, handmade)
Nailpolish (by Sparitual, vegan & toxin-free)
photos by Michael Alexander
“We are the shapers of culture, the workers for change, the dreamers of dreams.”
Danica is a travel addict who came across endangered ethnic weaving communities in Vietnam while on a 5-week trip through South East Asia. Blown away by local ethnic weavers’ skills and their excitement to teach others about their craft, she wanted to learn more.
After she discovered that these techniques were on the verge of going extinct, Danica decided she had to move to Vietnam and work with the artisans directly to help preserve their traditions.
As the founder of Wild Tussah, she now designs handbags sustainably, provides these weaves to other designers and asks this question every day: “Do you know where your bags come from?”
For Danica, Wild Tussah is all about preserving culture and helping share artisans' stories.
Dress (fabric picked out in a local Vietnamese market and taken to a Saigon tailor to model off of one of Danica’s favorite little black dresses)
Pearl Earrings (from a family owned shop in Saigon)
Handbag (by Wild Tussah, incorporates rare, vintage handwoven Lu weaves and acts as both a shoulder bag and clutch with a removable strap)
Angela is the founder of if found, make :: which she defines as "a place where crafting, blogging, design, and style intersect with independent artists, small businesses, and the desire to move toward a happier, handcrafted life. From curated gift guides to original DIY projects to adorn your home with, her blog is a space that not only promotes creativity, but gives it room to breathe."
She especially loves shopping at consignment shops, where she finds more of a handpicked selection of goods. For Angela, it's a great way to use what is already out there, instead of playing a part in the consumption of unethical goods. "I've always been into thrifting and vintage, starting with combing Goodwill so that I could afford back to school shopping. Not only do I love the hunt, but I believe in a reformation of the fashion industry, and recently I've started editing my habits to reflect that. It's hard to purchase ethically made fashion on a budget - as much as I love handmade + sustainable clothing - so thrift shopping helps me stay within my means and feel good about it."
Angela tells us honestly about how she has encountered struggles along the adventure of shopping in a more AWEAR and conscious way :: "There have been times where I've been frustrated. I have to remind myself that this is a process, we're all in it together, and that as long as I remain aware of my purchases, it's okay to take things a step at a time. There are so many more ethical options than there were even 5 years ago, but it's still difficult not to just head to the mall when I need some new clothes." Indeed, it's a never-ending learning journey for us all.
Floral Dress (thrifted from Wasteland in Los Angeles, CA; tailored to fit her)
Basic Tank (thrifted from Hope of the Valley in Granada Hills, CA for $2)
Necklace (handcrafted, from Sumi's in Los Feliz, Los Angeles)
Bag (thrifted from Crossroads Trading)
Carlie is going into her sophomore year at UW-Madison this upcoming fall. She tells us that she isn't super involved, but that she definitely stands to break the stereotype often given to young people.
"First off, I should say that I used to be the stereotype – a girl who would go shopping often, buy some cute things, maybe wear some items only a couple times before getting rid of them - and I was definitely oblivious to where my clothes came from. I’m an avid skier, and some of my gear I’ve acquired is from Patagonia. A couple of winters ago, when I was researching the brand, I discovered what it means to be sustainable.
Patagonia advocates for the environment and proves that quality is truly better than quantity. Since then, I’ve changed my mindset on fashion. I shop much less, and when I do, I’m a conscious shopper. I share and hand down clothes, buy second-hand, and I’m taking my second design course at Madison this fall, so that I’ll be able to make some items myself. I hope people start to ask questions before they buy. It feels good to know you’re making a change."
Shoes (by Pikolinos, made with natural dyes)
Jeans (by Lee, thrifted, made in USA)
Shirts (by Truly Madly Deeply, made in USA)
Shorts (by Chubbies, made in USA; the company is dedicated to keeping their production process 100% in the USA, and its goal is to prove to other American-based companies that they can do the same)
Bracelet (by Alex and Ani, made in USA; company donates to non-profit organizations and focuses on sustainability)
Necklace (purchased in Alaska from a friend/small business owner)
photo taken at Carlie's family tree farm in Wisconsin
Ladies with style and wheels, this one's for you. The lovely Lara of Forest & Fin has designed a functional and fashionable bike-friendly skirt!
"With hidden fasteners underneath the bottom hem to prevent fly-up while riding, pockets to secure valuables, and removable straps to keep the skirt out of the tires," this is the newest classic piece to launch for the active, yet fashion-minded female.
As Lara explains :: "It’s designed to be versatile, functional, and durable - to get a woman through a whole day regardless of her transportation or activity. Unlike other bike skirts that are made of polyester or spandex, the Bicycle Wrap Skirt is made with soft sustainable materials right here in the USA."
We're in. If you're sold too, head over to their Kickstarter to support, and get on the list to receive one of these beauties from their first run of USA-made Bicycle Skirts!
Shirt (acquired via a clothing swap)
Skirt (The Bicycle Wrap Skirt by Forest and Fin, made in Savannah, GA using sustainable materials and hand-dyed with indigo)
Flip Flops (by Olukai, made using 30% recycled material in outsole, all leather sourced from environmentally conscious ISO-14001 certified tanneries)
Backpack (handmade by Waypost Craft in Savannah, GA, USA)
Removable Hip Pouch & Skirt Secures (by Forest and Fin, made in Savannah, GA)
Ren is passionate about collaborations, co-creation and building enabling platforms. Her extensive work and travel overseas coupled with an academic background in economic development & social entrepreneurship fuel a continual dedication to enterprises with impact.
