All photos via links.
Jumpsuits are one of my favorite silhouettes. So versatile...wear alone...over a fitted tank (I love Pact + Lacausa)...under a tee, button-down, sweater, or jacket. Jumpsuits are more versatile than pants in my closet! Above are a few of my fair faves.
There are also some lovely independently designed sewing patterns for jumpsuits...and, of course, there are vintage sewing patterns out there as well!
All photos via links.
Just in case you are in the market for a pair of fair roller-skates. And these are convertible too!
Oh, Elizabeth Suzann. You know how to make simple shapes look not only supremely comfortable, but also quite stylish and timeless. Your business model is the most amazing example of fair labor and low waste. All of your natural fabrics are always machine washable. You design for women of all shapes, sizes, and ages. Tres inspirant!
All images via Elizabeth Suzann (new collection released today!).
Spring is full of new beginnings and fresh starts. Pure white and pale natural tones are what I want right now...in addition to pieces with traceable pasts. I LOVE to catch glimpses of our clothing in early stages of becoming. What a great reminder of all that went into them...and all the value they hold as they make their way through all those hands...and finally into our hands.
Brooks Boswell's handcrafted honeycomb hat is a work of art made to order in Portland, Oregon. I'd love to have this beauty shading my shoulders as we plant our garden.
Ali Golden's linen/cotton jumpsuit is made in a fair-trade facility in India + looks perfect to wear any day...now with a denim jacket and later with bare feet.
Doen's velvet ballet slippers are sweet, comfy (looking), versatile, and made in California. They'd go with everything in my closet.
Baggu's Earth Day bag will outlast a ton of plastic bags, is ethically made in China, and can be recycled at the end of its life. One of these would be the perfect addition to my little collection.
Heather Lou's Kalle sewing pattern is one I've been hoping she'd make since I saw her in her own version last summer. My copy is in the mail!
I hear you, friends.
Bralettes aren't for everyone.
Some of us need a little bit more (ahem) support.
Simplicity is key to keeping manufacturing costs low, fair, + local. Simplicity must be considered in regards to the design, the number of pieces to be cut and assembled, and the technical skill required. Much of what we see in the fair arena veers toward pieces without zippers or even buttons. Silhouettes are loose to fit as many shapes as possible. Fit is vague. Many of us see these looks as pleasing, but it is undeniable that this unfitted "ease" both in wearing and in manufacture is part of the movement. A boxy top can fit a variety of women and requires a smaller number of sizes to be made. A bathrobe cum stylish-cardigan-jacket-thingy requires less technical sewing by doing away with darts, set in sleeves, facings, collars, buttons, and button holes. Smaller businesses need to employ these tactics in order to stay afloat in a market where larger companies are ordering larger numbers of items to stock multiple locations...like mall stores...and thus getting volume discounts.
When it comes to intimates, panties are made of a relatively small number of pieces and can be made to stretch in order to fit a number of sizes...so we can find fair panties. Bras are complicated beings with substantial expectations for fit. When small fair brands make bras, they often end up being bralettes, because bralettes are simpler to make...no closures, minimal cup shaping, no underwire. Unfortunately, these simplifications result in relatively little support for those of us in need of a bit. My first attempt at finding fair intimates focused mostly on the bottom half, because that was what I was in need of + it was much easier to find. Since then I've received a couple mentions of a desire for a little more investigation (and you know I love that!), so here goes. The brands listed here are not necessarily small ones, but they are making some positive choices.
Fortnight :: made in-house in Toronto, Canada :: small business
Hanro :: designed in Switzerland + made in Portugal :: timeless classics made from natural materials + built to last
Anita :: Anita owns all of their production facilities + operates them "in accordance with the highest standards"
Only Hearts :: made in New York City :: narrow selection of sizes
La Perla :: made in Italy
Cosabella :: made in Italy
Wacoal :: made in the USA + imported :: I can't really get behind that description, but this is the bra that I own right now (x3). I like its minimal appearance + comfy, supportive fit. It is made from a minimal amount of cotton + not too much else. I've had mine for more than two years. They have retained all of their support + shape and don't really show much sign of wear.
(A bunch of these are available at Zappos. This could be a way to try some on for size with shipping covered.)
To prolong the lifespan of my bras, I hand wash them in cold water + hang them dry over a plastic hanger in the shower.
If you are looking for fair sports bras, take a look at the fair athletic wear post. I added a couple that I found (Onzie + Beyond Yoga) during this search. For some lovely bralettes + other intimates, check the fair intimates post.
all photos via links.
