Day 180

June 28th, 2016

# 10 Educate yourself and others. Change your perspective on value and give yourself a break.


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards


Finally. On this last day of the 180 Style Challenge I want to leave you with a challenge for yourself. I challenge you to consider shifting your perspective.

Did you watch the video I posted yesterday? (NO? Go back and watch it and then come back to this…) In the video they talk about a ‘beat’ which is basically pausing to evaluate and possibly change directions. I call that a 180° turn. That’s why I called this challenge the 180 Style Challenge.  To turn 180 degrees is to go in the exact opposite direction of where you were going. And when it comes to sustainability that’s what it takes sometimes.

It means changing perspective on our meaning of ‘value’

We are told that it is such a great deal you can’t afford not to get it. Our generation believes that we are richer than we really are simply because we can afford lots of stuff. What we don’t stop to think about is that half of the ‘stuff’ we buy is of such substandard value and quality that, this great deal is in fact a great deal of garbage that will either fall apart by the time we wash it or in terms of trends, be out of style by the time we leave the store.

Instead, if we think of value in terms of longevity and performance, we start to put more importance on factors other than price. For instance, what is it made of? Or how is it made? Other values include, who made it? Does it support my lifestyle? Is it in check with my environmental beliefs? Does it improve the lives of those around me?

Understandably we cannot answer everything, and sometimes the answers are not what we want to hear; sometimes our choices are limited. But, I do believe that taking a step back to even ask the questions will eventually give us a more balanced perspective to consuming and to purchasing things, and that’s something that we can feel good about.

I recently read a post about becoming sustainable, and I’d like to end today with an excerpt from it, as it echoes my sentiments perfectly. We cannot expect perfection when we are striving for such a radical change, but we can keep going slowly and with intention: One step at a time.

From the quote by George Eliot who once wrote of this, “It will never rain roses… When we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses.” Erin, the author of “Design For Mankind”, uses the metaphor of planting and growing roses as an image for sustainable living. Here’s what she said,

“Slow living is a slow process. We will get it right and we will get it wrong. Our garden will bloom for months and then we’ll lose focus – life will get busy, or hard – and we’ll forget to pay attention to our efforts. We’ll wish for the roses to rain again, for life to be simple again, for the work to get easier, and when will it get easier?

Planting will never be easier.

But the roses are worth it, nearly every time.”

From The Truth about Minimalism

Thank you for following me on this journey of planting roses.

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Day 179

June 28th, 2016

# 9 No fast fashion. Learn to develop your own style.


Outfit: Black dress worn forward, over boyfriend jeans, tan MizMooz wedge shoes. Antique rose drop earrings. Unique neck piece, yes, that is made out of doilies. I’m going with it!


Buy style not fads. Current fashion retailers like to tell you that trends are moving fast and that in order to be fashionable you need to pick up the latest and greatest. They do not tell you that the only reason they are moving fast is because they designed it that way. Fast fashion feeds into our need for instant gratification and constant change. In this society where it is hard to stay put for more than 30 minutes at anything that is not on a screen, fast fashion fits right in. The problem is that you could not possibly re-invent fashion so much that it would be so different each time. The proof of this is that they are now re-introducing trends that were in vogue just a few years ago. 80’s and 90’s is cool again? High waist jeans?  Seriously? And they talk about it like it’s the greatest and newest thing since sliced bread. Like nobody has done it before! So what is the solution to this? In the words of Coco Chanel:

“When fashion fades, style remains”.

You must be able to discover what it is that looks good on you. Not only proportion, style and texture, but also what fits your personality and everyday life. A lot of sustainable brands are no longer targeting an age or income demographic, but rather a lifestyle, because this is what will ultimately dictate your preference in clothing.

I want to invite you to watch this video from Cladwell. Remember the company I mentioned a few days ago on building wardrobe capsules? The video does not talk about the business, but about fast fashion and why we should take a different route when approaching our purchases.

Why We Want to (beat) Fast Fashion

 

 

 

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Day 178

June 26th, 2016

#8 Buy less often, buy better: comes down to Quality.


Outfit: Black dress worn as a jacket, ruffle tank top, dress shorts, beaded long necklace, tan Dansko sandals (have had them for 5 years= quality)


Quality not Quantity.

For this you may have to go ask grandma. You need to learn about quality finishes, seams and fabrics. About what makes a well cut garment lie flat vs. one where corners were cut (no pun intended).

Have you ever gotten a T shirt from a cheap source and even by looking at it on the hanger you can tell it is twisting to the side? What makes it do that is the fact that the factory decided to save fabric by cutting off-grain. The result is side seams that are on a bias cut (angled) and they either wave, stretch or twist. So you take the shirt home because it was 10 bucks, and you wear it once, because after you washed it, the problem got worse, only now it has shrunk and it is gathering on the side. The shirt ends up in the garbage and now you have to go back to the store to buy another $10 shirt for the next week. This would not happen if you bought a better quality shirt that was cut on grain.

But how do you make sure that you don’t get taken because more expensive doesn’t always translate into better-made. Well, you learn about finishes, and seams, and fabric. So go ask grandma…or take a class, or even look online.

I found a plethora of guidelines on how to spot quality and although I won’t post all of them here, I will tell you this, they all focus on seams, fabric and finishes. Quick tips: if you open the garment and there’re lots of loose threads, or the seams are crooked or if you pull the two pieces that the seams are connecting lightly and they bunch up, then don’t buy the outfit. Look for buttons that are securely stitched, more stitches per inch (16-20 is great) and self-facings, linings and wider seam allowances. For more information, check out this link it goes into great detail.

Another way to assess whether or not your purchase is worth it, is Cost per wear.

That 10 dollar shirt seemed like a good deal at first, but when you calculate the amount of times you replace it, the cost per wear becomes an issue.  I talked about this on day 99, and there are some great links and examples on that post, but basically it explains that something that may appear to be expensive on paper is actually more cost effective because it will last years due to  its quality and because it is not a fad. Another great insight on why cheaper  does not equal value is this article by Lifehacker, Cheap Clothes Are Too Expensive: Buy Quality Instead

The trend of buying less and buying better is catching on, in  The Power of Buying Less by Buying Better from The Atlantic, the author outlines a couple of brands that actually bet on the consumer buying less because their product will last longer. Point in case the 30 year sweatshirt and Cuyana whose tag line is ‘Fewer, better things’. These companies and many others like them acknowledge the fact that clothing has become disposable and are trying to combat this by providing the consumer with higher quality items that will last longer.

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Day 177

June 25th, 2016

# 7 Minimize to maximize: Build a wardrobe capsule


Outfit: Black dress worn forwards, red runners. Yellow bag (thrifted) and yellow visor (I know…too much, but hey I’m going to watch soccer and if it’s sunny…it will be just right!)


I’m pretty sure this is the next step I’ll be taking after I finish the challenge. Although I don’t know how exactly I will do it (I’m still in the process of researching it) I do know how I won’t. If you Google “How to build a wardrobe capsule”, you get a ton of links on how to go about it. However, beware of the articles that say they are capsules yet they are not. According to “You are doing the wardrobe capsule wrong“, by Kelly Dougher for Fashion magazine, some of these articles recommend having a capsule for each season, so every 3 months and that would be 30+ pieces each time. How is that a wardrobe capsule? You basically end up with over 120 pieces! I realize though, that number may very well be minimizing for some people, I know some enthusiasts have way more clothing than that, and so, downsizing to a 30 piece rotation is a great step. But if you don’t have a Kardashian closet full, and you truly want to learn how to maximize what you own, then a true wardrobe capsule should be year-round and between 30- 50 pieces.

Exactly what goes into your capsule should depend on your own lifestyle, personality and style. I don’t believe that one size fits all when it comes to this because we are all different. We have different preferences and obligations, so it is silly to expect a stay at home mom to have a wardrobe that is the same as a working single woman or that what works in Florida would work in Calgary.

You can try making your own capsule wardrobe following some of the blogs found, or you can subscribe to a service. One of the ones I came across is called Cladwell Capsules and I love it. I might actually subscribe to them if I fail miserably on my own. But I want to try and come up with my own version first. However, Cladwell seems to be a very viable option if you don’t feel like re-inventing the wheel.

In the end it doesn’t matter how you arrive, simply that you do. So whether you go DIY or through a personal service, finding ways to downsize, purge and minimize will ultimately help you maximize your closet’s potential.

Good luck!

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Day 175

June 23rd, 2016

# 5 Support better companies: Buy Local


Outfit: Black dress worn over cream capris. Tan Miz Mooz wedges, crystal long glass necklace, black skinny belt. 


There’s the big box company. There’s the small local enterprise. One has the buying power -cheap prices, the other one knows their clientele. How do you make the choice?

Buying local shouldn’t be hard right? But the truth is that sometimes local does not come with as much selection and it may be pricier. Once again, we gotta look at the bigger picture.

Remember the stats I shared with you day 74? Let me refresh your memory:

For every $100 spent at a chain store, $18 return to the community, for every $100 spent at a local store, $46 make it back to your neighborhood.

Those are pretty clear stats. So buying local should be a no-brainer. It is easy to imagine the 100 mile rule when it comes to food.  But when it comes to clothing that simply cannot apply. For starters, most clothing is made overseas. Most fabric is also made outside of Canada. As I wrote on day 72 being a local designer needs to be understood as Country wide-local. However, local also applies to businesses. Small boutiques vs. large clothing chains. These stores will generally carry better made garments, have great customer service and care for you individually as a customer. They must value your business or they will be out of it.

In spite of the odds being against locally made in Canada, there are many who are persevering. The website Fashion Capsule is a great resource for designers and it focuses in BC and especially Vancouver.fashion-capsule-logo Under their “Dress Local” category, you will find almost 100 links to Vancouver/Lower Mainland design labels including artisan style clothing, upcycled, jewellery and ready to wear.

Another great resource for Local businesses is LOCO BC also based out of Vancouver it is a non-profit organization that encourages and provides support to locally owned businesses. Some of their members include:BCbuylocal_4badges--e1415931029414

Nature’s Fare Markets Kelowna

Opus Art supplies

Portobello West

Plum Clothing

Each city has a local Chamber of Commerce. This is another great way to find out what stores owners are from your community and which are not. It may not seem like a big deal, but according to LOCO, even 1% spent BC based consumer spending, would add 3500 jobs province wide.

Here in Kelowna, we have all sorts of wonderful local businesses and artisans. You can check out the Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Or if you want to see a full selection in one place, why not visit Sara at Unless Market (day 67) and check out the awesome selection of locally made wares she has.

So when it comes to being and buying local, again, try to support them first. Don’t go running to the chain for everything. The chain won’t come running to you!

 

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Day 173

June 21, 2016

#3 Support better companies:  BUY ECO-FRIENDLY


Outfit:  Black dress worn backwards, red polkadot belt (thrifted), red necklace and shoes.


Making the decision to buy eco-friendly fabrics can be a hard one. They are more expensive. And a lot of the times, they look the same. It isn’t like organic food, where very often you can taste a difference. Especially on things like strawberries. No, with fabrics, you’re just taking their word for it.

That being said, the statistics don’t lie, having looked at the impact all of the fabric manufacturing has on our planet, (Day 160) it is difficult to ignore the fact that something must be done.

Now, don’t go out and set yourself into a panic or a slump. I know so many of us (definitely me) get discouraged with the amount of things that are wrong and the minimal impact we seem to be able to have. But that’s not the point. The idea is to be able to make small, seemingly insignificant changes that eventually will add up to more.

Do you remember the mind map I posted on whether or not to buy something (Day 55)? I’m going to make one on how to approach eco-friendly fabrics:fabric infographic

If you want more information on where to buy eco fabrics, check out fabric.com they have a wide range of fibres available. There are also lots of companies that use recycled fabrics, Day 143 Reformation is one of them. Eco friendly fabrics, Day 158.

 

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Day 172

June 20th, 2016

Clothing Recycle: More than just donating


Outfit: Black dress worn forwards, green drop earrings, tan flats.

Neckline styling idea: Upcycled collar from a used denim shirt, courtesy of fashion student: Amethyst Lins.


We’ve already talked about how recycling clothing does not mean donating your impulse-bought items so that you can buy some more. Recycling clothing falls into the following categories:

1. Second Hand clothing: Buy and wear used clothing. By supporting your consignment or thrift store you are not only re-purposing clothing and saving it from ending up in the landfill, you are also helping your community. Many of the thrift stores in your city have a charity attached to them, and buying from them, helps the charity. See days 93, 104, and 136 for ideas.

2 . Upcycle: Whether you buy or make it yourself, re-purposing a piece of clothing that is no longer in style or was the wrong colour, gives it a totally new lease on life. Some great upcycling companies that I’ve encountered include Nooks designs (childrenswear) or Precocious clothing (Day 4 ). For a more broad view of upcycle clothing check this link. 7 UPCYCLING COMPANIES THAT ARE TRANSFORMING THE FASHION INDUSTRY

Or look on Pinterest…lots of ideas there too!tshirt_cutting ideas

3. Recycling of fabric. If your city has a recycling program for fabric, count yourself lucky! Not many places have this available. New York City is in the process of approving a system that works similarly to the blue bins curve pick up.

In addition they do have a recycling program where you can bring your unwanted textiles. But not all cities or towns have these programs. So the next best thing to do is to lobby your city council to think about implementing something similar.  Until then, try to turn your un-donate-ables into rags for cleaning, use them as pajamas or for work out wear. Have a look at how this author tackles the donating issue by trying eleven steps before she finally donates  or recycles a piece of clothing.

 

 

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Day 171

June 19th, 2016

#1 Care for your clothes. (Wash less)


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, vintage shawl collar jacket borrowed from the fashion room at school. Gold rope necklace, hoops. 


I’m going to split this one up in two parts.

