Style Wise | Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Sustainability

SUSTAINABLE STYLE & ETHICAL LIVING

The Easiest Trick Ever to Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable & Satisfying

one trick to a more sustainable wardrobe capsule closet stylewise-blog.com This post was written by Francesca Willow and was originally published on Ethical Unicorn, a blog about ethical fashion and social justice. Reposted with permission.

There are many ways to make your approach to fashion, and your own closet, more sustainable. You can move towards more secondhand purchases such as thrifting or finding ethical vintage fashion. You can move away from buying with the trends and find longer-lasting, non-boring personal style instead, or try working towards changing your perspective on spending vs investment, looking at long term money saving (even if it’s more expensive up front) rather than just finding bargains. There really are a hundred different ways to get started, depending on the kind of person you are and what works for you.

All of these things are great, otherwise I wouldn’t have written about them, but they also require a little bit of time. Both to implement, and to fully form into new habits and skill that come as second nature, not a conscious decision you have to think about each time (I’d consider myself a real pro thrifter nowadays, but I definitely didn’t used to be, and I have more than one dumb purchase in my past to prove it). However I believer there is one small trick that anyone can apply immediately. One which can make your wardrobe more sustainable and more durable overnight.

Rotating your clothes

It sounds simple because, well, it is. But hear me out.

Rotating your clothes simply refers to how your organise the wardrobe you already have. No need to buy anything or throw anything away. Instead, whenever you wash something put it to the back (or bottom if you’re piling folded clothes) of your wardrobe, and make a conscious choice to pull clothes from the front next time you’re choosing an outfit. When those clothes then get washed, put them to the back. Over time, as you keep taking from the front, you’ll eventually end up back where you started, and you’ll have successfully rotated!

Whether you have a walk in closet or one small chest of drawers, this hack will still help for two reasons.

Keeping things interesting

In a similar way to how hiding winter/summer clothes away when it’s off season makes it more exciting when you get them out again the next year (because let’s be real, you always forget exactly just what you have), rotating through your clothes can make your whole wardrobe just feel a little more fresh. It’s a mini version of recreating that ‘new’ feeling that can come with seasonal clothes: providing chances to rediscover those forgotten, underloved pieces that may have gotten lost behind the regulars you’ve been over wearing, and making the favourites more exciting when you get to them after having time off from constant use. It helps democratise the love and appreciation for all the clothes you own, in different ways.

The Moral Wardrobe: Golden with Tradlands

tradlands henley review darling boutique no 6 clogs stylewise-blog.com tradlands henley review darling boutique no 6 clogs stylewise-blog.com tradlands henley review darling boutique no 6 clogs stylewise-blog.com tradlands henley review darling boutique no 6 clogs stylewise-blog.com
Ethical Details (contains affiliate links): Henley - c/o Tradlands; Jeans - Everlane Cheeky; Clogs and Earrings - Darling Boutique (local); Bag - c/o Accompany

I've been taking advantage of the free form nature of these "The Moral Wardrobe" posts to write little essays, but today it's all about the outfit.

I feel very fashun in this, which is funny in a way because I'm wearing a henley and jeans. But look at how nice this henley is! The color, the fit - it's perfectly tailored - the way the menswear element offsets the femininity of the clogs. It's from Tradlands, a company I've heard about over and over again because they're much loved in the ethical fashion community on Instagram. But I thought it was all hype until this piece arrived. The good news is that it's absolutely a beautiful, functional piece. It does, however, hit at a higher price point than you average tee, at $79. Tradlands focuses on ethical menswear-inspired pieces sized for women's bodies, something I have been looking for ever since I found a Grandfather shirt (←the history is really interesting) at the thrift shop that I wear constantly as loungewear. Too often, the pieces available in this niche settle for either low quality fabrics or nonexistent tailoring, which makes things more affordable but less, well, sustainable. So I'm happy to have had the chance to sample a garment, because now I know I can justify the price point when I need things in the future.

The accessories in this outfit are also incredibly fun: No. 6 clogs and incredibly large earrings that I bought with consignment credit at Darling Boutique and a finely woven fique (a natural fiber native to the Andean regions of South America) bag from ethical boutique, Accompany, that expands to hold all my stuff (but is particularly good for books).

Fashion can be thoughtful, sustainable, and fun. This outfit was a good reminder of that.

Get 15% off your *first* Tradlands order with code, stylewise15 -

Get 10% off orders at Accompany with code, STYLE10 -

Everlane Review: Styling the Corduroy Straight Leg Crop

everlane corduroy straight jean in golden brown styling and review stylewise-blog.com
To be honest, I wasn't anxiously awaiting Everlane's corduroy release.

But then the weather got cold and I started panicking. My closet seems to be full of slightly uncomfortable, summery pants and skirts with few good options for real fall weather. I'm not much of a winter dress wearer (unless I'm layering them over jeans), so pants are basically vital.

everlane corduroy straight jean in golden brown styling and review stylewise-blog.comeverlane corduroy straight jean in golden brown styling and review stylewise-blog.comeverlane corduroy straight jean in golden brown styling and review stylewise-blog.com
Ethical Details: Tee - Everlane; Cords - Everlane; Cardigan - thrifted; Sneakers - Po-zu 

Grechen reviewed the Everlane cords in white this week and didn't really like them, so I wasn't expecting much from these when they arrived. But they're really great in a lot of ways...

Everlane Corduroy Straight Crop in Golden Brown

The Good

Fabric: The wide cord fabric, made from 99% cotton and 1% elastane, is SUPER comfortable. Definitely the most comfortable pants I've tried from Everlane.

