made in usa

6 American Made, Sustainable Brands Owned by Badass Women

6 made in use ethical brands made by women stylewise-blog.com

Hackwith Design House gave me a Raw Hem Smock Jacket free of charge and this post contains two affiliate links

As a part of my effort to re-center my shopping habits around quality pieces, I've been exploring more indie-made, American brands. When pressed by a very smart friend recently about what system I think is most sustainable, I said, without hesitation, that locally made is the best option. It's something I need to intellectually explore past that initial statement, but it certainly made me reconsider my pro-globalization standpoint a bit.

I was fortunate enough to snag a good deal at the end of last year: a pants grab bag from Nashville-based Elizabeth Suzann containing both

Clyde Pants

and the Clyde Skirt in linen. More recently, Hackwith Design sent me the

Raw Hem Smock Jacket

I'm wearing, and I have to say that, although these brands are certainly pricier than my budget typically allows, I LOVE wearing them. So much so that I'm considering reframing my budget to allow for fewer, better goods from American designers.

But the appeal of woman-owned, close-to-home companies is multi-fold: I appreciate a fit and design perspective from women who know how it is to live and work as a woman; the smaller scale of the business means greater transparency and a better understanding of cost and labor breakdowns; and the process of purchasing feels more intimate, as many of these brands make limited edition or sewn-to-order clothing.

6 made in use ethical brands made by women stylewise-blog.com

Plus, I think seeing women in my peer group and within my culture and country live out their dreams is really inspiring. There's a lot

not

to love about the US, but that makes the good things even more important to celebrate. I'm blown away by the talent of the artisans below.

6 AMERICAN MADE, SUSTAINABLE BRANDS OWNED BY WOMEN

1. Elizabeth Suzann

Made in small batches in Nashville, Elizabeth Suzann's namesake is a 28 year old (I think?) ingenue with an unstoppable work ethic and a mission to make high quality goods with total transparency. Items are made with natural fabrics and clothing is typically made to order.

Read my Clyde Pants review here

.

Sizes XXS-XL.

2. Hackwith Design House

Made in St. Paul, Minnesota, Hackwith specializes in simple, modern clothing produced in small batches. Their core collection and seasonal collections are produced thoughtfully, and many products are made to order. I'm wearing the

Raw Finish Smock Jacket

($265) in this post.

Sizes XS-XL and Plus Sizes 14-28.

3. Only Child

Made in Oakland, California, Only Child is run by a small team and specializes in minimalist pieces in fashion forward, figure flattering silhouettes. Everything is made to order with natural textiles. I'm partial to the

Luzon Tie Front Top in Linen

(gimme all the linen!).

Sizes XS-XL.

6 made in use ethical brands made by women stylewise-blog.com

Ethical Details:

Tee - thrifted;

Raw Finish Smock Jacket

- c/o Hackwith Design; Jeans - thrifted;

Huarache Sandals

- Nisolo; Earrings -

Hannah Naomi

4. Neo Thread

Based in New Mexico, NeoThread is run by upcycling extraordinaire, Sarah Holley. Neo Thread specializes in detailing, altering, and embroidering used and vintage goods. Everything is one of a kind.

I reviewed a tee by Neo Thread here

.

Sizes XS-XL with many items free size.

5. Pyne & Smith Clothiers

Made in Southern California, Pyne & Smith is run by British transplant, Joanna McCartney. Specializing in dresses, all pieces are made with flax linen that was grown and spun in Europe before being produced in an ethical factory in California.

I reviewed a Pyne & Smith dress here

.

Sizes XS-XXL with some customization available.

6. National Picnic

Made in Philadelphia by Betsy Cook and a small team of sewers, National Picnic specializes in dresses, tops, and skirts made in limited edition prints and organic cotton and hemp. The most playful of the handmade bunch (besides Neo Thread), National Picnic's clothes are cut in classic silhouettes with special details.

See my reviews here

.

Sizes XS-3X.

Do you have any American made favorites? 

american made woman owned ethical brands stylewise-blog.com

Sharon Z Jewelry: Simply Good Design (That's Child Labor Free)

Sharon Z child labor free recycled fine jewelry
This post was sponsored by Sharon Z Jewelry and I received product for review.

Over the past few years, I've spoken with several jewelry designers who strive for ethics in their production process and they unanimously agree on one thing: it's very difficult to trace raw materials. 

If you purchase a conventionally made jewelry item - say gold hoops or a diamond engagement ring - you can almost guarantee that child labor was involved somewhere in the production process. According to Human Rights Watch, thousands of children under the age of 17 help process raw gold in unregulated Ghanaian and other African mines, using toxic mercury to purify the gold. In Bolivia, an estimated 3,000 children - some as young as 6 - work in the silver mines (in 2013, in a very Newsies-reminiscent turn of events, some child workers were beginning to unionize). Globally, at least 1 million children work in mines, forced there by poverty and political unrest, and often receive a wage as low as $2 per day if they receive a wage at all.



There's something particularly disturbing about child labor, but we need to remember that adults don't fare any better from these exploitative industries. All are caught up in a system - made possible by local governments and deal-hungry consumers - that sees more value in hoarding their money than in human livelihood.

One way to ensure that the jewelry you're buying is ethically and sustainable sourced is to stick with designers who prioritize recycled, lab grown, and fair mined materials. Sharon Z is one such designer...
  Sharon Z child labor free recycled fine jewelrySharon Z child labor free recycled fine jewelry
Ethical Details: Top - Synergy Clothing; Jeans - thrifted; Shoes - c/o Mawu Lolo; Silver Spear Earrings - c/o Sharon Z Jewelry

Sharon Zimmerman makes all of her minimalist, eye-catching jewelry in her San Francisco studio out of sustainable and ethically sourced materials. All silver and gold is recycled, and a large portion of it is sourced from a family-owned business just an hour away from where I live in Virginia (the ethical community is a small world after all!). 