For the last 5 years, she has been at the forefront of building and scaling organizations at the intersection of creativity and opportunity, championing the creative industry through co-founding collaborative workspace Kennel and the Singapore chapter of global network Creative Mornings. A creative connector across industries, Ren believes that cross-pollination and collaboration is the key to progress. Endlessly curious and extremely motivated, she believes in learning something from everyone and has an empathic and development focused leadership style.
With a mix of experience in social entrepreneurship, consultancy, journalism and hospitality management, Ren's professional focus has always been about integrating experiential products with branded storytelling and using design for social good. Her current focus is as co-founder for MATTER :: a socially motivated business that focuses on bridging the gap for artisans in Asia. In its first year, MATTER focused on building its hybrid production prototype model in India and generated over 520 days of artisan employment in 3 heritage techniques, launching its 1000th pant in the beginning of 2015.
Currently, MATTER works with 4 artisan communities in India and aspires to be the leading platform for designer-artisan collaborations in Asia with partnerships in Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia. By the end of 2015, MATTER would have fostered collaborations with 8 designer-artists and will be sold in Amsterdam, Australia, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Singapore & via its online platform.
Necklace (a gift, an amulet talisman of glass and metal)
Cuff (purchased beachside in Goa, made of brass; "the best finds are always unexpected")
Sequin Top (purchased in Brooklyn, NY at Artists and Fleas, vintage find; "my favorite type of shopping")
Pants (by MATTER, Leharia Charcoal, Silk/cotton blend handprinted in Jaipur and stitched in Delhi)
Hoda is a Muslim-Iranian, born and raised in Oklahoma. She is now attending the University of Chicago, where she's studying International Studies/Relations and Middle Eastern Studies.
Hoda runs JooJoo Azad (which means “Free Bird” in Fasi) :: a fashion + social action blog and an extension of her voice. When she's not spending hours in front of a computer screen blogging or pretending to be a good student, she's probably reading Persian poetry, playing violin, or looking at bird pictures. Her favorite food is saffron ice cream and her soul is in the sea.
Hoda tells us of what pushed her to start developing her virtual voice ::
"Fashion blogging has always been in the back of my mind but it wasn’t until a pregnant Muslim woman suffered a miscarriage due to a hate attack in France that I decided that I could no longer play the part of the silent observer.
In August 2013, I launched JooJoo Azad with the intention of bringing together fashion with activism: I share personal looks that serve to normalize the Hijab & modest dressing within a world that is becoming increasingly sexualized and Islamaphobic, support and advertise socially-conscious brands and general limiting of spending, encourage boycotting of unethical brands, and discuss relevant issues within the fashion industry that need to be addressed such as the lack of diversity or utilization of child labor."
Necklace (a gift from 9th & Elm, which features handmade and small independent business owners)
Headscarf (handmade from Etsy)
Top (from a local brand)
photos by Alex Jung
“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don't wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future." -Earl Nightingale
This month our style icon Bianca helps remind us of the value in enjoying the moments and remembering to "play" and connect with our inner youthful selves. She shares her thoughts and how spending quality time with her next door neighbor brings her pure joy ::
"It can be so easy as an adult to get caught up in the "seriousness" of our everyday lives, work and responsibilities, that we forget that we are human, that we naturally crave fun, freedom and adventure, and that we are all fundamentally kids at heart.
One of the things Skylar reminds me to do more in my life is to play! I try to create healthy play by letting my inner child run free for at least an hour each day. I'll dance wildly to my favorite music, go running barefoot in the grass, practice yoga, splash in puddles, or take a hike in the woods. Relaxing and having fun makes me feel happy, alive and free. I also love to play with my fashion style - from haute couture to sporty - embracing a range of emotions with the palette of my wardrobe. To me, this is the essence of creativity."
Pants (made of cotton, swapped)
Jacket (vegan leather, thrifted from Crossroads Trading Co.)
Shoes (Converse All Stars, reused)
Top (by Indigenous Designs, fair trade and organic cotton)
photos by Edgar Artiga
As many of you may know, one of our changemakers :: Amy Dufault :: is the woman behind The Tailor Project. Over the last year, Amy inspired the journey and evolution of 1 singe t-shirt, with the hope that it could drive more people to connect with their local tailors.
It all started with an Appalatch tee on the east coast. From there, the tee has travelled and interacted with friends and fellow sustainable fashion advocates, who have added their own little touches, while utilizing and supporting their local tailors, along the way.
I've passed the traveling tee up the coast to Rowena Ritchie in the Bay area. Thanks to Amy of the Tailor Project for reminding us how valuable and memorable it can be to connect, collaborate, and support our local tailors.
On 24 April 2013, 1133 people were killed and over 2500 were injured when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Social and environmentally detrimental events continue to occur amidst in our global fashion supply chains.
Fashion Revolution is here to take a stand. To remind us today, that we should be asking more questions like :: Who Made My Clothes? Where Were My Clothes Made? What Are My Clothes Made Of? :: on the regular.
On Earth Day 2015, we got a crowd together in San Diego, to snap some photos of our clothes inside out, in an effort to inspire conversations about how we can bring "awearness" to Fashion Revolution Day [4.24.15] from our little worlds.
Thank you to all who attended. Turns out every little bit counts, as people are joining the movement all around the world, and #whomademyclothes is trending on Twitter! Let's keep the inspired conversations and questions flowing!!
Originally from the Midwest, Christina moved to New York City in 2010 to pursue a career in magazine publishing, and she quickly realized that supporting her shopping habits would be challenging on an entry-level salary, especially in a city as expensive as New York.
