You don’t have to sacrifice style for sustainability. You don’t have to sacrifice ethics for aesthetics. Such is the mantra for Edmonton-based style blogger Alyssa Lau. Preach! We can all use a little reminding of that fact. There are so many amazing fashion designers making sustainability, ethical practices, fair trade and earth-friendly materials top of their game. Even the smallest steps in these realms have a huge impact on our lovely planet. Alyssa’s blog, Ordinary People (ordinarypeople.ca), has grown with that in mind and she’s also at the helm of an online store focused on sustainability, New Classics Studios. So being that it’s Earth Day today we figured it was the perfect time to get her thoughts on how ethical and sustainable fashion has evolved, why she’s into it and how we can get in on the change. Plus, she shares her Earth Day shopping picks.
When we first met Alyssa Lau she was splitting her time between a biochemistry lab and an addictive style blog called Ordinary People. Today, the Edmonton-based creative director continues to rule the web and is now at the helm of a fast-growing online boutique dedicated to sustainable style, stocking sought-after labels like Kowtow, Shaina Mote, Samuji and more. Earlier this year we chatted about what it means to #wearthechange (make sure you read that here), so, in preparation for Fall, this time we’re talking Netflix binges, winning outfits and playlists.
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Carol Miltimore, founder and head designer of Seek Collective, is a vet in the fashion game. Having spent some time working for major brands like Calvin Klein Jeans, Michael Kors, Converse and Armani Exchange, she felt like the fashion industry and its customers were more disconnected than two teens trying to figure out a long distance relationship. So a few years ago she split and started her own brand, Seek Collective. Seek produces its clothing the way green parents obsessively raise their children, making sure that every product that goes into them is as natural and fairly produced as possible. Promoting transparency is at the heart of Seek’s process as all of their garments are handmade and hand-printed, using natural dyes and organic materials. Carol took a short break from bettering the world to answer some of our questions.
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YOUR PROCESS IS SO TRANSPARENT. IT’S SUPER INSPIRING! WHY IS SUSTAINABILITY AND EMPOWERMENT IMPORTANT TO YOU AS A DESIGNER? Thank you! The process of how things get made inspires me and affects the designs and outcome so I really want it to be interesting to customers as well. Sustainability and empowerment matter to me a great deal as a designer, as a business owner, as well as a person sharing this planet with so many. After working as a designer for a decade in different companies and experiencing a detachment between designer, producer, and customer, I knew I wanted to have a business that explores the potential of creating clothing in a way that will empower instead of exploit, inform customers how and where their items are being consciously made, as well as be contemporary, relevant, and unique in terms of aesthetic.
It’s Earth Day tomorrow, so it’s always a good reminder to check in on how our consumption habits are affecting the planet. Ethica curates their online store with that in mind all year round.
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Focused on ethical and sustainable fashion, they want to create an online community where consumers can learn about sustainability and be connected to brands that are committed to social and environmental responsibility. Founded by sisters Melissa and Carolina Cantor, we love Ethica for the selection of rad brands making clothes we swear you will love and wear forever. We caught up with Carolina to find out how Ethica set out to change the way people shop and got the scoop on her best earth-friendly living tips.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO START AN ETHICAL FASHION STORE? We wanted to approach ethical fashion in a way that was exciting, thoughtful and transparent. People were skeptical about the idea of a multi-brand boutique that focused exclusively on ethical and sustainable fashion, but we knew that a strong selection of brands would speak for itself. More than that, we wanted to communicate why these products are special and why these designers are changemakers–that’s why storytelling is present throughout the shopping process. It wasn’t that long ago that people had to visit individual brands’ sites to learn about them, and we wanted to create a space where people could discover emerging designers who are transforming the industry, connect to their stories and follow their journeys. There’s a research component that’s inherent within ethical fashion, so the commerce and content belong together in a very cohesive way.
Based in Brooklyn by way of Montreal, the woman behind Study NY is bringing the next generation of designers up to speed on sustainability.
Tara St. James’ contemporary Brooklyn-based label is the hangover cure to the over consumption of fast fashion. Study NY doesn’t subscribe the regular fashion calendar, instead creating seasonless clothing locally and ethically. Her latest project, Conversations in Craft, looks at the value we put on craftsmanship through a line of embroidered sweatshirts. A run of sweatshirts were made in their Brooklyn studio and sent to Peru, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the USA to be embroidered. Each country was given a pre-designed embroidery pattern, a fixed spending amount of $24, and instructions to stop working once they had reached the limits of their countries respective wages. Wage differences are comparable by how far the country made it with the pattern. The finished pieces are now being sold on the Study NY website and the project can be seen at Parsons. If that doesn’t inspire you to learn more about where your clothes come from, we don’t know what will.
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Founded in 2006, Beklina is the original online eco boutique and our constant source of sustainable inspiration.
The store is stocked with colorful pieces, whimsical prints and Made in the USA labels. Every time we hit refresh, there is something new to discover. We caught up with owner Lina Rennell at her home in Northern California to learn more. Not only is she skilled at balancing bottles on her head, but she listens to Beastie Boys. As if we could love her more.
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Drawing inspiration from ethical fashion trailblazers like Stella McCartney and the sophistication of Céline, Freedom of Animals is creating a new category in sustainable style: Feel (Really) Good Fashion. Not only are their sleek handbags and backpacks made with materials like recycled water bottles and organic cotton, the luxury line has partnered with a wildlife conservation fund to donate a portion of sales. No wonder they’ve amassed such a following (that includes SJP herself) in a couple of short years. There’s literally nothing not to love about this line so we had to get all the scoop from designer Morgan Boyle. Of course she’s just as cool as we thought she’d be.
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