It's bits of information like this that reveal so much. As a sewist, I can't imagine sewing together 34 pieces in 54 steps in only 43 minutes! Yes, they have equipment that I don't have access to...but that is skilled labor. Many brands would have no idea about any of these numbers. Keeping manufacturing close to home allows them to know for certain. It also allows the miles each garment travels during production to be almost 20 times less than the industry average!
And that only happens due to an all-American supply chain...including American-grown cotton. All of this might sound like obvious choices for American brands, but very few American clothing brands source labor or cotton from the USA.
A few years ago, I read an article explaining that plastic microfibers shed from polyester + nylon clothing in the wash + make their way into our drinking water. I went through our closets + pulled out our own microfiber producing pieces. I tried to think of alternatives for as many of those items as possible. My partner + I replaced our plastic fiber fleece jackets with 100% wool Ibex jackets (like the navy one above). Not long after, Ibex announced that they were going out of business.
Fortunately, not long after that, Ibex announced that they would return...in time. I'm happy to say that Ibex has come back, and it might just be better than it was before. At the moment there are just a few, basic pieces in their collection. Some of the pieces are made from 100% merino wool (including tees + the jacket above). Many pieces (including the tank, sweatshirt + sweatpants above) are mainly merino wool plus just a touch of added spandex or elastane. The people who work on Ibex products, throughout the supply chain, are employed by WRAP certified manufacturers.
As the weather cools, I thought I'd revisit Ibex as an alternative to oil-based plastic fleece + polyester fibers. Whether polyester or nylon is recycled or not, it will produce plastic microfibers. Merino wool is a long lasting, natural fiber that wicks moisture away from the skin + resists odors. It keeps us warm with relatively little bulk or weight. Wool is worth repairing + with care, will be ready for heavy wear year after year.
All lovely photos via Ibex.
Yesterday, I came across a pair of fair-trade certified jeans at Target. They cost $34.99 (full price)! They have the fair-trade logo on the tag + in the jeans. This discovery got me thinking + doing a little bit of digging.
I noticed that these Target fair-trade certified jeans cost $34.99 (full price), while the same style of non-fair-trade certified jeans cost $29.99. Sadly there is not even a mention of the fair-trade certified jeans being fair-trade in the title of the item on the website or in the store, so the only difference most shoppers will notice is the slightly higher price tag.
These Madewell fair-trade certified jeans cost $128 (full price), while the same style of non-fair-trade certified Madewell jeans also cost $128. Again, there is no mention of fair-trade status in the item description. The identical pricing leads me to believe that the cost increase of making jeans in a fair-trade certified factory must not even be enough to be reflected in the cost to consumer! Madewell's enormous mark-up can easily absorb this cost.
It's interesting to imagine that sourcing cotton from farmers, processing that cotton, spinning, weaving + dying that fabric...transporting the fiber from one process to the next...the zipper, other hardware thread, tags...all the detailed sewing of jeans...transport to warehouse + stores...AND mark-up...could be done for $34.99. I'm assuming that only fair-trade (overseas*) sewing has been included in the fair-trade certification of these jeans. Fair labor throughout the supply chain has not necessarily been addressed...not to mention cotton that is grown without toxic chemicals. I imagine that the same goes for the $128 jeans. The only difference is that Madewell makes a lot more money than Target does on mark-up.
Even so...if fair-trade (overseas*) labor can be achieved for $35...then how much more would it really cost to pay fairly throughout the supply chain?
And really...shouldn't fair wages just be part of the system? Most of us lived under the assumption that garment workers were paid fairly for some period of time + needed to wake up to the fact that fair wages aren't already part of the system that brings us the clothes we wear.
Who is responsible for unfair wages? Anyone choosing to keep a little (or a lot) more money for themselves. This comes down to heads of brands who cast a vision for profits over people. It comes down to owners of factories who want to grow their own wealth rather than that of their employees. It comes down to us...when we continue to choose cheap/easy/instant gratification without regard to who is paying the price that we are unwilling to pay.
These jeans seem to reveal something that even the self-proclaimed "transparent" brands are not sharing with us: fair-trade does not cost them much. They cannot continue to sell us on the lie that WE would not want to pay them enough to pay their garment workers fair wages.
Photos via links. Unlinked photo, mine.
*Just one more thing to address: The brands mentioned here outsource labor to countries with the lowest standards of living, so "fair wages" are falsely low. Jeans made closer to home cost more, because a living wage is higher. Even then, many garment workers in the USA are paid poorly. It is important for brands to manufacture where they live, so that they can have close relationships with those making their (our) clothing.
Ceres Sport is an exciting, new brand focusing on classic athletic wear made from natural fibers rather than the plastic fibers. Recycled or not, plastic fibers shed microfibers with each wash. Those microfibers find their way into waterways, drinking water, rain + the air we breathe.