"Luckily, I discovered the treasure troves that are New York City's thrift stores, and I've been obsessed with the hunt ever since!" Fast forward to 2013, and after honing her shopping skills and learning more about the environmentally- and ethically-questionable fast-fashion industry, Christina decided to launch her blog :: Tales from the Thrift :: to encourage others to thrift, swap and shop secondhand.
"Nowadays, thrifting is no longer a financial necessity, but something I choose to do--not only is it eco-friendly, but I enjoy the challenge of finding hidden gems and vintage treasures. And that's not to say I don't supplement my wardrobe with the occasional retail item now and then, but I'd estimate that today at least 75% of my closet is sourced from thrift and consignment stores or swaps."
Fringe Top & Lace Skirt (both purchased for $1 from Buffalo Exchange's annual Earth Day $1 Sale; all sale proceeds benefited the Humane Society's Fund For Animals)
Nude Heels (thrifted for $5 from Cauz for Pawz, an NYC-based thrift store that donates to animal rescue groups)
Sunglasses (a free hand-me-down from a friend)
A former educator and proud sustainability nerd, Elizabeth's goal is to be a resource for a life full of more meaning and less waste.
After she quit teaching, she created The Note Passer which eventually evolved to document her awakening to the realities of fast fashion and consumerism.
Last year, she helped co-found the Ethical Writers Coalition with other like-minded writers. Elizabeth firmly believes that knowledge is power and with that in mind she uses her platform to share practical steps to a more sustainable lifestyle.
"I started looking into the world of sustainability after the Rana Plaza disaster and my curiosity has crept into other industries beyond fashion. The Ethical Writers Coalition and I recently organized an event in NYC that focused on sustainable design and local flowers. We made flower crowns, arrangements, and planters and it was really magical (and educational). To me, there's something deeply satisfying about reducing waste and being creative with what's on hand, whether it be clothing, food, or flowers."
Blazer (hand-me-down from her mom who's featured here in the photo with her)
T-shirt (thrifted from a Goodwill in Sarasota, Florida)
Maxi Skirt (bought secondhand from eBay)
Flower crown (handmade from local flowers)
photos by Julia Pinter
Tania and Sam founded A Boy Named Sue in 2012. It was a brainstorming session over lunch at some faux French cafe in Hong Kong that sparked the early ideas of bringing together designers with a visionary approach, and blending goodwill with aesthetics.
Tania and Sam were "fed up with the dirty business of fashion, the environmental degradation caused by the industry and the lack of respect toward people who make our clothes."
A lifestyle blogger and food & set stylist, Sam was brought up in Canada and graduated from Parsons NY with a degree in Fashion and Sustainable design. After moving to Hong Kong, Sam worked as a fashion analyst at an online retailer before starting 'A Boy Named Sue'.
Tania was born in Moscow, brought up in Spain, studied in the UK and settled in Hong Kong. She graduated from the London School of Economics in Political Science and worked in finance for 6 years. Tania always had an interest in fashion, but was hesitant to leave her career. After moving to Hong Kong and witnessing the pollution, lack of recycling and addiction to cheap fashion, coupled with the lack of green policies in the government, Tania was ready to make A Boy Named Sue happen.
Sam & Tania's goal for A Boy Named Sue is "to show that ethics and aesthetics are not mutually exclusive. We call it 'cool clothes with a conscience'."
Sam is wearing ::
Sweater (by Maska, made in Lithuania & designed in Sweden, they focus on sustainability in their daily business practices and source cruelty free yarn)
Scarf (by Ace & Jig, made in India at a fair trade weaving co-op)
Jeans (by Zara, Sam has had them for around 3 years and has been wearing them every day, these were her last purchase at Zara)
Tania is wearing ::
Skirt (by Diarte, made in Spain from natural fibers sourced from Europe)
Cardi (by Diarte, made in Spain from natural fibers sourced from Europe)
Cropped Top (by Kaarem, a Vietnamese brand that makes each peace in a workshop that practices fair employment practices and supports the local textiles, especially the silk business)
Boots (by Sandro, made in Spain, Tania has had them for 4 years now)
"A goal without a plan is only a wish."
Eileen Fisher has been blazing innovative trails in the conscious fashion scene for years :: asking questions, employing fair trade weavers, integrating organic and sustainable fibers into their collections and more. The honorable thing about it for me is that they've been flying beneath the radar with these efforts, learning, growing and evolving along the way.
Their recently launched Vision2020 campaign takes their efforts to another level :: "We're working toward a world in which the clothes you love to wear create nothing but love."
Rachel is a journalist, consultant and sustainability advocate who has been featured on “TODAY” and “CNN Headline News,” among others. The former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, Rachel was the co-founder of the online magazine EcoStiletto and authored a spinoff book, The Big List of Things That Suck.
Today, she publishes MommyGreenest.com where annually she challenges women to the Shop Drop Challenge :: give up shopping new for 30 days :: in an effort to raise awareness of the environmental impact of fashion, and the eco-friendly options that thrifting, swapping and consignment provide. Aside from the occasional swimsuit, Rachel has exclusively shopped preloved for more than four years.
Jumper (by Nanette Lepore, purchased at a thrift store)
Sandals (by Calleen Cordero, veggie-tanned leather / local & fair trade production, purchased second-hand)
"Life's not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain." -Vivianne Green
Our style icon Bianca has loved watching Gene Kelley's character in "Singing in the Rain" ever since she was a little girl. She shared with us how she interpret's Kelley's positive spirit amidst the sky falling from above.
"Despite being drenched with water from head to toe, he manages to laugh, sing and splash about with a smile on his face. His inner state of mind is what makes him so happy.