Athletic wear has gone through some changes over the years. While I don't come from a conventionally athletic family, we did hike + bike, take long walks + cross-country ski. I took tennis + swimming lessons every summer growing up, but I don't really remember having any special athletic wear, besides what we called 'tennis shoes'. I do remember my dad having a pair of high top Chuck Taylors for exercise. My sisters sported knee high tube socks with their gym shorts in the seventies (not necessarily for athletic purposes). Oversized polyester Umbros were all the rage whether one played soccer or not, when I was in high school. Somewhere along the athletic wear line cotton t-shirts gave way to wicking poly shirts, lycra + spandex added a whole new dimension of possibility in fit, and recycled plastic bottles became fleece.
Now we know that tiny plastic microfibers from that fleece shed with each and every wash. One study found these plastic microfibers in 67% of the fish studied + bound for human consumption in California. Polyester, nylon, and lycra/spandex are fabrics woven from long, thin plastic fibers (derived from crude oil). While these fabric innovations may make great performance fabrics for our workouts, they may not be so great for our health or the health of the planet in the end. These chemical compounds are hazardous in production and will be with us long after we are finished with them.
While polyester seems to be the most common fiber when it comes to athletic wear, natural fiber options are (not surprisingly) cropping back up in many ethical circles. It is difficult to replicate the elastic nature of lycra or spandex desired in much athletic clothing, so it can be tricky to find 100% natural fiber active wear. I was able to find a few options, however. It can take a little digging to find the 100% natural items even on some of the websites listed here, but it is possible. When these workout pieces have reached the end of their usefulness as clothing (and then rags), the bits of elastic could be cut out and they could be composted.
Pansy :: organic USA grown cotton :: sewn in California :: tops, bottoms, bras
Rawganique :: organic cotton tops, bottoms, bras :: elastic free options :: sweat-shop free :: men's + women's
Ibex :: some 100% merino wool pieces :: "responsibly" sourced + sewn :: men's + women's :: men's cycling :: some pieces made in the USA
Base Range :: organic cotton :: made in Portugal :: sweatshirts, sweatpants + tees
Victor Athletics :: organic cotton sewn + dyed in Tennessee :: sweatshirts, tees, + sweatpants :: women's + men's
Smartwool :: some 100% merino wool tops + leggings :: knit in Vietnam, so I'm not sure about the fairness of the labor conditions:: women's + men's options
Pact :: organic cotton :: fair-trade :: well-priced :: some tanks for women + some men's tees are 100% organic cotton
Patagonia :: in addition to some organic tees, I found an organic cotton/tencel tank :: sewn in a monitored, Vietnam factory :: men's options as well
Tracksmith :: this top is made from cotton/rayon in New England (USA)
Jungmaven :: hemp + organic cotton tees + sweatshirts :: made in the USA :: women's + men's
If the goal is to buy an entirely compostable garment, I would caution about the probability that these pieces are sewn with polyester thread in order to increase durability. I tried to mostly avoid picturing items with zippers, snaps, elastic and grommets, because they would also not be compostable (but could be cut out before composting).
One way to avoid all of those items (choose cotton thread) would be to sew your own activewear out of organic cotton, hemp, or wool with the help of one of these sewing patterns:
Grainline Studio :: Linden sweatshirt
True Bias :: Hudson sweatpants :: for men + kids too
Fancy Tiger :: Adventure tanks
Hey June :: Sloane leggings
So Sew Easy :: leggings
Purl Bee :: City gym shorts :: for girls too
Fehr Trade :: a variety of athletic wear patterns :: some for men too
If we expand our search for fair athletic wear to include pieces that incorporate spandex, recycled fibers, and pieces simply made under fair conditions, there are a few more companies to consider. Lots of the brands above offer items that would fall into this category as well.
Conscious Clothing :: made in Michigan, organic fibers
Gaia Conceptions :: made in North Carolina :: organic fabrics, plant dyes
Free Label :: natural fibers :: made in Canada
Synergy Clothing :: paying living wages :: organic cotton :: GOTS certified
Patagonia :: recycled + organic fibers :: growing fair-trade collection
Athleta :: currently has a collection of pieces focused on sustainability :: some fair-trade :: some natural + organic fibers
Albion :: "committed to the environment :: "using earth friendly materials" :: "fair labor practices"
Purusha People :: made in the USA :: playful pieces including an "organic" collection
From :: fair-trade :: organic cotton, merino wool :: transparent supply chains :: UK
Girlfriend Collective :: new collection coming this spring :: transparent
Threads for Thought :: fair-trade :: organic cotton + recycled polyester
Shift to Nature :: fair-trade :: organic fibers + bamboo :: Australia
LVR :: made in the USA :: organic + recycled fibers
Beyond Yoga :: designed + made in Los Angeles, CA
Onzie :: mostly made in the USA :: will provide list of made in USA pieces if contacted
Prana :: there is a focus on organic + sustainable fibers :: some items are fair-trade
Outer Known :: many pieces made from reclaimed fishing nets :: some fair-trade pieces :: men's
Share Hope :: leggings :: owned by a nonprofit that invests all profits into the lives of garment workers
Akrovita :: made in California
Heroine Sport :: a lot of made in the USA pieces
Nau and Icebreaker have a focus on natural fibers, but the sewing origins are not apparent from their websites. Icebreaker does state, "we go out of our way to make sure all of our sewing and finishing is undertaken in an environmentally and socially responsible manner."