Fit: The fit is very similar to Everlane's other pants in the waist and hip, but I chose to go up a size from the wide leg pants I purchased, to a size 6, to ensure a comfy fit through the Holiday eating season. As with other Everlane items, my "pear shape" pretty much requires that I order for my hip measurement rather than my waist, but those with straighter figures may want to size down, as these are a bit loose in the waist.

Color: My new favorite seasonal color. A dark mustard yellow-brown that pairs just as well with brown as it does with black.

The Meh

The silhouette: I wish these were true straight legs, but they feel more like a cropped boot cut to me.

The length: These would be MUCH more practical for cold weather if they hit at the ankle instead of several inches above it. I look a little goofy wearing socks and boots with these, but I'm going to pretend it's intentional.

Out of stock! These are on backorder until April (!), so this review may not prove to be the most useful since you can't actually order them.

For me, the good outweighs the bad, mostly because these are the first pants from Everlane that I can wear all day in any context without any discomfort. The Cheeky Straight jeans are a close second.

I would imagine that Everlane's Straight Leg Crop Pants are identical in fit to these, so if you like the overall look, you may want to grab those instead.

5 Ways I Embrace Parenthood as a Minimalist, Eco-Conscious Consumer, by Rebecca Ballard

5 tips for minimalist eco-conscious parenting stylewise-blog.com
This post was written by Rebecca Ballard, founder of Maven Women and all around wonderful human who I had the good fortune of spending time with in DC last month.

I view my chief parenting role as that of educator. 

The world will throw all kinds of stuff at my son, and within my home and in my community I can create a world based on my values and give him the tools to make wise choices when he is one day an adult. This is why it’s so important to me to parent in line with my values from day one, while also giving myself grace for imperfections as parenting is hard.

Before I became a parent I heard I would need so much more space for all of this new, extra stuff. As someone who hates clutter and values minimalism, this terrified me. It also made me even more determined to find ways to be minimalist and eco-conscious along the way. 

Yet how does one live these values as a parent, especially in a country where childhood is often filled with lots and lots of plastic?

This is still a work in progress but one that’s improving. I’ve learned a lot in the past two years, both during my pregnancy and while raising my nearly one-and-a-half year old son. 

And I found one lovely, surprise windfall: how thrifting and swapping as a parent could bring about an even richer connection to my community!

1. Purge Thoughtfully

Complexities around minimalism in the home

I live in an urban two bedroom, two bathroom, 1,000 square home with one other adult, one toddler, and many playdates and house parties. And I love it that way! We plan to have another kid and not move, thus there’s a lot of life per square foot here. So where does all that “stuff” that you need for kids go? Do you actually need to “move to the suburbs”?

Not if you use your space well and are thoughtful about what you bring into it. 

I’ve decided that everything in our home must meet one of two requirements: 
  1. We will definitely use it over the next five years or... 
  2. It has high sentimental value. 
I’ve also created a high barrier to entry for any new item I bring into our home.

I regularly go through purges. However, I hope that over time we will purge less and less. Regularly purging items is morally fraught. I know some of my poor choices, especially those I made in my teens and twenties, are now rotting in a landfill even though I “donated” them. I’m consuming better over time, but the challenge is now to find a good home for things I longer need. This ranges from the hand me down baby bottle warmer that I never ended up using to our beautiful glass candles that we shouldn’t keep because of, well, toddlers (well, we kept a few of them that we can selectively use).

My short-term solution for thoughtful purging? Finding just the right home for groups of items that go together. One woman’s trash may be another woman’s treasure. I’ve successfully listed items as “free to a good home” as long as someone comes and picks them up. Craigslist has been fantastic here. For the parenting-related items I’ve gone with my local parents listserv.

And the long-term solution? Know yourself, take into your home only what you will actually use, and cultivate and rely on your community. But how does that work, especially when the parenting panic sets in?

2. Use What You Have

Combatting commercialism gone crazy and the fear of not having “enough”

Here’s the consumption trap: your kid is having a challenge, or you are struggling with an aspect of parenting, and you think consumption can solve it. You ask around, you do your research, you buy all the options…and one or none of it solve the situation. I’ve done it, and I think all parents have. For example, my son has struggled with teething since month three and his first tooth didn’t even come in until around age one. He’s now cutting his molars, a whole new level of pain. There’s not an internet site my husband and I haven’t combed on this topic, and it’s awful to see him in so much pain. We initially purchased some “teething toys”, which are all plastic and surely made in sweatshops, as we wanted to try everything to help. However we found that it was cold fruits and veggies to gnaw on and ice that work the best.

I suggest creating a 48-hour waiting period before you buy something. What do you do during that waiting period? 
  • Investigate via your own parenting “buyerarchy of needs
  • See if something around the house is a match
  • Borrow from a friend to “try before you buy,” or just for the duration of the need
  • Do a swap
  • If none of these are a match, see if there’s an option through thrift or perhaps by finding an ethical, sustainable company

3. Embrace the Parenting Sharing Economy

Highly specific needs, short term durations

How much kid-specific stuff do you actually need? 
How long do you need it for?
Where are you going to get it from?
Where will it go afterwards? 

I’m still working on this one, but I’ve found:

You need more clothes than you might ever expect in your baby’s first few months. Between spit up and diaper issues I sometimes went through 12 outfits a day! After that subsides, which is partially child-specific, you can cut the clothing volume down by a factor of three or more.

My friends whom I was getting clothing hand-me-downs from have all moved overseas, so while that initially went well I wasn’t able to continue to systematize the process. I now bring in clothing through ThredUp, and I just got a Halloween costume on Poshmark.

