eco brand: wilo, passport to style

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bright idea, bold move

sitting across from marine chapon is a sensory experience, a little bit like sitting across from a woodland; you're captivated by the inherent beauty and you're simultaneously aware that there's so much more that lies beyond the surface. marine + i fell into a beautifully tangled dialogue about our mutual respect for animals, our passion for traveling to far-flung locales, and opting for vegan + ethically produced fashion that allows us to live a life according to our values. today we explore the world of wilo, a french unisex + vegan handbag line, from the fecund mind of marine chapon.

women's accessories have been called "an almighty force" in the annals of fashion; in many ways they allow us to go about the important business of living while keeping us pulled together. when we leave our homes each day, we organize a small, portable part of our lives into our bags and purses: keys, phones, notebooks, cameras, writing utensils, snacks and the mysterious items that have made their way to the bottom, cavernous parts of our purses. wilo brings us perfectly polished, animal-free designs, to help keep it all together. 

ambitious new directions

the fashion landscape is changing, and marine's bold + ambitious new direction takes us into the world of animal-friendly fashion, vying for a leather alternative + organic cotton to create sophisticated, eco-friendly options for the modern gal + guy. wilo is the new, cruelty-free + carbon neutral brand on the paris fashion scene giving us minimalist designs made with respect to the earth's ecosystems. at the heart of wilo's mission is allowing an ever-growing conscious culture of citizens + consumers to dress and travel in accordance with their beliefs of compassion. wilo can be included in the oeuvre of eco-friendly designers like stella mccartney whose fetching designs shatter myths, informing us that faux leather can be sculpted into sophisticated, long-lasting + durable products. 

animal welfare and respect for the workers manufacturing the products are an integral part of wilo's approach. visits to manufacturing plants have allowed marine + her business partner to meet the workers who construct each of the designs. the preparation of parcels is carried out by an association working with men + women in social reintegration. 

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seeds of change

marine is a brilliant photographer, a clever business woman + a talented designer: having worked in the luxury fashion industry, she understands the appeal of a poetic piece, a piece so beautifully crafted that it almost sings to you. beyond the ballads of her beguiling designs, marine has paid careful attention to every step of production via her company's ecological footprint, both in the choice of materials, the manufacture of products and the distribution channel.

your purchase will arrive in recycled packaging, and recycled paper tags are embedded with flower seeds so that they may be planted. the handbags are pvc-free; marine hopes to expand the use of plant-based textiles, as an advocate of the democratization of ecological and plant-strong synthetic materials. she shares, "we have set up a carbon accounting + emission compensation system linked to our activity, taking into account the complete life cycle of our products, from the extraction of materials necessary for manufacture, to their end of life, in order to present carbon neutral balance from our creation."

a songbird among handbags, take a peek at wilo's new designs here.

the way forward

{don't forget the tip} leather is not a mere bi-product of the meat industry; today, cows are farmed to fuel the leather industry to keep up with consumer demand for coats, handbags + shoes. lucy siegle, author of to die for, reminds consumers, "every time you make a purchasing decision, you're also making a production decision. nearly half of the global leather trade is carried out in developing countries – from ethiopia to cambodia and vietnam – where, despite a backdrop of exploitation of animals and humans and the extraordinary level of pollution caused by unregulated tanneries and processors, the pressure is on to produce more. this shouldn’t just perturb vegans, but anyone with a passing regard for the planet. we know that raising livestock in increasing numbers is unsustainable, purely from crunching the numbers around greenhouse gas emissions. but in 2009 a seminal greenpeace report, slaughtering the amazon, made a direct connection between leather and the environment. researchers used satellite imagery to show how the brazilian cattle industry (with around 200m head of cattle) was responsible for 14% of the world’s annual deforestation. moreover, associate products, including leather and tallow made in deforested rainforest, were finding their way into the supply chain of major brands." explore the many charming, vegan options available here.

images by marine chapon

eco brand: 7 perfect graphic tees for activists

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perfecting the protest tee

beetxbeet captured my attention with their graphic t-shirt line featuring the kind of positive vibes + healthy-living messages that i like to propagate. you can find cropped tees, unisex tees, unicorn tees, tees for the young + soon-to-be activists and tees for seasoned activists/fashionistas {yes, that's a thing} and of course, organic cotton tees, all made fairly in l.a. 

