Listen up, fashion conscious women with a conscience: if you want to be as well dressed as A-listers Cate Blanchett and Sienna Miller, check out Ciel, the new label from British designer Sarah Ratty.
Hip, luxurious and special are words that come to mind, style-wise, when perusing the latest collection from the designer who brought you Conscious Earthwear. Smart and aware also come to mind. Created with green fabrics and practices, Ciel’s signature pieces make a more ethical and environmental choice available to stylish women.
I am a handbag enthusiast. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always walked around with one. My look had to be just right and the handbag was the final touch. As I became older and more green, my handbag choices seemed to unfairly dwindle. The early organic handbags were always boring colors and unstylish.
Designers are now taking that into consideration and creating great looking bags that adhere to green standards. They’re coming up with ideas on how to use recycled materials to create products that are not only stylish, but functional and durable.
Dutch designer, Doreen Westphal received a bag full of inner tubes as a joke for Christmas. Instead of getting rid of them, she decided to play around and came up with an inner tube handbag.
Photography by Stefan Arni and his directing partner SIggi Kinski
This week we are lucky to have an exclusive interview with the founders of the fashion house SUST. With the seeds of their company planted in California, these two women, Marion McKee and Tristan Gribbin, have set out to make a mainstream fashion brand, with a green core. They are committed to designing desirable clothing, which looks and feels great, using only the finest 100% organicly grown cottons. They have even committed to having all their garments made in Northern California to ensure all workers are fairly treated, while receiving sustainable wages. Not your typical fashion company business model by a long shot. I guess they didn’t get the insiders handbook to creating a global brand on the cheap. You know the standard chemical / near slave labor production cycle. Isn’t that the right path to creating a main stream brand?
G Monkie: Tristan / Marion, your company is fairly new, only starting in 2008. When you jumped in to create this new fashion brand, what previous experience did you and how did you know what you wanted. to create?
Marion McKee, Co-Founder: I have fourteen years experience as an accessory designer with my own line Marion McKee Designs, which sells in specialty stores and boutiques across the nation. I also owned a skateboard/snowboard shop of street wear trends in the 1990’s in the heart of San Francisco’s Haight Street District. All my experience has stemmed from my love of fashion when I was in school and the merchandising and design classes I took in college.
Tristan Gribbin, Co-Founder: I have a background in theater and entertainment and have seen eye to eye with Marion on style since we’ve been friends in the seventh grade. When we were in junior high we were always sketching punk and new wave designs and passing them around in class! And then, when we were in high school we were Mods and that is still a heavy influence in our style and our designs for SUST today.
Seeing a model posing for “G” a.k.a. eco-jeans or walking the runway for Ethical Fashion Show is admirable and sexy, but Summer Rayne Oakes is more than just a pretty face making commendable fashion statements. She’s a smart beauty who has figured out how to combine her image with her real interests and has become an earnest activist and entrepreneur. Heading up SRO (after her initials), a consulting company focused on sustainable business strategies, Oakes is using her background in science and her cause related modeling, and now travels the world helping companies tie in style with sustainability.
It’s one thing to read that Oakes graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Natural Resources and Entomology, but it’s another to hear her speak her mind on environmental issues. She is, of course, still a pretty face, but the beauty falls to the wayside and you’re left listening to a confident, comfortable, and very intelligent female communicate with passion on a subject that has been close to her heart since youth the environment.
I don’t have a green angle to talk about Bjørg Jewellery, but I wanted to include this amazing line on G Living because of the spirit behind the jewellery is very “G”. I don’t know how jewellery is green or not, except for when it comes to the mining process. Most of that is very destructive, but how much metal could be in a ring. Your average so called green bike uses more metal than it would take to make hundreds of rings.
Bjørg was born on a dark winter-night in December 1966. She grew up in the arctic nature where the wild mountains meet the North Ice Ocean. With bright summer nights and winter days with darkness and colors of the Nordic light.
Bjørg was gifted with an energetic family with open minds, and was the youngest of four children. She was always encouraged to enjoy her creativity and she had an endless line of projects like the rest of her family.
“At one stage I think my parents felt we were too much with all our activities, all happening in the tiny living-room. They converted a small bedroom into a timeout zone, for themselves. My big brother had a tiny room where he developed photos. I was always fascinated with the magic of a blank paper turning into a piece of art.”
This year shopping for green fashion is a mixed bag. Yes there are way more shops online and in your local neighborhoods, but the actual brand choices seem to be pretty limited still. Some of the brands, which tried to come out big, ended up failing and other brands have had to stay small as the economy takes a downward turn.
One of the big hopeful brands was NAU. Twenty some million later, the company all but closed down, as it ran out of capital to keep the doors open. Lucky for us and them, the brand quickly re-emerged as a small lighter company with a full online store. Since they have closed all physical locations, the best place to find NAU at the best price is on their site, nau.com. The NAU style fits the urban athletic type, who is looking for clothing which performs and will look at home on the streets of New York. Colors are classic and the cuts are all modern.