Gemstones are either recycled or lab created. In Sharon's words

Having been a metalsmith for more than 10 years, I have come to understand the issues and complications around conflict-free stones, where they are mined and how laborers are treated. In my opinion, “conflict-free” stones are a dubious ideal and they cannot feasibly be tracked in today’s market. So I have chosen instead to work with laboratory-grown stones from the American companies Chatham and Diamond Foundry. With the exact same composition as mined stones, they are chemically and physically identical-they do not compromise the quality of my jewelry or my modern conscience.

Sharon is also happy to work with client-provided stones to create one-of-a-kind pieces. I mention this because engagement and wedding season is upon us. My very own wedding anniversary is less than a month away. If my husband and I'd had any awareness about the ethics of the jewelry industry back when we were getting engaged, we would have repurposed a diamond my mother-in-law offered us instead of going for a new sapphire engagement ring. You live and learn. Anyways, read about Sharon's process here.
     Sharon Z child labor free recycled fine jewelry

Sharon sent me her small but badass recycled Silver Spear Earrings to review. They're a "huggie" style that wraps around the earlobe, making a subtle but impactful statement in profile. I wore them to church a couple weeks ago and my fellow chorister turned to me and said something to the effect of "Woah! I like your earrings!" as they caught her eye. I don't mind wearing something that has something of a stunning effect on people!

I opted for the oxidized finish so they'd be less shiny and more suitable - at least to my taste - for everyday wear. I'm very happy to add them to my arsenal of artisanal, thoughtful jewelry.

These were packaged in a simple, recycled box wrapped in natural-tone paper and sealed with pink wax. I was delighted by the hand-stamped wax seal (my husband bore the brunt of my audible delight as I opened it in the kitchen when I got home from work). It showed a lot of care without being gaudy or wasteful.

And in case you're wondering this Pride month, Sharon Z is LGBTQ friendly.

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Shop Sharon Z here. 


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YSTR Clothing Part 2: Building Conscious Community

YSTR Clothing beach club conscious community YSTR Clothing beach club conscious community
I was not compensated for this post, but I did receive items for review from YSTR Clothing, and there are some affiliate links throughout.

In yesterday's post, I introduced sustainable fashion line, YSTR, which produces a capsule friendly collection in California out of eco-conscious and deadstock fabric.

In today's post, in addition to showing a few more outfits, I wanted to delve into the number one, non-material way to make strides as ethical citizens: intentional community. 


Intentional communities have existed in one form or another for centuries, most often associated with religious sects, but also taking form around particular ideologies. At its core, an intentional community exists to promote "a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork." Participants make and eat meals together, participate in daily rituals, share resources, and co-promote a particular lifestyle. My town boasts a still-thriving 1960s era commune that produces tofu and a small but mighty intentional community run through the Episcopal church. I bet if you look around, you'll find examples of these tiny socialist networks, as well (is there a convent nearby?).

YSTR Clothing beach club conscious communityYSTR Clothing beach club conscious community

Close knit, co-reliant communities can be effective paths to social and personal change because they create a foundation that instills confidence and fosters creative conversation. Because people start with similar frameworks, they can more easily build upon each other's ideas, and progress comes more quickly. My experience in conscious consumer communities online has illuminated that for me. The only thing better would be if there was a space to have conscious conversations in person.

Turns out, there is.


YSTR owns a beach club in Malibu where calm and collaboration are meant to thrive. In their words:

The goal in hosting our members at the private beach club is to create a community of like-minded individuals that think, love, and inspire one another. We want to share with you what a conscious lifestyle looks and feels like, and link you with people who share the same passion for a better planet.

Tier 2 and 3 capsule subscription members get automatic access to the house as a part of their membership, and can bring up to three friends. Though I haven't visited myself, I am intrigued by the concept, and think that we should try harder in our own locales to create spaces where these types of conversations can take place. It doesn't have to be a formal commune. We can do our part to promote community by eating more meals together, hosting "salon" type events with particular topics in mind, lovingly holding each other accountable, and participating in local community organizing efforts. My friends and I attend church together and eat together 2-3 times a week. Seeing each other often helps us stay aware of each other's needs and push each other toward our goals.

YSTR Clothing beach club conscious community
A quick note on what I'm wearing:

In the first full outfit, I'm wearing the Edie Top with the Jett Tie Pant in Black ($178). The Jett pants are made out of a linen/poly blend that is somehow both structured and breathable. A simple elastic band and attached tie belt make these super easy to wear.

In the second outfit, I paired the pants with the Anaelle Top ($128), a drapey, textured pinstripe blouse with a high neck. I'm kind of fascinated by the details - from the slit in the back to the buttons to the ruffles at the neck - that add a lot of interest without becoming overwhelming. The blouse feels, paradoxically, quite simple.

To read more about YSTR, check out yesterday's post.

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Get $15 off your YSTR purchase with code, VIPXSTYLEWISE

YSTR Clothing: Made to Order, Effortless, Ethical

YSTR Clothing Ethical Jumpsuit Review
I was not compensated for this post, but I did receive items for review from YSTR Clothing, and there are some affiliate links throughout.


The first thing you should know about YSTR is that their clothes perfectly encapsulate laid back, California cool. 


The second thing you should know about YSTR is that their items are made to order in the USA out of eco-friendly and deadstock fabrics, packed in biodegradable eco-plastic, and sold in a range of prices that make it easy for anyone to find something that will suit them at a price that won't make them squirm.