british sustainable fashion designer katharine hamnett, christened by dazed mag as "the pioneer of the politically charged shirt" has been creating protest t-shirts since the 1970's and she believes vehemently in using fashion and legislation to effect change. she famously surprised u.k.'s prime minister margaret thatcher at a reception in 1984 by wearing a self-crafted shirt opposing nuclear weapons. "if i wanted to do something, no one could stop me," she later said, reminding the world that she is her own boss. 

the power of plants

jacky wasserman, the l.a. based designer, dj + owner of beetxbeet, is another eco entrepreneur with unlimited ambition + moxy. she has been dreaming up and producing edgy + offbeat graphic tees since 2008. her hope is to spread awareness about important causes, including the toll of factory farming, while raising consciousness about the choices we make everyday. if you're asking who made my clothes? during fashion revolution week, then jacky knows the answer. her line is manufactured in the u.s.a. with eco-friendly inks + organic textiles.

throughout my career i've had the opportunity to meet oprah winfrey {very chatty}, barack obama {very funny} + magic johnson {very tall + very kind}. i wonder how our meetings might have fared had i been wearing a tee that reflected my stance on animal liberation, equal access to affordable + quality education for all, and the abolition of child slave labor within all manufacturing industries. i like to imagine lively conversations would have been sparked that could have opened minds + hearts.

margaret thatcher + katharine hamnett, 1984. photo via getty images

margaret thatcher + katharine hamnett, 1984. photo via getty images

7 t-shirt brands to know + love

katharine reminds us that beyond protests, petitions + punchy slogan tees, is the need to vote + to change legislation. our friends at fashion revolution remind us that we cannot exploit women in one country to empower them in another. a tee with a strong political statement should be made with respect to the workers who produced the textiles + crafted the garments as well as the animals that exist in our fragile ecosystems. here are seven more of my fave ethically produced, spread-the-love graphic tees:

1. katharine hamnett: because you're a lover not a fighter 

2. nicora: because you love sequins and you believe the future is humane

3. mercy for animals: because you can't choose just one when asked what your spirit animal is and you love a splash of color along with a dash of courage 

4. klow fashion: because you believe in girl power

5. vegetaryn: because you're an intergalactic kind of girl with a love for the animals

6. crazies and weirdos: because you once loved singing, "like mike, i wanna be like mike" but deep down inside you really wanted to be more like an elephant

7. bazaar de luxe: if vgn pwr makes you smile on the inside and the outside

bonus: in the soulshine: if all you want to do is spread them vegan vibes!

some folks shy away from the slogan tee because of its jack-in-the-box manner of engaging the world, but i think they're great conversation starters. plus, they're low-maintenance, multitasking garments. i wear mine with skirts, jeans, casual jackets + formal blazers; they also move fluidly from one season to the next with a little layering. if you're looking to add a little edge to your wardrobe, pop over for some plant-strong fun. 

today, i have conversations with friends, family + strangers about the graphic tees i wear which share a message of environmental stewardship, workers' rights + compassion for all sentient beings. and what better way to start a conversation about the effects of factory farming or the benefits of plant-based eating than a casually sexy, little tee? not a graphic tee girl? the perfect beanie from beetxbeet awaits for cool spring nights or rainy morning walks. 

beetxbeet recently paired up with one of my fave ethical + eco labels, groceries, to bring us a little something special: a range of cool tees crafted from organic cotton. if tarot cards are your thing, get on it, my friends.

feel like getting involved? pick a tee to start a conversation + pick a cause that lights a fire in your belly!