Tracksmith used to be made exclusively in New England, but now they "find the best global partners", so I'm not sure about the fairness of the labor conditions in regards to the foreign made pieces.
I have to admit that this has been the hardest fair + ethical list to compile. Previously, I had depended on my two favorite companies for athletic wear, Outdoor Voices + Tracksmith. Recently, however, both have abandoned USA production in their endeavors to scale their companies. There has been no mention of prioritizing fair-trade labor. While I understand the bottom line, I want to particularly underscore our responsibility as consumers to make our voices heard as a company grows. We need to let them know that we not only like the product they are designing, but that we value the origins... + that it is important to us that our favorite companies consider farmers, garment workers, and the environment in every step of their process. My voice alone is probably not enough to sway a growing company, but many voices raised together will demand consideration.
All photos are from the brands' websites. I will link to this post on the ethical brands page, so it will be easy access when needed.
Sweat on, friends!
This year when it comes to purchasing, I am trying to stay focused only on necessary replacements. The hope is that this focus will facilitate both keeping spending minimal + keeping things minimal in our space. We have enough...but sometimes things do wear out.
I often make new lists of fair items to share here in my own quest for replacements. The fair intimates post was no different. I've been on the hunt for replacements in this department for a while. As with most things fair, fair intimates are a bit pricey...no packs of 6 for $10. This need has been on my mind for quite a while now, but I don't want to spend a whole lot all at once...so I finally decided to purchase just one now. Over time I can build my collection.
I love that Pansy makes their pieces in the California out of USA grown, organic cotton. Such a little statement with such a huge impact! I already own one pair of Pansy, so I know the sizing. The shape is just what I'm looking for... + this color, I mean...sunshine!
Kitchen towels are another thing I need to replace. I have two at the moment + it's just not really cutting it. Again, the cost of buying two or three at once is kind of a big hit to my budget, so I decided to just purchase one now.
I know that I love Jenny Pennywood towels. Her prints are my favorites + anything else would (to me) just feel like settling. Towels make a statement in my minimal kitchen, so I like what I like. I love supporting Jen Garrido's creative work as a maker + artist, so adding another one of her towels to my little collection creates no guilt.
Just like supporting local, organic growers when buying our food at the farmer's market... supporting independent makers is a great way to ensure that our dollars are supporting people doing good work + local economies...rather than supporting faceless corporations. Every dollar is a vote...and I vote for organic cotton, fair wages, creativity, and independent thought.
There are some talented makers out there sharing sewing patterns with those of us who sew. Evidence of their understanding as sewists + as women (these designers just all happen to be women) who wear clothes is all over their work. It is nice to find patterns designed for women with real life bodies. If I find a designer who happens to be shaped similarly to me, I know I've found a real treasure. Independent pattern makers' efforts are greatly appreciated + I'm proud to support them.