My biggest challenge is that I’d like to have another kid, so I’d like to get items out to friends and then get them back eventually. To make this manageable, I had to develop a system for items going in and out. I got bags, boxes, and bins for closets and under the bed. I’d write my name on tags, make a list, and eventually save time and just leave it up to fate about which items returned. My hope is that I can continue to extend the chain until it’s time for my “numero dos,” meaning these items are constantly in use. My maternity clothing has now gone through three other girlfriends of mine, and when I get it to and from them it’s a great reminder to check in on how they are doing. Plus creating a thrifting chain is a great way to save your friends money, as kids are not cheap, as well as meet new friends in a similar life stage.

4. Just Say No to Toy Overload

Kids get bored pretty easily. Combat boredom with toys by having a smaller number of accessible ones that you rotate in and out. You can also engage in toy swaps, another great way to find and cultivate community and share parenting tips.

Life is also one big toy. Last night our son enjoyed taking the drawers out and carrying them around the house, being silly with my favorite blanket, and playing with Chapstick. My old cell phone and a headset are a top choice for playthings, as is “helping” me vacuum and cook. Not only does this save you money and clutter for new items, but it also aligns well with a Montessori-style approach to child development. We haven’t gotten a new toy for him in months!

5. Embrace Your New Community

Lots of the time, making ethical, sustainable choices can feel sacrificial. It's not always fun, it's time-consuming, and it's really hard to do. It’s still important to make them, but it can feel like a drag.

For me, however, parenting in this way has been anything but a drag. And that's because, as the well-known study of Harvard men that began in 1938 showed us, it’s community connectivity that brings about the best life in every way.

Yes, it’s been more time-consuming to research ethical toddler shoes this week (I had minimal luck thrifting them) and develop in-and-out clothing systems versus just throwing things away. 

But the rewards of deepening connections are priceless. The shared economy of parenting has been a tangible, visceral, often daily way to connect with others deeply in the vulnerable season that is early parenthood. 
5 tips for minimalist eco-conscious parenting stylewise-blog.com
Rebecca and her little one

About Rebecca

A “jack of all trades” and dreamer and schemer driven by a desire to enhance social justice, Rebecca has worked in DC and throughout Asia as a social entrepreneur, ED, lawyer, and consultant. Her passions are market-based social change that advances human rights, values-based consumptive behavior, and ending homelessness. Rebecca founded Maven Women to meet an unmet market need for additional socially conscious options for professional women's attire and to "move the needle" in the global garment industry through product creation and partnership, consumer education, and advocacy. 
minimalist and eco friendly parenting tips stylewise-blog.com

The Moral Wardrobe: Grandma Was a Collector

anchal project grandma and shopping stylewise-blog.com
Grandma was a collector.

A child of the Great Depression, Grandma's family kept a small homestead in Indiana. Her father was a Pentecostal preacher. She used to tell me stories of having to "wring the chickens' necks" when it was time for dinner. This story was always accompanied by mischievous laughter, knowing she would shock her granddaughters by recounting the everyday violence.

Grandma, when she was older and owned a used appliance store with Grandpa, began collecting old costume jewelry, furniture picked up at yard sales, and discounted clothing by the closet full. She wasn't like other grandmas who knitted and quilted and made things with her hands. She was a shopper.

My earliest memories of going shopping are with her. We would head for the sales racks, try things on, marvel at the deals we'd gotten. Because I lived so close to her - my sister and I could bike over to her house in under twenty minutes - I got used to these excursions. Shopping was how we bonded. There wasn't a problem in the world that couldn't be solved by a quick trip to the outlet store. There wasn't an illness too bleak to be remedied by a quick spin around a sales floor. At Grandma's funeral, my uncle recounted the time he visited her at the hospital only to have her ask if he would take her to her favorite store, Bealls Outlet, as soon as she got out. That was her second-to-last hospital visit.

anchal project grandma and shopping stylewise-blog.com
Grandma's life wasn't always pleasant.

Her father was absent a lot doing church visitations and she had a strained relationship with her mother. She grew up on the gnawing edges of poverty. She married a man who had his own share of suffering and didn't always know how to lend a helping hand.

So Grandma went shopping. And this was her first and best coping mechanism to dull the pain that lived in her chest, the feeling that she'd never quite gotten the life she'd hoped for. The last time I saw her she asked if I wanted to take a look at all of her new clothes. We spent more than a half hour sifting through the tropical print blouses and pastel capris. I watched her face light up as she showed me her treasures. These were things she got to own, reminders of her freedom, in the face of chronic hospitalizations and looming mortality.

So you can remind me again and again that ethics is about owning less, that persistent shopping is a sign of our collective inability to consider the long game. But for Grandma, it was joy. It was something she could hold onto. To say we must do better must not negate her humanity.
  anchal project grandma and shopping stylewise-blog.comanchal project grandma and shopping stylewise-blog.com
Ethical Details: Top - c/o Known Supply; Jacket - thrifted; Jeans - Everlane Cheeky Jean; Boots - secondhand via ebay; Cotton Straight Scarf in Rust: c/o Anchal Project (they sponsored this post)

I am obsessed with clothing because I love my Grandma.

These things are linked for me. Which is why I have an ethical fashion blog. Because I know that if I want to keep this piece of her alive it requires a massive shift in the industry, a total rethinking of the supply chain. In a way, I guess, I always knew that clothing was about people and relationships, and shopping with an eye toward makers widens that community, allocates a bit more honor to everyone who interacts with the product, from farmer to artisan to consumer.

This Anchal Project scarf, for instance, resonates with humanity, from the GOTS-certified cotton to the traditional stitching to the fact that artisans receive fair wages, healthcare, and educational benefits. Anchal Project makes scarves, bedding, bags, and more using traditional kantha stitching techniques and natural dyes, processes that remind us that tradition lives not in dusty books but in memory.

