nicora shoes

The Moral Wardrobe: Tomorrow's Vintage

Pyne & Smith Clothiers and Nicora Vegan Shoes review
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
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.

Shopping List: Ethical Black Sandals

ethical and vegan black sandals

I used to think every pair of shoes in my closet needed to be a different color, but in the past few years, I've developed a real love for black shoes with everything. I wouldn't call my personal style anything close to edgy, so the bit of black at the base adds something modern to otherwise very simple outfits.

I've seen lots of black sandals around this season, but I want something that looks just as good with shorts as it does with a fancy dress. That means chunky Birkenstocks and thick foam flip flops are out. I've narrowed it down to the options above (admittedly, I'm not the best at narrowing down), making sure to add a good mix of high and lower end, vegan and sustainable leather. Some of these are a bit outside my price range, but they may be worth saving up for.

My favorite ethical black sandals are:

(clockwise from top left)

1. Deux Mains Bel Nanm Sandal, $64.99

Made fairly in Haiti out of upcycled tires, sustainable leather, and all organic ingredients.

2. Everlane Street Sandal, $120.00

Made ethically in Italy out of Italian leather.

3. Nicora Goodall Sandal, $119.00

100% vegan. Uppers made out of recycled X-Ray film, soles and heels made from recycled rubber blend, domestically produced.

4. Bourgeois Boheme Emma Sandal, $194.00

Vegan. PVC free eco vegan leather, handcrafted in Portugal.

5. Nisolo Serena Sandal, $98.00

Made ethically in Peru. Get $25 off your purchase with my referral link.

6. Everlane Slide Sandal, $98.00

Made ethically in Italy out of Italian leather.

I'm leaning toward the Nisolo Serena Sandal, because it combines a sophisticated silhouette with a price point I'm comfortable with (though I still need to pinch some pennies to get there). The Nicora Sandal is a close second - you really can't beat their thoughtful sourcing and attention to detail. I feel like I'm getting real clarity on what I want and "need" within the context of my current lifestyle. It's exciting to have a uniform of sorts. Now all I need is the weather to stay warm so I can actually wear my warm weather gear!