Long ago, I was asked who my favorite independent sewing pattern designers (for clothing) were and I took the long route to answer that question. I focused on one designer at a time + went a little more in depth with each one. With the challenge I've set for myself to sew my clothing this year...I thought it might be nice to have all of these amazing designers in one place. In case they might be helpful to anyone else, here we are (in alphabetical order):
Alabama Chanin :: unique techniques for hand sewing knits :: patterns in books + online *
Amie Comme Marie :: women's, men's, + children's :: French :: France
Amy Butler :: clothing + bags :: in books + online *
Anna Maria Horner :: clothing + bags :: in books + online *
April Rhodes :: versatile, simple dresses *
Blue Prints :: creative shapes for women
Cali Faye :: women + girls
Christine Haynes :: dresses + a coat *
Citronille :: sweet shapes for women, girls, + teens :: some patterns in French :: France*
Closet Case :: women's, including jeans, swimwear, + outerwear *
Colette :: vintage inspired shapes for women + a few for men :: patterns in book + online *
Deer & Doe :: pretty shapes for women :: France
Fancy Tiger :: versatile basics *
Grainline :: versatile basics :: clothing + bags *
Japanese pattern books :: shop on etsy :: many translated to English :: Japan *
Made by Rae :: women's + children's *
Maker's Atelier :: women's :: patterns in book + online :: UK *
Marilla Walker :: women's :: UK *
Megan Nielson :: women's, including maternity + girls' :: Australia
Sew Liberated :: women's + children's including nursing friendly :: in books + online *
Merchant & Mills :: women's, men's, + girls :: patterns in books + online :: UK *
Named :: women's :: Finland
Noodlehead :: bags :: patterns in book + online *
Oliver + S / Liesl + Co :: children's + women's :: patterns in books + online *
Papercut :: women's :: New Zealand
Pauline Alice :: women's :: Europe
Purl Bee :: women's + children :: most patterns free *
République du Chiffon :: women's + children's :: French :: France
Salme :: women's
Seamwork :: by Colette :: patterns to sew in 3 hours or less :: women + a few for men
Sew House Seven :: women's *
Sonya Phillip :: women's basics :: plus sizing too *
Tessuti :: women's :: Australia
Thread Theory :: mostly men's patterns + a couple women's :: Canada
Tilly and the Buttons :: women's :: patterns in book + online :: UK
True Bias :: women's + kids + one for men *
Verb for Keeping Warm :: women's (+ book on natural dying)
Victory Patterns :: women's :: patterns in book + online :: Canada
Vintage patterns :: try Etsy or Ebay :: great for patterns through the decades *
Wear Lemonade :: women's :: patterns in French :: France
Wiksten :: women's + children's :: patterns in book + online *
* = patterns I've personally made
There are many more talented designers, but these are my personal favorites. I've listed the countries where these patterns are designed (as I've noticed them not being designed in the USA) as a way to know that they may be more (or less) local to where one lives. Most of the patterns are available as PDF patterns (printable at home) as well, so location need not be a deterrent.
I'll put the link to this post along with the link to the fair fabrics post (which I'll add to over time) on the ethical brands page for easy access. :)
New spring collections emerge day by day...and these shine bright because they involve fair origins! While the weather fluctuates between spring blossoms + winter snow, we can dream of the days when it's just a little bit more dependable. The sun will kiss our arms again someday soon...so dream I will. :) Here are a few more of my fair favorites for spring:
Doen values women + their stories. They carefully select women owned manufacturers. Doen is influenced by the best of 70s fashion (no brown corduroy here) + this dreamy top is a no exception.
Osei-Duro makes their textiles + garments in Ghana, India, + Peru respecting the rights + aesthetics of the makers. I would love to wear this dress loose with a pair of those No6 beauties (or trainers) as soon as the weather warms up.
Miranda Bennett specializes in plant dyed, made in the USA garments. They are currently partnering with a manufacturer empowering refugee women through fair wage employment. This collaboration with Alyson Fox is perfection.
Esby creates their simple shapes in Los Angeles + Dallas. This breezy shirtdress is the ultimate in one-piece dressing.
No 6's amazing footwear + clothing are made in the USA + Peru. I have thought about last year's navy version of these shoes since last spring.
Modaspia creates beautiful classic shapes in Oakland, California. I would wear this jacket all buttoned up as a top for a put together look. It would also be a great layer over jumpsuits and dresses.
Zero Waste Daniel's one of a kind creations are made from textile waste in NYC. This oh-so-versatile sweatshirt is made from organic cotton.
All pictures are the designers' own. Visit their sites to see the rest of their spring collections.
It's that glorious time of the year when the new spring collections begin to emerge + we get to see what our favorite designers have been working on. I feel like I'm opening a gift as I catch that first glimpse! The past week has been a treat + I'm brimming with excitement about the fair origins of these pieces! Here are a few of my new fair favorites so far this spring:
Black Crane is my favorite. Momo + Alexander partner American fabrics + American labor with their extraordinary designs to wonderful effect every time. This rust color is perfectly earthy.
Everlane's 100% Human tee is made in Los Angeles + emphasizes our common ground in a time when we just might need the reminder.
Sotela's jumpsuit is easy one piece dressing made in Los Angeles from 100% linen.
The Seamwork team designed this sewing pattern in part to allow use of small pieces of stash fabric.
Named Clothing's new collection of sewing patterns is lovely + inspiring.
The bold pattern of Lauren Winter's wide legged pants is bold + playful and just what I'm looking for right now.
All pictures are the designers' own. Visit their sites to see the rest of their spring collections.
daring to choose fair one choice at a time