Tag Archives: new york

New scarf, leftover fabric: A beautiful (birthday) combination

My husband got me this beautiful scarf for my birthday. A little bird had told him that I really, really wanted it. (Guess who!).

Birthdays are awesome. Especially so if you are on a one item per month shopping challenge, since a well chosen gift just doubled your monthly fun. (That’s me.)

Now, this scarf is very special. Not only is the New York designer who made it committed to American manufacturing, but most garments Tabii Just offers is sewn from scrap fabrics. Yes!  The most beautiful discarded yardage from American mills and designers that would otherwise end up in landfill (or maybe once in a blue moon be recycled/downcycled). A great way to reduce a garment’s carbon footprint!

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Due to the fact that fabrics are “leftovers”, quantities of some styles are limited and the exact fabric content is not always known. The most common threads made locally are rayon, polyester and conventionally grown cotton, so one or more of those most likely. I actually shot Tabii an email and asked, and the owner replied that my scarf is some sort of rayon blend. The ball hem is “new” and made ethically by artisans in Mexico.

As we’re talking about a piece of clothing made from scrap material, the rayon’s biggest eco-issue in this case becomes the microfibers released when washing, but I don’t really wash my scarfs a whole lot ;)

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Another way Tabii Just is focusing on zero waste is by making patterns and designs with minimal scrap and cut-outs. And of course, a scarf is actually the ultimate zero waste item since, well, it’s basically just a square of fabric!

I am super excited to spend colder fall and winter days in this scarf. Happy birthday to me indeed.

Tabii Just is a member of the Made in America Movement.

Living it up (the eco-way) in New York City

Welcome to New York. It’s been waiting for you.

At least that’s what Taylor Swift claims. As for me, ever since I found out I was going to the Big Apple for work, I was hoping that great vegan food, eco-fashion and new acquaintances would indeed be waiting. Guess what? They were.

The training I was there to take allowed me to be my most social self during the days and I made some great connections! In addition to all the fun I was having, several people in the class were into eating healthy and two were living plant-based, meaning green lunch choices for the group. Yay.

Finding vegan options turned out to be as easy as I had hoped. Finding plastic-free, zero waste vegan, a bit harder, though definitely possible. Let me tell you about some of the places where I ate!

Vegan, Organic and Zero Waste

The first night, after a long walk through the city, I had a well-made meal at Blossom (21st and 9th) in Chelsea. Friendly staff, fast service, nice setting. And, I got to eavesdrop on a seriously millennial conversation one table over, while watching the street action outside the window. Pretty sweet. Yes, that also applies the two glasses of organic riesling I had.

The best food of the trip was at Candle 79 on the Upper East Side (79th and Lex.). I started with empanadas, followed by a chick-pea cake creation accompanied by delicious broccoli and cauliflower in a curry sauce. It was excellent and I highly recommend this place. A reservation is probably a good idea, though I got lucky and was seated right away. By the window again.

Vegan on the go

Because sooner or later, all New York visitors will find themselves in midtown, near Times Square fearing that Olive Garden is their only lunch choice – I’ll tell you, it’s not. Fresh and Co. is half a block away on 48th street (between 6th and 7th avenue) and they’ll mix you up an awesome salad. Though delicious and fresh, my salads (Gaucho and Falafel) were unfortunately tossed and served in a plastic bowl (I didn’t have a reusable one). I did fill my own bottle with tea, no problem.

Organic Soy Latte

Anyone else appalled by the super sweet soymilk at Starbucks? Pret A Manger is a much better choice if you ask me, and they’re all over town. I had an organic, unsweet soy latte there and of course reusable cups welcome. This chain donates all their left-over food at the end of each day to homeless shelters and food programs too. Waste not, want not.

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On another eco note, I had four nights in the city and spent most of them walking around enjoying the scenery and the different neighborhoods. Why take a cab when you can walk, right?

One night while strolling down Highline Park, I suddenly had this idea to hit up Century 21 (the discount department store by World Trade Center). I hadn’t been there in years and was curious to see what made in USA or eco-friendly brands they might have (if any!).

