j crew

J. Crew and Madewell Just Launched Fair Trade Certified Collections

fair trade denim at madewell and j crew stylewise-blog.com

What?!

I just received an email from Fair Trade USA notifying me that J.Crew and Madewell have officially joined the Fair Trade Certified family, with 30+ styles receiving the certification agency's stamp of approval.

From the press release:

For every piece, a premium is paid into a Community Development Fund run by the people who make the clothes, helping them improve their lives in countless ways. With future plans to continue to grow their Fair Trade USA program, J.Crew and Madewell aspire to offer one of the largest Fair Trade Certified apparel assortments in the coming years. Look for the Fair Trade Certified seal on your next pair of jeans!

I had read an article on Fashionista several months ago that indicated this was a short term priority for the brands, but with the recent ousting of the "new" CEO and a lot of internal strife over continuously disappointing sales, I had just assumed this would be one of the first things they dropped the ball on. I am relieved and excited to see that that's not the case.

Ethical Credentials

J. Crew and Madewell (they have the same parent company) are producing at Saitex, now a Fair Trade Certified factory (!), the same clean denim factory Everlane uses for their denim manufacturing.

They're participating in Cotton's Blue Jeans Go Green denim recycling program, which uses old denim in home insulation.

Garments are dyed with old shrimp shells to save water and reduce the need for toxic chemicals during the dye process.

What does this say about fair trade as a marketing angle?

The fact that J. Crew/Madewell chose to move forward with expensive and time consuming Fair Trade certification in the midst of financial struggle is a good indication that execs see this as a good marketing move.

That's ultimately a good thing, because it means that a. consumers are interested enough in fair labor that even big companies are taking notice and b. this may serve as a proof of concept for other massive brands. Let's hope the launch is successful and that demand for fair trade products from  conventional companies remains steady enough to bring real change to the industry at large.

Possible Drawbacks

Of course, whenever a well known company like J. Crew Inc. creates a capsule collection of "ethical" or "green" items, I am suspicious of greenwashing. After all, while the items in the fair trade collection are required to meet minimum standards for ethics, the thousands of additional products available in stores and on their websites aren't beholden to really any standard at all.

Creating an ethos around ethics may encourage consumers to divert more of their dollars to products in their line-up that aren't Fair Trade Certified, especially since sales associates are typically encouraged to upsell in groups of three (my sister used to work at Wet Seal - it's a thing). Put simply, doing one thing right can make the whole company look good, even when only minimal effort has been made to improve supply chain issues.

All that to say, I am cautiously optimistic about this move and hope that it will convince J.Crew/Madewell to certify more of their products in the near future.

Learn more here: J. Crew | Madewell

the moral wardrobe: wearing sunshine

black and white ethical outfit stripes with bright cardigan sam edelman petty booties turquoise j crew cashmere Ethical Details: Top - thrifted; Cardigan - J. Crew Warehouse; Boots - thrifted

These photos were taken a couple weeks ago, but it might as well be today. Last week felt like summer with a warm, moist breeze and temps in the high 70s, but we're back to reality now and the sunshine is on a break again. I love this cardigan because it's abrasively bright. If it glows this much during cloud cover, imagine how bright it looks on a sunny day! I realized about halfway through my first winter here that everyone's typical black and gray uniform was not going to work for me. If I can't see the sun, I want to wear something bright to cheer me up. 

Speaking of bright, I bought some very red henna and am planning on dyeing my hair again within the next few days. I'm also thinking about growing it out! 


inspiration board: November

inspiration board november
This month is the first month of consistent cold in Charlottesville, but there's still enough variation that it's worthwhile to consider wearing light layers rather than heavy, constricting garments. I've been really into black recently, but I always try to brighten it up with color or something light, like gray stripes or a denim jacket.

As it so happens, I am now the proud owner of a secondhand "jean" jacket that's actually made of a thick, stretchy cotton blend. It's a lot more comfortable than standard denim and I plan to wear it as the last layering piece over a top and sweater to keep the wind out. I also used up the rest of my birthday ebay gift card on a secondhand pair of knee high boots. The ones I bought are brown, but they have a similar silhouette to the ones above. I'll wear them soon for an outfit post.

One of these things is not like the other: sooo, I can't really wear sandals in this weather, but I scooped up some lovely Made in Italy sandals at the J. Crew Warehouse (read my thoughts on the ethics of the sale here) sale a few weeks ago and I'm daydreaming about wearing them. I guess I'll be spending the next 5 or 6 months gazing at them longingly as I put on my boots each morning.