Part 1 refers to washing instructions. When was the last time you actually looked at your labels? In retail I couldn’t believe how many people I got who didn’t recognize fibers and their proper care. So first and foremost would be to learn about fibre care.

If you check your labels though, you’ll see more and more of them simply state “Dry clean only”. This is the easiest way for a brand to shed the responsibility for the garment falling apart after a wash or two. Here’s a hint: if the garment is made of polyester or cotton or blends and the label reads Dry Clean only, chances are they don’t know how the fabric will respond to washing. So it’s probably not the best fabric, period. For all other labels, simply follow instructions carefully. If they say wash in cold water…wash in cold water; if it says hang to dry only… then follow suit. The more you follow these instructions the better your clothes will react. Just so you know, no fabric reacts well to heat anyways. Cotton would be the only one that could resist hot water the best (once it has shrunk), but even polyester will eventually get marks (at the seams) from super hot water or the dryer. Rayon will definitely shrink, and wool will end up fitting your American Doll if you wash or dry in heat. Washing clothes properly will make them last longer, period.

For best results, no more dumping a big ball of miscellaneous laundry into the washing machine without separating. I’ve been so guilty of this at times. I feel like it’s saving me time, but in reality it’s ruining my clothes. Whites really do stay whiter if they are washed together and then hung in the sun to brighten. Honestly.

On this note, I find that using an environmentally friendly soap is also gentler on my clothes. I’ve been washing my clothes for years with a biodegradable soap with no scent. It is awesome.

Ok and we already saw on Day 164, how the fastest way to lower your CO2 impact is by hanging to dry and skipping the dryer. So I guess for those of us who live in the Great White North, at least during the summer this is still an option, see Day 165.

Part 2 of caring for your clothes, I would round up as don’t get them dirty in the first place! How do you achieve this? Well, I wear an apron whenever I’m cooking, cleaning, drafting, sewing, and sometimes eating! Do you know how many times I’ve spilled my first cup of coffee on my apron only to be so relieved it wasn’t my real clothes? Our grandmas wore an apron for this precise reason! They only had a certain number of clothes and did not want to ruin them. It is a lot easier to replace that apron than it was to replace a dress. The same can be said for our clothes today, except that when we ruin a t-shirt, it is simpler to go buy one. But that does not help our sustainable problem does it? If you absolutely hate the apron idea, then have a ‘home outfit’ that you can change into and be ok with ruining. Just make sure you change when you go out…nobody wants to see your shredded jogging pants at the store! Clinton and Stacey (What not to wear) would be horrified!

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Day 170

June 18th, 2016

Ingrid’s top 10 ways of becoming fashion sustainable.


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, with Peter Pan white detachable collar. Long clear glass necklace, gold hoop earrings. Tan shoes. 


Wow. 10 days to go

I honestly can’t believe that I’ve done this almost six months. It has become such an integral part of my routine that I don’t know what I’ll do now that I don’t have to. I wish exercising would come as easy as this did!

I think I might keep up some of these new found habits though. I really like the practice of having pre-set outfits that I know will work and simply picking a day to wear them. Like I’ve said before, it’s like meal planning but with your clothes. The best part is that you don’t have to think in the morning and leave the house looking like you got dressed in the dark (happened more than once). So I’ll definitely be trying that one.

The other one is wearing more of the pieces I have and trying new things. There were items in that closet that hadn’t seen the light of day for a long time, and having to experiment with new looks definitely made it easy to bring them out again.

Now, as promised, I will take the next ten days to offer some ideas on how to tackle unsustainable fashion in small steps. So I present to you:

Ingrid’s Top 10 ways of becoming fashion sustainable:

  1. Wash less
  2. Recycle: Buy second hand/swap/thrift.
  3. Support better Companies 1: Buy eco-friendly
  4. Support better Companies 2: Buy ethically made
  5. Support better Companies 3: Buy local
  6. Mend your clothes
  7. Minimize your wardrobe to maximize its potential. Fashion Capsule
  8. Buy less often, buy better: Cost per wear.
  9. No fast fashion. Learn to develop your own style.
  10. Educate yourself and others. Change your perspective on Value.

Of course this list is not by any means the end all or be all, it is simply a suggestion and one of many ways to achieve this goal. You may have better ideas that suit your lifestyle. Those are the best ones, because they will work for you. And then it will be done. And that’s all that matters in the end.

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Day 169

June 17th, 2016

The power of the consumer is stronger than you may think.


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, purple ruffle scarf (hand-me-down), brown and green shoes, mauve glass bracelet.


As this challenge draws near the end, I want to focus for the next few days on what we can do as consumers. I watched a documentary called “The Next Black” and in it, among other things, Rick Ridgeway, environmentalist, mountaineer and Vice President of Environmental Initiatives at Patagonia, talks about their campaign on less consumption (about minute 24 in the film). This campaign came out on a Black Friday ad and it simply said:

DO NOT buy this Jacket.

Can you believe this? A retailer asking you not to buy something? Their intent was, do not buy the jacket unless you really need it. Ie, you need to replace a very old one or you don’t have a winter coat. The campaign gets some slack as ‘greenwashing‘ from some, but I believe that it is much better than some other brands that pretend they are sustainable yet their practices show otherwise.

In any case something he said, stuck with me. He said,

“How did we end up with Fast fashion? Perhaps the answer is in the ability of companies to deliver fashion faster and faster because their are made in places with the lowest cost, deliver and change weekly, and we end up with having that capability because it satisfies a desire and a need in people. If that’s the case, then it is that desire from the consumer that’s driving it, and that’s where the change has to come from.” (Paraphrased)

That’s where the change has to come from.

Yes, companies can change their fabrics, their protocols, their practices, they can be as green as can be. But if the consumer doesn’t buy, it won’t matter. We have the most power in change because companies depend on us otherwise they wouldn’t spend millions on advertising trying to convince us that we need something we don’t.

It is our time to change this. To expect different. To get retailers to act different. But it all comes down to small changes.

So for the last few days, I will try to give you some ideas of what can be done, and you choose what works best for you.

 

 

 

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Day 168

June 16th, 2016

Good enough is good.


Outfit: Pink and orange dress worn under black dress worn forward. Skinny tan belt, tan wedges, chandelier earrings, re-purposed glass bracelet from an England artisan market (SIL gift!)


Ok, so now that I have only 12 days left, may be a good time to start giving some more practical solutions to this whole becoming fashion sustainable dilemma. I try to remember (like the article yesterday on Eileen Fisher), that we cannot be perfect 100% of the time. Especially when some of the choices are out of our control, like country of origin or availability where you live. However, I tend to approach this like I’ve approached healthy eating, organic food, and even parenting.

The Good Enough Principle as some call it, is exactly what it says. We cannot achieve perfection, so we need to be OK with an outcome that is sometimes short of that. I’m not advocating that we don’t try hard, or that we simply give up, but there are times that we just can’t do anything more than our best, and that’s enough. Good enough. strive-for-progress

When it comes to becoming a good steward of our resources by aspiring to make things sustainable, it can seem like an uphill battle. Small conscious steps are better than none, and eventually they become the norm which help us to make more permanent larger changes.

Start for instance, with hanging your laundry once a week. Or try going shopping at a thrift store instead of the mall. How about buying the better made shirt instead of the cheapy one? Look at labels, choose better fabrics. Try buying online if what you need is not available in your city. And finally, start asking questions, especially from the stores you shop at. The more we ask, suggest, expect, the more chances they will listen. After all, you are the customer and they want to keep you.

 

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Day 167

June 15th, 2016

Eileen Fisher: a great example of fashion you can feel good about.


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, boyfriend jeans, brown hipster belt, long beaded necklace, leaf handmade necklace, green glass bead earrings and my new (thrifted) Miz Mooz wedge flats.


I want to share a couple of links to another company that is making a difference by adhering to higher standards and certifications.

Eileen Fisher has evolved her company into a becoming a fully sustainable organization. Using standards such as SA8000 and transparency in labeling, she’s almost there! The two following links elaborate on the processes the company has taken towards this goal and the challenges it faces in such a competitive environment.

This first link, talks about the beginning of Eileen Fisher as a company and her design concept. How she continued to grow the business ‘organically’ (like you could in those days), and her vision for the company in the coming years.

http://fashionista.com/2016/04/eileen-fisher-fashionista-meetup

The second link expands on the challenges of becoming environmentally sustainable and reminds us that we can’t achieve a perfect score, at least not at first. The company uses ‘mostly’ organic fabrics, but sets their goal towards ‘all’. However they believe that 80% is better than nothing and they continue to grow on this concept. Considering that the company is holistically committed to becoming sustainable in all aspects of business, I think they are a wonderful example of an organization putting People, Planet and Profit in the right place.

http://qz.com/661315/for-eileen-fisher-a-leader-in-sustainable-fashion-perfection-isnt-the-point/

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Day 166

June 14th, 2016

What is Cradle to Cradle?


Outfit: Black dress worn over white shirt, with black pinstriped blazer. Watermelon wedges, silver medallion. 


Have you heard of the term ‘Cradle to cradle’? Well I have recently been learning about it and let me tell you, it’s my newest favourite thing!

According to Wikipedia, Cradle to Cradle, also known as C2C, is “a biomimetic approach to the design of products and systems. It models human industry on nature’s processes viewing materials as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms.”  It intends products and industry to have a holistic approach to design from the beginning of the cycle (materials and sourcing) through its use and eventually end of life (disposal). Wouldn’t everything be better if we started with the end in mind?

I recently heard William McDonough speak on this on a TED talk, and all I can say is WOW. He talks about how we are a society with a “Strategy of Tragedy”, where we end up saying “well, I didn’t mean to cause global warning…” whereas we didn’t not intend to do it. He says that strategy lacks intention, a plan for an endgame, and therefore by default we end up having to excuse ourselves claiming ignorance. But how can we claim ignorance nowadays? How can we pretend that we don’t know that plastic is taking over the landfills, the sea? Did you know there is an area that can be seen through satellite pictures in the Pacific Ocean, where the ratio of plankton to plastic has recently been reversed? How can we pretend that there is nothing wrong with us shopping for ‘fun’ or entertainment and that whatever we don’t want anymore we can simply dispose of to make room in our closets or better yet, get a bigger closet or containers to house all of our stuff? We may be able to continue to kid ourselves, but our children won’t have that luxury.

In contrast, McDonough talks about a “Strategy of Hope”, where we have a plan and the end game is infinite, therefore we plan accordingly to keep it going. It is a tall order for sure. But there are many industries already adapting to this concept, including construction and food.

In 2012, Cradle to Cradle certification went to an independent non-profit called the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. Independence, openness, and transparency are the Institute’s first objectives for the certification protocols. In the fashion industry this concept is fairly new, but some brands are already trying to achieve this certification. One such brand is Stella McCartney, read about their plan here.

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Day 165

June 13th, 2016

Washing and drying like grandma used to, is good for the earth!


Outfit: Black dress worn frontwards, boyfriend jeans, watermelon wedges, iridescent scarf


So, who knew that all those years of hanging the t’s on the line were actually better than the modern conveniences of the stackable laundry set. This is a hard one, because I love me my dryer. If you had told me two years ago that I had to do this I probably would have cried. But more recently I’ve re-discovered a love for the line. I even got my husband and father in law to re-attach the original line that was installed in our 1950’s home. I got the clothes pins and the hooks to keep the line together and all summer long I hang most of my laundry. My biggest problem is remembering to get it before it rains!

Yesterday as I was hanging towels, I was chatting with my mother in law and reminiscing about how I used to do this in Mexico since I was 14! Back then we didn’t own a dryer; I don’t even know if many people do now. And sometimes we didn’t have a washing machine! So those laundry Saturdays, were spent, washing by hand on the concrete sink and then hanging things on the line. knowyourpilaThinking about that concrete sink, made me realize how energy efficient it was. It had a large space where the water was collected and the other side had a grooved (like a wooden washboard) angled surface with a plug at the end.
The water was mostly cold and you simply used a cup to add however much you needed to rinse. I spent many times there taking advantage of the splashing to keep cool in the summer heat -so it served two purposes.how-to-use-pila

I used to complain about the labour intensive chore; and truth be told I don’t know that I could do it now just time-wise, but there was certainly something therapeutic about the menial jobs that we did back then. It reminds me of the whole conversation we had about knitting. Those were the things people did instinctively and by necessity that were probably very good de-stressers. Nowadays we have the convenience of machines that do the jobs for us, yet we are more stressed and have to do more loads than ever. Mhm…I wonder if there is a connection here?

Here’s another short video explaining the impact of clothing on the environment. They use a cotton t-shirt as an example, but it can be said of other things too.

http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/cotton-tshirts

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Day 164

June 12th, 2016

The environmental impact of a T-Shirt might be surprising to some.


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards tucked in as shirt into denim skirt. Brown sandals, long bead necklace, antique glass bead earrings. 


The posts from the last few days are not meant to send you into a panic and or to make you feel guilty about donating your once-used garments to charity. They are however, meant to make us think twice about what exactly we are sending there and about its end of life cycle.

When we take into consideration all aspects of the clothing cycle from the material to the disposal, then maybe our choices will be more thought out. When we realize where something came from and what it took to make it, and then what it will take for it to become dirt again, then everything becomes a bit clearer.

Realistically we cannot be 100% on the ball all the time. It may be a matter of time constraint, need, availability or even money. But all of these reasons will eventually add up to the same thing: if we don’t start thinking about this soon, it will take a turn that we may not be able to reverse.

Have a look at this video and decide how you can affect your carbon footprint when it comes to clothing. Surprisingly one of the best things you can do, is wash your clothes less often! Or skip the dryer and use the clothes line. I found the percentage of CO2 emissions from doing laundry truly surprising. I never thought that it would be 3 times higher than transportation. The environmental impact of a cotton t-shirt.

