Friday, March 27, 2015

{eco flick} the true cost: behind the labels

it's true that i stopped buying clothes overnight the way i've heard some folks stop smoking cold turkey. just like that.

this is how my eco-fashion journey began:

three years ago i was working as a style columnist + blogger for a local, indie newspaper. in addition to a printed column, i wrote for their online platform three times per week. i had the bright idea that i should write about all things sustainable every friday. it seemed like a perfectly harmless task + a subject that i was anxious to dig into.

but then this happened:

i saw a photo.

in this photo, there was a river. the river ran red.

on this day, i read the accompanying article about the water + land pollution by textile manufacturing facilities that produce fast fashion.

linked to every textile + garment that we purchase from big box shops are toxic chemicals that contaminate air, water + land and are harmful to our health

i was left scratching my head. i read a little more, and there was also the issue of child labor and human rights violations related to the manufacture of apparel + shoes + accessories.

i was not aware that a seemingly innocuous decision to purchase a tee shirt, a pair of jeans or shoes was degrading the earth and depriving workers of basic rights.

and that was it. in the snap of a finger i stopped shopping.

i set out on a journey to find ethically-made apparel + footwear, accessories + personal care products that were stylish and allowed me to express myself creatively, sans harm to people, planet or animals. and now, when i buy, i buy from shops + labels that care just as much as i do: eco boutiques + slow fashion brands that are a part of the movement to make quality products for those who want to make mindful purchases.

and this is what's called a fashion revolution.

andrew morgan was also changed by a photograph. andrew is a director for commercial + film projects who believes in the power of storytelling "in the ongoing fight for human rights around the world." andrew and his team of filmmakers are now telling the story of the impact the fast fashion industry is having on our world in the documentary the true cost. hats off to a this eco hero who's hoping to open eyes and hearts.

from director andrew morgan:
Growing up in America, I never gave much thought to where my clothes came from. But as I began learning more about the people and places behind the labels in my closet, I was shocked by what I found. Clothing is the most labor-dependent industry in the world, employing millions of the world’s poorest workers, many of which are women. Many of these women are paid less than a living wage, work in unsafe conditions, and are deprived of basic human rights. In addition to the human impact, fashion is now the number two most polluting industry on earth – second only to oil.

Today, we are outsourcing more, consuming more (in the US a 500% clothing consumption increase in the last two decades alone), using more resources, and paying less than we have at any previous time in history. At the same time, there are record high numbers of worker casualties in factories, and a fundamentally unsustainable growing toll on the environment.

What kind of world will we create now that we are beginning to see the cost of our actions? In a time where our impact on people and the world is measured in real time, will we choose to create new systems to alleviate this pressure?
These questions, and the grave implications of the answers, led me to direct The True Cost. A global documentary that explores the fashion industry around the world, examining where we are, how we got here, and how we can create a better future moving forward. For too long now, conversation around this topic has suffered from over-simplified blame games. Political and economic complexities have allowed us to miss what is unavoidably clear – that this is first and foremost a moral issue. There is consistent irresponsible care of the environment, and clear violations of the most basic human rights. But this is something we can and must change.

The eyes of the world are opening, and I believe history is giving us this moment to choose a better path. Human progress moves forward when those who have a voice use it on behalf of those who do not. It moves forward when a moment is seized rather than ignored. And it most certainly moves when we decide that the profit of some must never come from the exploitation of others. I hope with all my heart that this film serves as a needed step in that progress.

the true cost will be out may 29, 2015. to learn more, click on over here.

{image via the true cost}

Friday, March 20, 2015

{eco brand of the week} glass house shirt makers: real men wear eco

gender is a state of mind. -scott schuman, the sartorialist

to know me is to know i love crossing borders, and not just across continents. when it comes to my wardrobe, i zigzag across the men's and women's departments of online eco retailers and local boutiques to find what i'm looking for.

a tomboy at heart, i'm happiest in baggy boyfriend jeans or oversized chinos, and a well-tailored oxford is a staple in my wardrobe. i like to take these pieces and add my own personal touch: sky-high heels from olsen haus or a brassiere from stella mccartney for a boy-meets-girl effect. 

i've been on the lookout for an everyday button down that is also ethically produced {i have a long, slender build and sometimes finding an organic, fair trade shirt that also fits just right can be a challenge}.

when i read about the sustainable garments from glass house shirt makers, i was intrigued. i know it's a men's label, but i was never one for rules - in college a friend once told me i had a blatant disregard for the law - certainly untrue, but when it comes to fashion, i believe what the good folks at ghsm have to say: "expressing our authentic self is a gift and should be conveyed passionately."

from our friends at glass house shirt makers:
[O]ur long term goal, let’s say by 2020, is to have all of our fabrics grown, milled, spun, dyed, and woven right here in the United States. The fabrics we currently use are 100% organic cotton, hemp, lyocell, and blends of other sustainable fabrics. In addition, we use reclaimed fabrics that may be thrown away or take time to redistribute, so we buy them before they head to the landfill.