It's so wonderful to be in the ethical fashion space during a time of massive change and innovation. When I first started blogging, companies that considered every little detail of manufacturing - design, raw materials, manufacturing, packing, long term education - simply didn't exist, or they weren't prominent enough to show up on anyone's radar. Now, they might not quite be mainstream, but they're out there, and that means they can set an example for the rest of the industry.

YSTR Clothing Ethical Jumpsuit Review

YSTR was founded as an antidote to the fast fashion industry, which depletes natural resources at an alarming rate, creates a throwaway culture that saps the intention from our purchases, and relies on exploitative labor around the globe. I'm (still) reading Corban Addison's A Harvest of Thorns and it has illuminated for me how quickly one type of injustice can lead to several others. When it comes to the global fashion industry, if you can spot one type of exploitation, you can be certain that others lurk just beneath the surface. It's completely overwhelming.

YSTR keeps everything in house to ensure that they can monitor their resources and work force responsibly. When you place an order, the team gets started cutting and sewing your order. The made-to-order model is a key to building a sustainable business model because it means that YSTR never has unwanted inventory sitting around on their shelves.
  YSTR Clothing Ethical Jumpsuit Review

But what makes YSTR particularly unique is that their brand is just as much about building sustainable community as it is about business. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll cover that in tomorrow's post.

The collection ranges from casual to semi-formal, but the aesthetic is absolutely cohesive. With that in mind, I wanted to mix and match some items to show you how they can work together.

In the first outfit, I'm wearing the Hardy Jumpsuit in Black ($198) with a simple tassel necklace from Love Justly and my favorite Melissa sandals. Made from an eco-friendly viscose and linen blend, it's soft, opaque, and slightly textured.

In the second outfit, I'm wearing the jumpsuit with the Edie Top ($68) and an old pair of espadrilles. The high boat neck and soft, ribbed cotton makes this piece perfect for everyday wear. I'm always on the hunt for flattering tops and tees that have a flattering, higher neckline because I find myself leaning over to pick up boxes of goods at the thrift shop all the time, and I'd prefer not to flash anyone while doing it.

I'm wearing a Medium in both items (my measurements are 34-28-38 and I'm "pear shaped").

YSTR Clothing Ethical Jumpsuit Review

In addition to offering mix and match pieces, YSTR offers a capsule subscription box with three tiers, great for someone who's in need of a wardrobe refresh and doesn't have the time or the interest to select individual styles. Each box contains 2-3 items with a total traditional retail value of $500, offered at a starting price of $99 a month, and subscribers can skip a month whenever they feel like it. Learn more about it here, then order your box here.

I'll be sharing two more looks and additional information tomorrow, so make sure to come back.

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Get $15 off your YSTR purchase with code, VIPXSTYLEWISE

Fibre Athletics Introduces Water Bottles, Hats, and Tees

This post is part of a paid collaboration with Fibre Athletics.

Fibre Athletics, an ethical brand dedicated to producing eco-friendly, high performance activewear in the USA, is now taking preorders for their new range of hats, tees, and water bottles. With summer days on the horizon, it's the perfect time to introduce activewear accessories that help beat the heat.


Fibre Athletics' T-Shirt line is printed on hemp/organic cotton blend shirts and made in the USA. Hemp is a super sustainable material that requires less water than cotton, plus it's breathable like linen.

The Chicago Spirit Tee represents the enduring community values of Chicago, with a portion of proceeds benefiting CARA, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting the homeless and impoverished.

The Fibre Values Tee celebrates the company values of integrity, community, and impact.

The GROW Tee "challenges you to get up, get out and push your limits."


Fibre's Trucker and Anywhere hats are made from a hemp/cotton blend and feature the Fibre Athletics logo. I'm partial to the Anywhere hat as a packable alternative to my big straw hat.

And last but not least, the Patriot Bottle, made in a US-based, zero waste factory by veterans and the only metal bottle currently on the market that's produced in America. The interior lining is plant-based and doesn't hold odors like some bottles do, and a portion of proceeds help veterans find stable housing and get support and resources for PTSD. I'm friends with several Vietnam vets who are all affected by the daily struggle of PTSD. Having adequate community and financial support is essential to recovery.

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Shop the Fibre Athletics pre-sale for the best deals on these items. 


Ends early June. Items ship early July.

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Simply Wood Birth Flower Ring: For Mothers & Mother Earth + Giveaway

Simply Wood Rings Birth Flower Mother's Day Ring and Giveaway Simply Wood Rings Birth Flower Mother's Day Ring and Giveaway
This post was sponsored by Simply Wood Rings and I received an item for review. Scroll all the way down to enter the giveaway.

To kick off Earth Month's eco-friendly brand features, I want to orient the discussion around our planet in the broadest sense. 


I'm interested in coming to understand the way we've anthropomorphized and even worshiped the earth through the character of Mother. An earth goddess exists in several of the world's ancient religions, including those of the Inca, Algonquian, Mesopotamians, Indo-Europeans, and Egyptians. And in ancient Rome, Gaia stands in as the ancestral mother of all life. As one character in a larger, polytheistic narrative, these earth goddesses interacted with others gods, as well as humans, on a regular basis in tangible, everyday ways.

You don't have to adopt particular religious beliefs to see the value in the symbolic figure of Mother Earth. Framing the earth as a mother strips back the dominating, industrial narrative of the last few hundred years and forces us to imagine what an interpersonal relationship would look like with this humming, diverse planet. Mother is a role of origination and sustaining, of protection and discipline. As a child, I saw my mother through a lens of respect, gratitude, wonder, and deep love. If we could consciously see the earth and its ecosystems through this framework, I think much could be accomplished for sustainability.

Simply Wood Rings brings this ethos of respect and wonder to its sustainable, eco-friendly wood rings.