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Day 163

June 11th, 2016

What about how textiles are produced?


Outfit: Black dress worn forward, black and white striped scarf worn as belt, large white bag, black Mary-Jane shoes, hoop earrings.


Fabric production is one of the most eye opening facts in the environmental footprint, as well it’s one of the most debated topics in sustainability arguing the synthetic vs. natural theme. Most people don’t even think about the chemicals, dyes and finishes that make our clothes feel and look the way they do. We are just used to our t-shirts being bright pink or blue and forget that even 60 years ago, those bright colours were not possible. The variety in colour, texture and supply all come at a cost. Here are some facts.

All fibres have their pros and cons. For instance, the raising of sheep for wool can be exploited and it erodes the soil, polyester and other synthetics are an oil derived product which is basically plastic -if you burn it, it balls up, that’s why it is unsafe to sleep in it-  its production emits green house gasses and cause water pollution.  And cotton crops which demand billions of pounds of pesticides per year also are a huge consumer of water needing 2700 L to produce enough cotton fibre equivalent to 1 t-shirt.

Then there’s the finishing of textiles which include dyeing of fabrics, coating with special substances to make them wrinkle resistant, waterproof, colour fast, etc., all of these processes involve highly toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and heavy metals. It is a common fun fact in the industry to say that the rivers in China are painted with the colours of next season.

Most of the textile production has moved to the orient (china accounts for 50% of world wide textile production), where the environmental laws common to North America and Europe are hard to enforce. As of February 20th, 2012, the China Pollution Map Database had 6,000 records of textile factories violating environmental regulations, including: discharging wastewater from hidden pipes; discharging untreated pollutants; improper use of wastewater treatment facilities; exceeding total pollutant discharge allowed; and using production facilities that were shut down by the authorities for various reasons. And China is not alone, following closely are other countries like Indonesia, India, Vietnam, etc.

If you want a comprehensive picture of the actual environmental impact of your clothes, the following article It’s the second dirtiest thing in the world and you’re wearing it, expresses it well. Lengthy but jampacked with information.

 

 

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Day 162

June 10th, 2016

What about the garments that are donated to charities?


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, red/coral scarf, watermelon wedges, hoops.


Like many North Americans, I used to believe that my donated items went to a needy person, but seeing the piles and piles of clothes at thrift stores, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out there’s absolutely no way they can sell it all.

Well, they don’t, at least not to your neighbours. Unsold garments from charitable stores, get sold to private recyclers and to traders who then sell it to the Second Hand Garment Trade (SHGT) in countries from sub-Saharan Africa among others. This is a $1.9 billion business annually and some critics say that it damages local economy by eliminating industry among it textile and by continuing the dependence of Africa on the west. In Kenya, Mitumba meaning ‘bundles’ is the name given to the clothes from developed countries, in Nigeria they call it Kafa ulaya (the clothes of the dead whites). Local merchants there purchase bales by weight in what they call a ‘lottery’ because you don’t know what’s in it. Sometimes it is good brands sometimes it is not.

Whether or not you agree with the benefits of this trade, the fact also remains, that the amount of clothing being sent there is monumental.

“Only about one-fifth of the clothing donated to charities is directly used or sold in their thrift shops. Says Rivoli, ‘There are nowhere near enough people in America to absorb the mountains of castoffs, even if they were given away.’” From: Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry (Under ‘Handling the Overflow’)

And with more and more cheap versions making the piles, these garments are not only unusable they are unsellable.

This is a short video that explains the Second Hand Garment trade in Ghana, it kind of brings it home.

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Day 161

June 9th, 2016

Welcome dear Cotton, welcome!


Outfit: New old black dress worn backwards, turquoise stone necklace, black mary jane shoes, hoop earrings.


It’s 35 degrees in the middle of June! Compared to where I used to live in Mexico, this is winter, but for someone who’s been in Canada more than 25 years, summer in June is pretty extreme.

So I had to go to the fabric store and got this fabulous 95%Cotton/5%Spandex poplin, to make a third copy of the dress. I do realize that organic cotton would have been ideal, but once again, you work with what you have available. I left the box pleat open to give it more room for ventilation, and I love the result. I also included patch pockets instead of side seam pockets…not sure which I prefer. Anyway, I think I’m doing pretty good considering I just found out that Sheena (original Uniform Project) had 7 copies of the little black dress.

19 days to go!

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Day 160

June 8th, 2016

ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT: Can mother earth handle this?


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, houndstooth vest, wedge black heels.


Throughout this blog I’ve covered many topics including the social aspect of worker’s treatment, the economy of local vs. imported, and recycling and more sustainable options. But I haven’t covered the impact that the fashion industry, especially fast fashion has on the environment. I will try and do that for the next couple of days.

The environmental footprint of the fashion industry was something I had not entirely understood until I started researching more. It still seems like the biggest obstacle to sustainability, yet it is one of the most pressing ones because it affects us all no matter where we live.  Let’s start with waste management.

                Where do all the discarded clothes go?

textile-wasteEven though used garments can be broken down and recycled into things like insulation or industrial rags, only 15% of textiles actually get recycled, most end up in the landfills. It is estimated that on average each consumer throws away 81lbs of textiles a year. This is up from 69lbs estimated three years ago. Value Village just joined forces VCAD this past Eco Fashion week in Vancouver to demonstrate how much is actually being tossed. If you calculate that each person is wearing approximately 2lb, then it is the amount of clothing that 40 of your closest friends are wearing right now.

To make matters worse, many of the garments that make it to the landfill are made of synthetic materials (polyester, nylon, acetate, etc) which means they are basically plastic. We all know how fast plastic biodegrades, right? Oh wait, that’s NOT fast at all. It takes hundreds of years! Which means that the hoodie you just threw out, will be there waiting for your children’s grandchildren to play with. Only it will be covered in soot and other gross things…

The problem is not only that more and more things are being made of polyester and such, it is the volume that is consumed. Some polyester is able to be recycled, and there are some great strides being made in research and development to bring this into mainstream, but in the meantime, we are simply consuming much more than can be re-used. So once again, it comes down to consumption. Less is more.

 

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Day 159

June 7th, 2016

More options for Canadian made product: Plum Clothing


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, tan cardigan by Kersh (bought at Plum) worn tied over the hips, long copper leaf necklace, hoop earrings, tan flats.


I’m going to recycle one of those posts I wrote a while back for my other blog. This one is about Plum Clothing. I was so sad when Plum closed up in Kelowna, but thankfully they still have stores in Vancouver and online. Great company, great product, great philosophy.

“One of the companies that has caught my attention on the search for sustainable options is Plum Clothing. The first time I saw a Plum Clothing store was their location in North Vancouver which was on Lonsdale and I passed it every day on my commute to work.  I liked it instantly. It was my kind of clothes. I liked too, that back then (in 199-y-something) it was entirely made in Vancouver.  But back then, I didn’t have such a heart for things made locally or fairly or anything like that. I just wanted to work in the industry, and I thought their price point was too expensive for me.

Fast forward a decade or so…and they are still here. They have locations throughout BC and I believe in Calgary, Alberta as well. Now, in growing with the times, it has become increasingly difficult for them to manufacture everything in Vancouver, but they still do for a great number of items. But more important than their manufacturing is the philosophy they are following. And this is what’s caught my attention. Their motto is: ‘Dressing with purpose”! Don’t you love it? Don’t you want to find out more about what that means? I did! So I read a couple of their blogs which I get with my email subscription to their sales.

The first one talks about how every woman is an individual and as such we must not conform to what fashion dictates to us! That follows the theme of what I was trying to explain in my last post. The author explains that their vision is for each woman to follow a ‘functional’ wardrobe that works with their lifestyle. Sooooo great! A functional wardrobe immediately says to me less clutter and more intentional items. Stuff you love to wear, stuff that looks good on you, less throw-away fashion.  Check out the article yourself and tell me what you think…Dress with purpose -Fun, Function and both?

The second post is about how we view value and whether we know it or not, what we place a priority on.  It explains three ways we can place value on something, by simply following economics, by its emotional/physical benefit or by its versatility. I especially like the part where she destroys the notion that fast fashion is cheap because you actually end up spending more in the long run!  Dress with purpose – Value Isn’t Always Economical

Although I would love anything from their store, Plum is not giving me anything to talk about them. I may not know everything about Plum, but I know this: at least on the forefront they are attempting to be different by expressing a vision and value that does not conform to the norm. And for that, in my books, Plum gets an ‘A+’”

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Day 158

June 6th, 2016

Rabbit and Empee and Nicole Bridger, what do they have in common? Vancouver Eco Fashion.


Outfit: Black tunic style jacket worn under black dress worn frontwards, black sash, red wooden large bead necklace, red heels.


Are you wondering if there are labels out there trying to do the right thing? Well there are. If you search on google for eco-fashion brands, you get quite a few. But it is kind of overwhelming to just go through and make sense of it all. So I’m going to just show you a couple that I have seen in person and consider beautiful examples of sustainable fashion:

nicole_gastown
Nicole Bridger, Gastown store

The first one is Nicole Bridger. Located in the middle of Gastown in Vancouver’s downtown, Nicole’s boutique is small but to the point. It has all of the collection in it and she carries other brands that complement hers. Bridger used to own the factory she was producing her garments in, but after a few years of ups and downs she was forced to close (I told you manufacturing in Canada was hard). However she still has most of her line manufactured there and some of it is made in Peru, by a factory that she has sourced personally. In addition, her line is made with natural and/or sustainable fabrics and they are made with the intention for them to last a few seasons (if not years), so her styling is very classic. For more information on her story, check their website, Nicole Bridger.

r_n_e_westend overcoat
Rabbit and Empee West end Overcoat

Another company that is concerned with all things green is Rabbit and Empee. This brand is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Nicole Bridger’s line. They are very unique shall we say? I personally love the designs, and although most are a bit too out there for my own style, I can certainly see myself adding a couple of their pieces to my wardrobe. Rabbit and Empee focuses mainly on festival wear, which has become super popular in the past few years. This type of clothing takes inspiration from the make-believe world and adapts it to wearable pieces for happy festival goers. If worn together, the collection has a very gypsy/fairy/medieval look, but if you take each piece and mix it with a conventional piece you would get a unique yet mainstream look that would suit a wider audience. The best part of Rabbit and Empee is that they use organic cotton and it is ethically made, as indicated in their website. They’ve traveled far and formed the relationship with a small local factory that makes all of their pieces. The result is great workmanship at a competitive price. To see more examples and learn more, check out their website here, Rabbit and Empee.

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Day 157

June 5th, 2016

Look …it’s shiny!


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, skinny black belt, black chunky boots. Metal studded peter pan collar.


One last trend…I really wanted to show you this one! I don’t usually like metallics. I had a fully striped metallic strapless evening gown that I wore one time to a fancy gala when I was about 17. The dress didn’t fit me very well, it was tight. So I could feel the seams actually ripping and unraveling. It was itchy and uncomfortable and so I think that experience has scarred me for life against metallic fabrics! But shinny stuff is fun, so when I found this metal stud collar, I knew I could make it work. I have made it so it is detachable and it can be worn with other stuff! Love it.1-lanvin-spring-2016-rtw_metallictrend

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Day 155

June 3rd, 2016

Ruffles…but not the potato chips.


Outfit: V neck shift grey dress with ruffle hem, worn under black dress worn forward. Black chunky boots, steam punk earrings.


Ok, so, thus far I’ve illustrated the following points:

 #1: Look for something in your own wardrobe that works as a trend. Day 152, Stripes.
#2:  Incorporate an aspect of the trend, like texture. Day 153, Lace.
#4:  Do not copy the trend ‘as is’ adapt it to fit your style, Day 154, Slip dress

The only point left is #3: Buy only one item per season that is trendy.

The item I am showing you today is probably the one where I would go out and purchase something to exemplify this trend. Only because I feel that the styling of the ruffles showed is a little more frilly and soft than what I have available and what I’m showing you. I might have gotten a georgette shirt with small floral print. Or maybe a scarf that has ruffles in it. Regardless, I would only go out and get one trend per season, so I would make sure that it is the one I like the most.6-j-w-anderson-spring-2016-rtw_rufflestrend
3-balmain-spring-2016-rtw_rufflestrend

I don’t mind the outfit that I put together today. In fact I like the ruffle on
this dress. When I first cut it, I had intended to make it a simple shift dress with a straight hem, but as I was about to sew it, I decided it needed something else, hence the ruffle.

It has taken me from various special celebrations, to work to dinner out, so it has a bit of classic with a bit of flare. Wearing it with boots today, simply takes it to a different place, just for kicks!

 

 

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Day 154

June 2nd, 2016

The slip dress…how exactly do you wear this?


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, over a black slip cut on the bias. Black sash, steampunk earrings, black heels.


jennifer_slipdress
Jennifer Garner in “13 going on 30”

This turned out to be one of my favourite looks to translate a very specific trend into something that even I can wear. The slip dress is not new by any means; simply a rehashing of the 90’s look brilliantly exemplified by Jennifer Garner in the movie “13 going on 30”. I’ve said this before, but if Jennifer can ‘barely’ pull this look off (and I say barely because the woman could wear a sack of potatoes and still look amazing), then what chance do I have to pull a slinky, shinny-show every imperfection-clingy-staticky dress?

In my grandma’s time, everyone owned a slip. They probably owned more than one. A long one and a short one, a fancy one perhaps? The slip was intended to work as a barrier or a protection between your clothes and your skin. It prevented lines from showing on the outside, it covered any imperfection, it made itchy wool less noticeable, and it made see through things look not see through. It was a mark of modesty but also a very handy garment to aid in the look of the outer garment.

