Tag Archives: Fashion

Style of the summer: Fair-trade, 100% organic, made right (THERE!)

Despite being on a shop-local-misson, when it’s fair-trade and organic, I occasionally import. This summer, I decided to import a shirt.

After all, certified fair-trade initiatives must be supported and organic cotton growers in India must get paid. In fact, because of our purchases, they make a much better, safer living than farmers still growing conventional (pesticide-covered, fertilized, Monsanto seed) cotton.

Did you know that due to debt owed to the seed producer, one conventional cotton farmer commits suicide every eight hours in India? That’s three souls per day.

When we demand organic fabric, more and more farmers can make the transition to growing organic crops. Here’s a promising read about how growing organic cotton frees Indian families from the (GMO) debt traps, if you’re interested.

Back to the shirt.

Organic cotton PrAna Gina Top

A light, airy, plaid shirt from eco-friendly brand PrAna looks and feels just right for summer and my upcoming days at the office (going back to work soon!).

100% organic cotton, certified fair-trade, soft, great fit. Also, loving me some great bonus details such as the green stitching on just one of the button holes and a hidden pocket on the right side. I paid $47 for this shirt (sale price!) at our very favorite co-op REI right here in Houston.

Fair trade organic cotton pink plaid shirt

Organic is cool.

Oh, and you might be wondering how much I’ve shopped this year, since I’ve written posts about a few new things lately! In addition to this shirt I’ve gotten a new eco-friendly bag ($160/USA/recycled fabric), a handmade scarf ($55/USA/organic), black tights ($10/USA/cotton) and a well made t-shirt ($36.50/USA/cotton). Five things in six months – that’s pretty good!

I’m wearing a size XS of the “Gina Shirt”, I’m 5’8″, 140’ish lbs.

Ethical Fashion and I – an interview by Tomorrow Living

Last week I was lucky and honored, to be part of an amazing Ethical Fashion Profiles Series on the eco-blog Tomorrow Living!

Just like me, Aimee, the voice behind Tomorrow Living, is blogging all things eco, ethical, conscious and awesome. She decided this spring to showcase some of her favorite ethical fashion bloggers, instagrammers and fashionistas from all walks of life to demonstrate the sheer variety of “Ethical Fashion” that is out there, because conscious, green fashion is as diverse as the people who choose to wear it.

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This is me, straight from the office, in made in USA jeans and flats.

Aimee asked me some very good questions for the interview, like “What inspired you to start your blog?”, “What are your favorite ethical brands at the moment?” and “What has been the most eye opening thing about buying local, US made products?”

I was also asked what my top tip for more conscious, green and sustainable living is. That is such a relevant and great question to ask any eco-blogger! I have to share my answer here too, because I think it came out really well:

For more conscious living, the thing to do is to take a long, hard look at how you live, what you eat, what you buy and then try to answer the question of why you choose what you choose. That may sound like a difficult thing to do, but I think all change has to start with self-awareness. People tend to have a perception of themselves as “sort of green” and they honestly believe that to be true, all while eating a cheeseburger and drinking soda from a disposable Styrofoam cup after another quick shopping trip (in their SUV) to Wal-Mart & the Gap.

That said, my tip would be to sign up to follow a few eco-blogs, get a vegan recipe app (“Forks over Knives” is great!) and to follow a few zero waste instagram accounts. It’s a great way to be inspired to make better choices, create awareness and to get the latest updates on cool, ethical products, without having to do any research yourself!

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Hand-me-down earrings, old scarf and my most beloved shirt.

Another part of the deal was that I got to pick one of my favorite outfits to show off and explain why I love it and how it represents ethical and sustainable fashion.

Want to read the rest? Head on over to Tomorrow Living to read the whole interview and get all the details of my favorite outfit and why I chose it! :)

PS. You might want to check out the first post in the series too, which featured Sarah of Plum and Plaid, who is all about second-hand finds, hand-me-downs, upcycling and spectacular vintage treasures. I’ve been following her blog for a while and I was excited to read more about her and her thrifting genius! :)

Pictures by  Shutterluv by Ashley.

Here’s the Link to Tomorrow Living’s interview about made right (here).

Let’s talk about my Fair Trade underwear, shall we?

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, not knowing how to “report” on the topic of underwear I’ve bought. Not to mention how or if to include a picture of them on the blog. I do enjoy a fun shoot and a good selfie, but I have to draw the line somewhere. Modeling undies? No thanks from me and, probably, a no thanks from you!

I still have to blog about this brand though that my husband and I both love: PACT.

Anyone who gets to wear (or model for that matter) their stuff will be happy. PACT is super soft, organic, non-GMO, fair trade cotton undergarments in a variation of prints and colors. All fabrics are free from toxic dyes and pesticides.