[E]ventually, we’d love to have our own manufacturing facility run on alternative energy like wind, solar & geothermal. We believe that providing a high quality of life for our employees, as well as providing premium shirts for you, are the key aspects of how this brand is run. Big goals with big impacts.

founder daniel bernardo has proven that real men wear eco. and daniel may not know it yet, but he's a bit of a design magician, making striking shirts of superior craftsmanship that not only flatter men, but entice women. so i think the real lesson we've learned here today, boys + girls, is: real men AND real women wear eco!

find these fine shirts at penelope's in chicago or scoot on over here for more options. want to stay at home + let your fingers do the shopping? click here.

{artwork by f+d | photography by wendy santeliz}

Friday, March 13, 2015

{eco brand of the week} studio 189: african + artisanal collections

this bouncy-colored, cotton circle skirt is from studio one eighty nine, the brand created by rosario dawson and abrima erwiah, proposing artisanal collections to help boost the financial independence of african communities.

studio one eighty nine was selected by vogue black and for the second episode of their collaboration in support of fashion 4 development.

a beautiful hybrid of contemporary design + traditional craftsmanship; these pieces {which include oversized clutches + vibrant-hued handbags} incorporate african textiles with dynamic color schemes and are made entirely in africa. perfect.

peruse the collection at or learn more about fashion 4 development
{image via}

Friday, March 6, 2015

{eco beauty picks} the cure: better hair days straight ahead

over the years i've tried eco shampoos that are magical {tis true i've actually texted gal pals to say "i'm having a goooood hair day!"}, and other shampoos that prompt less jolly messages {"i can't stop scratching my head"}.
after routing out products that have given me days of country-star hair {think big: so much volume, it was distracting to coworkers whose wandering eyes pointed heavenwards towards my curious new coiffe} or limp hair, so lifeless, well, let's just say they were hair-up days, i've finally found the one. actually, i found six. lucky girl that i am.

here's a roundup of natural + nourishing hair care brands that are truly shine enhancing + gentle enough for everyday use: they're all eco-friendly + all cruelty-free. and this keeps my locks healthy + happy. oh, and if you have sensitive skin like me, look no further.

now let's open up some bubbly {shampoo suds, that is}:
1/ acure organics moroccan argan oil shampoo this is my numero uno. this shampoo is at the top of my list for several reasons: show me an organic + fair trade product and you have my attention. but as the folks at acure like to say, "it also has to work." does it perform? indeed it does. their shampoo + conditioner have earned a permanent place in my bath + beauty routine. acure strengthens follicles + illuminates dull hair, and i can't get enough of this scent. organic + fair trade certified. if you're looking for a dry shampoo or leave-in conditioner, their products are tops. made in the usa.

2/ avalon organics rosemary shampoo: good hair days start here. this cleanser vies for position as numero uno. a plant-derived cleanser with an invigorating scent; it doesn't strip away natural oils, but gets hair good and clean. the conditioner works like a charm, but a light hand is necessary to avoid weighing down your tresses. 70% of ingredients listed are organic. made in the usa.

3/ collective wellbeing citrus orchard shampoo: argan oil, ladies + gents. get some. good for the face, body + hair. this cleanser contains fair trade, organic argan oil + aloe vera, and it smells yummy. this product delivers as promised: it's both a delicate cleanser + a powerful revitalizer, strengthening weakened hair strands. conditioner restores natural luster; a little dab will do ya. made in the usa.  
4/ john masters organics lavender rosemary shampoo: the shampoo is light + super hydrating and the conditioner adds shine without adding weight. this cleanser smells heavenly {actually i think god would let me through the pearly gates just for the aromatic scent of my hair alone}. 17 organic + wild-crafted ingredients, 1 fab mission. a sustainable brand after my own heart. made in the usa.  