Grandma's life wasn't always pleasant, and neither is mine. 

Our lives are continual proof that we yearn for meaning, and that much of that meaning is derived from meaningful relationships, however imperfect they may be. Sometimes we discover a spark of meaning in memory or in intertwining fingers with a loved one, and sometimes we discover it in a scarf.

5 Things & 1 Big Lesson I Learned at the #UnveilingFashion Conference

I took a lot of notes at the DC Sustainable Fashion Collective's Unveiling Fashion event in September. But those notes, in most ways, don't tell the story of what I actually learned.

That's because the event, for me, was more about tangible energy, impressions, quiet conversations, and knowing applause. It was about occupying physical space.

It was about living, breathing, tangible people. Ahhh! (That's a sigh of relief.) After years cooped up in my internet hole, I was finally set free at the dog park.

When you're sitting in your robe and mismatched socks (ethical influencer Benita Robledo, who I met at the conference, calls it her "bird lady" outfit) gazing out at your overcrowded, paper strewn kitchen table in a moment of distraction between responding to emails and writing blog posts, it can be very easy to forget what it feels like to be a functioning human. Identity-building is traditionally about navigating your place in community, but when you're living that out largely within online forums and social media feeds, identity-building tends to evolve into something resembling those eyeless cave fish. Like, you're alive but you're forced to adapt in ways that make you less able to enter the daylight again.

What I really mean is that online spaces tend to be eruptive rather than creative, isolating rather than immersive. Whereas when you're in a room with a hundred people interested in solutions, the atoms in the air feel as though they're positively ricocheting with goodwill, grace, and collaborative enthusiasm. The Unveiling Fashion event made me realize that the people I may be inclined to turn up my nose at online due to their use of outdated, politically incorrect jargon; lack of knowledge on the latest innovations in the industry; or perceived pride are people I actually enjoy being in the room with. The stakes are not as high when you can see people's body language.

And that makes the world feel safer and more hopeful, before you've even start talking about the issues.

That being said, the issues matter, too, and there were a lot of amazing industry professionals in attendance. I was most excited for the first panel - The Economics of Fashion - because it was full of people working on large scale solutions in the current supply chain. And though I love innovative, small scale solutions, I knew I needed to learn more about what it looks like to work with the GAPs and ZARAs of the world. Below, my 5 big, knowledge-based takeaways from the conference.

With Rebecca of Maven Women and Whitney, who writes for Fashionista

5 Things I Learned at the #UnveilingFashion Conference

1 | The big brands are making big moves when it comes to supply chain ethics and transparency.

Brands like GAP, Zara, Target, and H&M are working with rigorous, on-the-ground certification agencies like the Better Work Foundation to improve supply chain transparency and worker conditions. Both Sabine Hertveldt of Better Work and Colleen Scott of GoodWeave emphasized that we shouldn't be so quick to "count these brands out," because the positive effect of reform within brands of this size is astronomical.

2 | In Bangladesh, factory owners use sexual assault as a threat to keep female garment workers from joining unions.

While conditions are beginning to improve for workers in Bangladesh, local governments, factory owners, and managers continue to oppose and discourage labor unions. Opening speaker (and new friend) Whitney Bauck of Fashionista pointed out that the Kavanaugh hearings (which occurred that week), Times Up, and the #metoo movement are intimately tied to the garment industry because of continued marginalization of women workers. Ethical fashion is a feminist issue.

3 | When considering all cost factors, organic cotton is more profitable to grow than conventional cotton.

Marci Zaroff, founder of MetaWear - and the woman who coined the term eco fashion! - consults with cotton farmers around the world to work through supply costs and convince them to switch to organic cotton. The reason conventional cotton farming is so expensive? "Suicide seeds" and lack of knowledge around harvesting seeds for re-planting means that farmers have to buy new raw materials every year. Not so with organic farming, where all components from seed to final product are owned by the farmer. Marci is also developing infrastructure to encourage more organic farming in the US, as we are already one of the largest producers of cotton in the world.

4 | While a living wage is the end goal, industry professionals agree that incremental change approved by all community stakeholders in a given garment sector is the best way forward.

You can't raise wages without at least some community buy-in, which is why experts like Pietra Rivoli, a professor of international business at Georgetown University, are in favor of gradual wage increases rather than sudden jumps.

She also cautioned that rising wages could encourage companies to buy more "sewbots" in order to automate their systems, which require production to move to places with higher concentrations of tech professionals, like the US, Japan, and Germany. This would be devastating to countries who rely on the garment sector to employ their citizens and generate tax dollars.

5 | The counterfeit goods industry is closely linked to slavery.

Allie Gardner of Free the Slaves discussed a recent report that correlates the international counterfeit goods industry with higher rates of slavery. Counterfeit products can feel like "sticking it to the man," but they're actually more harmful to garment workers than their authentic counterparts.

With Renee of Goblin Shark

So what's THE SOLUTION?

There isn't one. And that might sound trite or sad from where you're sitting. But I don't feel sad at all, because attending the conference drove home for me that this movement needs lots of people using their skills in productive ways to leave no stone unturned.

We are not all doing the same thing - interests ran the gamut from textiles recycling, policy work, development, and technology to farming, labor rights, and advocacy - but we can learn from each other. And our big snowball of working hands and active brains is doing something. Truly.

We are not supposed to be individual, distinct role models of industry change. Because this work doesn't need a hero, it needs collective attention.

So do the thing you're doing, but pay attention to the why. If it's about perfection, you will not get there. If it's about identity, step outside your echo chamber. Because this is, it has to be, about us, not me.