Big NAU shopping tip. Get on their mailing list, since they email out sale announcements directly to existing customers first. You can really score great deals, up to 50% if you get in there fast.
Stewartbrown.com | My next favorite green fashion store has to be Stewar+Browns own online store at stewartbrown.com. Stewart+Brown are one of those small fashion labels, who care about every aspect of the business. They spend a lot of time and care in sourcing and designing the fabrics which they use in their designs. Also, Stewart+Browns designs are just so pretty and well made. The only real issue, is finding their full line of clothing in any single store. This is why going direct to their own store is your best bet, if you really want to find exactly what you want. The down side is less sells. But you can always shop around.
BTCelements.com | The best part of BTC Elements has to be the founder herself, Summer Bowen. Summer has been a friend to G Living from day one. You can see her in many of our early shows and the Elizabeth Kucinich Eco-Make-over show. Summer loves green fashion and has a great eye. Her online store is a fresh place to find the hot upcoming designers.
Here is what Summer has to say about BTC Elements:Modern, eye-catching, uniquely crafted, BTC Elements combines smart style with sustainability. We hand-select each item in our boutique collection of fashion, gifts, and accessories with an eye to the environment and social justice. The result: Fresh, inspiring designs that are both earth friendly and ethically sourced.
Because we work closely with small designers and artists who share our passion, our online boutique carries many one-of-a-kind items you won’t find anywhere else. Our goal is to delight you with our distinctive collection of mindful products while providing value and excellent service.
Thegreenloop.com | As ethical clothing gains popularity and visibility, the all important question is where can you buy them? The internet is a great option for those who don’t live in urban centers, as well as those of us who are too lazy to leave our laptops. So, here are some suggestions on where to make some socially conscious sartorial purchases:
Greenloop offers the most complete selection of progressive, sustainable apparel as well as accessories, footwear and beauty products. Owner Aysia Wright constantly scans the market for new innovations and creative talent. From EDUN to Loomstate to Perfectly Imperfect, the result is a mix of big names and new designers, and the no nonsense layout is easy to navigate. What’s more, Greenloop gives 1% of profits to environmental causes and is striving to become ‘carbon neutral’ by offsetting shipping generated carbon.
Beklina.com | Beklina has a sweet, graphic layout that is instantly appealing. I like that the brand isn’t immediately evident. It’s not until you the click thru that you find out which designer you’ve been drawn to. On top of apparel and accessories, paper products and other “nest” items like ceramics are available. I especially like the supercute jewelry by Malin.
Cocosshoppe.com | Coco’s Shoppe.com may resemble a more traditional on-line boutique, but closer examination reveals cutting-edge ethical brands like Bahar Shapar and Spring and Clifton. They also carry items like innovative hemp and silk lingerie by Enamore. What sets Coco’s apart, however, are their organic beauty products like ginger soymilk wash by Hamadi and exquisitely packaged cosmetics by Rosie Jane.
Shopmodify.com | Modify is “founded upon a lifestyle that has proven one does not have to sacrifice great style and exquisite taste to go green”. Which is welcome news to any socially aware fashionista, especially one looking to drop $2,950 on a turquoise Beverlywood Regency Chair made from organic cotton and FSC certified wood. The site also features a vintage section with some breathtaking handbags.
greenwithglamour.com | Green with Glamour is founded by two Chicago-bred friends, Kathleen Rowan and Deana Bracken. GWG looks more magazine than website, featuring quotes from Walt Whitman and Coco Chanel as well as a personal shopper service. The sustainable clothing range is small but selective and is complemented by a beautiful homewares and gift ideas, which you can wrap up in recycled wrapping paper. And I definitely approve of glamour spelt with a u.
Everyone knows that while the “G” Fashion movement has been ramping up, high style offerings are still a bit on the thin side. At best there are a hand full of good designers bringing stylish well made garments to market.
This should be changing rapidly, since almost everywhere you look now you see a new Green Magazine Issue, or a sign on a bus, saying the world is going green. So we are more hopeful than we have ever been. With the new interest in green living, and new consumers coming to this market, the prices of all the new clothing collections, that are sure to emerge, should be coming down as well. I don’t think I know any guys like my self, who would run out to buy a $200 pair of jeans.
It’s always easy to identify fashion crimes. At least, in retrospect. Take for example the 1980s. Offenses were flowing thick and fast in the era of scrunchies, bubble skirts and ubiquitous shoulder pads. But one ‘80s item you definitely don’t need to be ashamed of is the Choose Life T-shirt. Made famous by the boys from Wham!, these tees are still so highly sought after that designer Katherine Hamnett decided to relaunch them, along with a host of other socially conscious slogans.
Only this time, they’re organic.
Choose Life was launched back in 1983, in the midst of a Thatcher-ite government and a Europe-wide proliferation of cruise and Pershing missiles. Choose Life encouraged us to choose life over war, extinction, and so on. Inspired by Buddhism, the slogan was not related to the anti-abortion lobby, who later appropriated the phrase.
