Tag Archives: trends

My Tradlands flannel shirt: American craftsmanship at its best

I’ve bought something VERY special.

And no, it’s not maternity wear.

I decided early on in my pregnancy to limit buying maternity clothes as much as possible and instead try to master pregnancy style using pretty much only my regular clothes and a few, versatile, basic hand-me-downs (thanks sis!). It’s worked out pretty well so far, and with that, left room in the budget for other clothes.

Christina El Moussa (of HGTV’s Flip or Flop) has been my number one pregnancy style inspiration. While she was pregnant with their second kid last year, she kept rocking outfits that fit her growing belly, showed it off even, but was never centered around it. One of my favorite looks of hers was the open plaid shirt, white top, boots and skinny jeans.

Time has come to introduce my new (lovely) flannel.

dsc_0323

Made in the USA by a small company called Tradlands.

I am not often at a loss for words (blogger!), but when I first tried this shirt on at home (after it came in the mail) all I could say was “wow”. Followed by some more wows. Since I started the challenge almost three years ago, I haven’t encountered any American-made clothes as nice as this. This is the most beautifully crafted garment you can imagine. The flannel is thick and 100% cotton. The seams are flawless and the colors are vibrant and deep.

The shirt fits just like I was hoping it would. Of course I can’t button it over the bump, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to ;). Going by Tradlands’ online size guide, I’d be an XS which also matches the size of most button-up shirts I have in my closet. And here’s something amazing: my arms are monkey-style and rarely does an XS shirt have sleeves long enough for me, but this one does. Another wow.

tradlands-2

Tradlands offers a wide range of women’s button-up shirts, everything from dress shirts for the office to heavier outdoor flannels like mine. They’ve also got some gorgeous sweaters. Many styles are made from organic cotton!

This amazing shirt sells for $167 online. I had a coupon code and ended up paying only $142 (free shipping and returns!). I almost regret using the coupon now. Had I known the excellence in craftsmanship, I would have been more than willing to pay full price to support the company. That’s what this challenge is all about after all, spending my money where it makes a difference.

This is an investment piece. A garment to keep forever. And the last thing I am buying myself in 2016. Ending on a high note!

tradlands-1
Tradlands’ “Tailgate” Flannel, 100% cotton, Made in USA

In case you were wondering; the boots are old, the top and the skinny jeans are hand-me-downs from my sister. The jeans are actually made in USA too by AG Jeans!

The AMAZING glasses? Yes, they’re made right here and blog post coming soon!

NOTE: After this post was published, Tradlands.com has started to produce some garments at international production sites (China, Vietnam). Check the labels. Unfortunately this “Made in USA company” may have deserted their original patriotism.

Pics by Miss Shutterluv of course.

Celebrating the season: Finally fall (bump) fashion!

It’s November! Finally some resemblance of fall in Houston. Actually, that’s a lie, it’s hot as hell but the calendar says November and with that it’s officially scarf season, my favorite one by far.

On my quest for sustainable maternity fashion, I went second hand shopping in Greenville, SC when we visited the region about a month ago, and found a pair of maternity jeans ($12) and this cotton-rayon mix dress. Perfect for cooler weather.

fullsizeoutput_1166

Yes, it’s another straight line dress with stripes (you know that’s my thing!). It is one size up from what I’d normally wear, so I have some room, but there ain’t nothing maternity about it. Generally speaking, I want to be able to wear the clothes I invest in again and again, why not also the ones I buy while pregnant?

I paid $22 for the dress, and I swear it looks brand new. Great deal!

To me, sustainable fashion is using what’s in my closet as much and as long as possible, avoiding at all costs garments going to landfill. Especially ones that still look great. Did you know that by wearing a piece of clothing 50 times instead of five (the fast fashion average), you reduce carbon emissions by 400 percent per year, per garment?

So, I’m wearing my new dress with my (also) new, made in USA maternity tights from Storq.com and pre-challenge (unethically made) favorites from my ever so modest closet. Namely, my very favorite fall scarf (DSW 2012) that goes with everything, a bag my husband bought me (Coach 2012) and impulse purchased booties (Steve Madden 2009). If it’s already in my closet, I make sure I rock it. Bump or no bump!

fullsizeoutput_1162

I don’t normally use filters on pictures but I figured Houston could use a little extra fall spirit created by one. And I happen to think little eco-baby on the way looks really cute in this light :)

How are you showing off what’s already in your closet this fall?

Pics by Shutterluv.