If one long day in a room with living, breathing people could teach me this, imagine what a life like that could accomplish?


Learn more about the DC Sustainable Fashion Collective here

Is Everlane Ethical? I Asked, They Answered

is everlane ethical stylewise-blog.com
I've been in conversation with a few representatives at Everlane over the past two weeks to answer your pressing questions about Everlane's ethical standards. 

I was planning on posting this in a couple weeks once I have answers to my follow-up questions, but now it looks like they're launching a big, official question and answer session on Instagram (well played, Everlane), so it only makes sense to try to be "first to market" (not sure that actually applies in this case) and push this post out in tandem with this momentous occasion in Everlane's radical transparency journey, a journey that hasn't always been very transparent at all.

As I noted a couple weeks ago, Everlane is a tough one to categorize when it comes to ethical fashion, both because they took a very corporate, tech-y approach to their business model from the outset - versus other ethics-forward companies that started as small, handmade businesses - and because their ethical claims were not always immediately measurable since they have been working in the global supply chain since the beginning. There are a number of reasons they've given for this - one being that they didn't want other companies to swoop in and "steal" their factories - but at the end of the day, it makes sense that consumers betting on their ethical credentials would have questions.

While my original argument still stands that Everlane occupies an important marketing and accessibility space in the broad category of "ethical fashion," it is helpful to get more clarity around how Everlane rates its own conduct. Below, I've listed what I could find out from their production team.

This doesn't answer everything, I know. I am awaiting a few follow up answers and am hopeful that this new social media initiative will uncover the supply chain in much more detail. But I have been impressed with their willingness to take a lot of time answering my questions, and I respect the team.

The Questions I Asked Everlane:

  1. What standards does Everlane measures itself against when claiming it is ethical?
  2. What audits are in place to ensure worker welfare?
  3. What steps are taken if a factory is found to be operating under or against Everlane's core standards?
  4. What steps are being taken to ensure that factory workers thrive?
  5. On average, how many hours do factory employees work per week or month, and what type of benefits/wages do they receive?
  6. How does Everlane plans to remain ethical as it continues to scale, and what difficulties has it had doing so over its first few years?

Everlane's Response

Everlane's Standards

Everlane has a publicly available Vendor Code of Conduct overview available at this link. According to their rep:
Our goal is to always work with the best factories who share our values, have incredibly high standards and are focused on working with factories who leave the lowest impact on the environment. As we grow, we are able to focus on the last piece much more. 

Auditing 

Additionally, Everlane audits their factories 4 times a year, conducting both announced and unannounced audits (unannounced in order to double check that factories aren't simply hiding issues during announced ones), where they check to make sure their Vendor Code of Conduct is being enforced. Key factors include:
...health and safety standards, labor and working conditions, wages and observational audits

Discipline and Reform

According to the rep...
If a factory does not meet our requirement of an audit score of 90 or above, we work with them very closely to help fix any of the issues that might have come up. If they do not make these improvement within a few months, we simply stop working with them. 

Worker Rights and Safety

The Everlane rep reemphasized the Code of Conduct and auditing process on this point, while also listing out some of the holistic initiatives they've introduced through their Black Friday, give-back initiative...
The first year, we installed solar panels on our factory in China, we developed a health and wellness program at our LA factory, provided new helmets for our 8,000 workers at our factory in Vietnam and most recently, installed hydroponic farms at our denim factory so workers would always have fresh greens. 

Labor Hours and Wages

Everlane was not willing (or able?) to answer this question directly, citing that since worker wages vary widely across countries, it is difficult to standardize these numbers or clarify them with relative simplicity to customers. The team anticipates doing more work around this in the coming years, according to their spokesperson.

Scale

I'll leave this one to the rep...
As we grow, we actually have more resources and people dedicated to making sure all of our products we make and the factories we work with are held to the highest standard. We are working hard to offer even great transparency into the materials we use, which really centers around producing sustainably.

Staying true to our values, we commit to working with factories who use recycled water, renewable energy and use no toxic dyes or harmful chemicals.

In 2017, we released their first denim collection made at Saitex, the world’s cleanest factory. Saitex recycles 98% of their water, runs on alternative energy and repurposes byproducts to make bricks for affordable housing. Most recently, we partnered with a new silk factory to launch our Clean Silk Collection and revamp our entire silk supply chain—from soil to shirt. Today, the silk is produced at a leading LEED-certified and Bluesign certified factory in China. By 2021, our silk will be grown using regenerative farming and will be dyed and washed with 100% recycled water and 100% renewable energy by 2022.

I asked three follow up questions that are still awaiting a response:
  1. Pertaining to question three, have you had to stop working with any factories?
  2. How would you respond to readers/customers who suggest that your business model more closely aligns with companies like GAP or H&M than a typical "fair trade" company? Does Everlane see itself as doing something over and above the corporate social responsibility standards of big box and department store brands? 
  3. Pertaining to question five, does Everlane plan to create more guidelines around what constitutes a fair or living wage in their factories in the next few years?
I hope to update this post after I receive answers, but in the meantime, I'll keep a close eye on Everlane's Instagram account for answers.

So, is Everlane ethical?

Getting a few more pieces of information from the team will help me form a better opinion. The code of conduct is fairly standard as far as Corporate Social Responsibility standards go, so much of this determination has to do with enforcement. Without wage information and an ability to interpret that information in a reasonable way, it is hard to determine labor standards. 

That being said, it is apparent to me that Everlane employees know more about their supply chain than the average GAP or H&M employee, and that means that they are at least aware of the need to provide an education around these issues. For me, Everlane is a choice I'm willing to make, but it is clear from the answers above that they are operating somewhere in the gray area. 