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Just because a garment is labeled as green, sustainable, or eco-friendly does not make it so. In order to certify the organic content in their apparel and to ensure that all their clothing is made ethically and sustainably, PACT is partnered with OCS (Organic Content Standard), GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), and Fair Trade USA.

As they’re committed to making only organic clothing, it makes economic and environmental sense for PACT to manufacture where the organic cotton they use is harvested; that means India and Turkey.

You all know that I am all about shopping local, and I love supporting US manufacturing but as you can see, in this case, I’m promoting a product not made in USA! So, what’s up with that?

Well, since the clothing they make is always sweat-shop-free and child-labor-free and the work they provide, in less fortunate areas of the world, actually betters the communities and makes a positive impact on lives, I am all about it – locally made or not. True and honest fair trade is an awesome thing! 

Underwear is a “need to have” not a “want to have” in my opinion, and it is one of those items that has to be unnoticeable too; “Am I wearing undies or not?” type deal. So finding a comfy, cute AND ethically made pair is quite the score. And an important one!

PACT is ethical undies defined.

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I borrowed this picture from wearPACT.com. Ethical undies – happy people ;)

Browse and shop PACT here

Made in USA style series part 3: What’s with all the imported fabrics?

This is the third post in a five piece made in USA style series, featuring pictures of my beautiful friend Mary Beth.

This week, Mary Beth is modeling her Paige Denim Verdugo Ankle skinny jeans and a Splendid jacket, both made in USA of imported fabric. And with that, time has come to talk about labeling and imported materials.

Clothes made here of imported fabrics. (Picture by Shutterluv by Ashley)
Clothes made here of imported fabrics. (Picture by Shutterluv by Ashley)

The Made in USA tag means that the product is “all or virtually all” made in the United States. That is, the product should contain none or negligible foreign content. When we are talking about clothes; buttons, a zipper or a tag may be imported but the label will still read, and rightfully so according to the law, “Made in USA”.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states that the label must indicate if a product contains imported materials (if non negligible). The label may identify the country of origin of the imported materials, but it doesn’t have to. Which means that it may say, “Made in USA of imported fabric” or “Knitted in USA of imported yarn” – two very common tags. This disclosure must appear as a single statement, without separating the “Made in USA” and “imported” references. Take note that this rule does not apply to online shops, which means that something can be listed as “Made in USA” on a webpage when in fact the actual tag of the garment reads “Made in USA of imported fabric”.

For certain fabric products like sheets, towels, comforters, handkerchiefs, scarves, napkins and other “flat” goods, the FTC requires identification of the country where the fabric was made. As you can see, clothes do not fall under that category of products, thus it is impossible for us consumers to find out where the fabrics of our clothes came from. With the current market my bets are on China and India.

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Both brands following the guidelines set by the FTC for labeling, when it comes to imported fabrics.

It can be expensive for American companies to buy domestic materials because even though we make great quality fabrics and denim here, supply is limited. Organic materials, like organic cotton, even more so.  In order to make it “affordable” to buy American fabric, large bulk orders must be placed up front. Something large companies like Splendid, Paige and True Religion certainly are able to do, yet they import many of their fabrics. What’s their excuse?

A small business on the other hand, might not be able to afford US-made fabric. I imagine it must be a hard decision for someone who wants to go ‘all local’, but realizes it might break their small clothing line, especially in a start-up phase. If imported fabric allows someone to start a small business and employ locally, is it not worthy of support and encouragement?

The majority of large American brands outsource all the manufacturing of their clothes, shoes and bags to China and/or other Asian countries solely to make more profits, therefore if a company is at least committed to stitching it all together or manufacturing parts of their products here, surely that is better than nothing at all. Very often when committed to American manufacturing, the company will also have a sustainable sourcing agreement or guideline in place. Take a minute and check online and make sure the brand you’re eyeing at least has a policy in place for labor practices and environmental protection before you shop (not that that is a guarantee of any kind).

My personal goal is to not buy garments made of imported fabrics, just because I cannot trace how and where the fabrics were made. But it happens – this challenge of mine isn’t exactly easy. It is likely that the imported fabrics come from China, are made by someone working 14 hours a day for minimum pay, in a factory fueled by dirty energy, where leftover dyes and toxic chemicals pollute nearby lands. The very conditions I am against. If the material is 100% organic, fair-trade spun or made from hemp or bamboo, I’d make an exception! Organic cotton plantations, for example, bring good jobs, fair wages and healthy soils to the developing countries.