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The slip dress, 2016 Spring trend

Nowadays we expect our bodies to do the job that corsets, petticoats and undergarments (including the slip) did for our great-grand ancestors. I do not suggest we go back to wearing corsets at all! No need to loose a rib or die from a punctured lung. But all of those garments and even the fabrication and cut of the outer garments worn in the past, made it so that if you had cellulitis, nobody would know, it was covered. Or if you had a muffin top, the garment would fit in a way that it did not protrude over the waistline (unlike some jeans now!). We used to shape our bodies with stays and wires, and now we expect to shape them with insane diets and exercise. It seems to me that we’ve gone from one extreme to another. I don’t subscribe to either method. I believe in moderation. Especially when it comes to having dessert…or wine.

I do believe that clothing that fits well and is cut in a flattering way will be far more efficient in providing an attractive and pleasing figure than starving oneself in order to fit into the next ideal size.

So when it comes to slips, I will wear them on the inside, thank you very much. I may show portions of them if they are pretty, but I will not be wearing mine out to supper by itself.

 

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Day 153

June 1st, 2016

Lace is always in style!


Outfit: Lace periwinkle blouse worn over dress worn frontwards. Black chunky boots, mauve bracelet.


Ok, so I get that this is not my best expression of this trend. I probably will add something else to make it pop a little more. I am saving some better ones for the end of the week. But in practical terms, my day is just better with less heels and bling today. I have to admit that I really, really like this dress, but then again I’ve always been a sucker for lace, as far as I’m concerned, it is always is style.

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Day 152

May 31st, 2016

Spring Trends my way.


Outfit: Grey and black chevron pattern stripe skirt worn under dress. Black belt, striped infinity scarf, black wedge boots, silver circle earrings.


For the next few days I want to invite you to explore the idea of adapting trends into your wardrobe. As much as I despise the thought of having someone dictate to me what’s in and what’s not, it is a part of feeling current that we need to be aware of. If you are a designer you must be aware of the trends in order to produce a line that sells, but if you’re a consumer it can feel a little intimidating to read all the trend magazines and know what to do with them.

I find it a little ridiculous when the trend reads:  “animal prints, geometric shapes in jewel tones”. I mean, pick something! I must be the anti-thesis of fashion forward, but I’m ok with that. The thing about trends is that it’s basically inspiration. Someone else’s inspiration trickling down the line until it gets to us everyday consumers. In the not so distant past, high end fashion designers would get inspired, often by art or current events and decide they want to design something based on that. Let’s say Karl Lagerfield went to a sunflower exhibition and then decided to emulate Chanel suits in orange. So then once the collections from Haute Couture came out, everyone else that does RTW, would use this inspiration to incorporate in their lines. Until at the end you find the orange suit-like garment in a grocery store brand (ever watched The devil wears Prada?). Nowadays, things are a little bit different. Trends can come from anything or anyone. The first trend to go bottom-up was ‘grunge’ which developed in the streets of Seattle and eventually made it to mainstream couture when Marc Jacobs created a line inspired by it. But regardless of how they get there, they still support the fact that it is someone else’s idea of what’s cool. That’s why I don’t like them, they lack individuality, someone else is telling you what is beautiful. However, if you want to look in style, we must listen to them to some degree. So here’s my two bits on how to incorporate trends without looking like a catalog from a department store:

  1. Look for the trend in your existing wardrobe. Look for something in your present wardrobe that could pass as the current trend. You may already own something that works.
  2. Buy a trendy item that will stand the test of time. In other words buy something classic-trendy. Even though it sounds like the biggest oxymoron, it is possible. You can pick classic fabrics, cuts and colours. The trend can be simply the print or texture or cut.
  3. Buy only one item per season that is very trendy. Ie only one ruffle blouse, or only one pair of flat mules. One item can accent your whole wardrobe and help you look fashionable through the season.
  4. Whatever you do, don’t do a carbon copy of the trend picture. Just because it looks good on the model, does not mean it will look good on you. Keep in mind your shape, colouring and most of all personality. There are some things that will make you shine and others simply will make you look more uncomfortable than a bull in a China store.

I am going to try some of these to illustrate my points.

Here is for instance number 1.

Something I already owned, will work for the stripes trend.2-stella-mccartney-spring-2016-rtw_stripestrend 11-milly-spring-2016-rtw_stripestrend SS16_Trend_Stripes2-1080x676

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Day 149

May 28th, 2016

Is ethically made apparel a fairy tale?


Outfit: Black dress worn forward, long socks, black chunky boots, infinity scarf made from remnant fabric.


No, it’s not a fairy tale, just very rare. One of the companies taking extra measures to ensure their product is ethically made is Knight Apparel. Knight apparel manufactures college sport wear. Things like sweatshirts, t-shirts, gym strip anything with the college logo on. After a personal life-changing experience the owner of the company decided he needed to do business differently. So he bought the factory in Dominican Republic where some of his product was being made. Enter Alta Gracia, the first factory in the developing world that pays their workers a ‘living wage’. Five years later and it’s still going. Have a look at their story here.

Maybe this is how we change things. One story at a time.

For more information about Alta Gracia, visit their website here.

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Day 148

May 27th, 2016

Good read: Fashion has become the wearable equivalent of empty calories…


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, red plaid scarf worn as a wrap skirt, black chunky boots, long socks, chandelier earrings.


Now don’t go making fun of me today because I look like Braveheart, I happen to like this. Lets just say it’s…interesting.

Today here’s an article from Australia sent to me by another friend (thank you friends). It is a bit long -but oh, so good!

With a title like,  “Fashion has become the wearable equivalent of empty calories”, I can completely relate, because I’ve come to hate empty calories in food. I call them ‘why bothers’, and I take them very seriously. She gives a ton of facts and most of them are relevant for Canada too (very similar situations). So go ahead, read through because at the end she gives a few recommendations to incite change.

http://www.dailylife.com.au/dl-fashion/dl-shopping/fashion-has-become-the-wearable-equivalent-of-empty-calories-20160503-gokviy.html

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Day 144

May 23rd, 2016

Sweatshop problem not a thing of the past.


Outfit: Poet style georgette blouse worn under dress with neckline turned down to show as V neck. Green and brown heels, hand-made glass heart necklace.


Ok, so even with new alternatives on the horizon, if it’s too expensive to make in Canada, some designers must go overseas to find competitive pricing. But what about the sweatshops you say?

Stories of sweatshops are nothing new. Most of us remember the big outrage at Kathy Lee Gifford in the mid 90s over the discovery that her clothing line from Wal-mart was being sewn by children. The bad news for Kathy Lee was that she was pretty much stuck in the middle because she loaned her name without researching the product she was providing. Lots of other celebrities have done the same, but she was ideal candidate to single out because she was at the height of popularity. She took the opportunity to bring awareness to the issue and supposedly rules and codes of conduct were implemented in order to have factories overseas comply with global standards. However almost 20 years after this scandal, we are still seeing the same problems pop up throughout the industry. Not necessarily in the same countries, although it still happens in China, but mostly we’re seeing it in India, Cambodia, and many others where the workers have no right to unionize and are threatened with losing wages or a job if they do not meet the factories’ demands. These expectations often result in unsafe and extreme working conditions. We need not look any further than the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 (where more than 1000 people died when the building they were working in caved in) to have proof that there’s still a long way to go when it comes to making garment workers safe in their place of employment.

Fast fashion has been blamed as the number one culprit for encouraging the looking the other way when it comes to human rights violations. When we first heard about the Bangladesh tragedy and the fact that some familiar labels had been found in the rubble, most of us were quick to point fingers and those companies got the brunt of the blame. I’m not going to say they are innocent, but now three years later, not much has changed and the public goes on not thinking twice about the incident. Why is that? How can we be so conditioned to our buying patterns that we forget that at the very core of the problem are the demands for constant supply, enforced by corporations and encouraged by our buying.

The owners of the Rana factory are now being charged with murder, apparently depending on the conviction they may face the death penalty. I believe those people knew what they were doing when they built an entire floor on top of the existing building without a permit, and they knew they were pushing the limits when they threatened the workers with pay cuts if they did not show up to work the very next day after a building inspection had deemed the place unsafe. Again, I am not going to try and defend them, but I question, what pushes someone to ignore safety in order to meet demands and pressure to be competitive? A lot of their major contracts, are on a one to one basis, so there’s no loyalty. It is based on who gives the bottom price. They get penalized for late deliveries, sometimes even canceling the order if it’s one day late. But the brands reserve the right to make last minute changes, making it almost impossible to comply. China has the capability to fill larger orders, however their cost per unit has gone up due to increases in wages. Therefore, a lot of brands are going to cheaper centers like Bangladesh and Vietnam (look at your labels), where the industry has not developed to the level of China’s factories and they struggle to make the same amount of pieces with less skilled people to do it. They want to keep the work, so they do whatever they have to. Those pressures do not justify the means, but it gives us a glimpse into their reality.

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Day 143

May 22nd, 2016

As read in an article from adweek.com: Can eco-friendly startups shift industry values?


Outfit: Black and white sleeveless dress with swril print. Black dress worn as jacket, black wedge boots.


The following article was sent to me a few days before my post from yesterday. I find it amazing when I read something that simply re-enforces what I’ve been discerning and commenting on.

I had heard of the brand they refer to, Reformation , a company from California that re-purposes fabric ends from companies who ordered too much or the wrong thing. What a great way to be less wasteful! That’s not all they do though, they are completely transparent in their mission and everything they do is with sustainability in mind. The best part of it is that their clothes don’t look like sacks of potatoes, they are truly beautiful. What an amazing brand! They are not the only ones out there, and though they are a bit more expensive than what we may be used to, the price is meant to inspire you to place that value on something greater than looks.

I recommend clicking on the links they provide about ‘doing things that don’t scale’ that one talks about an online company, Everlane, that provides customers with three sale prices to choose from, each outlines how much of the costs of the company it will cover and gives the customer a different type of decision to make based on ethics.

http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/fashion-brands-long-focused-excess-are-finally-waking-sustainability-171609

P1110204
Just in case you wondered what my outfit looked like.

 

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Day 142

May 21st, 2016

Not all hope lost for independent Canadian design and manufacture.


Outfit: Stripped high-low dress worn under black dress. Belted with grey skinny belt. Watermelon wedge sandals.


I believe right now I think we are at a turning point. Either we completely get rid of all manufacture and give up that industry to be fully dependent on other countries for a commodity that is a basic need or we reinvent the way we’ve been doing things and start to adopt a new standard.

What do I mean by all of that?  Well, if having garments made in Canada is going to be so brutally difficult that it makes is impossible to for independent designers to produce their lines here, then we may have to simply give up the idea of having a manufacturing sector all together. This is not too far from reality already, as I’ve outlined in my previous blogs. Some people say this is just the way things need to go, that it is part of progress, to move from a developing society to a manufacturing one, to a one that only deals in research and development or other higher end jobs. But here’s what I don’t understand -and I am no economist, trust me, so it is not surprising that this goes a bit over my head- how is it, in a country’s best interest to completely annihilate a whole sector that would provide a basic need (such as clothing)? What happens if nobody in that country is trained to do such a job and suddenly tariffs change or politics get involved and we lose all suppliers of such goods? I know this sounds a bit apocalyptic, but it has happened before! Just ask a veteran about the clothing restrictions during World War II. The difference now is that most people can’t make their own clothing. I’ve been told that I’d be in high demand during a zombie apocalypse because I can sew clothing and cut hair –I’m set.

So if we do not want to completely deplete our society of design and creative innovators, but we cannot compete with the low-wage countries prices, then how do we keep this industry going? Well, it comes down to uniqueness. A few years ago, I read a study prepared by Richter Consulting for the the government of Canada in 2004, called “The Canadian Apparel Industry: The shape of the future”, it outlines the changes happening at the time in importing and tariffs, in it the writers predict a serious decline in the manufacturing sector if everyone ran to the orient based only on price advantages. It is almost eerie to read such a paper 12 years later and see just how accurate they were.

However, one of the points they raised on how Canadian designers could stay ahead, was to provide products with innovation (pg 40). This translates into amazing design features, new technical advances in design or fabrication, and uniqueness. The forum encouraged designers to be outside the box thinkers, to provide the public with pieces that were independent by design or function. This kind of thinking correlates with the sustainability model, where a new type of value is placed on the product other than the lowest price. Value in this case is placed on longevity due to quality of construction and fabric, or value placed on investing in pieces that are friendly to the environment, or value based on knowing that investing in such pieces contribute on a larger scale towards the local economy.

So as consumers we need to realize that the cost of making clothing is not reflective of the actual value of it. Once the consumer changes its own view on what value is, then we can begin to have a new standard of across the board. Only then will it be ‘fair’ for those who are trying to compete in a market that has brought everything down to the bottom dollar. But we will not be competing with the bottom feeders of the industry because our product will be set at a different standard, a standard that upholds values that cannot be measured by price alone.

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Day 141

May 20th, 2016

Why is Manufacturing in Canada almost non-existent, part 2: We’ve hit a wall.


Outfit: Black dress worn forward, denim mandarin collar dress, light tan wrap around skinny belt (wow I’ve gotten lots of wear out of this one!) brown and green heels, green drop earrings.


Yesterday we talked about how nearly all of the fabric in Canada now needs to be imported. And how technical design skilled work force is few and far between. In order to get a garment made here we need those two things first, once we managed that, we go to a manufacturer to see if we can produce it.

The first problem is the cost. You have to remember that sewing is a labour intensive process, therefore the bulk of the cost of a garment is due to the time it takes to sew. If you want to pay your workers at least minimum wage, in Canada that is $10.25/hr. So you want to make a shirt and immediately your sewing cost minimum $10.25. Let me break down a very basic manufacturing cost of a simple blouse for you:

Item Cost/unit Unit Total  
Fabric  $     4.00 1.5  $     6.00
Labour  $   10.25 2  $   20.50
Notions/ Misc  $     0.50 1  $     0.50
 $   27.00

 

I am using 2 hours for CMT (Cut, manufacture and trim) to show a blouse of medium difficulty. Simpler styles would take less time.

