Sustainable Without Sacrificing Style
Today is Earth Day and with climate change at the forefront of our attention (did anyone notice it became spring in February?) it’s an excellent time to reflect on our own consumer behaviors and what we can do to make a difference. Earlier this month we touched on some of our favorite outdoor brands who favor sustainable practices, such as prAna and Black Diamond. But which companies do we turn to for our daily uniforms? We don’t all live in yoga pants and fleece, so luckily for us there are many brands on the market who aren’t sacrificing good design for sustainability.
G-Star Raw partnered with Pharrell Williams (now co-owner of the brand) a few years back for their Raw for the Oceans campaign. The Netherlands-based denim powerhouse collects plastic from the ocean, breaks it down and spins it into fibers melded with cotton (or “Bionic” yarn), which is then used to weave their stylish attire. The brand, popular with streetwear aficionados worldwide, delivers the kind of edgy and attention grabbing messaging you would expect from their target market, for instance crewneck sweaters emblazoned with “WTF are you doing to my oceans?” G-Star is doing excellent work because If you haven’t already heard of the plastic vortex in the Pacific Ocean, it’s truly terrifying stuff.
Next up is designer Titania Inglis, who we wish would supply our office wardrobe. Inglis manufactures all of her garments from sustainably sourced fabrics in a small factory in New York City. Her materials include organic Japanese cotton, French vegetable-tanned leathers, and dead stock wool recycled from New York’s garment industry. Her minimalist, innovative designs are meant to be worn a multitude of ways, reducing the consumer’s need to purchase more. She even earned the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award in Sustainable Design in 2012 for her environmental efforts. For the sophisticated and stylish, Inglis’s designs are at the cutting edge of sustainable fashion.
We’re all familiar with Toms shoes and their “one for one” philanthropy, but lesser known designers Sseko are also making smart footwear for a good cause. Sseko’s shoes are made 100% in Africa, from the free range, subsistence farmed cattle that provide their leather to the craftswomen who manufacture the shoes by hand. The Ugandan women working at Sseko are employed for the 9 month period between high school and college, a crucial time for any young person but especially for women living in a patriarchal culture. The women who work for Sseko are bright and entrepreneurial, and Sseko’s goal is to provide them with opportunities they may not be given otherwise. Employees are fully trained and paid an above average wage, of which over 50% of their salary goes into a college fund. At the end of 9 months, each woman is given a scholarship from Sseko that matches 100% of their college savings. Sseko creates shoes, bags, and beautiful accessories that are versatile, durable, and chic!
Now this next one might come as a bit of a surprise – ever heard of Piñatex? That’s biodegradable leather made from the fibers of pineapple leaves. Yes, pineapples. The concept stems from the Barong Tagalong, a garment worn by men in the Philippines during formal events. Piñatex creator Carmen Hijosa was working in the garment industry in the Philippines when she noticed that the fibers used to create the Barong Tagalong could be used for so much more. The result is a non-leather, non-petroleum based and biodegradable material that is sturdy enough to fashion shoes, bags, even furniture. Hijosa’s future plans for Piñatex include anti-bacterial wound coverings (due to the breathability of the material) and insulation for homes.
And because sustainable style doesn’t stop at your outfit, for sleek accoutrement for your home we love brands like Soma Water filters who stand by their four pillars of social responsibility. Here’s to staying stylish and reducing our carbon footprint for next year!