Simply Wood Rings Birth Flower Mother's Day Ring and GiveawaySimply Wood Rings Birth Flower Mother's Day Ring and Giveaway

Simply Wood Rings is a Chicago-based ethical business that produces one-of-a-kind, custom made rings for any occasion.


Their business model is community based in that all raw materials are sourced through an organic network of friends, clients, and small businesses. Wood is gathered from local cabinet makers, donated from clients' home projects, salvaged from fallen branches in local woods, and even saved from an old xylophone and marimba factory. Flowers for inlays are taken from friends' and families' gardens, or purchased from small scale etsy sellers. And gemstones are purchased from vendors and co-ops that prioritize US-based, sustainable industry, including turquoise scraps from Alltribes artisans.

Being able to wrap a beautifully polished piece of tree around my finger makes me feel rooted. It's a reminder that the most meaningful things in life are simple: a laugh between longtime friends, birdsong, sharing a meal, walking through the woods, watching a child play pretend.

I'm wearing Simply Wood Rings' new Birth Flower Ring in these photos, customized to represent meaningful dates in my life. Coming full circle, the Simply Wood team made this ring with mothers in mind, with the intention of having the mother select wood that represents her birth month and floral inlays to match the birth months of her children. Since I don't have children (and my mother was unlikely to wear a ring), I selected the components of my ring to represent Daniel's and my relationship.

The base wood is cherry (July) to represent Daniel's and my wedding month, as well as strong expression and compassion. There are two floral inlays: Aster (September) for my birth month and magic, mystery, love, and daintiness, and Gladiolus (August) for Daniel's birth month and moral integrity, infatuation, and fortitude.

Simply Wood Rings Birth Flower Mother's Day Ring and Giveaway
Wearing an Everlane tee, c/o Emma Suzanne Scarf, and c/o Simply Wood Rings Birth Flower Ring

The Birth Flower Ring makes a definite statement without feeling clunky; in fact, it feels quite feminine in a modern way. I plan on making it one of my everyday rings in addition to my wedding and engagement rings. For me, it symbolizes the continuing, everyday relationship Daniel and I share. It's so much more than that single wedding day, so much more vibrant, deep, and all-encompassing.

As we look toward year 8 of marriage this summer, it feels right to honor our marriage with a stunning piece of jewelry, just as much a keepsake as the rings we exchanged on our wedding day. (This piece, all in, totaled about $310, but costs vary by complexity of design and materials used, so if you're interested you can fill out a commission form here.)

This year, Simply Wood Rings is celebrating Earth Month in a special way:

From April 1st to the 22nd we are donating 10% of all purchases made to an environmental charity of your choice. We have four options to choose from this time around: the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and Earthjustice. 

I can highly recommend Simply Wood Rings for their quality, beauty, sustainable ethos, and professionalism. My ring came packed in biodegradable cardboard and tissue paper, and was cushioned in a little wood tray. Whether you're looking for a Mother's Day gift, a wedding ring, or commemorating another event in your life, Simply Wood Rings will work with you to make a ring that suits you distinctly, and with the sense that there was equal nurturing given to you and Mother Earth.

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GIVEAWAY

ENTER TO WIN 1 Customizable Birthflower Ring from Simply Wood Rings 
here and on Instagram (@stylewiseblog).

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Must be 18 years old or older to enter. Open to US readers only. Winner will be able to customize 1 Mother's Birthflower Ring to their heart's content - no price or customization cap. Giveaway ends midnight EST 4/18/17.

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Shop Mothers' Rings here.


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The Moral Wardrobe: A Denim Miracle

Everlane Top and made in USA denim Everlane Top and made in USA denim Everlane Top and made in USA denim Everlane Top and made in USA denim
Ethical Details: Top - Everlane; Jeans - Karen Kane (made in USA, similar); Belt - thrifted; Shoes - Frye (some styles made in USA)

Let me tell you about these jeans.


For the last several years, I've been on a somewhat noncommittal hunt for ethical jeans that actually fit my body type. I have wide hips and a relatively narrow waist and it seems like all the "cool" small, ethical brands make jeans for straighter figures. For that reason, I've tended to fall back on American Eagle jeans despite their less-than-stellar production standards, justifying it by purchasing dark wash, mid-rise styles that I can wear for years.

The only problem is that American Eagle's quality has gone waaay down since the last time I bought jeans there. So I went on a frantic hunt around the mall looking for an alternative. On a whim, I walked through Belk, checking the labels of a half a dozen jeans before I came across these, by Karen Kane. Produced in the USA out of imported fabrics, they're not the pinnacle of sustainability, but at least they check off one my boxes.

This was the only pair left, not my typical size, and listed as $89.00. I tried them on anyway and they fit. I worked up the nerve to throw down nearly $100 at the checkout counter (I can spend a hundred bucks no problem online, but I have trouble facing that price tag in person), but then the clerk said, "Your total comes to $25.00." Suppressing my surprise and childlike glee, I paid up.

Sometimes you reluctantly make the better choice and the Heavens open up and reward you for it.

Know Why It's Better: Fibre Athletics Pursuit Top

Fibre Athletics Ethical and Eco-Friendly Activewear Fibre Athletics Ethical and Eco-Friendly Activewear
This post was sponsored by Fibre Athletics and I received an item for review.

There are those of us who buy things because we like them. 


And then there are those of us who obsessively Google search, compare items, make charts, email companies, and check and double check for ethical standards.