So if it costs $27 to simply make, then your basic mark up to wholesale would be double that, $54. In turn, a retailer would need to double that to make a profit, which makes it a very basic $108-dollar blouse.

Let’s pretend for a minute that you’re ok with the price and that your potential customers are not balking at the fact that a very similar blouse is selling at the mall for only $40. Now you have to find some one to want to make it. This is the harshest part of the reality check. No body will touch your sample. Why? Because it’s too expensive to produce. The majority of manufacturers especially in western Canada, are choosing to sew basic, run of the mill uniform-like t shirts and/or casual wear. Mostly knits, because they require fewer operations on the flat bed (straight sewing stitch) and more sergeing which is a finishing seam all in one. There is nothing wrong with a serged seam, but the problem here is that we are no longer producing tailored or structured garments, they are very rare or very expensive. And so, your choices are very limited. If you do find someone to take it, you probably have to up your minimums to make it worth for them to do.

The other down fall of not making as many structured garments is that our local labour force is not being trained to make these more difficult operations well. So we are loosing the skill. In addition, it may not be worth it for the factories here to invest in new equipment which leaves them with outdated machines that may not do the jobs as efficiently as some of the more advanced specialized machines used in bigger factories. The bottom line here, is that believe it or not, the quality of a garment made in China may be higher than one made here. They have the work force.

What can I say? I just went through all of this with one of my clients, I’m not making up stuff here. It makes me almost want to cry. Mainly because I feel that the fact that we are squeezing out local manufacture actually is doing more than simply eliminating blue collar jobs. It is killing innovation. I read about this not too long ago (can’t remember or find where or I would quote it) and it makes sense to me. The fact that we don’t have the ability to create and follow the process up close, will eventually trump this generation’s ability to bring their ideas into reality. It is a very sad situation which I don’t know how to improve. But there you have it: it is almost impossible to have Made in Canada.

 

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Day 140

May 19th, 2016

Why is Manufacture in Canada almost non-existent?


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, black blouson style blouse, favourite Miz Mooz boots, long strand beaded necklace, green drop earrings.


The truth about the garment manufacture in Canada may be very hard to swallow. Most people recognize that there isn’t much being made here anymore and we’ve come to terms with that simply because it seems to b everywhere you go.

What most of us may not realize though, is how hard it actually is for someone wanting to manufacture close to home.

In the slow food movement you are encouraged to source ingredients that grow close to where you live. How on earth are we supposed to do that in slow fashion, when not much is being made close to us? Start with fabric (not even going to bother with fibre growing or raising of flocks), even though Canada used to have lots of mills that made fabric up until the mid 90s, most of those are gone. The same goes for the mills in the US, if you wanted to buy from thy neighbour, it would be extremely hard now. Most of the fabric manufacture is now done overseas, with China producing almost 60% (2010) of the world’s total and 69% of polyester fibres globally.

Right of the bat, even if you get the fabric from a Canadian company, the product is imported. OK, no worries, that’s fine. We can’t all make the same stuff right? We then move on to design and production. Finding competent pattern drafters and sample makers is proving increasingly difficult, but not impossible; definitely something that you’ll find more of in large centres like Vancouver.

So let’s say you got your fabric lined up, you have a sample and graded pattern ready to go, then what? Now you’re ready to have it sewn, but because you are a small start up you don ‘t want huge numbers. Here is where we hit a huge wall. But I’m going to leave you hanging because I don’t want to make the post too long. For a close look to the actual cost of manufacturing in Canada, check tomorrow’s post.

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Day 139

May 18th, 2016

The art of custom-tailoring clothing.


Outfit: Black dress worn as tunic under crocheted vest. Jean capri’s, brown belt, brown sandals, beaded necklace borrowed from daughter, (no that’s not a feather duster) mock feather purse.


A friend shared this article from The Atlantic, on Facebook and I am so grateful for it (thank you JP). I love the part where the mom tells her she can fix the shoulders of her dress before they go to dinner. So she pulls out her sewing kit and voila! How many of us don’t have that handy dandy sewing kit anymore? Or even worse, how many have the sewing supplies collecting dust in a corner, because: a) you don’t know how to use them, or b) it is cheaper to toss the item and get a new one! Gasp!

From the article: “Like these turn-of-the-last-century ladies, my mother saw all off-the-rack clothing as lumps of clay to be molded and shaped with new buttons, narrower shoulders, or shorter hemlines. She tailored the clothes she had into the clothes she wanted to have. And she did it all by hand. Dresses were reimagined into blouses, worn-out jeans became shorts or skirts, and in one particularly impressive renovation, my aunt’s dowdy Persian lamb overcoat became a chic bolero jacket.
Today, if I buy a dress that doesn’t fit right, I return it. When clothes show signs of wear, they get sent off to Goodwill or relegated to at-home loungewear”

I know I sound like a broken record, but if we are going to survive the mountain of discarded clothes slowly building up in that landfill, we are going to have to go back to some good old-fashioned traditions. And one of the best ones is the sewing kit.

I invite you to read the full article here, and give me your thoughts on your personal favourite part.

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Day 137

May 16th, 2016

Welcome to the 70s, flower child.


Outfit: Black dress worn over distressed  denim skirt, sandals, mix long bead necklaces, red and pink scarf.


To stay with the theme of decades past, we’re going to the 70’s today. I quite like the bo-ho look I managed today…at least it’s comfortable.

My youngest child just told me I look like a hippie! So I guess mission accomplished. All of these looks seem to make my kids uncomfortable -proof that they have been brainwashed into the whole cookie cutter routine of everyone following the latest trend, usually from some show on TV. Also proof that I have not been adventurous enough with my daily looks. Obviously this is a good exercise for both me and them to step out of the box.

 

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Day 132

May 11th, 2016

Slow Fashion moves in Vancouver


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards over summer dress. Brown belt, watermelon wedge sandals.


The following article came upon my feed a few days ago. It is so absolutely pertinent to what I’m trying to communicate through this blog, that I will let you read and then we’ll explore more in the following days.

Vancouver entrepreneurs buckle up to tackle slow fashion challenge

Make sure to click on the videos, especially the one about Nicole Bridger. I love the part when she talks about not feeding into trends, but finding your own style…have I not been saying that this whole time? Great minds think alike!

 


 

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Day 130

May 9th, 2016

How our choices affect others.


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, skinny wrap around belt, brown and green heels.

Carmen’s items: Red linen a-line super long skirt. 


I get two more days with Carmen’s clothes, but she had to take the turquoise dress for a special occasion so today may be my last day. I’m glad I get to show this skirt though, it is so absolutely beautiful. You have to feel it to truly see it. Fine linen and perfectly cut.

I wanted to share about the work that Carmen does with World Vision. She has at least two sponsored children with them, but has also done major volunteering, actually going to some of the places where the organization works. Putting aside all preconceptions about these organizations and whether or not they actually help the people they say they do. When it comes to donating money, I just make sure to do due diligence and then I leave it in God’s hands. Honestly. I feel that if I have put my best intentions forward to help someone, then that intention will be carried through and eventually get to those in need. I am happy to report that I have a lot of respect for World Vision. From what I have researched, they do spend their money wisely and I have heard personal accounts (from Carmen) of the amazing things they get involved in. I already have a sponsored child from a different organization but if I didn’t, I’d probably go with World Vision. World Vision is a great example of how when we make a choice to help we can affect someone else’s life in a great way. In the same way, however sometimes some of our choices affect the same people in terrible ways without us even realizing it.

Just a few days ago, Carmen sent me a notice from World Vision that talked about water pollution and consumption and fashion.  It was so pertinent because I had just been researching all of this for the presentation I did for SFU and everything they mentioned was on point. It often escapes us that the choices we make in this part of the world, affect those in most desperate need. Our insatiable need to have the most selection of all colours and styles, increases the production of textiles to levels that are incredibly hard to monitor and control, resulting in monumental amounts of water waste and illegal dye and chemical dumping. We can’t stop the manufacturers and corporations from ordering the amounts they do, but maybe some day, we can change the supply and demand chain by eventually buying less.

I will leave you with the actual article for you to read. Let me know what you think. World Vison, Water and fashion

 

 

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Day 123

May 2nd, 2016

Carmen’s Closet.


Outfit: White linen dress with bell sleeves, worn under black dress. Black chunky boots, turquoise scarf, leather bracelet with beading.


This week I get to play with my friend Carmen’s clothes. It was so much fun going to her house and picking apart her closet, it felt like playing dress-up.

Carmen is one of those people who already ‘gets’ it. She has a style of her own and doesn’t often fall into passing fads. She always looks amazing and well put together, yet a lot of her clothes come from consignment and thrift stores (something she is extremely proud of). She showed me a picture of her grad dress which was her first thrifted item, she got it for $50. She then lent it to 3 more people to wear, before the fourth took it and converted it into a first communion dress. So this dress not only served the first person that bought it new, but 5 more after that! That’s sustainable!

In her closet (which by the way is beautifully colour-coded), Carmen has lots of treasures and most of them have a story to tell. I will try to re-lay these stories as best as I can, but mostly I will bask in the beauty of these wonderful clothes I get to wear for the next few days.

P.S. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

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Day 122

May 1st, 2016

Made it to May!


Outfit:  Floral v neck blouse with ties, dress worn over with the neckline turned in. Brown and green heels, chandelier earrings.


So close I can taste it. So much to share still. I am loving the opportunities and the feedback. Very thankful to continue this and see it through. Only two months to go! Totally doable.

 

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Day 121

April 30th, 2016

Fads and trends can be ridiculous!


Outfit:  Black dress worn backwards, crocheted vest, two long necklaces: hand made copper leaf and blue and green beaded one, gold and mauve glass bracelet. Brown boots, embossed earrings. 


Talking about ridiculous fashions and fads/trends that stay for a long time, I was teaching History of Fashion the other day and we were studying the Middle Ages. Now, this is a time where fashion moved pretty slowly, specially the years 300-1100 AD. Pretty much the same looks. From about 1200 to 1300 you start to see some faster trends and by the 15th century there were styles coming in and out every 30-40 years. Not fast enough for our standards of every 2 weeks, but compared to the previous period, it was quite the change. It was during this time that a very peculiar trend took place. Poulaines, or Crakowes were pointed toe shoes with mysterious origins. They were in style for almost 100 years. And some of them got so ridiculous that sumptuary laws (a type of bylaw to enforce dress codes) were declared to stop people from wearing them. All to no avail, the young people were determined to wear them for status purposes as well as to be rebellious (apparently there was a lot of hidden meaning in the shoe). The points of the shoes were so long sometimes that they had to tie them up to their knees because they couldn’t walk, let alone work. And apparently they finally did get outlawed when an aristocrat was killed because he couldn’t outrun his assailant due to the shoes.

I tell you all of this to prove the point that just because it is in style, it does not mean it’s not ridiculous. We have plenty of dumb trends nowadays, but we’ve had our share of dumb trends in the past. I only have to think of plucking the eyebrows and forehead in the Middle Ages or using mice skins to fill in for eyebrows in the 18th century. And that’s not even going into the countless types of corsets and stays. So, I guess what I’m trying to say here, is that fads come and go, and some are more extreme than others. Yet, dressing well and in a classic style is never in danger of falling into the ridiculous. You can adapt your own style to accommodate some trends, but you don’t need to buy into the extremes that some of them suggest. After all, if we do, we end up looking back at pictures that we’d rather burn or having to tie our shoes to our knees, pull up our pants beyond our hips or work out the teased knots out of our hair.

P.S. Happy Birthday Babe!

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Day 120

April 29th, 2016

More goodies from the oldie’s vault.


Outfit: Green crepe, peasant dress with border, worn under dress as tunic. Skinny jeans, brown/green heels. Gold embossed earrings. Gold damascene medallion from Toledo, Spain.


Another dress I made back in the day. This one was for my friend Michelle’s wedding. It was longer then. I have worn this one to death. Yet it’s still ticking. I’m sure some of my friends would like me to retire it. It’s been in enough pictures. But it makes me smile when I wear it. It’s one of those pieces that just feels great. So why should I retire it then? As long as it works for me and I don’t look ridiculous I guess it’s staying.

 

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Day 119

April 28th, 2016

I am not hoarding this dress, I’m giving it a second life!


Outfit: Green V neck dress with peter pan collar. Black dress worn as tunic with neckline turned to form a V. Black wedge boots.


Talk about not throwing away stuff. I made this green dress before my son was born, so more than 15 years ago! I made a few of them to sell at the local farmers market, and this is one of the samples I kept. I haven’t worn it, partly because it is too small for me –which is another benefit to the black dress…I can wear stuff under it and the dress covers most flaws; and partly because I was keeping it to be a sample. But since it has been a few years, I think I can officially retire it from sample mode and try to enjoy it for a while.

I am certainly not endorsing to hang on to stuff indefinitely, but I wonder if me keeping this dress for so long is actually not a bad thing. I mean, if I had given this away even 5 years ago, it probably would have sold at a thrift store, but what if it didn’t? What if it ended up in the landfill instead? It is made of polyester (or unknown fabric, as the store tag said) and so the reality is that it will be here past my generation and my kids’. Let alone past a fashion season.

It is a hard pill to swallow, to imagine this little green dress sitting on top of a garbage mound collecting dust and dirt, while not even getting one little hole! Not wearing out. Just like a plastic bowl, making friends with each other and planning how they will spend the next 200 years in that garbage pile. Sorry, I got carried away there. Again, I have no answer for this yet. Only that I think the more we can use something, the better. It stops us from going out to re-buy something else that may or may not be similar and just adds to the piles.