Who is Blake Hamster? Is he a) a suave and sophisticated urban rodent; b) a B-movie star with an unusual skill set; or c) a creative collaboration by a group of designers, artists, musicians, authors and journalists from around the world.
If you guessed anything other than c) you’re probably on the wrong site.
Guided by firm set of aesthetics and ethics, this socially conscious collective produces, well, whatever they want. This time it’s shirts, but next time they say it could be “a collection of household wares with a twist to a magazine or an art-show”. Blake Hamster’s current release consists of the aforementioned shirts featuring eight designs/motives, four for each gender. The men’s shirts are made from 100% organic cotton whilst the women’s are further evolved by blending 78% organic cotton with 22% seacell, an innovative yarn with moisturizing and anti-inflammatory agents.
And yes, the dying process is all sustainable too.
By Sarah Backhouse for Coco Eco Magazine, Photography by Rachel Schwarz, Styling by Michele Lianos, Make Up by Julianne Kaye, Hair by Tony at Photogenics
Young Hollywood is mostly synonymous with a bunch of vacuous brats who are “green” because Leo is or because their publicists told them to. So it was refreshing to meet actress Rachel Leigh Cook – a clever, candid and considered actress who had obviously given real thought to the threat of climate change. Fresh-faced, doe-eyed and skewing much younger than her almost 30 years, Rachel Leigh Cook reminded me of a young Winona Ryder. Eyes aside, what struck me most about Cook was her laid-back, unassuming attitude and oodles of patience, which unbeknownst to her, was soon to be tested.
Anyone who’s worked in production knows what it’s like when things don’t go according to plan. It’s annoying. As annoying as say a petroleum-fuelled blower within ear, nose and throat shot. The day of Rachel Leigh Cook’s cover shoot was just one of those days. Unforeseen construction on Malibu beach lead to a last minute change of location, which meant moving ten people, a ton of gear and what seemed like 75 cars, ten miles up the Pacific Coast Highway to stunningly remote beach location with zilch parking, zero restrooms and no cell phone reception. Add to that. mislaid gear, hell-ish school holiday traffic and some horribly lost crewmembers and you get the picture. Anyone with slightly diva-esque tendencies had already lost it. But this isn’t about me. To her credit, Cook remained calm and good-humored throughout. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
Todays exclusive interview is with the Founder and COO from the company Revenge IS. A company focused on spreading green messages on desirable recycled products to a main stream audience.
Their Mission Statement: Global warming, energy dependence, war, economic turmoil, foreclosures and unemployment – these are some of the major crisis facing our world today. Developing alternative sources, practicing “reduce, reuse and recycle” in our everyday lives, and demanding more effective diplomatic and economic policies of our government and business institutions will help. The old saying goes “the best revenge is living well.” Our belief is that, by taking action today, we can all live well tomorrow
G Monkie: Marilyn / Carly, you just started up in 2008, right in the middle of the global economic crash. Why start a company now and what experience did you have in the fashion business?
Marilyn Barrett, Founder/CEO: None. Fortunately, we have found several brilliant designers to work with who share our commitment to green eco-fashion and social justice.
The idea for Revenge Is… came to me about a year ago while taking a walk with my two favorite furry companions. The 2008 Presidential election cycle had started and the many problems facing our country and the world today were in the forefront of the news and political commentary – global warming, energy dependence, economic turmoil, and wars resulting in too many deaths and injuries. I felt angry and frustrated and wanted the people who were primarily responsible for these problems to stop…and pay for the pain and losses they caused. I know I am not alone.
Carly Miller, Chief Operating Officer: I ran Clothing of the American Mind, a socially, environmentally and politically driven t-shirt company, from 2004 – 2009, but I have no formal training or education as a fashion designer; however, I feel that often, the best education is hands-on experience, which was definitely the case for me.
This week in our series of exclusive interviews with some of the top emerging Green Designers we are featuring Sandy Skinner from the company ecoSkin. Sandy founded the company in 2007 after a 17 year career in the fashion industry, where she had worked in virtually every position. From buying, to managing operation and even serving as President for a major contemporary brand. When starting ecoSkin, she wanted to create a new brand which would focus on environmentally sustainable luxury fabrics, which are woven and sewn within the United States. She insists her dye houses and manufacturing facilities—all in the Los Angeles area—follow her demanding quality, environmental and labor standards. And, she personally oversees every high-quality and eco-friendly detail, from the selection of raw material to the oversight of meticulous local dying, weaving and sewing to the design of green hangtags and labels.
G Monkie: Before becoming a designer, what was your background and when did you get started?
Sandy: My experience is more on the merchandising end. I have been doing private label merchandising and line development for over 12 years now. My bio is also on the website and I know you can pull some details from there.
G Monkie: Which designers or companies in the green fashion space have inspired you and have they influenced your business model?
Sandy: There is nobody I really model the company after. I feel like we are trying to do something different. We want to go after a fashion forward customer who is looking for a green choice in her wardrobe. I always say she buys the line because she loves it but the benefit is that it is green not the only reason she is buying.