On rainy days, instead of succumbing to a dreary mood, I wear bright colors to lift my mood. In this plush teal coat designed by my friend Leanne Hilgart, the dynamic founder of Vaute, and a clear umbrella to let me see the rain drops falling while staying high and dry, there's no excuse for staying indoors."
Jacket (by VAUTE, made in NY from vegan, recycled + non-toxic materials)
Umbrella (by BRELLI, made fair trade in NY from biodegradable PVC and bamboo)
Scarf (silk, from India)
Tights (made in USA)
"Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity." - unknown
As the founder of Mermaid by Hand Jewelry, our style icon Sloane journeyed out into the unknown to build her company. We were interested to hear how her curiosity helped motivate her to leap out and evolve her own personal brand.
"I would say that the curiosity seed was initially planted when I worked for a vintage clothing company based in Brooklyn. Around the same time, I remember telling one of my co-workers at the surf shop I had worked at for 8 years before, that I never wanted to work for anyone again and that I wanted to be my own boss. About a year and a half after my internship with the vintage clothing company, we moved to California and I realized I had to make money somehow and that the handmade/vintage industry is what I wanted to be a part of, so I went back to school for metalsmithing. This is when the curiosity truly took over and I dove head first into starting what is now Mermaid by Hand.
I also couldn't find a job out here in California, and my savings were dwindling. Focusing solely on one project has ultimately led to the success of the business. I started out trying to sell both handmade AND vintage, but noticed I needed to focus on one to build a solid audience. Now that I have a following and a clearer vision/aesthetic, I am able to introduce more vintage into the shop. It's always an ever changing/growing project. Aiming to one day have an entire store where I can sell other artists' goods/cultural goods/more vintage. But that idea could change too!"
Sweater (thrifted from Buffalo Exchange on Haight/Ashbury in San Francisco, CA)
Denim Jumpsuit (by Furst of a Kind, from LF Stores, made of repurposed denim)
Booties (thrifted from Buffalo Exchange in Hillcrest, San Diego, CA)
Beanie (by Krochet Kids, handmade and fair trade)
At 14, Johanna read about Pakistani child laborers who were sewing the soccer balls that American children played with. After reading more and discovering the realities behind sweatshop-use, she wrote letters to big name brands, asking them to pay fair wages to their workers.
One company responded to her letter by sending a gift card, and that pushed her over the edge. She got enraged and vowed to stop shopping. She became very conscientious of the source of her clothing -- thrifting most of the time -- to ensure she wasn't supporting sweatshop labor.
Her little sister Molly was quite the opposite though, and loved shopping. Over time, however, her big sister's lecturing and disapproval rubbed off, and Molly also became more aware of her purchasing power.
The sisters thoroughly enjoy traveling with their third sister and brother, and are always on the hunt for beautiful, handmade artisan goods. Ten years ago, on a trip through Lithuania, Johanna was fascinated by all the knit shops of gorgeous yarns and patterns. The visit inspired her to make her hobby of knitting a passion.
Johanna has since knit dozens and dozens of hats, mittens, socks, baby clothes, and most recently, sweater dresses. Making an entire piece with her own hands -- stitch by stitch -- has given her a whole new appreciation for the creation and production that goes into a garment.
Johanna is wearing ::
Scarf (knit 4, purl 4 knit pattern, acrylic yarn salvaged from a dumpster in LaCrosse, WI)
Tunic (dewdrop knit pattern from Interweave Knits magazine, 85% cotton/15% silk yarn made in Peru)
Mittens (pattern from Folk Mittens by Marcia Lewandowski, wool and acrylic yarns - a mix of salvaged and purchased in Prague, Czech Republic)
Earrings (handmade by artist from Cartagena de Indias, Colombia)
Molly is wearing ::
Dress (stocking stitch, 100% cotton yarn made in Canada)
Hat (basic cables, verbal instructions and acrylic yarn purchased from Fitting Knit Shop, LaCrosse, WI)
Earrings (handmade by artist Tami Reschke of the Bohemian Bauble, Madison, WI)
Brittany recently mentioned that it was "time for her to donate her hair again". Her brother Drew :: who happens to also be our photographer :: realized what an interesting and cool story this could make for the AWEAR community. He tagged along and had the opportunity to capture the process at the hair salon.
For Brittany, donating her hair is something that reminds her that silly things like haircuts shouldn't be something we get upset or stressed about. Thank you Brittany for putting such a vain process into perfect perspective.
"For me, donating my hair is similar to how many people feel about donating blood. It's my way of making a small sacrifice to hopefully help someone in a time of need. Haircuts rarely turn out the way you'd imagined they would. Donating my hair allows me to let go of resenting these little imperfections by imagining how excited someone will be to actually have some hair to wear."
photos by Drew McGill
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't.” -Steve Maraboli
“Control” can sometimes play a role in the sustainability movement. When you watch people act in ways that could be harmful to the world around us -- throwing a piece of trash out the window of a car or using excessive numbers of plastic bags -- it can be frustrating and discouraging.
For our style icon Matt of Be Kind Vibes, these moments can be turned around into opportunities for good.
"When I used to live in Puerto Rico, every time I would visit the grocery store, the checkout clerk would literally give me a plastic bag for EVERY SINGLE ITEM I purchased. It would drive me craaaaaazy. Those bags would end up littering the beaches, eventually making their way into the ocean, entangling sea life, or getting stuck on the reefs.
I really wanted to make a difference and see a change made to help protect the ocean. I ended up getting involved with the Surfrider chapter in Rincon, and we proposed a plastic bag ban to the city. After a couple years of educating, debating, and passing out reusable tote bags, the city passed the bag ban, making them the first to do so in Puerto Rico!"