Until we can figure out a way to make polyester and other synthetics biodegradable, I once again say that the best option is to buy smart and buy less. Ultimate fashion designer icon Vivienne Westwood says it best: “Buy less, choose well, make it last”.

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Day 118

April 27th, 2016

Recycling means more than donating.


Outfit: Brown t-shirt tunic with large pink flowers, worn over skinny jeans, with black dress worn as tunic, belted. Melon wedges. Shell necklace from one of my brother G’s trips. 


Another successful hand-me-down, jeans and tunic dress. I guess I am quite agreeable when it comes to taking clothes from friends. That doesn’t mean I can keep everything. Many times things just don’t fit or are the wrong colour or style for me. But for the most part I am happy to be on the receiving end of used clothes to give them a second life.

You see, donating clothing to charities is one part of the clothing recycling process, but the other part is actually re-using clothing. There’s no point in simply giving away our clothing and then going to buy new stuff to replace it. Now, don’t get me wrong…I am NOT saying you shouldn’t get new stuff, but if donating barely used clothing is your excuse/rationale for replenishing your closet on a constant basis, you are involved in a sad revolving cycle of denial.

We keep fooling ourselves into believing that by donating our used clothing we are doing our part of good deeds, giving to those in need and helping the environment by not throwing things out to the garbage. Those are good things. However, we fail to see that the amount of clothing going to charities is far larger than what they can actually sell or give away to others. Where exactly those clothes go is a topic for another day. The point of this post today is to re-think the myth that giving away clothes balances the buying-more scale. We must go back and start to re-evaluate our spending and consuming of goods at the root. So, yes by all means donate your surplus, but don’t go out and replace all of it piece by piece. Instead evaluate whether or not you needed it in the first place. We gotta start somewhere!

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Day 116

April 25th, 2016

Let’s add some colour!


Outfit: Black dress worn under poet style paisley blouse. Brown belt and boots. Small drop silver earrings.


Spring has sprung in the Okanagan, so I think it is time to bring out the summer box and try some colourful stuff. I did check the weather forecast and it’s not supposed to be as hot as it has been, but for goodness sake people, it’s still spring not mid July! I’m ok with the weather being in the mid to low 20s. No need to speed up the seasons.

I have to say that’s one of my most favourite things about Canada. Having been born in Mexico, we had 2, maybe 3 seasons, and in the north it was more like 1.5: a little winter and scorching hot summer. But here we have all four seasons and especially in the Okanagan they are pretty evenly spaced. When I lived in Toronto, winter took over summer and spring, but here they are almost true quarters. The peach and apple blossoms in the spring are my ultimate favourite thing to see. Sadly many of the orchards that used to be around when I first moved here have been turned into shopping malls. But that’s a conversation for another day. For today, I’ll enjoy the weather for what it is, and be grateful for the lovely place I call home.

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Day 115

April 24th, 2016

Happy Fashion Revolution Week, April 18-24, 2016: Who made my clothes?


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards under multi-colour dress worn as tunic. Watermelon sandals, drop orange earrings.


Today marks the final day in Fashion Revolution week which started on the 18th of April.

What is Fashion Revolution? It is a call to action to get involved in asking more questions from your clothing manufacturers. The movement started in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, where more than 1100 garment workers died when the factory they were working at collapsed due to building code violations. These workers had been threatened with losing their jobs if they did not show up for work that day, even though inspectors had deemed the building unsafe the day before. The owners of the factory are now being prosecuted for manslaughter and await trial. However, the question remains, what is pushing factory owners like these to ignore warnings and safety codes? Could it be the fact that the brands placing the orders are pushing their limits by demanding unreasonable deadlines? And penalizing late deliveries with cancelling orders in some cases?

The responsibility for the garment workers’ rights falls on many hands and for the consumer to expect the corporations to take full blame is too naïve. We need to start demanding more transparency in the supply chain, and that’s something Fashion Revolution is trying to do. It may not be a perfect method, but it is something. At least it starts the conversation.

P1110093To get involved or to support, you take a picture wearing your clothing inside out showing its label and send it to the brand, asking who made your clothes? Then you post it on social media. For more information on the movement and ideas of how to get involved, check out their website here.

Facebook page

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Day 114

April 23rd, 2016

Slow fashion makes front page.


Outfit: Black dress worn under tangerine tunic, with the neckline turned to make it a ‘v’. Black wedge boots, chandelier earrings.


 

The days are just flying and I’m so behind on pictures and posts, that I think now is a good time to share some of the articles I’ve found in the past few weeks.12990901_1297510810262683_3556816992350201971_n

Here is the complete article for your reading pleasure…Georgia Straight

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Day 113

April 22nd, 2016

Vancouver was a great host.


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, gold embossed earrings, gold and black medallion from Spain, black nylons (yes they still exist), black wedge boots, black pinstripe blazer. (This is actually what I ended up wearing last night, so I’m recycling the look for your benefit…and mine)


Well I’m back and all is well. I did not pass out during the presentation and for those of you who are asking: It went well.

Aside from the fact that my interview with CBC got cancelled due to Prince’s death, I had a great time in Vancouver. It was so nice to be there and re-acquaint myself with the areas I used to roam everyday on my way home from work. I poked around Gastown and went into great stores like La Differencia, which carries only hand-made shoes from Europe and Nicole Bridger who is a local Vancouver designer, who is also by the way hosting a Fashion Revolution event in her store this weekend. I would have gone if I was still there.

I have lost of great stories, like the one where I got ‘randomly’ selected twice for further security at both Kelowna and Vancouver airports, or the one where I was talking to the lady at the front desk and she kept mentioning how 4:20 was making traffic crazy, and I just thought she was talking about rush hour. But my ultimate fail story was accidentally sneaking into a private breakfast while thinking it was the complementary continental breakfast from the hotel.

Oh my goodness, I couldn’t stop laughing at myself once I realized what I had done and I talked to the waitress who added she was wondering why I was the only English speaking person in the group! We both had a good chuckle.

The presentation went really well considering I went off book for most of it and kept forgetting to mention what I had thought were the real funny bits. Instead I kept telling stories from my own experience and in the end that worked out better. I got really great feedback from the audience and great discussion afterwards. Met some really interesting people who are equally keen on this crazy topic and many of them were very kind and said they were greatly inspired.

My favourite conversation was with a young man from Asia who told me he was so inspired, that he felt he needed to bring about some change in his own country. He said wanted to share this message with ‘his people’ because right now they don’t care! So awesome! I told him that he totally could do it, that this is the time to bring about change and education at that level. I wish him the best of luck!

Thank you to Laurie Wood, Joanna Ashworth and SFU for the great opportunity and wonderful experience. I had an absolute blast!

 

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Day 112

April 21st, 2016

Welcome to Vancouver, baby!


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards…the rest is still up in the air!


Honestly! I don’t know what to wear tonight! I know it should be simple, but I can’t decide on accessories. Weird. Yes. I am wearing the dress as is, with the pleat to the front, so backwards. But as far as necklace and earrings I’m still undecided. Do I want to look funky, or sophisticated or just casual? Ha, ha, ha, ha! Who knew that the possibilities could be so endless when talking about a black dress?

I am extremely nervous and excited about the talk at SFU Harbour Centre tonight. I used to walk past this building every day on my way home from work at Mr. Jax, way back when! Who knew that I’d be here twenty some years later talking about this project! I didn’t…for sure. It’s funny what life throws at you and where you end up.

I will let you know how it all went tomorrow. In the meantime,  you can tune in to CBC radio Vancouver at 5:35, I’ll be on!

Okay, here we go: ready, set, go!

PS…I’m attaching the set picture for today, because somehow I can’t seem to be able to upload from my phone right now. I’ll update it as soon as I can…promise.

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Day 106

April 15th, 2016

The rest of the story…thrift stores.


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, skinny wrap around belt.        

Jen’s 14 Plus Items: Large metal pendant, A-line tan skirt with embroidered motifs, black sandal wedges.


Love this outfit too! The skirt is too big on me, so if you’re eyeing this one, come and get it because I won’t be able to.

Two days ago, I talked about the pros and cons of Consignment, here are some pros and cons of Thrift stores.

 Thrift store Pros:

  1. Price: Because thrift stores rely on donations they can set their prices really low in order to move more merchandise through the floor faster.
  2. Surprise: Often during the sorting of the garments that make it to the floor, certain ‘gems’ get mixed in with the regular clothing, which means that you may find some designer piece marked at $5. Depending on the store, these pieces are marked the same price as anything else in their category so whether it was a pair of True Religion jeans or a pair of Reitman’s jeans, they would still be the same price because they are both jeans.

Continue reading “Day 106”

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Day 105

April 14th, 2016

Look who’s talking 2…


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards

Jen’s Items: Off-white high low sweater, black pleather leggings!, chain and wood necklace, black and tan flats. 


I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this outfit by the way! Even the pleather leggings. When Shelley first brought them for me to try, I was like…not. But it just shows once again, that you don’t know unless you try.

I got a call from Molly checking up on my progress! It’s good to know I’m still going strong. Have a look at the article she wrote. KelownaNow article

 

 

 

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Day 104

April 13th, 2016

What is the benefit of buying consignment?


Outfit: Black dress worn forward, boyfriend jeans, green glass earrings.

Jen’s Items: Black crocheted vest, multi-coloured large rock necklace, fab suede pumps, plaid fedora.


So what do you think of Jen’s items so far? Pretty nice eh? I love the hats, and the shoes. There’s even more in stock, I just couldn’t take the whole store. That probably would’ve been frowned on.

I have talked about thrift stores and now I want to talk about consignment stores. Some might not think of them as different but they are. Just in case some of you don’t know I will start with the basics. I’ll split it up into two posts, for those of you who get tired of reading.

A consignment store is a private business, run by the owner who ‘consigns’ clothing from clients. The process is simple and if you ask me, quite brilliant, there’s no investment in inventory, it almost works like an art gallery where the gallery picks the pieces and gets a commission for showing the work. So in the consignment model, the owner gets to decide what garments she’ll take from the client, and then gives the items a determined time period. In some stores, the longer the item sits on the floor, the cheaper you can get it for, as the price decreases per week. If it’s sold the store keeps a commission and the client gets the rest. It usually works on a 60/40 split with the store keeping the 60 percent –hey they have the overhead right?

A thrift store is usually run by a charity such as the Salvation Army or Good Will. They depend on donations of clothing that gets dropped off to their door and then sorted through in order to go on the floor.

Here are some of the pros and cons of Consignment:

Consignment store Pros:  
  1. Quality: Because the store owner wants to get the best bang for her buck, they are generally quite picky about the quality of the garments she takes in.  Garments that are soiled or worn out won’t be accepted and in some cases they won’t even accept garments that are cheaper made sources. So you are assured that what you buy will be well made and in good condition
  2. Designer brands: Often a consignment store will focus on providing only higher end designer brands. They won’t accept fast fashion sources . The designer brands that they provide will be available at a fraction of the cost that they would be brand new, so you are getting great quality and fit at a bargain.
  3. Merchandising: Some consignment stores pride themselves in their merchandising and style, their focus is in making the experience feel more like a regular retail boutique.
Consignment store Cons:
  1. Price: Because the point of the consignment model is for both the client and the store owner to make a profit, the price point of consignment is higher than a thrift store. Even at second hand prices you may have to pay $50 for a jacket or a dress, but if you consider that the dress originally may have sold for $200 then it’s still a deal. This is where you need to make a decision of whether or not the item is in fact worth the 50 dollars. Often I hear people say ‘Well for $50 I could go to the mall and get a new dress”. What you need to remember is that a 50 dollar brand new dress is more than likely not made with the same quality as the 200 dollar dress so in fact you’re not comparing apples to apples.

 

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Day 102

April 11th, 2016

Hello Jen’s 14 Plus Consignment!


Outfit: Black dress worn forwards, skinny jeans, drop bead earrings.

Jen’s items: Green boho felt hat, green scarf, fab suede high heels, wooden bracelet.


How do you follow up great news like yesterday? With great news today! I am happy to announce that this week I will be sporting looks borrowed from Jen 14 Plus consignment store. They have great purses, accessories and shoes. As well as a great selection of plus size garments. I found quite a few items that I am excited to showcase. It’s going to be a great week!

Jen’s facebook page

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Day 101

April 10th, 2016

180 Style Challenge, presented by Ingrid Uhrich, M.O.M.


Outfit: Grey knit sleeveless dress, black dress worn as a jacket, green high boots, blue and green bead necklace, green glass bead earrings.


So, I told you I had something big up my sleeve and here it is:

I’ve been asked to give a lecture at Simon Fraser University on my challenge!

I am so very honoured and excited. It is part of the SFU Faculty of Environment and this is one of the first presentations they’ve done that has to do with Fashion Sustainability. They got in touch with me after hearing my interview on CBC radio, which goes to show, it is truly a small world!

I have to say I am extremely nervous and a bit overwhelmed but I’ve been working on my talk all day and I finally feel a little better now. I was really worried when I got a sample of other lectures they’ve had there because when I read all of the presenters’ names, I couldn’t help but notice they all had Dr. at the beginning or ended with B.Sc and others. The most letters I have at the end of my name are M.O.M. Some days I feel like that should be enough to open any door in the world, and others I feel like I can barely open my own door!

In any case, what I am doing is part of me as a whole, my training, my values and my family. So that’s what I will talk about. I suppose passion has no title and there are no boundaries on what can be accomplished when you put your mind to it.

Here’s the link to the invite for the lecture. I’ll keep you posted as it unfolds. Why Sustainable Fashion

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Day 100!

April 9th, 2016

100 days of dress.


Outfit: Black dress worn over skinny jeans, light tan flats, paisley indigo scarf. 