There’s no “correct” way to approach this, I feel. If I was considering our local economy and healthy manufacturing sector only, I’d lean towards accepting imported fabrics if the garment was sewn here. But in terms of planet sustainability and ethical manufacturing – what’s the point of shopping local and fair if most of the item acquired is imported and with that: UNTRACEBLE?

How do you feel about imported fabrics?

Next week, sustainability vs. jewelry is on the agenda, so check back in!

Read more about labeling at ftc.gov.

Style of the day: Just a little bit bossy

Before I went on the not made in China challenge, I had never bought a statement t-shirt. The shops I used to like and shop at never really had any cool ones, and I’ve never been the type to buy a random “Just do it” or “L’amour” style print. Where’s the statement in that?

Thanks to the challenge, I have broadened my horizon when it comes to clothes and shopping, and I have actually just bought my second statement tee. This time it’s right on the mark.

Nailed the posing again. Obviously.

It’s simple; I’m not bossy,  I am the boss. It is true that I do have two direct-reports at work, but that is not the kind of boss I’m talking about. I am the boss of so many things, just like most people. I’m the boss of my opinions, my style, my actions and my mood. I’m the boss of who I spend my time with, what I say, what I eat, what I trash, what I buy and what kind of people and businesses I support. AND I am the boss of my blog!

This cute one was printed in Washington State by Aleah Shop on a t-shirt made by Bella + Canvas, based in California (more west coast stuff!).

Before I bought this 20 dollar shirt, I emailed Aleah Shop and asked where the actual t-shirt was manufactured, hoping they wouldn’t reply “China”. Within an hour they got back with me and said: “Made in USA”. Grand!

Well, it was, until I got the t-shirt and the tag said “Made in Kenya”. I have nothing against Kenya, per say, but it wasn’t what I expected to see, and as you know, tags don’t lie (ok, sometimes they do, but that’s only when it’s in their favor to lie, like saying”Made in USA” when it’s not).

I decided to get back with Aleah Shop to let them know that the tee was in fact very imported. They replied to my email almost immediately, mortified, apologized many times and told me that in no way had they wanted to mislead me. Apparently the boxes they receive from Bella + Canvas with blank tees inside, say “Made in USA” on the box, and I guess they never noticed the actual tags…

Looking through the Bella + Canvas website; they do mention international locations along with their LA facility. A statement from that site says: “Kind tees are our kind of tees. Bella + Canvas has been manufacturing in the U.S. and internationally in a no-sweatshop, humane, sustainable way since day one. Doing things the right way has never been up for debate.”  They guarantee a 100% sweat-shop free tee, and say they make millions of shirts in the USA every year. I must admit, they sound like the kind of company I would support and promote, but stretching the truth with “Made in USA” labels on boxes is not cool. Period. And that’s not me being bossy.

Anyway. This t-shirt fits like a dream, feels amazing and looks so awesome. (My friend said it was cute, but I think it’s cool.) I am not sending it back – not over Kenya.

A more stylish one (?) of me in the new tee & an old trench coat I love.
A more stylish one (?) of me in the new tee & an old trench coat I love.

Aleah Shop has lots of other cute prints, like “Mom Life”, “Thankful” and “Girl Boss”to name a few, as well as coffee mugs with statements. Their customer service proved to be quite remarkable, obviously, talking to me A LOT about “all them tags”… So go check them out on Etsy (by clicking here) and support this small business!

 [Details in LookBook] (Photo credits: Shutterluv by Ashley.)

It ain’t no Tupper-wear party, it’s a pop-up boutique

Please see disclaimer at bottom of post.

Okay, I must admit that when my friend invited me to come to a LuLaRoe Clothing pop-up boutique at her friend’s house, I didn’t know what to expect. A boutique at someone’s house, at a specific time, made me think of the Tupper-wear parties my mom was invited to back in the 80’s. You know, a bunch of ladies sitting around, getting information about a product and feeling obligated to buy something since the hostess was serving tartlets, and the worst part; free samples no one needed.

Knowing my friend, who supports my blog and sustainable lifestyle, I figured it would be ok. She had already told me about LuLaRoe and the fact that most of their clothes are made in USA, so I wanted to support her party and her friend’s newly started business.

As soon as I got there it was kind of obvious, that this was not a “tupper style” gathering. Colorful, soft clothes, in every single pattern you can think of, were hanging on racks in a (great smelling!) living room. The shop owner and homeowner, Martine, greeted me, was super friendly, introduced the brand and basically said “look around, if you like something let me know, no obligation”. NO samples. NO snack foods. NO demonstration. Yes!

On left: Excited about my skirt! On right: Rack of LuLaRoe goodies.
On left: Excited about my skirt! On right: Rack of LuLaRoe goodies.

