Guest writer Rachel Mlinarchik is the voice behind My Fair Vanity, a blog dedicated to style that is kind to the earth and the people on it.
Even if it still feels like summer, I’m ready to get excited for fall, so I’ve put together some of my favorite eco-friendly items for when cooler temperatures roll in. These selections will allow you to try out some of fall’s hottest trends while still being kind to the earth and the people on it, and I’ll offer a few tips on finding sustainable options in your hometown or online.
First up is a snazzy dress shirt from Zady. Proudly made in the New York garment district, the price might be high, but this shirt is made to last for years. The beautifully structured messenger bag is made exclusively for ASOS’ new “Green Room,” a fantastic effort on the part of the company to be transparent about where and how some of its products are made. This particular bag is leather, but it is also made in local factories in the U.K. It comes in every color of the rainbow and even though it wouldn’t be very eco-friendly, I want all of them.
The patent leather tortoise shell oxford shoe is made by Attilio Giusti Leombruni in a 3rd-generation-owned family factory in Italy. It’s perfect to wear with chunky sweaters or slim-cut collared shirts in the fall and winter to incorporate a little menswear into your style. Although I would rather buy made in the USA, I believe that investing in high-quality products made in countries with minimum wage and fair labor laws is also solid, sustainable choice.
I’m very excited to share two pieces from one of my favorite jewelry lines: Alkemie. Both the elephant ring and the nautilus earrings are made in Los Angeles of 100% reclaimed metal with sterling silver posts.
Right along those lines is the chain link cuff bracelet by Mettle (available from Collective Habit). All of Mettle’s products are hand-forged, fair trade accredited, and made from recycled bombshell brass in Cambodia and Indonesia within a small, not for profit, income generating and training project owned by its members. Boom.
When I see this kind of thought, care and kindness behind such beautiful clothing and jewelry, it makes me want to march in to the offices of the larger retailers (with far more capital and potential to change lives) and say, calmly and clearly: You can do better. No. Seriously. You can.
Instead of finger-wagging, though, one thing we can all do is ask, ask, ask. Whenever you’re shopping online, if the products you’re browsing aren’t clearly labeled with information about where or how they are made, send a quick email to customer service with your question. In a physical store, politely ask the sales associates to point you towards goods that are made in the USA or made using fair labor practices. The more you and I ask, the more managers and buyers will start to think about where and from whom they are making purchases.
But I digress.
Add A Little Edge
Let’s move on to the edgier, modern punk look. I’m loving these leather-waisted, pleated trousers by Milly, and loving even more that they are made in the USA. Bonus: many of you will be pleased to learn that the silver oxfords by Jeffrey Campbell are part of a special vegan line he produces for Convert. Convert, for the record, is an apparel, shoe and accessories store dedicated to both style and sustainability.
The bangles are handmade from locally sourced woods and metallic leathers by marginalized women in Northern India for Raven and Lilly. Proceeds from this particular collection fund literacy programs for women artisans and their children.
The crazy leggings by Conditions Apply for Shop Ethicare are so eco-friendly that they require a bulleted list to get all the goodness across:
Made at a company-owned factory in Gurgaon, India, allowing the brand to control working conditions throughout its supply chain
Water at the manufacturing facility is collected and recycled
Fabric scraps are salvaged and used to make one-of-a-kind pieces
Employees have access to medical care and micro-loans
Production is based on orders, not forecasts, to reduce waste and avoid surpluses
And last but certainly not least, the exposed zipper black sheath dress is another item from the ASOS Green Room. This one is perfect to wear with a cardigan at work during the day, all the while knowing you are ready for date night once evening falls. Business in the front, party in the back!
Looking for another way to ramp up your wardrobe sustainably? Join DC EcoWomen for our clothing swap on September 29th! Just bring in your gently used clothes, accessories, or shoes, to “shop” for each other’s items. Go to the Event Page to sign up today!