{eco mode: top photo, wearing beetxbeet cropped tank over thrifted lace top + secondhand chinos}

ethical fashion: good on you, the slow fashion app

when i was studying at the school of the art institute of chicago, i learned not to lionize or demonize any one brand or company. i learned that what we don't want as a society + as consumers is to have profitable or successful brands fail, but rather, we want them to continue to exist as a sustainable entity, as an ethical business, as a socially responsible organization.

as consumers, we want transparency, we don't want to be greenwashed; we want companies to continue to create unique + utilitarian goods, always with the health of the planet + the health of workers in mind.

when a family member in the u.s.a. recently asked me how to find out whether a brand or label is sustainable + ethically produced, i recommended good on you app. i've been waiting for an app like this to come along. this is a free + easy-to-use app for those seeking to vote with their dollars and invest in companies that are producing wares with respect to its workers, to our ecosystem, and to animals. this is good on you:

currently the app is available in america + australia. how the app works:

1/ you can check how a brand rates {currently there are over 1,000 brands listed from fast fashion labels to slow fashion brands}. not sure where to start? search by category {gloves, hats, etc.}

2/ if there's a brand you love {for example, j.crew or madewell} and you'd like to search for an ethical alternative, you can find options with the tap of a finger with the "similar brand" button

3/ the app has built in a correspondence feature which allows you to communicate to brands that you'd like to see change, to ask a question or to offer positive feedback

4/ there's also a blog with great round-up posts sharing helpful information about the eco brands listed on the app

the rating system works like this:

if you're seeking guidance on your journey to conscious consumerism, this a good place to start. craving more great green apps? check out this list of 5 sustainable living apps by sam at fair + fierce.

until next time, stay green dear hearts!

 

{eco brand} by signe: sensual, feminine sportswear

i read that we wear only 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. i have to wonder, what is the root of all this repetition? after all, with the exception of a few stragglers, aren't we the shepherds who corraled all of those pieces into our own closets? i have one guess: comfort.

what if all of our most comfortable clothes, the clothes with wonderfully yielding waistbands {aka stretch waistbands}, and our softest clothes were also the handsomest pieces in our wardrobe? what if each + every piece in your closet was so comfortable + enticing, you weren't limited to 20%?

ladies, meet the sensual + pragmatic pieces you'll want to wear 100% of the time. by signe is the eponymous fashion label of signe rødbro, and her mind is the creative laboratory where luxe minimalist designs seem to spring eternal + look books spout tops, bottoms + dresses in soft earthen hues. this sustainable luxury sportswear label is made in denmark, all under one roof, providing full transparency from beginning to end, along with the unexpected combo of sexy + comfortable wardrobe staples. this is signe:

if every fashion company followed fair trade standards, with respect to people, planet + animals from seed to shirt, this is what each company would look like. need no-nonsense basics or a special piece for a grand event? this is where ethical fashion meets all of your sartorial needs. and this is how they do it. from our friends at by signe:

manufacturing:

by signe stands for honest and sustainable fashion without compromise. our entire design process is gathered under one roof as we wish to keep the handcraft and quality safe within our own production. this ensures full control of all parameters and quality of the entire process. our in-house production in denmark ensures absolute ethical security in a non-discriminating, healthy and safe environment. 

materials: 

when selecting materials we strive for all fabrics to be organic and certified by the global organic textile standard {GOTS} which is recognized as the world’s leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibres. GOTS defines high-level environmental criteria along the entire organic textiles supply chain and requires compliance with social criteria as well.

dyes: 

whenever possible, we keep our fabrics unbleached and only in natural colours. if a textile is whitened, this is achieved with oxybleach, which is a low impact safe method of whitening based on oxygen that leaves no residue. when the finished fabric is GOTS certified, it ensures that there has not been utilized any heavy metal dyes, finishing chemicals or other toxic chemicals & they are all free from pesticides. in europe, the girls have all the comfort + beauty they desire in one fair trade, organic + animal friendly brand. signe is enlivening the world of slow fashion.

fibers: 

cotton: organic cotton is a natural, soft and healthy fiber for the skin, which offers a maximum of comfort. we use only cotton fabrics which are GOTS certified as organic. to meet these criteria, at least 95% of the fabric composition must be produced and certified to organic agricultural standards. organic cotton is grown using methods that have a low impact on the environment. the soil fertility is maintained and the amount of water needed for the production is minimized by 70% compared to regular cotton productions. organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. 

