Summer outfits & Sustainable fashion
© image by Alvaro Dominguez
It's unofficially summer and I bet you're as much excited as me to pull out your summer dresses from the back of your closet.
I'm more of a spring girl (I guess you know) but I love summer's nonchalance. Getting up in the morning seems easier if I only have to jump in a dress, get my flat sandals and wear a minimal make up thanks to a fresh natural glow haha.
Some of you told me they really liked the article about my wardrobe and advice I gave on shopping so I have been thinking that I should share more about my endless wandering in (online) fashion stores. As you know I'm trying to live a "frugal" life (see article here) and I'm also really concern about sustainability (I've been a vegetarian for more than 8 years) and social justice. I'm not here to give any lesson but as I'm trying to be more responsible and conscious about how I dress, eat and relate to people in general, it makes sense that I focus on sustainable shopping options here too.
It took me a while to actually understand what sustainable fashion means because I'm really not an expert and it's difficult to see the difference between eco-friendly fashion and green washing marketing.
I narrowed my focus by using the Fashion Revolution Website and The Fashion Transparency Index as well as the non-profit organization Rank a Brand. I have also read the great article "How To Tell If A Fashion Brand Is Sustainable: 8 Ways" from Eluxe magazine and it helped me a lot. I have discovered that H&M and Inditex are actually well rated by the FTI because of their recent efforts of transparency regarding their production and the traceability of their materials ! After the terrible accident in the Rana Plaza garment factory in 2013, these big groups had to finally invest in more sustainable practices...
I created these comfortable, fun and summery looks using a combination of my favorite sustainable middle-range brands with cheaper brand options that are not labeled as sustainable but are working toward more transparency. I really put an emphasis on comfort so there are no high heels, polyester garments or tight trousers here.
I'm not sponsored but I've linked all the images to their online stores if you want to click on them.
This is so far my favorite sustainable brand. All the production is made in their factory in LA. They use eco-friendly and pro-social technologies, as well as either sustainable or vintage recycled fabrics. They are completely transparent about their infrastructure and practice. On the online shop it is really easy to know how much the garment costs in term of water, power and work force. If you want to know more about it, feel free to have a look at their website.
Armed Angels is a certified fair and organic fashion label based in Germany. Their philosophy is all about organic or sustainable materials like recycled polyester, Modal and Tencel. They work with organizations like Fairtrade and Fair Wear Foundation which guarantee fair working conditions all over the world. Their design identity is not as strong and trendy as Reformation but I like their timeless and modern collections. They have nice colors although I regret the absence of brighter ones. See more about Armed Angels here.
Eileen Fisher is my aesthetic goal for when I'll be older and too busy to wear colors and fun clothes haha. The aesthetic is very chic, effortless and minimalist made in beautiful materials (and a pricier tag). Apart from perfectly sustainable, organic and fair working practices, Eileen Fisher has a program to help young women find their creative voices and cultivate a philosophy of success. The brand also focuses on recycling old clothes and using them as their raw material. The company is based in Secaucus, NJ - not far from where I live now. Click here to learn more about their actions.
If you are French you know (and you love) Tara Jarmon. Well, Tara Jarmon (the founder), her sister Camille and her designer Edith left Tara (the brand) to start a new online adventure called Mirae. The concept is about launching 7 collections of 20 pieces a year for a "more tightened, more efficient dressing room". Mirae is also committing to full transparency about their fabrics, manufacturers, suppliers, sourcers and cutters. They offer natural materials like silk, cotton and wool. I think it's already really big on Instagram and among the young French crowd because of their vibrant, glamorous and easy designs.
You might be slightly aware of my passion for jelly shoes... I must have been stuck on a beach in the 90s and Melissa hasn't really helped me to come back from it haha. I was certain of the sustainability of the brand until I have read this article here.
To be short, Melissa is a Brazilian brand that makes plastic shoes and is well-known for collaborating with famous designers such as Vivienne Westwood, JP Gaultier, Zaha Hadid and Gisele Bunchen. According to the brand, sustainability and innovation are at the heart of Melissa because they recycle their industrial residues and they adopt a closed circuit approach to water use. Yet environmental groups argue that PVC (the mono-material used by the brand) is environmentally damaging because it releases toxic chemicals at every stage of the production resulting in health problems. On the other hand, Melissa claims that PVC is the most sustainable plastic available because they can entirely recycle the shoes. In conclusion, Melissa shoes are cruelty-free and recyclable but they are also made of a material that is controversial and reportedly harmful for the environment... However I have had couple pairs of Melissa and they all last a very long time (the ones I don't have anymore were given to friends) so I guess part of it is sustainable... ?
Monsieur Moustache is all about beautiful shoes designed in Paris and made in Portugal. The designer of the brand is my very dear friend Charlotte Guillou (hello Cha !) who loves pastel and glitter combined with a timeless and sporty look. M. Moustache is not considered as a sustainable brand although the company is the size of a family and they are really focusing on working with hand-selected leather and European manufacturers. If you want to look like a Frenchy, just go get your pair of derbies here.
These are two Spanish brands I feel guilty to love because they are owned by Inditex. I though first that I would not be able to feature them in this article as Inditex is well known for being the cliché of the fast-fashion industry, but they have actually made a tons of effort regarding their practice so they are quite well rated on the Fashion Transparency Index (76% score). Don't get me wrong, Inditex is NOT a sustainable company. Yet the FTI says that "they are doing more than most other brands to communicate publicly about their supply chain practices. They seem to have many robust systems in place for tracking, tracing, monitoring and improving labor and environmental practices across the supply chain". Although they have a long way to go in order to be more respectful of the environment and the work force (as well as respecting smaller brands from whom they are stealing ideas), it is still a positive step toward improvement.
Also my go-to brand when I work on commercials because of the contemporary and minimalist design, COS is part of the H&M group. On Rank a Brand, COS is rated with a C. It says that "H&M Group implements several policy measures to reduce the climate emissions of its own operations and in the supply chain. (...) The Group has signed the Detox Commitment to eliminate hazardous chemical groups from its production and received the "Avant-Garde" status from Greenpeace. The group also collaborates with several organizations such as Ethical Trading Initiative to improve the labor conditions in its supply chain. Thereby the company annually reports about the improvements and problems regarding the labour conditions as its suppliers and publishes a supplier list."
I haven't been sponsored for this article. Let me know if you find this type of post interesting and which outfit you prefer (or if you don't like any at all).
Looking for new looks and brands online is part of my work process as a costume designer / stylist.