In case you can't figure it out, I'm the definitely the latter. Which is why I'm am as happy as a kid on Christmas morning reading the product listings at fibreathletics.com. Scroll down to "How It's Made" on each product page and you'll discover a treasure trove of detailed information about the product, from textiles sourcing to certifications to manufacturing.
  Fibre Athletics Ethical and Eco-Friendly ActivewearFibre Athletics Ethical and Eco-Friendly Activewear
Ethical Details: Pursuit Top - c/o Fibre Athletics; Everywhere Jacket - c/o Fibre Athletics; Leggings - Soul Flower Stirrup Yoga Pants; High Tops - Etiko

The Fibre Athletics Pursuit Top is made of rPET certified recycled polyester (sourced from water bottles) produced in facilities that are verified to pay and treat workers well. It's then treated with Chitosante, a nature-sourced, environmentally friendly product (made from crustaceans and the cell walls of fungi!) that adds durability and longevity to athletic wear. It also meets the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification, which ensures that dyes used are low-impact, non-reactive, use fewer resources, and are safe on human skin.

The top is cut and sewn in a fair-trade certified factory in Chicago.
  Fibre Athletics Ethical and Eco-Friendly Activewear

Why I Like It


Like the Everywhere Jacket, the Pursuit Top ($70) is cut extraordinarily well, skimming the body's curves without constricting movement. The raglan sleeves are cut a little loose for freedom of movement (constricted shoulders are my biggest pet peeve when it comes to clothing) and the back zipper pocket lets you go hands-free. I like to go on walks and I often have trouble finding a pocket large enough for my phone and keys, but this one has ample space for both. I've been blown away by all of the American-made goods I've reviewed on StyleWise, and this is no exception. 

I'm wearing the Nova Red color here. It's almost fluorescent red with an orange undertone and I like it a lot. I used to have an aversion to pinks and reds, but they've become my favorite shades recently. I like the way they play against my henna red hair. 

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Get 10% off your purchase at Fibre Athletics with code, stylewise10.


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Heads Up: Fibre Athletics will be hosting a celebration and fundraiser to assist in the production of new products on April 21st in Chicago. Click here to learn more and purchase tickets.

Ember Boutique: Nature and Nostalgia + A Giveaway

Ember Boutique Ethical and Sustainable Cold Shoulder Top
This post was sponsored by Ember Boutique and I was offered products for review.

As much as I love my basics, a departure from plain t-shirts feels really good, particularly when it's a shoulder-baring top and the weather is unseasonably warm. 


When spring blows in, I become almost unbearably nostalgic for all the spring seasons that have come before. I feel hopeful, ready to start fresh, and suddenly confident that I can be exactly who I want to be.

It's funny how slight changes in climate or location can shift your perspective. It reminds me that we're animals after all, tied to our environment no matter how much we try to partition it off. It's important, I think, that we continually remind ourselves of that and extend it out to its logical end. If we are inextricably connected to "the wild," how can we continue to pollute and degrade the natural world and the people in it through our lifestyle habits? The false dichotomy between "civilization" and "nature" allows us to push corruption to the side, but ignoring it doesn't make it go away.
  Ember Boutique Ethical and Sustainable Cold Shoulder TopEmber Boutique Ethical and Sustainable Cold Shoulder Top

Ember Boutique gets it. 


Owner, Jamie, curates pieces that put the planet and people first because she recognizes their mutuality. Ember Boutique blends pieces from established brands, artisans, and boutique companies with secondhand finds. It's a mix I'm particularly fond of, not just because it's very much my personal wardrobe philosophy, but because I actually thought about opening a similar store a few years back.

But Ember goes beyond being a responsible company. Their mission encourages women to trust their gut and appreciate the stunning but often overlooked beauty of the world:

The Ember woman has a joyful curiosity of the world around her. Fashion isn't a rigid set of rules and trends to apply to herself on a seasonal basis. She relies on her intuition in all facets of her life, which naturally carries over into what she chooses to wear every day. These decisions are influenced by the outline of trees against the sky, the sound of a brush on canvas, and the way different fabrics respond to her own movements. She recognizes the cyclical nature of life, and knows that even a garment has a life span. From concept to creation to purchase and wear, each piece she chooses is infused with the spirit of the earth and hands that made it. She lives with intention, compassion, and fearless self expression.
  Ember Boutique Fair Trade Giveaway Ethical Details: Organic Cold Shoulder Floral Top - c/o Ember Boutique; Denim - old; Pouch - c/o Love Mert; Sandals - Melissa via Bead & Reel; Moon Phases Necklace - c/o Ember Boutique

Ember's Organic Cold Shoulder Top was made out of sustainable tencel and organic cotton in California. I like it because it achieves the off the shoulder look that continues to be a popular - not to mention universally flattering - silhouette, but with a bit of extra support thanks to spaghetti straps. It also looks great layered over a black turtleneck or crew neck tee if you need to adjust for weather or dress code.

Jamie also sent the Farrah B. Moon Phases necklace, hand carved on an adjustable chain. I have worn it 5 days in a row because it's simple while also feeling special, and the bronze tone goes with everything.

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Enter to Win the Organic Cold Shoulder Floral Top!

Win this top in the size of your choice (a $58 value), courtesy of Ember Boutique. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

+ Get an extra entry on Instagram


Contest ends at 11:59 pm EST on 3/1/17. Must be 18 years old or older to enter. Open to US readers only.

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Love Mert: Carry Your Heart on Your Pouch

Love Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day gift
This post was sponsored by Love Mert and I received an item for review. 

Love is in the air...


I was a shy kid who didn't date, at all really. I gave out the obligatory Valentine's Day cards in elementary school and daydreamed about the boys I liked professing their love for me through middle school. That never happened, so by high school I was sort of burnt out on Valentine's Day. Without the romance, it's just an awkward, brooding, excruciating 24 hours.