Wow! Here we are at day 100! I feel like I should make a poster with 100 stickers or macaroni like we do in grade 1. And I wish I had a better picture to show than this one. Maybe I’ll re-post one later on when I take pics today.

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Lots of exciting stuff happening soon. I will let you know in the coming days. In the meantime, I’d like to encourage you if you haven’t yet, to visit my gofundme page and consider making a donation. I am so very grateful for all the donations I have gotten so far and the project has been so fulfilling on so many levels, that I could call it a day today and be super happy. But I have 80 more to go and I really hope I can get a little closer to my goal.

OK! Stay tuned for all the great stuff coming up.

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Day 99

April 8th, 2016

What is Cost per wear?


Outfit: Black dress worn forward, brown high boots, soft ruffle tan cardigan, hand knit infinity scarf.


Cost per wear is the amount of times you’d be able to wear a garment before it fell apart/went out of style/you stopped liking it. Considering that cheap fashion is generally disposable, or ill-fitting, those ‘great deals’ end up in the pile that never gets worn so their cost per wear is often the price tag! The calculation for cost per wear varies but a very basic one is as follows:

#of times item will be worn ÷ by cost of garment= cost per wear

You can calculate the number of times you anticipate wearing something by weeks, months or years you’ll keep the item. Either way, you divide that amount by the cost of the garment and that gives you the CPW.

Fashion sustainability supporters use the cost per wear formula as a guideline for buying investment pieces. It is a better way to evaluate whether or not an item is in fact ‘so expensive!’, which is the most common response I get when I encourage people to buy outside ‘the box’.

For some great insights on what it is like to purchase something with cost per wear in mind, read this article by Chris Gayomali  of GQ magazine.

Or for a different approach and great examples, see this link by Zady.

 

 

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Day 95

April 4th, 2016

How about a real haul!


Outfit: Black dress

Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift store items: Skinny tan wrap belt, black booties, chunky plastic necklace, b/w patent purse w/animal print insert.


I talked about hauls in the last post, and I went on and on about how cheap fashion hauls are at the root of all evils. I’m not going to flip flop on this, but I do recognize when a deal is a deal, so I propose a different type of haul, one where you actually get value from your purchases. As you know, I went to the K.W. S. Thrift store and borrowed 21 pieces of clothing and accessories and if I were to buy all of it, it would come to $112.00. If I was to buy all of these items new at retail the cost would probably go over $700.00. Now that’s a deal!

Considering that I actually got pieces that fit into my wardrobe, I would be fairly confident I’d get great cost per wear on these items. Don’t know what cost per wear is? Well read tomorrow’s post and I’ll get into it. In the mean time let’s evaluate the total amount of all of these pieces. Which is your favourite? I’m keeping the skinny tan belt and the earrings. Also, maybe the watermelon belt, but I want to calculate the CPW first!P1100989

For a more detailed look at my savings see the chart below. Please note that the SRPs that have .99 in the price came from the original tag of the item, and all other price points are my best guesstimate as to what it would cost if I were to buy new at a store. I even went low-ball to compare it to some fast fashion prices. As you can see, I can’t help myself when there’s an opportunity to make a chart. My family says I have a problem. But this is an issue for a different blog…

Day Items  Thrift store cost  Suggested Retail Price
1 88 Black wrap belt (w tags on)  $                 10.00  $                   50.00
2 Black and white necklace  $                     1.50  $                   15.00
3 Black booties  $                     8.00  $                   50.00
4 89 B/W cardigan  $                     5.00  $                   29.00
5 Light tan skinny belt (tags on)  $                     5.00  $                   79.99
6 Sage stone earrings  $                     5.00  $                   24.99
7 Tan wide bracelet  $                     2.00  $                     5.00
8 90 Pink French cuff shirt  $                     4.00  $                   25.00
9 Faux reptile skinny belt  $                     5.00  $                   10.00
10 Chunky plastic necklace  $                     8.00  $                   49.99
11 Cheetah print pumps  $                     6.00  $                   50.00
12 91 Brown animal print blouse  $                     5.00  $                   50.00
13 92 Coral belt (tags on)  $                   20.00  $                   79.95
14 Round bead amber necklace  $                     2.00  $                   20.00
15 Red wooden bracelet  $                     1.00  $                     5.00
16 93 Geometric print top  $                     5.00  $                   50.00
17 94 Turquoise belt  $                     5.00  $                   25.00
18 Turquoise shoes  $                     6.00  $                   25.00
19 Turquoise bracelets  $                     2.00  $                     5.00
20 Turquoise bracelets  $                     1.00  $                     5.00
21 95 Black patent purse w/ animal print  $                     6.00  $                   50.00
GRAND TOTAL:  $                112.50  $                703.92
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Day 93

April 2nd, 2016

Helping your community while shopping.


Outfit: Black dress worn forwards, black hoop earrings

Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift store items: Black short boots, multi-coloured geometric off the shoulder raglan top.


The Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift Store is a great place to find deals on all types of items, but that’s not all they do. I asked Karen Mason, executive director of the Kelowna Women’s Shelter to tell me more about it and here’s what she said:

180 SC:  How does the Thrift Store help the Kelowna Women’s shelter?

KWS Profits from the Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift Store support the many free programs and services the Shelter offers women and their children who have experienced domestic violence.  Another huge benefit to our Store is that we allow our clients, and others in need in the community to shop there free through our voucher program. We give vouchers to women who stay at the Shelter and use our other services in order that they can get clothing and household items for them and their children at no cost. We also provide the vouchers to more than a dozen other community organizations who pass them along to their most needy clients so they get to shop free as well. It’s  wonderful way to ensure the many generous donations we receive go to those who most need a helping hand, and really support our community.

180 SC:  What types of wares does the store sell? 

The Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift Store has all kinds of treasures. We sell men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, footwear, fashion accessories such as purses, scarves and jewelry, small furniture pieces, and household items such as dishes and décor.

180 SC:  How is the store run? Who works at it? 

KWS: The store has a handful of fabulous, permanent, paid staff who work anywhere from one to five days per week, and a host of incredible volunteers who put in countless hours receiving, sorting, pricing and processing donated items. They are an amazing, energetic team who work really well together to keep the store well stocked and attractive for shoppers. The Store is bright and organized and a great place to shop!

180 SC:  Where do you get your donations from?

KWS:  We are so fortunate to live in such a generous community as Kelowna. It seems we are always donation-blessed thanks to the many private citizens and businesses who regularly donate items. A number of local stores regularly bring us wonderful new items to sell, and we receive clothing and household goods from the community at a pretty consistent rate. People who want to donate can bring their items to the store on Mondays, Wednesdays or Saturdays between 10 am and 2 pm. 

180 SC: How do you determine price points?

KWS: It’s important to us we make our pricing accessible to a wide variety of clients and remain true to the typical thrift store business model. At the same time, the Store is a social enterprise that helps support the work the Shelter does so, at the end of the day, we do need to turn a profit. Our staff and volunteers are very skilled at determining price points that match the items we are putting out for sale on the floor. We do ongoing research at other retail establishments, particularly thrift and secondhand stores, to ensure we are on top of pricing trends. When we get special pieces or designer clothing items, we recognize their value and price those slightly higher than more traditional items. Some of my favourite, most prized designer items were purchased at our Thrift Store for $20 or less. 

180 SC: What do you do with unsold items?

KWS: Although we value each and every donation we receive, there are some items that are not of a quality we would feel comfortable selling, or are not items we would be able to sell due to a lack of demand or other factors. We refuse to throw things away so we work with a variety of other local organizations in partnership to ensure everything is used somehow. We work closely with the Soles for Souls shoe bank program, and regularly forward unsold or unsellable footwear to them. We also send unsellable clothing and fabric items to other organizations to be sold or otherwise repurposed.  

 Well, there you have it! A great place to shop with a dual purpose: clothing recycling and helping the community. Now that’s sustainable!

For more information on the Kelowna Women’s Shelter and their store, click here.

 

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Day 91

March 31st, 2016

Tips to improve your shopping experience at a Thrift Store.


Outfit: Black dress worn forward.

Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift store items: Brown animal print ruffle blouse, black wedge boots, brown faux reptile skinny belt, sage stone earrings.


Now that you’ve undertaken to recover from being a thrift store snob, the next step to becoming a successful thrifter, is to get past the merchandising. A lot of people get overwhelmed when they enter a thrift store because they are generally really packed and not organized like some of the stores in mainstream malls. Big box stores spend thousands of dollars on visual merchandising that displays garments by themes, colours and ‘stories’. You don’t get that in a thrift store. You’re lucky if you get colour coded and category. But there’s no mannequin showing you how to put together an outfit, and there are no size ranges, you get what you get in your size.

More than once I’ve heard friends say they don’t know where to start when they go into a thrift store. It is not like things are already grouped for you. No clear trends here. You are on your own. And that’s the problem, we’ve been conditioned for so long to simply buy what’s on trend that we may not even be able to recognize when that trend does not suit our own personality or body type.

In a thrift store, however, once you start really looking it’s amazing what you can find if you have a good eye. And I think that’s the trick. You need to figure out what is worth it and what’s not. You need to look for quality, style and fit. So here are a few tips to happy thrifting:

  1. Spend the time: First of all, when you are just starting make sure to give yourself plenty of time. Once you become a ‘seasoned’ thrifter you can go in and pick a garment without a second thought, but at the beginning you’ll need lots of time to look through, inspect and very importantly: try on! There’s no point in buying something that does not fit or even worse: does not fit right!
  2.  Look for quality: This is where learning the difference between a good or bad sewing finish or what a high quality fabric content is, comes in handy. Sometimes looking at the brand name will help because there’s no denying that something made by a designer brand is usually better made than a garment from a fast fashion source.
  3. Style: Insert personality here. This is where you get to decide what you shine in. What are you most comfortable wearing? And I do not mean comfortable sweat pants! We are talking fashion pieces here. Things like line and shape or colour and texture. It does not have to be limited to only pants or skirts or dresses, but if you do prefer one of this categories, that says something about your personal style too. So do you like long and lean or do you like flouncy and delicate? Or is it loud prints and bright colours? Dainty florals or basic pieces. You decide. And once you know what happy looks like for you, then make sure it is flattering.
  4. Fit: and a flattering look go hand in hand. Proportion plays a huge part in the fit of something being right for you. Look for things that fit your shoulders, torso and waist. Remember that hems and sleeves could be altered and some side seams could be taken in, but unless you have a basic understanding of alterations, make sure that the garment fits before you buy it. Otherwise you’ll never wear it again and you’ll curse your experience.
  5. Bring a buddy: This only works if you like a second opinion. But if you are a ‘solo’ shopper this might backfire especially if your buddy is on a time limit.  So on this note don’t bring someone who’s not interested in being there: i.e. your children or husband.

Most of all, have fun with it. In the famous words of Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get!”

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Day 89

March 29th, 2016

How to cure yourself from being a thrift store snob.


Outfit: Dress worn backwards, over skinny jeans and brown boots.

Kelowna Women’s Shelter Thrift Store Items: Black and white Navajo (aka Aztec) stripe cardigan, light tan skinny wrap around belt, sage stone earrings, tan wide bracelet.


What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Let’s go to thrift shopping!”? If the answer is “ew”, then you may be a ‘Thrift store snob’. Do you cringe at the thought of crowded racks with endless jumbled items? Do you actually scrunch up your nose remembering the certain smell associated with a used clothes store? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Lots of people have thought that. Including me! I was once a thrift store snob. Second hand clothing was unheard of when I was growing up in Mexico, so for me it was a very foreign concept to go shopping for used items.

The problem with being a thrift store snob though, is that you have no idea what you may be missing! Thrift stores are full of hidden treasures ready for those with a keen eye to discover. I believe we’ve been stripped of our ability to be creative and individual by being dictated what’s on trend each week; shopping in places like thrift or second hand stores, gives us the chance to find things that are unique and different from the norm. The more you exercise that creative brain, the easier it will get to find great pieces to complement your style.

In order to cure ourselves from snubbing a thrift store, the answer is to change perspectives. Lets try the following prescription:

Number one, instead of seeing the clothes as discarded pieces that nobody could want, lets look at them for what they really are: somebody’s items that either no longer or never fit, are the wrong colour, or simply do not look good on the first owner. Granted, some items may be really worn, and the reality is that fast fashion makes it hard for some pieces to be handed down, because they look like rags after the first wash anyway. A lot of consignment stores will not take fast fashion pieces for this reason. But for the most part, second hand items that are well made, can be invaluable to those who find them. Like they say, someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure.

Second, wearing second hand items is one of the oldest ways of recycling clothing. We talk about the new generation being so green and mindful of our environment, yet the older generations never threw anything away! Clothing pieces were handed down sometimes through several generations.  They were included in people’s wills and given away as precious commodities. Once the items were too worn to be mended or handed down, they were converted to rags for cleaning or used as patches for other pieces. So the best way to recycle clothing is to use it again!

Last, thrifting it is the best way to get a great item for a super deal! Nowadays it has become almost a badge of honour to brag about how little we paid for an item of clothing. As if that was our doing and not the retailer’s way of duping us into believing we actually got something of great value. The fact remains that a great deal in most stores is actually a garment made with shoddy workmanship and questionable materials. Alternatively, an item bought at a thrift store may have been a high end piece of superb quality and fit, simply given away because it did not suit the first owner. Now, that is a great deal!

 

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Day 87

March 27th, 2016

Outfit: Dress worn under Mama Ella apron.

Mama Ella Aprons save the day!