Of course, there was some chatting and socializing, as we all tried on different dresses, skirts and tops. Miraculously, no matter the body shape, the clothes seemed to flatter everyone, including yours truly. I looked pretty good in a tight dress I tried on, but being an inside-of-the-box-pattern person, who’s scared of figure hugging dresses, I backed out from looking like the Little Mermaid (that’s what the pattern reminded me of! Forth from the left in the second picture), and went with a black and white pinstriped pencil skirt (see, not very pattern-adventurous am I?) instead. Only $32!

Mommy & Me, the stylish way
Mommy & Me, the stylish way

I did ask, and found out that the tights by LuLaRoe are made in China, while the rest is made in California of domestic or imported fabrics. That’s fortunate for me, since I don’t wear tights!! They have women’s and girls’ fashion, and yes, there are mommy-and-me outfit opportunities here, if that’s your thing.

I’ll make sure l show you how I styled the pencil skirt in another post (Coming soon!). For now, I hope I’ve clarified the concept of a pop-up boutique… it’s a small, calm, temporary shopping haven, inside of someone’s home.

If I’m invited; I will definitely go again. Maybe next time I’ll find another color combination of stripes. There is hoping.

Made right here in sunny California!
Made right here in sunny California!

[Official LuLaRoe pictures are from Instagram @lularoe_martine]

NOTE: After this post was published, LuLaRoe have started to produce more garments at international production sites (Mexico, China, Vietnam). If invited to a pop-up, check the labels.  I wouldn’t purchase any LulaRoe goods online without first checking where made. This is one of my most read posts, unfortunately the once Made in USA company seem to have deserted their original patriotism.

Glasses, glasses, glasses and a Jordi Labanda girl

Anyone who’s spent time with me during the last year has probably heard my “I can’t see, the road is blurry” complaints. Well, hubby finally managed to get me to the optometrist.

I’m not going blind or anything, which is great news since there’s so much beauty in this world, but my eyes have gotten quite a bit worse since April 2013 when I did my last check and bought my Oakley (made in China!) glasses. So a little complaining has been in order. My prescription sunglasses are even older, 2011(!) and way overdue to get upgraded style-wise and prescription-wise. They have definitely been bothering me lately.

My husband also needed new glasses, so we headed over to Lens Crafters hoping to find something cool for both of us. Frames are very often made in China, but I think eyewear is one of those exceptions where you need to keep an open mind and go with what works for your face and vision needs. If China happens, China happens. Also, I have not seen any local or environmentally friendly, good looking choices.

Since I still really like my 2013 Oakleys, I decided to change only the prescription lenses (USA made!) and keep the frames. Yay, that’s glasses done sustainably!

My husband decided to go with Ray Ban black hipster frames (you know what I am talking about) which were made in China, unfortunately. Our first felony of 2015! I wasn’t even considering asking him to pick something else (wife points – wop wop). Record the felony and move on.

For sunglasses, I did navigate towards the ones they keep locked up (figured they were less likely to be made in China) and immediately found myself eye to eye with the most gorgeous Tiffany & Co frames. Made in Italy* gorgeousness with a price tag to match… But they were perfect, and could be made with my prescription. Where do I sign?! (Let me just mention that the minty-turquoise box is FSC® certified and gorgeous too, and I couldn’t stop smiling when I was walking around with it in the mall.) This is the fanciest thing I have ever bought I think! ($369 with prescription lenses)

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I love my new sunglasses so much! They are spectacular! My Spanish friend at work told me I look like a Jordi Labanda girl. O M G, it’s my dream to look like one of them! (I’m dead serious about that.) And all it took was some Italian bling?! I wish I had known this trick sooner.

IMG_5868Conclusion of this story: I am beyond excited to actually see! I feel like the world is now displayed on an apple retina screen. Lens Crafters gave us a really good deal too, since we bought two full pairs (China/USA, Italy/USA) and one set of lenses (USA) at the same time :)

We committed a felony but we also made a Jordi Labanda situation happen. All in all; extremely successful.

*Made in Italy may mean parts or labor have been sourced other places. They do not have to report foreign sub-suppliers per Italian law, as far as I understand. But, considering this is a luxury brand, I am hoping for the best. Also reading about Tiffany & Co. I feel very comfortable with their sustainability efforts.

We all just need a bit of inspiration and the guts to shop differently

When I first started the not made in China challenge January 2014, I had to re-think my entire shopping pattern. My husband and I were both frequent shoppers at Banana Republic, J.Crew and Coach. I bought my occasional pair of shoes (Michael Kors’ heels and Keds being favorites) at DSW. I came to realize, quickly, that all these stores and brands were practically off limits. At the very beginning, I bought my Juicy Couture soft grey sweats on sale and I thought I would run into more affordable clothes made in USA. Well, at the mall, you just don’t, and so for a long time; I didn’t buy anything at all.