Junior year, I decided to make a change. I wrapped up little chocolates in colorful tissue paper pouches and gave them to friends and classmates. I put them in the choir cubbies, too. I started singing with the "Singing Valentines," delivering Doo-wop love songs to kids in the middle of their classes. I started spreading the love, and it made Valentine's Day feel like something joyous and generous for the first time.
  Love Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day giftLove Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day gift

It would be easy, and valid, to say that Valentine's Day is just a commercial holiday, a way to sell overpriced candy and flowers to suckers who can't see through manipulative advertising. But by turning it into a broad celebration of love in all its forms, I think it can be a powerful reminder that #lovetrumpshate.

Love Mert designer, Melissa, is spreading the love this season with her collection of Love pouches and purses made from salvaged and vintage materials in the USA. 


The Love Mert collection combines artistry and attention to detail with responsible sourcing, so base materials are local, upcycled, or deadstock. As a lover of secondhand and vintage fashion, I appreciate how well the mission of Love Mert aligns with my own. The Love Mert collection is comprised of creative new designs by an American designer, but also utilizes forgotten materials. It's sustainable in every way because it ties the secondhand market to the artisan market. Plus, by using upcycled leather, the end consumer can rest assured that their purchase did not contribute to animal cruelty. Learn more about Melissa's inspiration and design here.
  Love Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day gift
Ethical Details: Hat - Vintage via Low in Charlottesville; Sweater - Everlane; Jeans - old, redyed; Boots - Po-Zu; Necklace - Hands Producing Hope; Love Pouch in Brushed Gold/Gold - c/o Love MertLove Mert Love Pouch - made in USA, ethical valentines day gift

I paired the Love Pouch in Brushed Gold/Gold with a seed necklace by Hands Producing Hope and a lovely little 1960s hat I picked up at a local vintage store. I don't dress up very often these days, but I think that the hot pink sweater paired with vintage-inspired accessories makes for a Valentine's Day appropriate look without all the fuss.

The Love Mert pouch comes in several colors and retails for $32.00. If you're looking for a purse instead, Melissa makes Love Bags, too! You can see all the colors by going to the Handbags category of the site.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day (or Galentines Day)? What are your traditions?

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Shop Love Mert


Follow along: Instagram | Facebook

Ethical Giveaway: American-made Denim & Leather Clutch from Hem + Haw

Hem + Haw Conroy Clutch ethical giveaway, made in USA
This post was produced in partnership with Hem + Haw.

When Hope, founder of new domestically produced purse line Hem + Haw, initially reached out to me, she had no idea we shared the Charlottesville connection. It amazes and sort of baffles me how many people in the ethical consumerism space have lived for a time in Charlottesville. I'm grateful to be able to live in a relatively small town with all these interconnected, well traveled people. It makes it a heck of a lot easier to feel like you're a part of something, and to challenge yourself to be the best you can be.

Anyway, Hope lived here for several years while working for a local marketing agency, but she recently took a leap of faith to become a small part of the American manufacturing revival by producing high end clutches and purses with upcyled denim and American-sourced, new materials. In her words:

Here’s the thing that’s true about a good pair of jeans—they hang in there. It’s part of why we love them. We’ve worked to make our designs nimble, to maximize the material in a single pair of jeans as well as make use of the wide variety of washes available. 
Having seen firsthand what happens in communities when economic livelihoods disappear, we’re committed to U.S. manufacturing. We’ve sourced materials from all over the country and learned from a variety of local craftsman. We’re pretty thrilled that Hem + Haw bags have have been put together by hands that have been working in their respective fields for years.

Now Hope lives in Louisiana, but I had the chance to meet her at the Hem + Haw Launch Party she threw in downtown Charlottesville a couple months ago. Hope is one of those people who greets you like you're an old friend, and she's truly passionate about ensuring that every component of the line is traceable. She's also worked hard to ensure that the profit margin on each product is fair (a subject we ethical marketers and writers don't talk about enough, in my opinion).

The Goods...

Hem + Haw Conroy Clutch ethical giveaway, made in USA


Hem + Haw currently offers a mini collection of denim and leather clutches and convertible bags, available on their website. Today, they've offered to give away one Conroy Clutch in the color of your choice to a StyleWise reader, just in time for the Holidays.

The Conroy Clutch, valued at $95.00, is made from upcycled denim, American-made vegetable tanned leather and cotton, and Charlottesville-made antique brass hardware. Keep it for yourself or give it as a gift. Either way, you'll have a good story to tell about where the item came from and how it was made.

Hem + Haw Conroy Clutch ethical giveaway, made in USA

This giveaway will end on Tuesday, December 6th at 11:59 pm EST. By entering through the form below, you agree to allow Hem + Haw to add you to their email list. Open to US readers only. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sotela: The last dress you'll ever need, now on Kickstarter

sotela kickstarter
I've known Hanna for a few years now, both through her former blog, Gold Polka Dots, and through our mutual membership in the Ethical Writers Coalition. Hanna is compassionate, intelligent, and thoughtful. And now - with the launch of her Kickstarter campaign - she's a sustainable business owner and awesome entrepreneur!

Sotela aims to solve the what to wear conundrum by offering a range of garments that look great and fit regardless of hormonal or seasonal weight and size fluctuations. I love this concept, 1. because it's truly sustainable in that you don't have to buy something new when your size changes, and 2. because it graciously acknowledges regular weight gain and body insecurity. It reminds women that our value isn't determined by how our clothes fit.

I'll let the official press release give you a bit more info about the company and Kickstarter launch:


Sizes may change, but your style doesn’t have to. 


Sotela, a new California-based fashion brand, is solving the “nothing fits” dilemma with its debut collection of essential dresses that span multiple sizes, now available for preorder on Kickstarter.com.

sotela kickstarter campaign
My favorite silhouette, the Cocoon Dress

The brand, conceptualized in 2015, designed a collection of three dresses that span multiple sizes, eliminating time wasted searching for an outfit that fits. Size 1 ranges from 0-6 and size 2 from 8-12.