Place your efforts into mindful control, and it could influence positive change.
Pants (thrifted from Buffalo Exchange)
Sweater (thrifted from Buffalo Exchange)
Hat (thrifted from Buffalo Exchange)
Tee (by Jungmaven, made of hemp and organic cotton in LA, USA)
Shoes (by The People's Movement, made of upcycled plastic)
Socks (made of reclaimed wool)
Mug (by Khordz, handmade in CA, USA)
Hanna :: founder of Gold Polka Dots :: initially started her blog to document outfits and her home’s DIY progress (including the gold polka dot wall she was going to create in her sewing room).
Her original plan of developing a "life and style blog" only lasted three months...when she started feeling materialistic ::
"My outfits were mainly comprised of Forever 21, H&M and Old Navy and it didn’t feel right promoting a lifestyle of buying cheap clothes every week. By this point, I hadn’t heard of fast fashion, but I knew that I needed to change my relationship with clothing.
I remember reading my first article about fast fashion and its effects on the environment and thinking I can’t buy clothes ever again. This was obviously before I knew there was a sphere of eco fashion that took the environment and people’s livelihood into consideration. For the past year, I’ve become conscious of what I buy, wear and eat because every action has a consequence. My blog is now dedicated to making an eco-conscious lifestyle more accessible to others."
Over the past year, Hanna has purchased a limited number of quality pieces that she knows fit her style and not just the trend. Her favorite go-to brands are Seamly and Everlane for wardrobe essentials and when she's looking for a statement piece, she wanders through thrift stores like Savers and Crossroads Trading Co.
Dress (thrifted from Crossroads Trading Co)
The idea to launch social enterprise :: beyondBeanie :: was planted during a backpacking adventure Tito took to Bolivia in 2013 to visit his good friend Paty. Aware of the severe poverty in Bolivia, their efforts were to face these challenges by dedicating themselves to empowering female artisans and supporting impoverished students in Bolivia.
Working from different time zones and leading diverse team members across the globe, Paty and Tito brought together their expertise in business and product-designing to create an ethical fashion line. Officially launched in March 2014, beyondBeanie offers beautifully handcrafted items made by Bolivian female artisans, that also give back to local students.
How? Each purchase has an impact :: 1 beanie = 5 meals; 1 bag = 1 set of school supplies; 1 poncho = 1 school uniform. Each product is unique because it proudly carries the hand signature of its artisan, to enable her a sense of recognition. The signature allows you to trace the artisan of your clothing piece by visiting beyondbeanie.org, where you can discover that woman's unique story.
T-shirt (by Sevenly.org, each purchase donates $7 to a charity)
Vest (by Mammut, member of Fair Wear Foundation)
Beanie (by beyondBeanie, made by artisans in Bolivia)
Bracelet (by Friends International, fairly made in Cambodia)
“The secret to happiness is freedom. And the secret to freedom is courage.” -Thucydides
In conjunction with Black History Month, our style icon Bianca shares stories about her recent photo shoot location.
"It's shot in Washington, D.C., on the Heritage Trail of the Historic U Street District. This area is a great location for Black History: once a hotbed of activity since the so-called 'Black Renaissance' in the 1920s, U Street was home to educated, upwardly mobile African-Americans who lived independently in a very visibly segregated D.C. at the time. When Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot in 1968, people rioted the area in frustration, burning down stores and businesses, many of which were black owned. Decades later, the area became blighted, with abandoned buildings and rampant crime. Today, the area has been re-gentrified with conscious restaurants, yoga studios and vintage boutiques, attracting multi-cultural boho-chic hipsters and vitality back to an area rich with the culture and history of our nation. Today, people can walk the heritage trail, where I'm standing, and learn about the lives of those who paved the way for freedom for all. This vintage jacket is a perfect tribute to those who lived there at the time, and to one of my favorite neighborhoods to hang out in the city."
Faux-Fur Coat (vintage from American Rag)
Vegan “Leather” Purse (by Gunas, manufactured fair trade with cruelty-free textiles & toxin-free hardware)
Vegan "Leather" Thigh Boots (by Kailia, handmade)
Onyx Energy Bracelet (made by Bianca herself)
"Never underestimate the ability of a small group of dedicated people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead
Inspired beyond words :: once upon a time almost 3 years ago, I met Charlotte in a club in Accra, Ghana. I was traveling with Meghan Sebold of AFIA and had the opportunity to learn about her sourcing and making process.
When I connected with Charlotte that night in Accra, it was loud and chaotic but her aesthetic spoke louder than anything else in the scene. Somehow we kept in touch :: her in Amsterdam / myself in California.
A couple days ago I read Charlotte's blog "Sartorial Language" about her 2014 year of only buying 2 pieces of clothing. She joined the AWEAR community in January and kept her pledge through the year ::
"After being asked to present my outfit (brand names and production countries) in January, I decided to do it every month for the rest of the year. Besides drastically changing my consumption behaviour, I thus also became more aware(/awear) of my knowledge system, my corporeal self and the symbolic meanings I (try to) convey with my clothing. According to Fred Davis (1992) “dress, then, comes easily as a kind of visual metaphor for identity”."
Thank you to Charlotte for sharing thoughts on your AWEAR journey. Humbled by your words and the worlds that AWEAR has helped weave together.
"I like to think I'm one of those people who walks the walk. In helping companies launch apparel products sustainably and ethically, my own buying habits need to be a direct reflection of what I preach. I couldn't have this career if I was shopping at Wal-Mart every day or owned a wardrobe full of Forever21.
