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  • Jennifer Graham

    This is a great article. In my experience as a VERY small manufacturer of organic cotton, hemp blend and bamboo viscose blend clothing is that the little companies really care about these things and that its important to support small lines rather than large corporations. Look to the owner and see how they are living and what their beliefs are. Corporations have corporate values which are profit based.

    I had a little store in Victoria bc selling my hemp hoodies and bamboo organic cotton jersey body wear (I have since closed it to focus on design and online sales). My store was located across the street from Lululemon. My hoodies that were MADE IN CANADA out of hemp and organic cotton and had a great fit and style were about $116 CAD retail price. Lulus hoodies made in China out of God knows what were about the same price. It was such an interesting lesson in corporate branding and power watching lulu have line ups out the door some days.

    I think its really important as communities to look for an support small indie suppliers in everything we buy because those entrepreneurs that have made the efforts to put that ethical product out there for you to chose are doing society a great service! Vote with your dollars and hopefully more people will learn/care in the future. Thats where big change comes from.

    Pardon my rant. This stuff hits home. ;)

  • Ted Seely

    Nice thought, but the people making those clothes care a lot more about making money to escape the wretched poverty than cleaning up the environment. Good luck with that.
    Thrift shopping is great for those who find it cool and trendy, but how about the majority of the country who work hard to support a whole family, everyone wants to provide their kids with new clothes to wear.
    ALSO who wants vintage socks and underwear? And are yours sustainable?
    Why not seek out the companies that are beginning the small steps to enforce environmental policies and workers rights, spread the word on who they are and what they are doing, support those guys and call out specific companies that are not putting any kinds of sustainable practices in place. Do some serious digging and then you'll make an impact that people will talk about.

    • Alessandra Rizzotti

      What companies do you think are enforcing more environmental policies?

      • Ted Seely

        The point was the writer should be reporting on this - companies like target have a strict factory auditing process and enforce worker rights. Target customers make a large dent in consumerism in the US - and if we can salude thier efforts and push harder for more environmental concerns as well.

        Inditex parent of Zara has begun the process after being called out by greenpeace and pledged to detoxify by 2020. with a plan they published online.

        • Harmony Spencer

          Thank you for commenting. However, I disagree with the statement that thrift shops are only for the "cool and trendy," and think that, in fact, struggling families benefit from buying second hand significantly. Growing up, my mom bought almost all my and my siblings clothes from thrift stores. As a single mother, she couldn't afford to buy new clothes every time we grew out of our clothes (and when we did grow out of them, we'd donate them back to the thrift shop). Through this, I learned at a young age the importance of reuse, and giving back to your community--lessons that have stuck with me to this day. As far as your other comment goes, the focus of my article was to highlight the reasons the fashion industry is embracing sustainability--not call out or focus on specific corporations. I hope that clears up any confusion.

          • Jennifer Graham

            I love the thrift shop. I always look there first when I need something for me or my family.

        • Alessandra Rizzotti

          I think that hearing from you encourages discussion though. I know that Walmart is also greening its act by cutting down on packaging materials too. Her article though is more of a focus on why more companies should green their act- versus what companies are greening their act. Perhaps that will be her next post. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • ListenGirlfriends!

    Hi there! Thanks for writing this. I wanted to share my interviews with Marci Zaroff, who is a trailblazer in the sustainable fashion movement. My interviews with her are part of my ongoing series on ethical fashion. Here are the posts:

    1) Ethical fashion: Intro to a series: http://listengirlfriends.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/ethical-fashion-introduction-to-an-ongoing-series/

    2) Are our clothes toxic?: http://listengirlfriends.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/are-our-clothes-toxic-marci-zaroff-eco-fashion-trailblazer-weighs-in/

    3) The human impact of the Fashion Industry, organic and fair trade: http://listengirlfriends.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/the-human-impact-of-the-textile-industry-pesticide-poisoning-farmer-suicides-and-how-organic-and-fair-trade-can-help/

    5) Ethical Fashion: How to navigate the Industry: http://listengirlfriends.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/ethical-fashion-how-to-navigate-the-industry/

    Thanks again for your piece! I will be writing several more posts over the next few weeks so hope you can follow! -Nadia :)

  • Rachel Biel

    I run a handmade textile org, www.tafalist.com, and am inspired by how so many of our members consciously address these issues in their work. Most of our members are studio artists, but then we also have fair traders, small importers and other orgs. A couple of the stick out in my mind as examples of people who are creating change in the industry:

    Harmony Art: http://www.tafalist.com/members/harmony-art
    Harmony designs and manufactures organic cotton fabric. She actively engages and educates around the topic.

    Darn Good Yarn:
    Nicole Mikkelsen-Snow works with groups in Nepal who upcycle discarded fabrics and other materials and make fun yarns out of them. Old saris and newspaper are two examples.

    We have many artists who use found materials or upcycle used clothing into their work. Then, there are quite a few who do amazing work with eco-dyeing, using native plants to mark their fabric.

    The textile industry has always had a two-pronged influence on the world. It's history is shadowed in slavery, piracy, elitism and abuse on the one hand and then beauty, symbolism, and collective growth on the other. I think we are in a fascinating juncture now as new partnerships are springing up all over the world, incorporating indigenous techniques into high fashion, looking for sustainable solutions, exploring new materials, etc. The key will be to make these things affordable and accessible to consumers, along with educating towards quality over quantity.

  • Evan Coller

    Thanks for the article! Also timely considering the recent tragedies in Bangladesh. If anyone is interested in supporting a fair trade, organic fashion company that is introducing a new technology to help make the fashion industry more transparent, check out Indigenous Designs: http://igg.me/at/tracetool/x/4817348.

    • Jennifer Graham

      Oh Evan! I wish I would have seen this sooner! I would have totally backed that!! Hope your still going ahead. Sounds so cool!

    • Harmony Spencer

      cool idea... I hope it gets the funding it needs to move forward. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jeff Nelder

    I appreciate the tone of the article- it's productive. Us vs. them can drive solutions, but it's never as powerful as 'we'. Today we also have the opportunity to share purpose with the brands we support by letting them know what's important: both to the environment and to us, individually and collectively.

    • Harmony Spencer

      I completely agree! Thanks for commenting.

  • Shannon Johnson

    A great example of changing the textile world is Cotton of the Carolinas where they contract cotton growers and manage the whole process of garmet making within NC. They greatly lessen the impact on the environment while employing american workers to make their product. They have recently introduced farmers to growing organic cotton again - hasn't happened in over 100 years in NC. Their t-shirts and denim are superior in quality and made with integrity. True Mavericks! http://www.cottonofthecarolinas.com/

    • Harmony Spencer

      Thank you! Those posts are interesting, a lot of good info.

  • Gisela Hausmann Author

    This is a fabulous article. I have been shopping at thrift stores for a long time. Quite often I find excellent quality items, sometimes of better quality than the typically boutique carries. Also, lately I see small containers in parking lots of supermarkets , which collect old clothing fabric etc. I am not sure what happens with all that stuff but having worked in the construction industry I know what happens to jeans fabric: "Cotton: From Blue to Green" http://www.nrdc.org/business/design/denim.asp, which I think is really cool.

    • Harmony Spencer

      I had no clue that the jeans-to-insulation recycling was going on--I really like the idea. Neat!

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    I always shop vintage. I feel like the clothes are a lot more unique anyways. But as for buying fair trade- do you know of any affordable shops or stores? I really unfortunately can only afford cheaper stuff from Target or H&M- and I'd like to support local designers, but I find that everything is way over my budget.