Never compromising ethics over style: each piece in the Sotela collection is eco- friendly, and features fabrics such as tencel and modal - sustainable fabrics known for their breathability and softness. All Sotela pieces are also locally made in the United States.


Sotela founder, Hanna Baror-Padilla, recognized the need for a dynamic clothing brand for women, as well as the lack of options currently available at major retailers. “Like most women, I’ve struggled with weight fluctuations that have made fitting into my regular clothing a chore. I know first-hand how insecure you can feel when your clothes don’t fit the way the way you remembered."

"I created Sotela because I believe we should be able to reach into our closets and have multiple pieces that will always fit, and better yet, make us feel beautiful.” 


Sotela’s debut dress collection is available for preorder on Kickstarter through June 9, 2016. Once the campaign reaches its fundraising goal of $15,000, funding and manufacturing will begin for “The Last Dress You’ll Ever Need.”

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I am really enjoying watching wonderful women in this community come into their own and change the world in the process.



Also, check out fellow EWC member, Kamea Chayne's, new book, Thrive: An Environmentally Conscious Lifestyle Guide to Better Health and True Wealth, now available on Amazon!

interview: meet Helga Douglas of sustainable lingerie brand, Svala

svala sustainable loungewear and panties made in usa

Svala is an LA-based sustainable lingerie and loungewear company that makes delicate, feminine pieces out of surplus lace and sustainably-sourced bamboo viscose under ethical labor guidelines. I've been hunting for simple loungewear pieces to replace some of my older items and Svala fits the bill. I had the opportunity to ask founder and designer, Helga Douglas, about the inspiration behind her collection, as well as some nitty-gritty sourcing and sustainability questions. Thanks to Svala for sponsoring this post. 


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FIRSTLY, TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF!


My name is Helga and I am originally from Sydney but I have been living in LA for the past seven years. The name for Svala comes from Iceland where my mother is from. It is one of my favorite girls' names and means swallow (bird) which represents freedom and hope.


HOW DID SVALA GET STARTED?


I have always loved fashion. My first job out of high school was at the wholesale office for Versace in Sydney. I also love nature and the environment and as I learned more about the detrimental effects that the fashion industry can have, I started to research brands which were producing sustainably. I ended up writing about sustainable fashion for the Los Angeles Examiner a few years ago. Researching what other people were creating in the sustainable scene inspired me to create my own brand.


WHAT DOES A TYPICAL WORK DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?


I usually get up pretty early and try to get to a yoga class before starting work. Then I begin dealing with what needs to be done for the day, including marketing and design.


WHAT STEPS DOES SVALA TAKE TO ENSURE THAT FACTORY EMPLOYEES ARE PAID A FAIR WAGE IN LIGHT OF RECENT CONCERNS ABOUT LA SWEATSHOPS?


During production we use established companies that have a good reputation and pay their workers fairly.


I LOVE THAT YOU USE SURPLUS LACE IN MANY OF YOUR PRODUCTS. HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA TO DO THAT?


When I first started designing lingerie and sleepwear, I tried using organic cotton lace but it didn't seem to keep its shape very well and was difficult to work with. I love lace and started searching for alternatives and ended up choosing to use factory surplus materials.

svala sustainable loungewear and panties made in usa

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR ORGANIC COTTON AND VISCOSE TEXTILES SOURCING...


(...I know that bamboo viscose can be processed organically or chemically and that the latter poses potential environmental and health risks. Can you speak to that concern?)

Our supplier uses bamboo which is certified as organic by the Organic Crops Improvement Association (OCIA). The main chemical in processing the bamboo fiber into viscose is caustic soda or CS2, one of the most widely chemicals used in the world. This chemical is used in production of paper, soap making, food production and nearly all cotton fabrics including organic cotton (during the wet processing). It is approved for use on textiles under the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).


HOW DO BAMBOO VISCOSE PROCESSING PLANTS ENSURE THAT NO CHEMICALS LEAK DURING THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS?


Our supplier states that the process is done in a hermetic container where 100% of the chemicals that are used are trapped and contained, not released into the factory, environment or atmosphere and 73% of CS2’s are recycled while 26% are recycled into Sulfuric Acid (H2S04). They do not claim that the whole process is “green” but they do strive to be as eco-friendly as possible.


WHAT INSPIRES YOUR DESIGNS?


The colorful feel of Sydney and LA and the simplicity of Scandinavian design. I want everybody who wears Svala pieces to feel beautiful and cozy.


WHAT'S THE BEST SELLING ITEM OR SET IN YOUR CURRENT COLLECTION?


The Vivien lace lingerie set in beige floral and sky blue, which is my favorite set.

svala lace bralette set

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE IN TERMS OF EXPANDING THE LINE AND INCREASING SUSTAINABILITY?


I am always on the lookout for new fabrics and dyeing methods to expand the line and increase sustainability. I am currently looking for fabrics besides viscose from bamboo for the sleepwear range which are biodegradable and produced more sustainably.

WHAT'S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO LIVE MORE SUSTAINABLY?


Every little bit counts!


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Svala Pieces range in price starting at $25.00. My favorites are the Vivien Lace Bra in Beige Floral ($65.00) and the Mari Sleep Shorts ($60.00).


Keep up with Svala on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest

Shop here:

svala logo

warm days ahead: an ethical wishlist

ethical summer wishlist


When I started buying primarily ethical clothing, I didn't really believe I'd be able to reduce my overall consumption. Shopping was such a huge part of my life and I always wanted the next new thing. But I've been pleasantly surprised with the progress I've made.

