Hello dear readers!
New York Fashion Week is almost over. I think? I actually am not as heavily involved in it as you would guess. That’s because most sustainable and/or ethical brands don’t put on fashion shows, which are breathtakingly expensive, and often quite unsustainable. The ones that do put on shows or presentations — Stella McCartney and Mara Hoffman come to mind — don’t invite me. And I don’t hold it against them! I’m more of a conference person, where I hash out the issues at the point where the fashion industry collides with the environment and human rights. The people I interface with from brands are the dorks, researchers, textile scientists, supply chain people, and activists. Chief sustainability officers might “be the new influencers” but they’re certainly not ‘gramming from Spring Studios. And I’ve never written a straight, “OMG that collection is so cute” article in my life.
The exception this week was Studio One Eighty Nine, which invited me to their joyful, dance and music-filled show two days ago, as thank you for the article I wrote about artisan fashion made in Africa. I cobbled together a passable outfit, and was shocked when I was able to pass the people waiting outside and head to my assigned seat. I had an assigned seat! The people-watching inside was stupendous, even if I had no idea who any of the celebrities adorned in head-to-toe sequined fringe and wax cloth dresses being following by photographers and air-kissing were. (I know nothing about celebrities. Nothing.) It was thrilling. I still felt like a dork.
Vogue did a laudatory write up about the fashion show, calling it, “an explosion of glorious color, indigo dyes, embroideries, and patchwork.” So definitely go take a look at the gorgeous looks they’ve created for Spring/Summer 2020. I’ve got my eye on looks 8, 11, 14, and 36, but keep going to see their inspired and inclusive casting of BIPOC and non-gender conforming models near the end.
I also attended Ethical NYFW, an event put on to celebrate the launch of Thr3efold’s ethical factory platform, in the Arlo Hotel. If you’re a brand who’s been searching in vain for a certified factory, you can apply to use the beta version. Founder Jessica was wearing ethically-made shoes from Isleñas, and I’m smitten.
If you’re in NYC, there are two upcoming events I would really personally recommend. One is the Fashion Revolution climate event at the UN. I will personally be out of town for a journalism conference, which pains me. But you should go. The other is a piercing party by my favorite sustainable jeweler Melissa Joy Manning and Ahmisa Piercing Studio on September 19th, 4 to 7 pm. To reserve your spot, email [email protected].
Meanwhile, I wrote another article for Vogue Business on fashion brands who are taking back their old clothing, and how shockingly easy and profitable it is. After reporting this out, I came to the conclusion that the only thing holding brands back from doing this is sheer inertia. In fact, two struggling department stores are turning to used clothing as a lifeline, as NPR details, and Urban Outfitters is getting in on it, too.
I’ll be contributing on the regular to the well-read blog of Arcadia Power, a renewable energy provider. My first piece is on the plastic in our clothing, how it finds its way to the ocean, and what you can do about it.
And in another first, I wrote something for Popular Science on fashion is a more effective and safe tool for protecting your skin from the sun’s rays. There’s a special nod in there to the fact that recommendations are not one-size-fits-all. If you have darker skin and live in the northern latitudes, take a read. You’ll find this educational, too.
The US delivers an estimated 12.7 million tons of textile waste to landfills a year. At the rate we’re going, we need upcycling and recycling facilities to be as ubiquitous—and accessible—as convenience stores in every city. That’s not going to happen, says a textile recycler. | Quartz
Speaking of, why are fashion supply chains so wasteful? | Retail Dive
“Let’s not pay to have 10 people floating through doing audit work in a given month—you know, Nike comes in on Thursday, Adidas on Friday. It’s a great waste of time and resources and creates confusion.” That’s what we call audit fatigue, and it’s hampering efforts to make factories safe. | Sourcing Journal
I do hope there are sustainability gods, and that they are the reason why Forever 21 is going bankrupt. | Glossy
Enzymes, cow manure and root lace: 5 weird and wonderful ways nature is being harnessed to improve the fashion industry. | The Conversation
Money alert! Fashion for Good has launched a sustainable fashion fund. | Fashion United
Will this latest sustainable agreement among retailers make a difference to our world on fire? | The Guardian
Why that shoe that looks like a pretty sock is everywhere these days. | Vox
What happened to Etsy, the poster child for conscious consumerism? | Vox
This t-shirt is compostable. Wait, you didn’t know that cotton t-shirts are not compostable? Yep. | Fast Company
Dana Thomas’ new book about the unsustainability of the global fashion industry, Fashionopolis, is out, and provides a great overview of how we got here and where we’re going. I just wish it were a bit more accurate. | NY Times
The parent company of Timberland said it will stop buying Brazilian leather, in response to the burning Amazon. Bold move, especially since it likely will have no effect on the pace of fires. | Business Insider
(Our partners at the sustainable packaging company noissue plants a tree with every order. Usually, you choose where the tree will be planted, but this month every tree planted will be in the Amazon. It’s a small thing, but something to consider if you’re a brand.)
In the latest Amazon Is Evil news, their speedy deliveries are literally killing people. | Buzzfeed News
But at least they’re now donating unsold product to charity rather than destroying it, after their public shaming. | Newsweek
Bloomingdale’s used to be my department store of choice, before I turned to sustainable fashion. Now they’re getting in on rentals. I think I’m going to sign up when they launch this month. | Footwear News
Banana Republic is trying rentals too. A little less excited personally, but if I worked in corporate? Sure! | Retail Dive
How Econyl became fashin’s favorite sustainable material. | Vogue Business
Lab-grown or mined? The debate heats up. | WWD
Here’s the data on what sustainability aspects consumers value. | Fashnerd
Hemp is the future of fashion. | Hypebeast
Nontoxic Beauty and Health
A look at why tampons come with so much plastic. A must-read to understand how the plastics industry manufactured demand for plastic. This is not something we asked for. | National Geographic
How to eat less plastic. | Consumer Reports
CEOs are coming around to the idea that maybe there are other more important things to consider rather than shareholders. | Quartz
This article is a delicious dig at influencer culture, specifically the surfer moms of Australia.
Influencers might just kill the spirit of Burning Man. (I saw so many bored and uncomfortably dressed influencers this year. Yikes. Can’t we have just one week of no advertisements or marketing? No?) | Fast Company