5/ intelligent nutrients harmonic shampoo: i love everything about this brand and what it represents. the antioxidant-rich, lightweight shampoo smells divine {fresh + minty} and adds a little shine before you ever get to the conditioner. founder horst m. rechelbacher, a commited activist + environmentalist believed in using only safe, pure ingredients in bath + beauty products {he was the founder of aveda, but left to create an even purer product. yep, you read that right}. nontoxic + organic. made in the usa.

6/ j.r. ligget's bar original formula shampoo: i admit, i was skeptical. i mean, really skeptical of a bar shampoo. there was that camping trip where i'd forgotten my shampoo + decided to use my soap bar instead. the result was disastrous: cotton candy hair for days. but this bar came highly recommended by a fashionista on no more dirty looks, and i admit i was impressed by the idea of a no-bottle shampoo. so i hopped on over to whole foods and picked up a bar. it works. it truly does. natural ingredients, but not organic. made in the usa.

{bonus} a mud mask masquerading as a hair cleanser
7/ morocco method int'l sea essence shampoo: this is a special one. it smells like someone packed the whole sea into this bottle, including sand + sun {note: like sand, the scent kind of sticks for a while}. the texture is rare + puddling-like, akin to a mud mask, which really + truly revitalizes limp locks. it is super concentrated {it says so right there on the bottle} so go easy. that's more bang for your buck. everything that could be good for your locks is packed into this little bottle including some snazzy ingredients like kelp, spirulina, algae, and marine proteins. ingredients are not listed as organic. made in the usa.

i rotate these hair care products on a regular basis throughout the seasons: a green arsenal of hydrating shampoos that are great for soft, shiny tresses and for all hair types + all seasons.

{eco note: our skin + scalp are an integral part of our immune system, so it's important to care for it. here's an easy peasy guide of ingredients to avoid in bath + beauty products. steer clear of these personal care culprits, my friends: sulfatesparabens, phthalates + synthetic fragrances}

{artwork by f+d | photography by wendy santeliz}

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

{eco reads} ethical fashion: a glimpse of the future

i believe we should stop thinking that ethical and aesthetic are two separate things.
what is beautiful must be good.

simonetta gianfelici, on the role of renowned fashion houses in the ethical fashion movement

{a great read}
meet a modern day fashion hero: simonetta gianfelici is making a difference in the world of ethical + fair trade fashion. something about magazine takes us through her journey from accomplished model  + muse to supporter of slow fashion + designers around the globe via the united nations ethical fashion initiative. article by janine leah bartels
{illustration by christy mccormick via}

Friday, February 6, 2015

{eco knickers} ethica provides the perfect panty guide

years ago i watched elle mcpherson unveil her line of intimates for women on tv. the popular talk show host asked her, "why lingerie?" and elle answered confidently that a woman need not wear lingerie to impress a partner, but rather to embrace her own sensuality, sexuality + femininity.

i'm a gal who is deeply passionate about pretty underthings {for some it's shoes, for me it's knickers} and eco attire. i value and shop companies with a commitment to social responsibility. i love natural fabrics that are compatible with human health and rights, because frankly, boys + girls, agrochemicals {aka cancer-causing agents} in our underoos is not what the doctor ordered.  

organic cotton protects the farmers and workers who would otherwise come into contact with harmful pesticides, fungicides and insecticides used when conventional cotton is cultivated, processed + transformed. and let us not forget about that little thing we call earth, she benefits from crop rotation + soil defoliation versus a monocrop culture - and the use of low-impact pigments sans heavy metals eliminates air + waterway pollution.

slow fashion retailer, ethica, has compiled the definitive list of organic unmentionables, listing nine companies with beautifully ascetic designs, because these folks know eco fashion. from our friends at ethica:
Beyond Valentine’s Day: 9 Sustainable Lingerie Brands You'll Want to Wear Year-Round Corsetry, garters and mesh? Not this year. It’s time to give your underwear drawer a makeunder instead, with a focus on better-for-you, back-to-basics styles. From bra-and-panty sets in stark white to sporty tape bras paired with high-waisted briefs, the intimates we’re loving right now are luxuriously comfortable and beautifully minimalist–in other words, fit for real-world, everyday wear. Even better, these collections are made from natural and organic materials, meaning fewer pesticides and chemicals coming into contact with some of your body's most sensitive spots.
learn more about the positive impact organic agriculture is having on farmers at sustainable cotton or at textile exchange. if you're interested in getting your own paws on some of the good stuff {organic textiles} take a look here. are you all done reading? now go get some sweet, sustainable knickers.