A few minutes into browsing, I saw an Italian-made sweater by a designer I had never heard of before and decided to try it on. Instantly, it felt like mine. It fit just right and felt super comfy. Sold! Although it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I said “eco-fashion” and it didn’t really follow any of the rules I set up for this year’s shopping challenge, I still had to have it. Sometimes you just have to follow your heart and break the rules a little.

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My new Dirk Bikkembergs made in Italy sweater

I hadn’t prepared much for this trip, however I still feel like I managed to make simple, eco-friendly choices throughout the visit. Like what, you say? Well, like:

  • Enjoying vegan, organic food (the most eco-friendly, low carbon diet)
  • Not using the hotel bath products (saving plastic)
  • Not asking to have my sheets and towels changed every night (saving water, energy and cleaning products)
  • Managing my drinking water, so there was no need to buy even a single water bottle (saving plastic and money)
  • Carrying my new Italian sweater in my reusable bag (saving plastic)
  • Walking or taking the subway instead of riding in taxis (less pollution)
  • Carbon compensating my flights
  • Stayed at a local boutique hotel to support small business

I had an amazing time and I wouldn’t change a thing, not even the breaking the rules part.

Indeed, it was all waiting for me in New York!

Read about my previous eco-friendly work trip to California here.

Sweater+me photo credit: Shutterluv by Ashley.

In celebration of my sister’s wedding anniversary: The story of her perfect dress

Today, it has been 6 years since my beautiful sister got married to her handsome husband. It was the most gorgeous, sunny day. And though it’s a day we will always remember (naturally) this story is really about when we went shopping for her wedding dress. See, I am taking a break from my eco-blogging (sort of) today to instead write a little something for her.

PICT4955Like so many times before; we had been saving and planning for our “New York sister get away”, for a while. We’d been taking notes on which coffee shops to try, which Broadway show to see and had been trying to find out where in the world the Manolo Blahnik store really was (It’s so hard to find!). However, the really exciting part about this trip was that we were going to shop for a wedding dress for my sis and a maid of honor dress for me!

It was May of 2009, wedding set for September 19th; we had plenty of time and plenty of optimism to find that perfect dress. The only question was; where do we begin?

It looked so easy on Sex and the City, but for two sisters in the city, not so much. We had no idea where to go. We figured you can’t just show up at Vera Wang like Charlotte (who can afford it!?) and we didn’t even know the names of any wedding dress stores. Strolling down 5th avenue and looking up at the second floor windows with gowns on pale mannequins wasn’t helping either; we didn’t even understand how to get into those places.

We decided to just start at the department stores; they have wedding sections! They do (I think) but none that you just walk into. We looked around the party dress departments for white, long dresses at Macy’s, Saks, Bloomingdales and even Bergdorf’s (I remember it was super fancy and sterile in there). Sales assistants we ran into, and told what we were doing, kept telling us how late in the game we were. “September? Oh wow, you better hurry!” What? We had four months, surely they must be mistaken!

We realized quickly that midtown and 5th weren’t working out for us. So the day after; new area and new spirit. Let’s go SoHo. And yes, that’s where it all came together, in a little bridal studio called Nicole Miller. Two tourists walk in on a day when no one had booked a fitting, and one awesome consultant (with seriously big hair!) let us in without an appointment! She must have fallen for our hopeful-and-lost-non-locals-look, and figured she had to help us out.

My sister was looking for a fitted, simple gown with a mermaid feel to it; which is basically all of Nicole Miller’s dresses. She tried a few, one after another; they all fit her perfectly (she has the perfect shape for dresses). They were all priced around 700-1200 dollars, which was right in line with what she could and wanted to spend.

PICT4964In less than an hour she had decided on her dress, not really any alterations needed (of course – perfect shape); form-fitted, mermaid feel, in an off-white, metal threaded fabric. Priced at 800 dollars, and made right there in New York City.