The amazing thing about what I do is that I live and breathe an industry that is constantly changing. Sustainability is a buzz word, yes, but it's also a sector of fashion that is incredibly new and exciting. I have the opportunity to learn about its changes and growth alongside a group of entrepreneurs who are equally committed to it. I'm hyper focused and aware of how my own lifestyle plays into that, and I'm always looking to improve it."
Shannon :: founder of Factory45 :: is a true conscious style icon, living her values through work and play. Her accelerator program takes sustainable apparel companies from idea to launch.
With an emphasis on ethics, sustainability and U.S. manufacturing, entrepreneurs are given the tools to source fabric, find a manufacturer & raise money to fund production in four months.
In her first year of the program, she worked with 10 inspiring companies :: you can read more about them here. Keep an eye out, as many of them are also part of the AWEAR community ... including Shannon herself!
Congratulations to Shannon on the launch of her second year of applications for the program!
Interested in joining the Factory45ers? Apply before March 2nd at www.factory45.co.
Sheri is the award winning DIY diva behind the blog :: Confessions of a Refashionista. She's a crafty master of step-by-step tutorials for everything from repurposing clothing & accessories to making funky home decor.
Originally from Canada, Sheri is an avid upcycler who has lived around the world in North America, Japan, England and Greece, before landing in her current home of Germany.
For Sheri a Refashionista is "a kick ass DIY eco-fashion upcycling warrior who firmly believes that fabulous, affordable, unique style can be achieved by anyone without supporting the growing phenomenon of cheap, unethically produced 'fast fashion'."
Hat (gifted to her, €0)
Grandpa Sweater (inherited & refashioned, €0)
Vintage Dress (thrifted & refashioned, €1)
Brooch (handmade, €0)
Tights (had for years, €0)
Suede Lace-Ups (thrifted years ago, €3)
Sheri's thrifted / refashioned outfit TOTAL COST = €4
Today we continue our highlight of the exceptionally aesthetically minded Gray Girls. Part 2 in the series features Gray Girl Sharee. The Gray Girls have a knack for discovering some of the most epic vintage pieces to share with their customers.
Exhibit A :: this jumpsuit on Sharee was found on Melrose Ave in LA on the Gray Girls' most favorite strip of vintage shops. As Sharee tells us :: "It has this 90's 90210 vibe, all you need are some Ray Bans to feel like a part of circa 1992. We love this jump suit and its really simple cut with a button down front, zip fly, and 80's style length in the leg."
We're smiling at the reality that Sharee is actually on another vintage treasure hunt in LA as we speak!
Why do the Gray Girls think vintage is where it's at?
"Before our first trip to LA, we were selling vintage and recycled clothing that we found on the shores of Australia; many pieces from our own wardrobes. At that stage we were busily designing and moving forward with the idea of producing our own fair trade range and using vintage as a stepping stone. But after our first trip to LA, our eyes were opened to how much excess fashion there was. Factories and warehouses full to the roof! There was so much gold amongst the boxes and boxes of vintage! Too much! I wish I could have brought more back. It felt like a waste to produce more fashion when there were so many pieces just waiting to be discovered and given a new lease on life. That trip birthed a new excitement for us Gray Girls with the idea of continuing with vintage and doing it with passion."
White Jumpsuit (vintage)
Sequin White Jacket (vintage, found on the south coast of Australia; "there was this great little vintage store in Ulladulla run by Miss Jennifer. She collected all these one off pieces from around the globe. This piece is hard for me (Sharee) to part with as I had it on lay-by for about a month. It's all beaded with a polyester lining and is a piece that stands out amongst the rest!"; available soon on Gray Girls platform)
Tess is one of 2 dynamic creatives who make up The Gray Girls. An eclectic vintage and recycled clothing label, The Gray Girls is the brainchild of the Gray sisters. As they say, it's "a wardrobe for the barefooted; a means to travel, buy and blog about vintage finds; an excuse for sisters to do something collaborative together."
It began back in 2013 when Gray Girl Sharee :: fashion designer and stylist :: made the leap from quiet, coastal Mollymook to hustling, bustling Sydney. Jobless and completely broke, Sharee was forced to raid her own collection of vintage loves and grudgingly sell them via Instagram to pay her rent. The clothes sold like hotcakes.
As demand for Sharee's vintage items grew, she saw an opportunity to do what she loves - buy clothes and share her finds with others. Gray Girl Tess is a graphic designer, so when together with her sister Sharee (fashion designer + stylist), their conversations always wandered to ways in which the two could combine their skills to create something amazing. The opportunity suddenly seemed to appear before their eyes and The Gray Girls was born.
Sharee and Tess were brought up "op-shopping" way before it was cool. They have a drive to share their vintage + recycled clothing secrets, as well as their travel adventures, and to inspire others weekly with collabs, clothes & beautiful photography.
Dress (vintage :: 'La Garland' is a beaded dress found in LA. The Gray Girls came across a warehouse of vintage bliss in their last venture to the USA. They were close to leaving the warehouse bare handed, but found this stunning piece just before their exit. "We fell in love with the 'tear drop' back... a definite must have token piece for the wardrobe.")
"I love this look because it’s casual and down to earth yet shines with a subtle sparkle. I personally like to keep it simple, but still make a statement. It’s also the perfect work day look that can transition into a fun evening out. Oh! I didn’t find this look on my own :: I turned to my friends at Shop Ethica because they carry an amazing collection of conscious designers, which is how I found Litke and Amour Vert...I love purchasing from businesses where I've developed a relationship with the founders. In my circle, we LOVE to support one another. I’ve come to know Melissa and Carolina really well because we are social entrepreneurs in New York City and can relate to each other in many areas. Beyond shopping Shop Ethica, I’ll stop in a vintage store just to find some really interesting and special."