{image via ethica}

Friday, January 30, 2015

{eco brand of the week} proud mary: rock the boat

"from coffee and electronics to apparel and footwear, most of the products we enjoy and use every day are made by men and women in factories and on farms around the world. these workers harvest the cotton used to make our shirts, sew buttons and zippers onto our jackets, grow the cocoa our children drink, and make high-tech soles for our running shoes. unfortunately, many of them work in deplorable conditions." fair labor association

rocking the fast fashion boat, fair trade design company proud mary is headed by the world-wandering, hardworking miss harper poe {a kindred nomadic soul}. miss poe has combined unswerving focus with a seemingly chimeric plan to promote economic growth in developing countries while bringing conscious consumers a delightful miscellany of handcrafted accessories and home goods.

proud mary's products are constructed by artisans in south america + africa who might otherwise be unable to make a visible income due to lack of access to market. weavers and crafters receive fair wages and hone their skills in safe working milieus. each hand made item combines beauty, innovation and sustainable practices to striking effect.

my everyday handbag is a little like those russian nesting dolls: inside you'll find smaller pouches, all dedicated to organizing my life. as an artist and amateur photographer, i'm always carrying oodles of supplies and equipment, not to mention my knicks and knacks and snacks, so i have a lot of love for little zip pouches and petite clutches.

i have a fave clutch that journeys with me wherever i go, for all of my travel adventures both near and far: this brocaded navajo clutch is one of proud mary's spirited designs.
the decadent texture of the artisan textiles married to the imaginative detail of miss poe's designs {think vivid pops of color, oversized tassels + colorful pompoms} yield graphic handbags, shawls and pillows.

up next for miss poe: proud mary will be unveiling a line of smart-casual apparel {this eco fashionista is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the no-fuss, easy breezy designs}.

find it here or hop on over to online ethical goods retailer lydali for more options.

 {images by f+d}

Saturday, January 17, 2015

{simple pleasures} a tropical oasis in a concrete jungle

i found i could say things with color and shape 
that i couldn't say any other way - things i had no words for. 
georgia o'keefe

today's simple pleasures

{garfield park conservatory} a little tropical oasis in the center of the city of chicago, 
full of vibrant colors + energetic plant life that speak to me of faraway places in a language i easily understand. sigh

{images by f+d}

Friday, January 16, 2015

{eco brand of the week} reformation: waste reimagination

yael aflalo is the founder of an independent, sustainable fashion line who understands the potential value of waste, and she and her mighty team are taking steps to change the tide of fast fashion.
aflafo is seducing the masses with her eco apparel brand reformation. to be seduced is to be led astray, but really, she's leading us exactly to where we need to be. after learning of the pollution caused by garment factories on a trip to china as well as witnessing the poor working conditions within the factories, aflafo envisioned alternative ways of producing garments: she imagined a fashion company where workers were valued and natural resources protected.
you've got to love a woman with a wonderfully wayward + actively rebellious imagination.
reformation was born in 2009, and aflalo has since become a steward of the environment in the third most polluting industry {after oil and agriculture}, investing time and energy in sourcing stylish eco materials and surplus textiles that yield deeply feminine dresses and beautifully sound separates. these surplus textiles would otherwise end up in landfills and chemically treated materials would contribute to the continued degradation of our waterways and land.

for each apparel item, reformation provides pithy paragraphs of "green" info. the description of the andy dress + molasses tee from our friends at ref:
{the andy dressis made from deadstock materials. every season, thousands of yards of fabric go to waste from fashion houses that over-ordered. the textile industry is one of the most chemically dependent industries on earth and the #2 polluter of clean water. We're trying to lessen the blow by using fabric that already exists, because we heart dolphins.
{the molasses tee} is made from tencel and she's a freak of nature. tencel is made from biodegradable, renewable, sustainably harvested wood pulp. it's manufactured in a closed-loop system, which means all excess materials get reused. a traditional cotton tee uses 257 gallons of water to produce; a tencel tee only uses 6. nothing gets us hotter than saving water. 
i love a brand with a sense of humor as well as cascading frocks with feminine appeal, and of course a ceo with an abiding faith in sustainable fashion.
 this is what slow fashion looks like, boys and girls.
{images via of reformation}