I started to reinvent some of the outfits I already had, but I was still a bit uninspired and tired, though very determined to not give up. Obvious US choices like American Apparel and designer dresses and jeans were a no-go as well, for style or price reasons. Then it happened: I ran into that Richter Co. tee at Whole Earth Provision, and started wondering if there were endless, small American brands yet to be discovered. I started to search online, look in new stores and scavenge the racks (which has always scared me a little – too messy!). Bit by bit, piece by piece, rack by rack – I have become a made in America shopper. I say America and not USA because when it comes to sexy shoes, yes, I need to include South America.

My friend and I have been talking a lot about this topic, and I presented her with the idea to make a LookBook. In other words, make a photo collection of the clothes I have found and bought on this challenge and present them in a stylish way, in order to inspire others to go look for made right here. As a blogger I have a lot of words and as a photographer she has lots of talent, technique and cool spots to pick from, so we headed out to the country side.

One hour, 101 degrees, a few bugs and an exhausted reflector girl later, we had more photos than we would ever need for this project.

Made in USA top, Made in USA sweats, Made in USA bottle, Made in USA arm wrap
Made in USA top, Made in USA sweats, Made in USA bottle, Made in USA arm wrap

I am so thankful to have friends who inspire me, and whom I get to inspire in return. Does she shop made in China anymore? Very rarely! Did she return an expensive, online purchase when she saw the tag? Yes, she did! (See, I am saving her money ;))

Check out the results and get more information about the clothes on my new page LookBook! (I also had a few photos/outfits from before) My plan is to keep adding to it, whenever I have a new outfit to show. Hopefully, there’ll be enough good stuff for a fall shoot later on! (Can’t wait! Another chance to play model!)

If you want to be inspired by beautiful people, laughing children, posing dogs and killer locations, head on over to Shutterluv by Ashley, and like her on Facebook.

That’s a wrap people!!

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Sometimes reinventing something is just as awesome as getting something new

I had, for some reason, never paired up this necklace, this shirt and these shoes before, and when I did, I instantly loved it! I feel way new today, very colorful and perfect for a day at the office. Reinventing comes in especially handy when you’re on a not made in China challenge, since shopping for cute stuff can be a bit challenging (obviously).

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Shoes: Missoni for Target. Back in September 2011 they did a guest spot, and a friend and I went there just a few hours after the launch and pretty much everything was already gone! I did find these flats in my size and grabbed them immediately; I think they were $35.

Shirt: By my ex-lover J.Crew. Got it at the outlet (of course) in 2012.

Necklace: Gift from my sweet mom; it was for my Birthday 2009. I remember it was that year, because I wore it in a few pictures during a New-York-sister-get-away the following May. I had paired it with this purple cardigan I had, which fit really well, a beige skirt, black ballerinas and a white blouse. It looked really nice together. Unfortunately, I never saw that cardigan again! To this day, I have no idea what happened to it. I think I must have left it in New York.

Jeans: My somewhat new made in USA 7’s, the modern straight. Outlet again, paid about $100. They’re so soft!

So many memories kept in some (old, but good) well-chosen pieces! Today, good memories plus feeling pretty, definitely beats something brand spanking new. Happy Monday!

[Jeans featured in LookBook]

Made in USA, affordably priced and stylish, please

Now that there’s a Nordstrom rack only 18 minutes from my house, I am spoiled rotten with made in USA options. Not only that, I’ve also gotten better at spotting the type of clothes most likely to be made here, making shopping way more fun! Tag checking is still mandatory though (of course!). Check first, and then contemplate liking or not liking the garment.

One of the types of clothes often made here, is very loose fitting, super soft, cotton or rayon blend sweaters, dresses and tees. I like that look, but I find that loose fitting garments sometimes just looks way too big on me, or commonly known as “that woman is drowning in her sweater”. This is what happened last shopping session when I tried on 11 items (11!!) all made in USA and only left with one green sweater.

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Yes, it is soft and made from domestic fabric (rayon) by Harlow and Graham. It only cost me 21 bucks – yay!

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Harlow & Graham sweater with 7 for all Mankind Jeans – Made in USA!

See, I’m so good at this game now that I get to be choosy. I didn’t see that coming when I started this challenge (!), but I’m super thankful to be in that position.

While at the Rack, I passed up a pair of shiny, blue, leopard leggings (read definitely not for me), made in USA, without even twinging. Take that China!