When you commit to buying ethically sourced items, you end up spending more time researching and more money per item, which means (theoretically) that your consumption should go down with minimal effort, but it's easy to get caught up in sales or go crazy at the thrift store (something I'm still working on) and end up right where you started, carelessly buying.

It helps me to make a pared down visual representation of what I'm looking for so I can stay focused. This season, I'd love to purchase:


There's no possible way I can buy all of this in one season, but I can keep my eye out for sales and similar items. 

Are you adding anything to your closet this season? 

#whomademyclothes? ZADY knows

fashion revolution day 2015 zady

Zady is an ethical brand and business that goes above and beyond your average ethics-minded company. They're activists who made a huge splash when they bought a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal to post their manifesto a couple years ago. They're also the US headquarters for the Fashion Revolution Day movement (are you wearing your clothes inside out today?)

To highlight the fact that labor rights and sustainability go hand in hand, Zady released their .02 T-Shirt on Earth Day and just before Fashion Revolution Day. It's made from start to finish in the United States, so the supply chain is transparent and traceable.

We need to demand better in every step of the supply chain: better regulation, better materials, better treatment of people and planet. One way for companies to ensure that this is being done is to source and manufacture products on a smaller scale, within the same region (Everlane did this with their soon-to-be-released street shoe) or closer to the parent company, like Zady did with the .02 tee. We can't change an industry if we don't know what's going on inside of it, and companies don't feel obligated to hold themselves accountable if they're not even sure who makes their clothes, so we need to keep asking Who made my clothes? until we get real answers.

The conscientious consumer movement feels like Guerrilla warfare a lot of the time. We're full of ideas, but we're not united. We can't always see who or what we're fighting against, or who we're fighting for. Transparency is vital and there's no better time than now to start moving forward together.

So wear your clothes inside out today, or don't. But stir up people to join the team and spread the word. We need all the help we can get.


Read more Fashion Revolution Day posts from the Ethical Blogger Network:

Read more posts from the Ethical Writers Coalition:

inspiration: fair trade florals

florals
florals by stylewiseblog featuring fitted dresses

Featured Items (clockwise from left): Nomads Summer Halter Dress, Mata Traders Primrose Dress, Reformation Peony DressEthica Elysees Dress, Ash & Rose Cherry Blossom Dress

I had settled into a nice minimal wardrobe, content with my Everlane tees and dark wash jeans. But, one day not long ago, the trees in the median of a nearby street suddenly bloomed dazzling pink and now I just want to wear bright florals to chase the last bit of winter away. 

Solid colors have their place - and they're essential building blocks if you're someone inclined to prints - but it's a season for pattern and I'm so excited to dress a bit more feminine after being on a menswear kick for the past few seasons. In reality, I'll be depending on thrifting and accessorizing for floral accents. I don't think I can justify overturning my wardrobe (or my budget) to make way for half a dozen new dresses.

Oh, and by the way, I'm using the Style Wise facebook page to post interesting articles and fair trade sales. There's a lot of interesting stuff happening in the world of retail right now.

the moral wardrobe: snow no

Ethical Details: Cardigan - Seamly.co; Top - Everlane; Jeans - thrifted; Boots - thrifted; Gloves - American Apparel; Scarf - thrifted (a looong time ago)

Pardon any weird facial expressions in these photos - I was desperately trying to avoid snow blindness. We got at least 6-7 inches of snow last Thursday. I took a walk down the street to take in the pristine view, but I tired quickly trudging through the snow and had to circle back within a few minutes. You can see the photos I took on my walk here

I finally bought the Seamly.co Wrapped Cardigan a couple weeks ago and I don't regret it at all! I haven't experimented with any styles, but I love how long and cozy it is, like being in a blanket (Daniel likes to call my obsessive blanket wearing a Leah Burrito). 

Oh! Welcome to all of you who found me through Rachel Held Evans' blog. You can learn more about me or find my favorite ethical retailers by clicking on the About and Resources tabs at the top of the page. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email at leahcwise@gmail.com.

spotlight on: american made

Over the past few years, a handful of fashion forward, conscientious labels have cropped up in California. They've pushed the boundaries of what sustainable fashion looks like and have attracted cult followings as a result. I haven't yet purchased from the companies represented here, but I believe in their process and hope their product lives up to all the hype. Plus, what's better than scrolling through warm(er) weather clothing when there's a foot of snow outside?

Reformation:

Mission Statement:

They're too cool for an About page, apparently, but include materials and production info on each product page.

Example: "This is made of Modal. It's a natural fiber and therefore biodegradable, which is super important because petroleum based synthetics like polyester can take over 200 years to decompose."

Offering:

Vintage inspired clothing for the California It girl.

Price Point:

$40-650

Curator:


Mission Statement:

"Curator is a line of clothing designed and produced in San Francisco by two best friends...Whenever possible, we use organic fabrics in our designs. This is truly a labor of love and our life's work."

Offering:

Sophisticated clothing for creative types.

Price Point:

$40-200

Amour Vert:

Mission Statement:

"At Amour Vert we believe women shouldn’t have to sacrifice style for sustainability. We employ a zero-waste design philosophy and use only organic and sustainable fabrics along with low impact dyes."

Offering: 

Casual, everyday knits.

Price Point: 

$40-200

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If you've shopped from any of these brands, let me know in the comments. 

an ethical outfit: anytime, anywhere

ethicaloutfit



I've been waiting for Everlane's breton stripe tee to be made available for what feels like forever. I bought a J. Crew striped top 3 years ago and it's really starting to show wear, so I'm so happy to have found an ethical and well made replacement. 

This outfit is my comfort zone: basics with simple jewelry and patterned bag. I'd be happy wearing it anywhere. 

The duster-style cardigan is currently on clearance at Nomads for $24.37 USD, if you're interested.