Rachael is the co-founder / editor in chief at Conscious Magazine. She is inspired by stories that highlight community development, innovation, local to global initiatives, and of people who overcome struggles and use those experiences to help others.
When she's not doing Conscious Magazine, she is creating cards and prints with her sister, Elena, through their company :: Baxter & Co. There’s a bit of storytelling in every design.
Outside of her entrepreneurial pursuits, Rachael helps fight against sex trafficking by supporting nonprofits like GEMS, Restore NYC, and Love146 to help bring awareness to this issue. Beyond all of this, you’ll find her being super silly and dancing to one of her favorite songs.
Varsity Jacket (by Litke, made in upstate NY, USA from a lightweight, hand-loomed metallic textile; 85% silk / 15% viscose shell,100% cotton trim)
Skirt (by Amour Vert, made of organic cotton in California, USA)
AWEAR's founder Kestrel and videographer Drew had the recent opportunity to connect with Nicole Bassett :: Director of Sustainability for prAna. Watch their experience here ...
As featured in prAna's Life section >
"I guess you could say my lifestyle was never something I intended. Growing up, I was very materialistic; I hoarded designer handbags and drooled over our society's top fashion labels. I didn't think twice about how all of my unnecessary stuff was being made, and honestly I probably wouldn't have cared."
Alexis, the woman behind Miss Conscious Consumer, shares with us her story on becoming more AWEAR of her fashion choices ::
"At 17 years old, I sat in my high school auditorium and heard the horrors of human trafficking for the first time. It was like realizing that a hamburger actually came from cows, it shook me a bit, until I brushed it off and moved on. I grew up a little bit though, I spent some time in Guatemala and came face-to-face with victims of sex trafficking, and began giving money to organizations stepping up to end modern-day slavery. I believed I could continue my habits because of all the time, energy and money I had invested into this "cause", like it had compensated for something.
Soon after my homecoming from Guatemala, I traveled to Dominican Republic with my friends at Riverside Fellowship. On our last day, we were driving past miles of sugarcane fields, and as we were getting closer to our destination, I spotted faces popping up above the stalks. We finally arrived in Batey, the Haitian sugar worker's town, and it was like I had finally opened my eyes.
Seeing the effects of exploited labor for those families had changed everything in me that day, and coming back to the states was like night and day. I began researching brands and asking questions, yea it was hard, but slowly I got the hang of it.
The point is :: I was actually trying. I wanted so badly to help communities like Batey find freedom, and I learned it came from the power of our consumer dollars. When we put our money toward ethically sourced products, we are bankrupting the business of slavery. Today, I'm super passionate about my lifestyle whether it's secondhand or fairly sourced goods, I do my best to make a conscious effort to use my consumer privilege to fight for those in bondage."
Dress (by Threads for Thought, made of 65% recycled polyester & 35% organic cotton)
Necklace (by 31 Bits, fair trade & made of recycled beads)
Socks (by PACT Apparel, organic and fair trade)
Nicole Bassett is a recognized sustainability expert bringing solutions to companies and organizations that she is involved with. As Director of Sustainability for prAna, her work involves: sustainability planning, corporate and supply chain operations, transparency and environmental analysis.
Nicole has managed prAna’s efforts regarding their sustainability strategy including bringing Fair Trade Certified Apparel to market, reduction in waste and packaging, implementing an environmental health & safety guidelines for the supply chain, as well as training and communications for the company.
Nicole received her Masters of Environmental Studies focusing on Business Strategy at York University, Toronto Canada.
Sweater (by prAna, from the first Fair Trade certified collection, made of organic cotton & wool)
Jeans (by Nudie, organic cotton)
Scarf (handmade, purchased in Cambodia from a market, while visiting prAna's factories there)
Belt ("stolen" from boyfriend 25 years ago, while in high school)
photos by Drew McGill
Ansley was raised as a Georgia Peach, but according to her, has always been a California girl at heart. Salty air and sandy toes always felt more like home for her, and after college, both of those things called her name.
Ansley moved to San Diego for a social media marketing position, but after six months, she realized it wasn’t a good fit and decided to quit :: "I’ve always had a huge passion for helping people and am a true believer in the impact of small acts of kindness. I wanted to create something where these two things could collide; something that could brighten people’s lives and illuminate the world."
And so, Braided Bliss was born. Braided Bliss was initially built as a fashion blog to feature products from businesses with a cause, in an effort to help them raise awareness. Five months in, Ansley realized Braided Bliss’ mission and its core message of ‘spread bliss’ was something she had always wanted to be able to share with the world. She wanted it to become a part of people’s lives :: which inspired her to create the ‘Spread Bliss’ tees as a second tier to Braided Bliss.
For Ansley, spreading bliss is all about embracing the strength of the smallest act of kindness and knowing that it can make a large impact. It’s about loving freely and radically. It’s about knowing that you have the power, anywhere and anytime, to create a beautiful ripple effect in the world and can brighten even the darkest of days. It’s about leaving a trail of light wherever you go. Ansley hopes these shirts can serve as a reminder of that.
"I want people to be able to carry this message with them wherever they go no matter what. It’s just about holding the message close to your heart and knowing that even if you don’t feel 100% that you should always remember to give 100% to people. The world desperately needs people’s light and love."
Each 'Spread Bliss' tee is made by District Made :: a socially conscious business that ensures that slavery and trafficking do not occur in their supply chain. They’re dedicated to creating fashion that means well and wears well.