What a high! How did that work out so quickly?! Her wedding dress packed up nicely in a paper bag, not too heavy to carry around on her shoulder, so we took it to lunch – isn’t that amazing?

We had a great lunch, we were so excited, and we talked about the Manolos she was about to buy to match the dress and what the heck the maid of honor was going to wear (me!).

My sister hadn’t decided what color she wanted on me. The wedding wasn’t all planned out yet, but she knew she wanted it to feel like a fall wedding with warm reds, oranges and earth colors. We continued to explore SoHo, and randomly found Foravi.

We didn’t know what they might have, but as if it was meant to be, they had two Nicole Miller dresses in the same fabric as my sister’s wedding dress! One red, one earthy green; one size 4, one size 6. I could squeeze myself in to the red 4 (the fabric is very stretchy and hugging), but it was just too tight and the color was too sexy. The green dress fit perfectly and had the right cut, length, feeling and color for the upcoming fall wedding. It was 400 dollars, and as you guessed, made in New York! Sold!

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There you have it. Two out-of-towners, went to the fashion capital of the world, without a plan or any appointments, and came home with the perfect pair of dresses. We sure proved those sales assistants wrong! How lucky were we to find matching, made right there wedding fashion?

skor manoloAnd; yes, we found the Manolo Blahnik boutique finally, and my sister got her white satin, open toe, rhinestone-buckle, Sedarby pumps. Price tag; same as her dress (yes, really!) I was lucky enough to have bedazzled (60 dollar) shoes at home, matching her style of shoes and my new dress.

Foravi is still in business and still focusing on providing hand-crafted, responsibly-produced, and aesthetically powerful clothes.

Nicole Miller still makes wedding dresses in New York City, and they are still reasonably priced. Don’t count on getting in to the SoHo studio without an appointment though! (Unless you know how to pull off the hopeful-and-lost-non-locals-look, and even so, it’s a gamble…;))

The girls may not have been locally made, but the dresses sure were. I love that every garment we buy has a story, and it starts long before we get to wear it for the first time. We have the power to decide what kind of stories the clothes we buy should have, from cradle to grave, not just from purchase to grave. And I love the story of these two dresses.

To my sister – the best sis and the most beautiful bride I have ever seen. Thanks for always letting me be part of your stories, and of your clothes’ stories too. Happy anniversary!!

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Gorge!
(Yes, I was blond at the time!)
(Yes, I was blond at the time!)

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]

Sustainable fashion: Trending now?

The July issue of InStyle magazine offers a two page spread on “10 ways fashion is gonna save the world”, highlighting eco-friendly and sustainable initiatives happening in the fashion industry. I’m not sure I believe fashion can “save” anything, considering it is the second most polluting industry in the world (only outrun by the oil industry) and obviously driven mostly by overconsumption. “10 ways a few fashion brands are trying to be a little more sustainable” sounds more like it.

But I appreciate the article, at least some companies are trying and InStyle is reporting, so that’s a start!

tunicNumber 5 on the list is a spot on brand Zero + Maria Cornejo’s made right (here) vision, emphasizing the need to reduce transport of fabrics, centralizing work, and to source responsibly (my cause exactly!). They make all their garments in New York City (accessories in Italy).

Wow. Major fashion-crush happening. Gorgeous stuff, right eco-attitude and I love the website! But this will never be true love; it’s way too expensive for me. 795 dollars for a tunic? Yeah, no. That’s not going to work.

Sustainable product is everything and made right here is a must, but I can’t help but wonder how much of the price of that tunic is going towards covering the rent of Maria Cornejo’s Garment District location. Has she ever thought of moving upstate or like Indiana and giving me a better deal? Ha! Didn’t think so.

THIS is fashion, not retail. THIS is New York City. And at the end of the day, that’s a good thing. High dollar price means I can’t afford it, so I just won’t shop. And that, ladies, gentlemen and InStyle, is the very best way to be sustainable in fashion and “save” the world; reduce our consumption.

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And remember; no matter how eco-friendly, local, fair and sustainably made a garment is, if you’re never going to wear it, it’s NOT sustainable fashion.