I was accused of making excuses for Everlane on my last post, so I'd like to offer some clarity. Truth be told, I am jaded by a lot of the brands in this industry. So many of them "give back" while sourcing from industries known to employ child labor; many enforce only the lowest required standard of "fair trade," which leaves factory workers dependent on sex work to make ends meet; and some even blatantly lie about where their items are produced. How do I know this? Because my ethical blogger friends hear things. And my brand owner friends do their research. Accountability is badly needed in this industry and there is no perfect solution. 

So, in some ways I prefer a company that can tell me, "we're working on this," rather than one that acts as if everything is great. And I know, of course, that there are a handful of brands really doing great, but they are not the norm, even in the "ethical" fashion niche.

So I will celebrate the brands doing the best possible job while leaving room for imperfection. Everlane doesn't need my support, but the little guys who are afraid to admit they don't use totally renewable packaging, or that their thread is made with polyester, or that they have more work to do when it comes to raw materials' sourcing could use my support. I'd rather they not hide these things from us, but our militant attitudes - yes, mine included - have pushed people against the wall. In effect, that means some of the companies who look the best are telling us the least. 

It's complicated, and the only way to move forward is to live in that messy space.

Read my initial post on Everlane's ethics here

is everlane ethical stylewise-blog.com

The 6 Best Places to Find Versatile Ethical Dresses Under $200

6 best places for ethical dresses under $200 stylewise-blog.com
Here's proof that ethical fashion is more than a temporary trend.

The market has exploded and there are so many ways to dress ethically. Nowhere is that more obvious than in a side-by-side comparison of ethical dresses. From tailored and business appropriate to prim and proper to artisan chic, you can express yourself - and stay true to your lifestyle - without compromising on sustainability, cultural sensitivity, and labor rights.

I hand selected brands and products for this sponsored post in an effort to offer the best firsthand information. All brands prioritize ethical labor practices, and items featured are made with sustainable, biodegradable fibers like tencel and cotton. In addition, 5 out of 6 companies are women owned. This post contains affiliate links.

With results from the Reader Survey in mind, I specifically chose to feature dresses that cost at or less than $200.

The 6 Best Places to Find Ethical Dresses Under $200

hackwith design review

1 | Hackwith Design House

The Story: Hailing from Minnesota and headed up by namesake, Lisa Hackwith, Hackwith Design prioritizes enduring style with an eye toward individuality. The line is produced in Minnesota out of high quality, sustainable fabrics. (And they offer plus sizes.) Learn more here ☞

The Dress: HDH Basics Shift Dress in Gingerbread, $95. Made from a sustainable lyocell/cotton blend, the Basics Shift Dress is a versatile, reversible piece that can be worn as a summer dress or as a pinafore, which is why I was so taken with it. The fabric is surprisingly dense, lightly textured, and obvious quality, which is a big reason I keep coming back to Hackwith. Photos do not do this piece justice.

The Price Point: Most items under $300

☀︎ SHOP HACKWITH DESIGN HOUSE ☀︎

Worn with Fortress of Inca boots and thrifted top and belt
abrazo style fair trade review

2 | Abrazo Style

The Story: Employing more than 100 artisans in Oaxaca and Chiapas in Mexico, Abrazo Style started from a chance encounter with a local named Martha, who showed founder Adele the stunning traditional embroidery in the region and inspired her to start a business that would make traditional garments and designs accessible to the American market. Learn more here ☞

The Dress: Andrea Dress, $126. Made with medium weight, woven cotton and featuring stunning raised embroidery on the front, back, and sleeves, this piece incorporates a traditional Mexican dress style and motif with seasonal elements, like a longer sleeve length. Plus, purchasing from an artisan community means you're honoring the originators of this heritage style. (And it has pockets).

The Price Point: Most items under $150

☀︎ SHOP ABRAZO STYLE ☀︎

Worn with Birkenstock boots
pyne and smith clothiers review

3 | Pyne & Smith Clothiers

The Story: The brainchild of English born and raised Joanna McCartney, Pyne & Smith Clothiers' dresses are produced in southern California with custom designed flax linen, which is both durable and easy to wear in any season. Learn more here ☞

The Dress: Model No. 22 in Blueberry Check, $175. Made with subtly textured, navy checked linen that gets softer with each wear, the No. 22 dress features 3/4 sleeves, a midi length, corozo nut buttons, and a back tie which allows you to wear the dress loose or tailored. This dress is also breast feeding friendly if that's something you're looking for.

The Price Point: Most items under $200

☀︎ SHOP PYNE & SMITH CLOTHIERS ☀︎

Worn with secondhand Timberland boots
known supply review

4 | Known Supply

The Story: Produced in fair trade co-ops in Peru, Uganda, and India, Known Supply is committed to making the humanity of their producers accessible to customers with the aim of reminding us that we are intimately connected to the things we buy and wear. They also offer custom embroidery on many of their products, which is a fun way to make your basics more personal. Learn more here ☞

The Dress: See all dresses. While the dress I'm wearing is currently out of stock, Known Supply offers a great selection of casual, organic cotton dresses and jumpsuits in modern cuts and minimalist patterns in addition to a collection of comfortable and flattering t-shirts.