I'm still after the perfect pair of frames, but I'll have to wait a few more months since I don't have eye insurance.

This styleboard contains affiliate links. Everything listed is domestically or ethically produced. The bag is vegan leather.

the moral wardrobe: autumn glow

fall outfitpurple scarfj crew outfitfall outfit
Ethical Details: Cardigan - thrifted; Necklace - c/o Bought Beautifully; Boots - Oliberte; Jeans - old

For all the complaining I do about cold weather, it's hard not to revel in the splendor of fall in all its warm, leafy glory. The weather has been mild this October and the leaves look especially bright. I'm enjoying dressing to match the red and orange leaves and the periwinkle Blue Ridge Mountains that loom in the background of every drive through Charlottesville.

Speaking of dressing to match, I got the shirt and scarf I'm wearing at a J. Crew Warehouse sale that blew through town a couple weeks ago. I have complicated feelings about whether it was the best decision, but here's why I allowed an exception to my normal thrifting/fair trade routine: this is the end of the line for J. Crew items. Samples, rejects, past season returns - anything that doesn't sell here is sent off to textiles processors, thrift shops, and maybe ebay used good resellers. It's not the most ethical, but it also doesn't increase demand for new goods. I only bought high quality basics in richly saturated colors that are hard to find elsewhere, so I think I'll get a lot of use out of them. If this paragraph sounds like one big excuse, perhaps that's because it is. I'm open to that, but I'm also feeling like it's ok to cut myself some slack in this instance.

What are your thoughts about shopping sample and warehouse sales from companies that don't adhere to ethical guidelines?

the moral wardrobe: a blustery day

j crew camel sweater
j crew camel sweater
j crew camel sweater
Ethical Details: Sweater - secondhand via ebay; Skirt - thrifted; Earrings - Ten Thousand Villages; Socks - SmartWool

Winnie the Pooh: Happy "Winds-day", Piglet.
Piglet: [being blown away] Well... it isn't... very happy... f-for me.
Winnie the Pooh: Where are you going, Piglet?
Piglet: That's what I'm asking myself, where?
[he is lifted into the air by a gust of wind]
Piglet: W-Whoops! P-P-P-Pooh!
Winnie the Pooh: [grabbing Piglet's scarf] And what do you think you will answer yourself?

A volunteer at the shop died on Monday. I didn't know her well, but she was a part of the thrift shop family, so it's been a hard week for everyone. You never get used to death. You never get used to seeing someone alive and animated, getting into their car, saying "See you next week," and then never seeing them again.

my jewelry collection


minimalist jewelry collection on stylewiseblog.blogspot.com

In middle school, I decided I should only wear one piece of jewelry at a time and I still believe less is more. I don't wear a lot of jewelry, but I have a fairly large collection of pieces that get their moment to shine periodically.

j crew elephant charm necklace
butterfly wing necklace

My current favorites include gold and brass items, geometric designs, and the occasional animal-inspired piece. The locket necklace above has a real, sustainably harvested butterfly wing fragment inside.

the moral wardrobe: everyday

ar3 ar7ar4

This is my favorite skirt. It's a weird length and a crazy pattern, but it works with almost everything I own. I'm just so happy I can go bare-legged again (sort of - today it's cold and raining)! It hasn't fully sunk in that the dark ages of winter are over for a time.

The fashion show I'm participating in is this weekend! I have to go back to the salon for a touch up, get contacts, and attend rehearsals throughout the week. I'm so glad I have the opportunity to check modeling off my bucket list and maybe get some awesome action shots of myself walking the runway.

Ethical choices are bolded below. Retailers taking steps to become more ethical are bolded in gray.

  • Top - J. Crew

  • Skirt - thrifted vintage

  • Sandals - MIA


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the moral wardrobe: hipster button

h1 h6h2

I really tried to pull off the "hipster button" (all the way buttoned up), but I started to feel like I was suffocating about an hour into this look and had to undo it.

In other news, I burnt two fingers on my left hand with steam rising from the potatoes I had for lunch, so it's rather hard to type anything. Eek! It stings.

Ethical choices are bolded below. Retailers taking steps to become more ethical are bolded in gray.

  • Top - J. Crew

  • Pants - made in USA (won in giveaway!)

  • Shoes - thrifted

  • Hair bow - H&M


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