bamboo: bamboo fiber fabric hold natural characteristics of being a luxurious, soft and breathable material, it is anti-bacterial and long-lasting in both texture and color. bamboo grows freely without chemicals and it is a fast growing plant with very little water consumption. in the process of converting the bamboo fibers to yarn, chemicals {sodium hydroxide} are needed and therefore it cannot be certified as organic. this is our only exception. all fabrics with bamboo content are certified by OEKOTEX 100, as being free from harmful chemicals. in addition, bamboo fiber is a biodegradable textile material. as a natural cellulose fiber, it can be completely biodegraded in soil, and the decomposition process does not cause any pollution to the environment.

style and a little lesson in agriculture for us today too!

until next time, stay green dear hearts!

{images c/o by signe}

{eco lifestyle} junkyard planet: accessible + robust resources

The paradox of life lies exactly in this: its resources are finite, but it itself is endless. Such a contradictory state of affairs is feasible only because the resources accessible to life can be used over and over again.
— I.I. Gitelson

textiles are a robust resource meant to be used again + again {gently used bedding + towels can be donated, and pre-loved clothes can be sold, traded or donated}. 

in the u.s. consumers recycle or donate only 15% of their unwanted clothing to charities {with the rest ending up in landfills}. the average american tosses 80 pounds {36 kilograms} of textile waste each year. every year.  that's 13 million tons of clothing. 

over the years, i've learned of inventive + thoughtful ways textiles {including shoes} can be transformed: 

paint it black:

following the assassination of president kennedy in 1963, jacqueline kennedy sent bill cunningham, fashion writer, photographer + milliner, her red balenciaga suit which she had previously purchased at chez ninon to dye black. she wore this suit to the funeral. 

art imitates life:

american graffiti artist jean-michel basquiat used his then-girlfriend's newly thrifted gold lame jacket as canvas. she recounts the story of waking up the following day to find her new coat painted over. all is fair in love and art.

a changed man:

a co-worker's grandfather took out his grandmother on their first date, and at the time he only owned one pair of shoes, so he dyed his shoes a different color each time they had a new date, rotating the colors to change the look + style of his outfits. the rest is history. 

eight is enough:

a friend who is one of eight siblings comes from a modest background; her mother recycled her satin, ivory wedding dress by cutting + sewing the white fabric into petite frocks for each of her brothers + sisters to wear in church at their christenings.

hidden treasures:

both in america + europe there are lots of wonderful thrift shops + consignment shops to buy pre-loved clothes + accessories and to sell/donate clothes that are no longer wanted or needed. crossroads + buffalo exchange are good places to start if you're stateside. chine machine + chercheminippes are great places in paris. craiglist is the place to sell household textiles in the usa, and boincoin is the place to do it in france. this is a great way to give pre-loved items a new life.

caring for your clothes extends their life. both new and vintage items sometimes need a little tlc: if you don't sew, find a local tailor {or take a class if you're truly inspired!}. i love to sew, and i enjoy the relationship i have with my clothes which involves simple fixes + mending {cutting loose threads + snipping off pills is also part of keeping clothes in good condition}. simple fixes might also include:

1/ securing + replacing buttons

2/ mending loose hems

3/ sewing small tears + pinholes

4/ replacing stretched-out elastic + bringing in over-sized pieces {i save these tasks for tailors}

before donating apparel, author + slow fashion activist elizabeth cline shares useful tips on how to properly donate clothes

the less we purchase, the less to discard + the fewer textiles we need to organize into piles to donate. before you make your next purchase, here's a great video from erin at my green closet, sharing 5 simple factors to consider to reduce consumption + to help you decide whether you truly need to make that purchase.

{don't forget the tip} each and every one of the pieces pictured here today - all are vintage + secondhand piece - have been cared for via alterations + mending. my capsule wardrobe takes summer pieces into the winter months: transition warm-weather apparel to fall + winter by layering! on warm weather days i'll pop summer dresses + skirts on with sandals + a jean jacket, and as autumn settles upon us, i'll layer the same pieces under a jean jacket or faux leather moto jacket {sometimes both} + add black stockings/tights and my animal-friendly kicks including wedges. sneakers and booties.

until next time, stay green dear hearts!

{header image by a. demt}