The Price Point: Most items under $100

☀︎ SHOP KNOWN SUPPLY ☀︎

Worn with a vintage jacket and thrifted shoes
mata traders fair trade review

5 | Mata Traders

The Story: The first fair trade clothing brand I discovered, Mata Traders specializes in beautifully patterned cotton wovens and knits with feminine lines. Designs are produced under Fair Trade Federation guidelines by artisans in India and Nepal. (And they offer plus sizes). Learn more here ☞

The Dress: Mira Tassel Dress in Red Fleur, $86. Hand screen printed and made with 100% cotton, the Mira Dress features tassel details that look equally nice tied or untied, an above-the-knee length that makes it suitable as a dress or a tunic, and loosely elasticized wrists for a slight billow.

The Price Point: Most items under $100

☀︎ SHOP MATA TRADERS ☀︎

Worn with Everlane Cheeky Jeans, thrifted belt, and Julia Bo mules
maven women review

6 | Maven Women

The Story: Offering a rare but needed item in the ethical fashion space, Maven Women produces meticulously tailored dresses that are equally appropriate for the board room, church, or an afternoon wedding. With a focus on fit and fair trade production in India, Maven Women produces with an eye toward timelessness and impeccable quality. Learn more here ☞

The Dress: The Sarah Dress in Sapphire, $200. With a gentle boatneck, cap sleeves, fitted torso, and precise tailoring, the Sarah Dress is a beautiful, classic addition to the conscious consumer's closet regardless of lifestyle. It's fully lined in hand block printed fabric and zips up in the back. I plan to wear it to the wedding I'm singing in this weekend.

The Price Point: Most items $200

☀︎ SHOP MAVEN WOMEN ☀︎

Worn with Frye Tracy Oxfords

View the Slideshow - Click to Enlarge



6 places to find ethical dresses under $200 stylewise-blog.com

Forgive Me, I am Grieving

christianity, kavanaugh, and grief stylewise-blog.com
When I am helplessly sad, you may not notice.

Because when the anxieties and dramas of life are manageable, believe me, I will tell you. There's a reason one of my nicknames growing up was Leah Whiner.

But when things feel out of control - when I am grieving - I become stoic. You will see me laughing, but you will not see my tears, because I've buried them deep in my chest where they carve a deep gorge.

Eventually I will break.

This week was the breaking point. The tears unloosed, I am ready to speak.

In early August, my Grandma Rosie died suddenly. Three weeks later my Grandma Howell died, too. I barely made it to Grandma Rosie's funeral because the men in the family insisted on rushing things. I couldn't make it to Grandma Howell's funeral because the men in the family ignored the pleas of my mother to delay it. Around the same time, my dad got a job in Florida and my parents began the process of selling their house in Ohio and moving back down. My grandpa, now a widower, moved  in with my parents. That's a lot for one month.

Then the Kavanaugh hearings began.

My brittle and fractured spirit wasn't prepared for the torrent of rage, grief, and fear stirred up as I read hundreds of #whyididn'treport stories, reflected on my first experience of sexual harassment (light assault? What could I have done differently?), relived the grief and trauma of rapes experienced by loved ones, and remembered all the times I had to fight, hard, to prove that I mattered as a woman.

This, while the Christian community I grew up in called Christine Blasey Ford a liar, suggested she was just confused (how patronizing!), or mocked her tears.

As I've spoken about before, I grew up in a politically conservative household influenced by the Religious Right, which attached things like abortion and the free market (?) to our religious education. Despite this, I also learned about a God who used his male privilege not to harm but to lift up the voices of women. A God who was self sacrificial to a fault, who both loved and was himself (Trinitarian theology is weird, ok?) a regular human being who wept over his coming execution and gave himself up to the state anyway. 

This is a radical, counter-cultural, frankly horrifying story, and I was reminded again and again as a young kid and teenager that this person-God Jesus was the one to emulate.

If you follow Jesus, I'm pretty sure you end up dead.

And while I struggle with the severity of the narrative, I have never thought that the Gospel narrative is telling us anything otherwise. Christianity is about humility and sacrifice, it is about seeing the Kingdom of God as an imaginative, wide-open space where everything we thought we knew is just a blip of what is true. It flips everything on its head: the first shall be last and the last shall be first. The poor and the orphan and the widow are the heads of the table.

So why are Christians hell-bent on establishing a kingdom of death?

I don't know, though I have theories. But the past few weeks have made it difficult to believe that my time isn't being wasted insisting that the "pharisees" and hypocrites in the wider Christian community just need a little grace.

And I know I have to give it anyway, but I don't want to. So I grieve. I grieve for not being as kind as I want to be. I grieve for the ways my own family members have betrayed the very values they taught me. I grieve for a world that can't and won't believe women, who would sooner give "vulnerable men" body cameras and weapons to defend themselves from "lying women" than find a way to protect women.

I grieve, too, because my Grandma Rosie tried to kill herself once and if you ask her sons and husband about it, they can't tell you anything because they never asked why.

The Moral Wardrobe: Tomorrow's Vintage

Pyne & Smith Clothiers and Nicora Vegan Shoes review stylewise-blog.com
Working at a thrift shop has been an education in clothing and textile history.

There's the fun part - changing silhouettes, sizing, and color stories - and then there's the bleak part: today's clothing simply doesn't last.

I discovered the curious and creative world of vintage clothing collecting in college when I first started crawling thrift shops for deals. From 1950s cotton day dresses to thick polyester '70s gowns to the sweet rayon florals of the the '90s, each garment told a story not just of fickle fashion trends but of new technologies, globalization, social progress, and changing lifestyles. This is an intimate tactile history that we can still partake in directly by continuing to appreciate and use garments that have held up for as many as 70 or 80 years.