Tee (by Spread Bliss, each purchase donates $1 to Rewrite Beautiful; an organization that teaches girls to embrace their natural beauty and talents to make a positive impact on society rather than negatively focus on their bodies)
Ring (by Coco Loco, made from the center of one individual coconut)
Gold Ring (by Trashy Chic Jewelry, made of recycled and vintage metals)
Necklace (by Mud Love Pottery, helps provide clean water to people in Africa)
Bracelets (by Pura Vida, help create jobs for local artisans in Costa Rica)
"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live." -Jim Rohn
As the new year is off to a roaring start, staying or getting fit and healthy seems to be at the top of everyone's mind. As our style icon Bianca tells us, to her, it's one of the most important measures to building her abundant life.
Apparently, Bianca is learning to love winter workouts :: "Though the cold air bites at first, running, walking (or even practicing yoga) outdoors can be so invigorating and refreshing. Each season is a gift, and for me, the coolness and stillness of winter offers the chance to introspect, build character, release whatever is no longer working and plant beautiful dream-seeds for the next season."
Based on the East Cost, Bianca knows first hand that having the proper gear to stay warm is essential!
Photos by Edgar Artiga. Shot on location in Washington, D.C.
Amanda is a woman that operates between worlds. A traveler and adventurer from a young age, she has lived in various countries including the Philippines, Australia, Brazil, Portugal, Spain and Peru. She draws inspiration from her travels, friends and the world around her.
Amanda is a storyteller at heart who shares what she finds through photography and writing. She is passionate about artisan cultures and discovering how the particular layered histories of place shape contemporary culture across the globe. She spent three years covering fashion week in New York, interviewing a range of designers in New York, Italy, Peru and elsewhere, and learning the intricacies of the photographic world.
Currently on a temporary hiatus, Amanda is continuing to expand her tools at hand :: this time as a graduate student of landscape architecture. She spent part of last summer in Ghana, learning how the history of an invasive tree species was transformed into opportunity by an independent papermaking workshop. In the future, she would like to weave her worlds as a photographer, storyteller, designer and mapper to reveal the hidden links that sustain humanity and inspire us to form new relationships to the everyday.
Silk Harem Pants/Jumpsuit (gifted from Eileen Fisher for participating in 2013 Green Eileen campaign)
Bangle (by Mikuti, made mindfully in Africa of banana bark)
Bangle (by Aurea, made of golden grass by artisans in Brazil)
Sandals (by Sa4a, made in Ghana from Ghanaian textiles)
Necklaces (purchased in Ghana, made by artisans of brass and recycled glass)
Earrings (gifted to her from her mom from one of her trips to Kenya)
Watch (handed down from her grandfather's wife, Adri)
*Amanda and I first met in Madrid and then continued to create adventures that have taken us from Spain to Morocco, New York City, Wisconsin and most recently, San Diego. She's a gem of a human and a gem of a friend.
Jesse is the designer and founder behind Eenvoud :: an environmentally and ethically conscious womenswear label made in New York City. Eenvoud was conceived after Jesse studied sustainable fashion at Parsons and gained a behind-the-scenes look into garment production through working as a fit model in New York.
Shocked by a lot of the common practices she discovered, Jesse began searching for clothing brands with more transparent production practices that used sustainably-minded fabrics, but was unable to find the elevated, minimalistic aesthetic that she was looking for. She envied her male friends, who seemed to effortlessly find high quality, beautiful essentials that were neither season nor trend driven.
Enter Eenvoud :: which means ‘simplicity’ in dutch and is comprised of minimalistic garments to wear anywhere at any time. The first collection is launching this spring and is comprised of tops and dresses made from a beautiful silk-alternative called cupro and a textured hemp/silk blend. All garments are machine washable and made in New York City.
Tops (by Eenvoud, launching this spring; the navy 3/4-sleeve top is made from Japanese cupro and the black sleeveless top is made from a Colorado-made hemp / peace silk blend; both made in NYC)
Jeans (by AG Jeans, made in the USA)
Beanie (purchased at Brooklyn Flea, 100% wool and made in the USA)
Shoes (by Proud Mary, purchased on Of A Kind, handmade from raffia in Morocco by fair-trade artisans)
Ring (white turquoise, handcrafted in Arizona)
Photos taken on Block Island, Rhode Island by Jed from Jed & Marne. 40 percent of Block Island (and growing) is conservation land and the simplicity and naturalness of the island is a major source of inspiration behind Eenvoud.
This year = INSPIRING. As the founder of AWEAR, I'm naturally reflecting back on the moments of 2014 and the highlights from this journey.
In particular, my mind wandered back to the beginning of it all :: In 2009, I completed a yearlong project called Make Fashion Fair, in which I pledged to only purchase clothing that was made consciously with regard to people & the planet. This project evolved into becoming the core of the way I generally function.
After taking a brief hiatus from being engulfed in sustainable fashion a couple years ago :: mostly for my soul and a personal need to reconnect with myself and my true passions, the idea for AWEAR was sparked. AWEAR is a movement meant to showcase real people helping create change, reminding the mainstream consumer that a conscious lifestyle shift is accessible and possible today. This shift toward more conscious and environmentally-friendly clothing manufacturing is upon us.
If you look back at our modern history, the building and food industry’s have already had their moments in the sun — when we think of the basic necessities :: there is food, clothing and shelter. It’s clothing’s turn to be placed in the mainstream’s spotlight when it comes to thinking more sustainably, and the global movement including consumers, designers, manufacturers, farmers, and others within the supply chain are influencing this pendulum swing.
Gratitude does not begin to describe the humility and motivation that the AWEAR community has ignited within me. This change is visible. Each of you is part of this conscious shift. The momentum exists. It's time to keep building. Onward to 2015! <3 Kestrel