Come on ladies, there is nothing sustainable about H&M

hm2Ever since I fell in love with a blouse with giraffes from H&M’s “Conscious Collection” and obviously fell for their brilliant marketing ploy and bought it, I’ve thought a lot about H&M. At the same time, I’ve also seen them pop up here and there in blogs I read, often mentioned in a context of sustainable fashion, presented as being a company on the forefront of sustainability. They may be on the right path (finally), but “sustainable” is not a label they have the right to wear.

Why? It’s time to share some of my own thoughts on H&M.

1. Let’s talk about The Conscious Collection, which has gotten a lot of media lately, and indeed is a good initiative. A rack of sustainably made, recycled fabric garments, placed immediately inside of the entrance to the store, that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling about your shopping experience. Maybe you’ll be so excited about the collection that you forget that the clothes in the rest of the store, in other words 95% of their merchandise, were made without a conscience and non-sustainably. That’s what that collection label ultimately tells you, just like bread with an “organic” label at the grocery store tells you the rest of the bread is, in fact, not organic. Why else would H&M need to single that collection out and have a special label and special rack for those garments? Fail.

2. H&M launched a big campaign to inform everyone that you can drop off your old clothes at their stores, and they will recycle them* and in return you get a coupon. People seem to think recycling means you are eco-friendly, that recycling in all of its glory is the answer to our environmental problems. Wrong! Yes, recycling is great, but it’s the third part and last resort of the golden rule of sustainability. The first part is to reduce; a fact that H&M has no interest in doing. Heck, they give you a coupon so that you will shop more! Maybe the same day you brought items in for recycling you’ll buy something new, using your well-deserved coupon (“you did something eco-friendly, you recycled, now treat yourself to something new, you’ve earned it”). Second part of the rule, reuse; an activity H&M makes hard by mostly selling garments of lower quality, in styles which will only be on trend for about five more minutes. (I will tell you, I have a few good-quality H&M pieces in my closet, which I plan on reusing and enjoying for a long time.) H&M are completely ignoring part one and pushing the boundaries of part two, they actually encourage opposite behavior, yet people applaud them for doing part 3 recycling?! Fail.

3. The only way to sell a top for 10 dollars and make profit, is to have it made for less than one. Where can that type of manufacturing thrive? Only in factories paying minimum wage to workers in developing countries. That means everything in H&M’s US stores is imported, mostly from China, shipped here by polluting container ships. Fail.

4. H&M is actually one of the biggest thugs in the fashion industry as they keep prices low, all year long, and has new styles on the shelves every week which is great for encouraging impulse purchases and overconsumption of clothes. Most of which is sold to teens and young, trendy adults, who’s last season looks will end up in landfill as their closets are already over-flowing. “Quantity over Quality” does not a sustainable company make. Fail.

H&M should not be thought of as a sustainable company; please stop saying, blogging, thinking, sharing that they are. Adding a small eco-collection, does not make up for a buy-and-toss company philosophy. H&M represents the core of what is wrong in the fashion industry; fast, disposable, cheap. Don’t get fooled by their brilliant marketing department –  because brilliant is indeed what they are.

H&M is a trendy company and sustainable fashion is trending now, it’s as simple as that. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what the label “Conscious Collection” secretly means? They are fully aware (conscious) of the ongoing, important eco-trend.

Sadly, we bought it.

hm

*Recycling fabric technology is still in its early stages and, as far as I know, not yet a very energy efficient process. What is deemed not ‘recyclable’ is donated, which has proven to be another fake eco-friend, as it just means moving garment waste from one fortunate country to one less fortunate, already overflowing with western used clothes. Landfill is still landfill.

Made in USA: Is America’s garment industry making a comeback?

I’m the kind of person that dives in first and researches later, or rather I make up my mind and then I deal with it! It wasn’t like I looked into if China-free living was possible, or made a budget for shopping local, before I started the challenge. As I blog my way through it, it’s the same thing; I run into a brand, an item, an issue or a problem, and then I research it and write.

Lucky for me, there are bloggers out there who actually do serious research, write articles and share them with the rest of us. That’s how I got to reading about trends in Made in USA clothing on the Made in USA blog I follow.

Interesting fact: In 1993, 6.4 billion garments were manufactured in USA, with 52.4 percent of the garments sold here made here. In 2013, Americans bought close to 20 billion garments but only 2.6 percent of them were manufactured here! (The interesting part is that that number (513 million) is better than a few years before; in 2009 only 381 million garments were made here.)