But what will our grandchildren and great grandchildren see when they enter a thrift shop decades from now?
Pyne & Smith Clothiers and Nicora Vegan Shoes review stylewise-blog.comPyne & Smith Clothiers and Nicora Vegan Shoes review stylewise-blog.comPyne & Smith Clothiers and Nicora Vegan Shoes review stylewise-blog.comPyne & Smith Clothiers and Nicora Vegan Shoes review stylewise-blog.com
Ethical Details: No. 22 Dress in Blueberry Check - c/o Pyne & Smith Clothiers; Frida Vegan T-Strap Clogs - c/o Nicora Shoes

They're more likely to find a dress from the 1960s than one from the 2020s, because today's clothing doesn't hold up. Made with thin polyester and low grade cotton wovens with torn and twisted seams, contemporary clothing pays no mind to quality or longevity. Part of this is because our clothing is cheap: I did a price comparison on dresses from the 1950s and, with inflation, standard clothes cost anywhere from $100-130 per piece in that decade, versus today's $5-25 at fast fashion stores like Forever 21 and H&M. But price doesn't tell the full story, since many high end brands produce with similar fabrics at the same sweatshops. These items use marketing and brand recognition to mark their clothing up as much as 350%.

Our children and our children's children will inherit a world with less nostalgia because our junk can't be resold or repaired.

That is, unless we commit right now to hold up the brands and quality markers that produce what I'm terming tomorrow's vintage. Pyne & Smith Clothiers, for instance, creates their own special linens and produces in small batches to ensure high quality. Their pieces recall the past - this one makes me think of Anne of Green Gables - but will hold up for future generations. And these clogs, made with recycled vegan fabric by Nicora Shoes, are made with precisely the same techniques as traditional Swedish clogs so they, too, will stand the test of time.

I get that stagnating wages and a destabilized social safety net make it harder for us to invest in our clothing. But I have come to believe that part of a "shop secondhand first" ethos that prizes beautiful used and vintage pieces is considering the quality and longevity of the new pieces we buy, too.

Today's new is tomorrow's vintage, and that means what we buy will mean something to people 20, 30, even 100 years from now, whether it's because we've created a massive amount of textile waste for them to deal with or because they discovered, with a gasp of delight, our old linen dress buried in a rack of secondhand clothes, waiting to be worn and loved again.

A Surprising Cold Sore Remedy: Akamai Multi-Use Products Review

Akamai multiuse mineral skincare Essentials Starter Kit review stylewise-blog.com
Akamai sent me products for review & this post contains affiliate links. 

Let me start off this review by saying that I don't like multi-use products as a rule. I find that in almost all cases, they serve one purpose really well and disappoint in other categories, so my normal beauty/personal care routine contains distinct products for distinct uses (with the exception of my SW Basics Cream, which I use for lots of things).

So when Akamai reached out offering products for review, I planned to find the best use for each item rather than make it work in all the ways described on their site. EcoCult and Temporary-House Wifey reviewed their lineup about a year ago with mixed feelings, but I wanted to test the products myself and see what I could discover.

Akamai's Philosophy

Akamai's overarching philosophy is what I would describe as effective simplicity. As their multi-use premise would suggest, they're interested in making personal care easier, reducing overall steps and products required, and ensuring that products are healthy and nourishing.

The majority of Akamai's products contain minerals in an effort to support the body's microbiome, which is vital for total body health,  and several contain fulvic acid. I actually had no idea what fulvic acid was before using these products, but it turns out it is used to treat some serious medical conditions, like cancer and Alzheimer's, and chronic condition like fatigue. According to WebMD:

Fulvic acid might have various effects in the body. Fulvic acid might block reactions in the body that cause allergy symptoms. It might also interrupt steps involved in the worsening of brain disorders such as dementia. Additionally, fulvic acid might reduce inflammation and prevent or slow the growth of cancer. Fulvic acid seems to have immune-stimulating and antioxidant effects. 

Note that pregnant and nursing women and people with auto-immune disorders should be cautious, especially when ingesting fulvic acid.

My Review 

The rundown of what I received:

The Toothpaste

I didn't like this toothpaste as toothpaste because it tastes weird and leaves a gray stain on your toothbrush and in your sink. 

BUT, it's an effective cold sore remedy. Due to some major stress I've been experiencing recently, my immune system was suppressed enough to bring on a cold sore, which I haven't had since high school. I hadn't had luck reducing the soreness or cracking and then the Akamai brand rep randomly suggested that this toothpaste could be used as a salve on cold sores. Within two days, I saw significant improvement in the sore, and my lip has finally started to heal after two weeks of no improvement.

Best use: Cold Sore Remedy

The 3 in 1 Bar

I haven't had much luck with shampoo bars because the oils weigh down my super fine hair, but this is a decent shave bar and soap, though I will say it's super creamy, which might not be everyone's cup of tea. 

Best use: Shave bar or travel product

The Skin Fuel

I didn't notice an improvement to my skin when using this product, but it's decent as far as serums go. Perhaps with more use, I'll notice a change to my skin. And if this was your first foray into skin oils, I think you'd see a benefit. 

Best use: Facial Serum

The Mineral Complex

I have not yet used this product because I want to make sure it won't cause adverse effects in my system. Though I don't have IBS or other diagnosed digestive issues, I have always had a sensitive stomach, especially when dealing with high anxiety (as I have this month, no thanks to the news). I may play around with it once my immune system finishes fighting the cold sore and spider bite.

These products would be best for...
I think Akamai products would be best suited for low maintenance men (not to be too gender essentialist, but there's definitely a difference in how men and women are socialized to use skincare products), people who are just building up a personal care arsenal, or those whose alternative to this would be no personal care at all. These are quality products and I'm intrigued by the mineral complex, but they aren't tailored for specific skin or hair types, which limits their efficacy a bit. 

Let me know if you have any questions!

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