Have you wondered how on earth I keep the dress clean? Well wonder no more…here’s my secret. I wear an apron. Morning, day and night, whether I’m cooking, cleaning, tidying, making patterns, sewing or even doing my make up, I wear my apron.P1100978

I started doing this when I first began work as a pattern maker and I would rub my waist against the table all the time! My dressy clothes were getting super dirty and worn. So I decided I needed to wear something to protect them. Then later when I had kids, I realized that at all hours of the day these little creatures would reach their little hands up full of dirt/snot/food/anything and grab my skirt/pant side. Add to that the fact that ¾ of the time I miss my mouth when I drink coffee first thing in the morning and that for sure I will get splattered while making spaghetti sauce and the result would be that none of my clothes would be presentable.

Like my great-grandma Ela and her daughter (my grandma) Olly, I wear an apron as my indoor uniform. These ladies used to wear a smock-style apron that is very popular in Mexico (where I grew up).aprons

I set out to make something like those, something that would cover most of the body, but I wanted something that would be pretty and flattering as well. I needed big pockets so I could pick up barbies and lego as I went along and it needed to be comfortable so I could wear it all day. The result is an over the head criss-cross smock type apron that looks like a dress and offers full coverage. You should see some of my old ones! They are filthy. Stained. I often think of the hundreds of pieces of clothing I’ve saved by wearing one of my aprons.

I’ve come to the realization that in this world you’re one of two types of people: an apron wearer and non-apron wearer. But I invite you to try wearing one just even while cooking. You’ll be surprised how great it feels, it is almost like putting on armor. Ready to tackle whatever the day sends your way.

And the best part of my type of apron is that you can run out to the store and if you forgot to take it off, it still looks OK!

To have a look at samples of Mama Ella Aprons ,visit this link 

 

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Day 82

March 22nd, 2016

Outfit: Black dress worn under wrap skirt. Black chunky boots, pink scarf-like necklace.

Why on earth am I doing this?

I want to take the opportunity today to remind you of the reasons I’m doing this crazy thing!

First of all, because I love craftsmanship in fashion and beautifully made things that make you feel good.  After all, it is a basic human characteristic, we love to adorn ourselves. Some more than others, but we all have that innate need to stand out. And it saddens me that the stuff available to us is not beautifully made. Secondly, I have a soft spot for righteousness, social justice and feeling good about things being fair. And last but not least, I have a nagging growing guilt about the kind of world I’m leaving for my kid’s kids to deal with.

But in addition, this project is also a fundraiser. So far, I am so very grateful for the donations I’ve gotten in support of my cause. I truly believe that every little bit counts and no matter what I’m ahead of the game. That being said, I would love to take this effort to the end goal and raise the full amount I’m hoping for. $5000 is a lot of cash and it would go a long way in helping those that I’m hoping to help.

I am donating to the Masterpiece Campaign for my children’s school St. Joseph Elementary, because the sad reality is that we desperately need a new building. For years we’ve managed with the buildings the way they are (some of them around eighty years old), and have thrived in the knowledge that it is what’s inside that counts. Our teachers are great, our families are great and our community is great. I remind my children that we have so much to be grateful for and that an old building not the end of the world. Old is different than decrepit and unfortunately one of our buildings is close to being that. So after a very long process, we finally have a plan in place and the only thing left is to raise the money. No small feat eh? Great news is that we have more than half already, from very generous donors. But we need the rest and that’s where the little people like me come in. I don’t have lots to contribute. My family is modest and we have what we need, we make sacrifices to send our kids to this school and we are happy to do it, but we cannot offer large sums to this endeavor. What we can offer is our time and talents. This is why I’m doing this. I will offer some of my treasure, but I feel that giving out of our other means is just as important.

I recognize that in North America we have more than enough to go around. And that our problems are first world problems! Sometimes when I sit and whine about how I need another oil change on my car, I have to pull myself back a few notches and remember that I am lucky to have a vehicle that takes me from point A to B without effort. I think of the countless girls who carry water on their backs and walk miles every day just to have drinkable water available. Hence, when I was looking for another cause to donate to, I thought of children in a different part of the world who may also be struggling with their education needs. I thought of my friend Louise, because she’s worked with organizations in Haiti and I knew their schools needed help. That is why I’m donating to the institute there.

So I hope that you will help me spread the word and hopefully this venture will inspire many to donate and help me reach the goal I’ve set. Because like it’s been said throughout our campaign, “It takes a village to raise a child”. Thank you.

 

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Day 78

March 18th, 2016

Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, black chunky boots, black and red checkered scarf from Renée.

No need to hide!

Ever since I started talking about sustainable fashion I have discovered a very curious phenomenon. My friends and family feel the need to either hide their purchases from me or excuse them to me! I find this so funny because I have never (intentionally!) made a judgment call on somebody else’s shopping habits, just mine. For instance, once I decided that I could no longer buy clothing for myself at the same place where I bought groceries (you know where…) I would be talking to my friend T a few weeks later and I’d ask her where she got the nice (insert clothing item here), and she’d look down, and shyly say:”THAT STORE!” And proceed to tell me how sorry she was or how awful she felt about it. I repeatedly would tell her that she didn’t need to give me a reason, and that I didn’t expect the whole world to follow my choices, but in the end, after months of this, she now feels so guilty that she too can’t buy there. I call that a happy by-product.

Just a couple of weeks ago,  I had a friend from school tell me how she had ended up going to (big box store) and had to buy jeans there because she couldn’t find anything sustainable and she needed jeans. Then she decided to try the second hand store and found some great pairs that she liked better and was going to take the first back. Great! That is totally awesome, I say, but not required to check with me first! Honestly, I will not bite your head off or corner you to give you a lecture on “shoulds or should nots.”

This sustainability gig is very personal and as such it needs to convict each of us differently. Just like food. Nobody is going to tell me what or how to eat until I decide what works for my budget and palette. Much the same, buying and being sustainable needs to come from within, from a deep understanding of what sits right with you or not.  Becoming educated is important, and that is the first part of being persuaded, but the second part comes from digesting that information and realizing that you cannot undo what you’ve learned and that sometimes ignorance is bliss, because once you know the difference you are truly responsible for that informed decision.

However, it won’t be me being the sustainable police checking your tags or banning the store’s doors. I won’t even make a face of disgust if you tell me where you buy it. I get it. There are many factors that affect a decision when buying clothing and in many cases there are very few choices. And each person is in their own unique situation.

What I like to say about this predicament is this: “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something”.

So the next time you see me, don’t feel the need to hide the bags from those stores, I won’t say a thing…unless, that is, you ask me to!

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Day 73

March 13th, 2016

Outfit: Skinny jeans, brown boots, black dress forwards, large (again hand-me-down) wrap, brown belt.

Thank you Unless Market…

Before you even say it, I am going to say it for you…this is not my best picture! I know I look like I’m about to enter the Roman Senate and talk to Julius Caesar. But again, I had no other option as the studio is not set up and the photographer is sleeping…I can hear him snoring. So you use what you have!

cropped-600px_Logo2015

I want to take the opportunity today to say a great big thank you to Unless Market and its artists for providing the looks I sported all of last week. It was great to have some fun pieces to accessorize the dress with, which were different from what I have in my closet. Doing something like this brings you out of your comfort zone and gets you to try a new look that you may have not tried otherwise.

Please take the time to go down to Unless Market and check out their vendors for yourself. Let me know what you thought. Sarah will take care of you.

 

 

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Day 71

March 11th, 2016

Outfit: Dress worn front wards, skinny jeans, black short boots.

Unless items: Bracelets are made from reclaimed belts by LuE Designs. Taking discarded items and turning them into fashion pieces. She even makes them for kids. https://www.facebook.com/LuEdesigns123/?fref=ts
– Bamboo shirt hand printed with the unique artwork of FabriKated. Kate uses screenprinting to bring expression and character to every piece she makes. http://www.fabrikated.ca/

– Alpaca cowl is hand knit by Kristal Polley from Alpaca Cowls and Scarves. She loves creating pieces that add warmth and elegance to any outfit. (she doesn’t have a website or business facebook, call the store for more info)

Almost all done with Unless…sad face.

I love everything about this outfit. The t-shirt is one of many with very fun designs that include bikes and owls. The cowl is cozy and really soft, and can be worn in many different ways. And the bracelets are one of my favourite pieces in the store. So fun and unique. One more accessory tomorrow and we say so long to the beautiful pieces of Unless Market. I hope you’ve enjoyed the looks as much as I have.

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Day 67

March 7th, 2016

Outfit: Dress worn backwards, black boots, chandelier earrings.

Unless item: Black and brown kimono, by GreenBean. Reloved. Upcycled materials. Check their website here: www.greenbeanreloved.com

‘UNLESS MARKET’ WEEK!

I told you I had a very special week planned and here it is. I am so excited to announce that this week I will be styled in items provided by Unless Market.

Ever heard this quote?, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”. Ok don’t hurt yourself, it’s by The Lorax. You know, Dr. Seuss? Love it!

This quote encompasses the mission of Unless Market. Located downtown Kelowna on Bernard Ave, this ‘market’ is a hub where local is king. Local designers, local products, local artists, it says so right on their window and the promise delivers. You can find anything from jewelry and personal care products to fresh farm eggs and all kinds of resources for other types of local products. It reminds me a little bit of Circle Craft in Vancouver, the Christmas market I’ve told you about, except this is year-round and right here in Kelowna. The owner, Sarah, is passionate about the sustainable movement and everything eco-friendly and whole. I love being around people who feel this way. It reminds me that I’m not entirely crazy for thinking there’s got to be a different way to shop, and consume.

The Lorax says it well, we all have to start caring and eventually we’ll all care enough to make things get better; otherwise, they’re not.

If you’d like more information on UNLESS Market, check out their website.

I will be posting information on each of the artists that I’ll be displaying during the week.  Can’t wait to hear what you think.

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Day 66

March 6th, 2016

Outfit: Satin tank top with mock necklace, denim a-line skirt, brown boots, dress worn over. Silver coil bracelet.

Who likes swapping?

I’m closing “skirt week” with one of my favourite skirts from a clothing swap. I don’t know who this skirt belonged to before me, but now that it belongs to me, it is a staple in my wardrobe. What exactly is a clothing swap you ask? Well, it can work in different ways, sometimes you simply are asked to bring a number of items in good wearable condition to the swap and you can take a certain number of items from the ‘pile’ when you leave. The one I went to and have been going for a few years, is a fundraiser my friend C puts on to raise money for different causes often to improve women’s issues.

She collects clothing from all sources during the year, and stores it in her garage, then on the day of the swap people pay to come in and shop out of the collected items. She opted to let each person determine the cost of the items (it’s a lot of work to price clothing!) and you have the option to simply fill a bag for a certain amount.

The afternoon usually includes beverages, entertainment and treats. I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to re-cycle.

There are many other ways to re-gift and re-cycle clothing, but if you’ve never gone to a clothing swap, I highly recommend you try one.

Here’s a link to the last one I went to. Fashion for Freedom

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Day 63

March 3rd, 2016

Outfit:  Black dress worn backwards, chevron stripe skirt, black skinny belt, red shoes, red necklace, red purse. Another skirt made by yours truly. This one was tricky only to match the stripes so they formed the ‘v’ at centre front.

A year without ‘Made in China’

Could you live without Chinese-made items for a whole year? That’s exactly what the family in the book I just finished reading (A year without “Made in China”, by Sara Bongiorni) did!

In truth it was the wife who came up with the idea and the husband followed suit – I think he had no choice! There was a reason she secretly called him ‘the weakest link’, fearing that at any point he might cave in and buy something outlawed by their boycott.  The kids were too little to have a say, but they certainly noticed that they couldn’t have regular buckets and pails for the summer because they were ‘made in China’. The book is quite funny as it documents their ups and downs through the struggle of buying items that were not manufactured in China. It was an experiment (what is it with people like us?) to see just how much of our stuff came from there and whether or not it has a monopoly on commodities. As funny as it is written, it certainly makes you realize how dependent we are on stuff made overseas. It wasn’t just clothing or toys, she couldn’t even buy printer ink! All made in China. And interestingly enough, when it comes to celebrating holidays, everything is Chinese. So she called it Chinese Christmas, Chinese Halloween and Chinese Fourth of July (in our case it would be Chinese Canada day). But, for real, how exactly do the factory workers feel about making Americana and Canadian merchandise for us to feel patriotic? Does that seem ironic to anyone else?

I laughed hysterically when the husband went around in mismatched flip flops because the rules they had set up did not allow for even used Chinese items. Have you tried buying flip flops made elsewhere lately?  And I could certainly relate when she started to bend the rules on ‘gifts’ from others because she felt it was too much to impose the restrictions on friends or family to adhere to their rules.

All around it was a great insight on once again, the result of our over consumption and just how used to it we’ve become.

Spoiler alert, it is almost impossible to boycott China if you ever want to own a television set, or a coffee maker, but at least it is good to know that where there’s a will, there’s a way and that we can spread our spending among other countries of origin if only we put in a little effort and use all kinds of will power and self restraint.

I loved it and highly recommend it, if you’re up to the challenge. Here’s the link. A year without ‘Made in China’

 

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Day 38

Feb. 7th, 2016

Outfit: Bright coral ¾ sleeve t-shirt, short jeans, black dress worn as coat, Merrill walking shoes. Tan finger-knit  scarf.

Knitting circles are good for you!

Let’s talk about knitting. This beautiful scarf I’m wearing was a gift from my friend Pamela Lovering. I love it! It is so cozy and warm and I love that she made it. There are lots of videos on line that teach you how to do stuff like this, and lots of books that focus on the more traditional methods. Knitting is one of those crafts that everyone knew how to do and is slowly becoming what grandma used to do. However, did you know that it is a well known fact that knitting can be a great stress reliever? It seems that for that reason alone, it’s making a come-back. Especially in the big cities where there’s lots of commuting, you’ll find people sitting on the train, with a bag of knitting. And it’s not only for the ladies, you’ll see lots of men doing this. Here’s a link to more information about this.  Continue reading “Day 38”

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