How did we get from 52.4 percent to 2.6 percent in just 22 years? The reason manufacturing went abroad is, of course, the savings due to cheap labor in other countries, like China (with their aggressive growth strategy), Bangladesh, Cambodia and other countries in that same region. This started as early as the 60’s.

made in usa outfit
Old jacket meets new US made Tart Collection dress. Old rubber boots meet new US made Sweet-n-Sinful cardigan from Marshalls.

When fashion got faster and faster in the 90’s, western companies started comparing and pushing the over-there-shops  further, in order to be able to sell clothes at even lower prices to western consumers: essentially allowing us to buy more clothes. In countries where rules and regulations for health, emissions, safety and wages are less stringent; a reduction in production costs equals worse working conditions (lower pay, longer hours). And in the new millennium, indeed, more and more companies have moved their manufacturing to “cheaper” countries in order to keep up with their domestic competition; all of them ignoring the peculiar fact, that it is now cheaper than ever to have clothes made abroad, yet inflation is naturally moving in the opposite direction. No one wondering if they are cutting corners?

Fast fashion companies, like H&M, Zara, Forever 21, Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and such need consumers to buy a lot of clothes (profits are in moving inventory) and their CEOs want to get richer, so they need to keep manufacturing as cheap as possible – no matter the cost. When was the last time you saw anything in those stores not made in Asia? Do you think the garments they sell were made by people working in terrible conditions, earing 2-3 dollars a day? (Answer is yes).

That said, companies who manufacture local, stateside or Fair-Trade, aren’t exactly non-profit organizations; naturally they’re in business for profit too, but probably not making as much easy profit, as the companies who exploit workers and pollute the local environment in so called “developing” countries. (I don’t particularly like that term, their cultures are developed).

Personally, I believe there are more and more people like me, who enjoy shopping local and sustainably; who don’t mind paying a little bit more to keep things made right (here). Even if that means you can’t afford to buy as many items. The fact that I keep running into more and more cool stuff with “Made in USA” tags, to me, also signals progress. It’s not often that “progress” is presented as “going back to what we were doing way back” but in this case, I think we may have had it right in the 80’s. Yes, I said that!

DSC_0294 (2)

According to the article, the vice president of international trade at the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) agrees; “The number of clothes and shoes made in the U.S. has consistently increased over the last several years in what could be described as a small, but growing, trend”, he says.

There are challenges here though, like finding skilled workers and specialized materials; “Sewing is still a lost art”.

I believe in the people here though, we can learn how to sew, right? I believe so, and I obviously support this trend. I read that for every dollar a country invests in domestic manufacturing, the country earns 1.4 dollars back, so shopping local isn’t just taking a stand for sustainability, decent wages and reduced shipping pollution, but it also makes for a stronger economy.

I find this topic so interesting and important! There’s always more to learn about this complex, consumer-driven, environmentally devastating, but colorful industry.

DSC_0169
Living local is living greener! Outfit made in USA!

Note: I cannot find either of the websites for the striped hoodie “Ginger G” and cardigan “Sweet n Sinful”. (Sorry but those are some terrible brand names!) I suspect they are “straight from wholesale” brands without websites. Found both at Marshalls. (Photo credits: Shutterluv by Ashley.)

[LINK to Article]

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!!

DSC_0141

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.

nordstrom shop

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

dsc_0263
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!

Pollution is in your shopping bag too

The World Health Organization (WHO), reports that an estimated 3.7 million people die every year as a result of air pollution exposure, making air pollution the world’s single largest environmental health risk.

On this link to NBC News, there is a video showing air quality in a northeastern town in China, in a heavy industrialized area. The factories and power plants (which mostly burn coal) don’t clean their exhausts at all there, leading to days like this one, when people can’t be outside.

So think about it. Most of what you own is made there. Think about all the decorations, kitchen wear, clothes and shoes you recently picked up because you felt liked it, bored at the mall, whatever, that were probably made in China. The overconsumption of goods in America (and other countries) is polluting the lives of people on the other side of the ocean. Not a big deal that you bought those sneakers? Well, what is needed to run a factory? Energy. Produced in a coal plant. The more manufacturing one does in one place, the higher the energy demand, the higher the pollution.

And then there is that huge ship with all the containers, polluting the world while on its way with brand name sneakers across the pacific.

They more you shop and the more you shop Made in China, the more you personally contribute to the health problems of the people in that video and the overall pollution problem on earth. Think about it.