Some Ceres Sport pieces made from 100% cotton, which would allow them to be compostable at the end of their usefulness as clothing + rags (just cut off elastic). Some pieces are made from deadstock fabrics which not only saves these leftover fabrics from the landfill, but keeps new resources from being used. Their pieces are designed + made in Los Angeles. These are exactly the kinds of things I truly want to wear...especially those high waisted, cotton leggings + cotton, drawstring pants. Ceres also offers various, free, weekly, online classes. Thank you so much, Alix, for sharing this amazing brand!
More alternatives to plastic shedding clothing.
More fair athletic wear here + here.
Ceres Sport has been added to the first + last of these posts. All three of these posts can be found at the bottom of the ethical brands page when needed.
All lovely photos via Ceres Sport.
Chaya + Simi are sisters, mothers + the designers behind The Frock NYC. Their pieces take into account both their orthodox Jewish upbringing + their love of simple, easy style. Almost all of The Frock NYC's pieces are made in New York City.
Lovely photos via The Frock NYC. I will add this brand to our ever growing list of ethical brands for easy, future reference.
It's 96F here today (phew!), but cooler days are coming. Thinking of golden leaves crunching underfoot, cool breezes brushing faces + a few things I won't mind layering on helps to ease my thoughts toward the months ahead. Of course, I have a bunch of things already in my closet that...no matter how many times I wore them over + over again last autumn + winter...I will be happy to pull on again. I'm not looking to add too many pieces to my simple wardrobe, but that doesn't stop me from noticing a few of the lovely, fair things out there.
I think we'll be spending more days at home this autumn, so comfy might as well factor into my choices. Pansy leggings are my tried + true comfy, cozy bottoms of choice. A new pair in creamy, natural, organic cotton are on my list. I'm also curious to try Ripple Yoga's fitted joggers.
Fair sweaters can be a bit challenging to find, but all of these cotton beauties are made in California! Trade out those Arizonas for some Bostons (Birkenstocks)...and eventually add some socks for cozy toes. Now all of that almost has me looking forward to autumn. :)
All lovely photos via links.
,Leisurewear is having a good year. We all love to be comfy at home, and we are all spending a lot of time at home. Lett's comfy looking pieces are designed + made mostly out of cotton + rayon (+ a little spandex) in Los Angeles. I searched for cotton bike shorts this summer + wish I'd found the ones here before they sold out of my size. (Oh, I just remembered these!) I (like everyone else) am loving a matched set these days, and I love that there are lots of options for matching pieces here. Cooler days are coming + I'd love to cozy up with Lett.
All lovely photos via Lett.
Just a few things that have been catching my eye lately. I'm trying to hold onto summer right now, but know that autumn looms on the horizon. These lovely items could be useful almost any day of the year, but seem to bridge that transition especially well. A barely there dress to wear now with bare shoulders + bare feet...and later with a sweater + socks. A meticulously made blouse to wear with rolled up sleeves over shorts now + to throw on over that dress or jeans when the evenings cool. An aromatic lotion that promises to be "a reminder of stability in times of flux". And a chai blend to drink iced now + hot in the weeks to come.
All lovely photos via links.
Nettle Studios makes me smile. While they do stock the ubiquitous, ethical fashion pieces such as the wide leg pant, cropped tie-front or back top + boxy dress...they come in non-typical, popping hot pink, hot red + lavender. I'm particularly drawn to the translucent fabrics that would layer interestingly over more basic pieces.
The pieces offered by Nettle Studios are designed + made in-house in San Fransisco. They offer inclusive sizing + use natural fibers. Thank you for injecting a little happy into my day, Nettle Studios! :)
All lovely images via Nettle Studios.
This post started out as a place to collect all of my scattered thoughts about shirt dresses. I've been trying to choose the most versatile sewing pattern...one that could be used to sew the perfect button up shirt + also a variety of shirt dresses (+ maybe a chore coat too). Phew! That's a lot of pressure for one pattern!
I was hoping that seeing my sewing pattern choices + inspiration photos in one place would help me formulate a plan. Collecting these inspiration photos does help me to see that I love an oversized silhouette. Seeing so much inspiration collected over the years...all together in one place (rather than scattered through my pinterest boards)...confirms that I've loved this sort of shape for a long time. (I've even done a similar post here.)
I've made shirt dresses before + even documented a couple of them here:
My thoughts on shirt dresses now involve:
My top pattern choices at the moment include:
olya :: paper theory
lucienne :: i am patterns
I think I'm realizing that purchasing two patterns (instead of one) might not be a totally terrible choice. One pattern could be more oversized + the other could be a bit more fitted. I love both styles + would likely get a lot of use out of both patterns. This was definitely a helpful exercise...but this is still a hard decision!
All lovely photos via links.
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time