Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Clothing Swaps

Today on Treehugger, they did a post on big swaps being all the rage in England. Which is interesting because I was recently kicking myself for missing a large swap here in S.F. The event was organized by held at the S.F. women's center. The remaining cloths benefited Dress for Success and La Casa De La Madres (an anti-domestic violence organization). Clothing Swap is having other events across the nation this fall, check their site for more info.

Another great swap is organized by Swap-o-rama with a swap coming up in Seattle this June, check the site.

The best nationwide resource is Meet Up. So clean out that closet and update your wardrobe for free and sustainably!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Calleen Cordero Handmade Shoes

In the tradition of old-world craftsmanship, Calleen Cordero's handmade shoes look and feel like heirlooms, not trendy disposable fashion. Handmade in her Hollywood studio, Cordero's shoes seem personal and friendly. They look handmade, which to me, is part of their charm. She uses wooden souls and personally designed leathers to complete a line that is both trendy and timeless.

.A. Small Carbon Foot Print (made in the USA)
.A. Fair Trade (no sweatshops)
.C. Sustainable (somewhat... natural materials but no mention of vegetable tanning)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Etsy: Machine Stops

Ok, I'm turning to Etsy for a quick dose of sustainable magic. A lot of people love Etsy, of course, it's the web at it's best. It's also a great place to stock up on one-of-a-kinds while also supporting small one-person operations. I love helping people quit their 9-5 to pursue their art!

So here's a couple cute handmade pieces by Machine Stops. She says "I am akin to the idea of making/wearing one of a kind things as a method for liberating oneself from the machineries which often dominate independent thought." And her cloths are liberating.

The button belt is a sweet idea with some unique logage on the back, check her store for more. Machine Stops is from Hawaii, which means the shipping will add some points to your carbon footprint (especially if you're on the east coast) but she ships via USPS which means there's fewer points on your print than if she used UPS (because the postman comes to your house every day but UPS only comes for special delivery). Machine Stops also uses recycled fabrics and vintage wares, so that'll offset the footprint a bit too ;-p

.A. Small Carbon Foot Print (made in the USA)
.A. Fair Trade (no sweatshops)
.B+. Sustainable (uses some recycled fabrics)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Avita Style

recycled cashmere Avita fall 07

Avita's fall 2007 line continues the label's sustainable mission with recycled cashmere, organic cotton and bamboo materials. Avita cloths are sassy, sexy and so comfy.

Avita designer Amanda Shi launched the line with sustainability in mind. Recycled cashmere doesn't mean used cashmere, it's simply discarded materials used by other manufacturers, the excess pieces that are usually thrown away. Her progressive designs coupled with this environmental and resourceful business practice have made Avita a success. The LA based line recently opened Avita Co-Op in West Hollywood where she sells environmentally friendly merchandise that embodies Avita's philosophy including non-leather shoes by Mink, Sophie Simone jewelry and re-worked vintage bags by De La Luna Designs.

.A. Sustainable (recycled and renewable materials)
.D. Carbon Footprint (manufactured in China)

100% bamboo Avita Summer 07

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Their YouTube videos make crafts hella cool! I've just discovered this DIY website so stay tuned for more about them. Learn how to screen print, refashion old shoes and just have fun recycling stuff. This video is a quick look at Maker Fair.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lucure Photoshoot with SRO

Summer Ryane Oaks... a muse for the movement and for photographers like me! She was an inspiration for me to start econista and to bring sustainable cloths into my photoshoots. Here's a fun (and hot!) video of her photoshoot for Lucire. Check out SRO's sustainablility lectures on YouTube.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Got Bamboo?

I am in love with bamboo jersey. How it feels, it's strength and it's drape. It feels sexy but real. I found some more interesting factoids about bamboo that I wanted to share along with one of many cute dresses by Sworn Virgins made from, what else, bamboo!

Strong: Bamboo is a strong wood with a tensile strength of 28,000 per square inch versus 23,000 for steel. No smelting required.

Rebar: Yes, it's even used as rebar to reinforce concrete beams. Random, but cool.

Anti-erosion: When planted in deforested areas, along river banks and in earthquake zones, bamboo has proven to reduce erosion, water run-off and flooding considerably.

Medicine: powder treatment for asthma and coughs. The roots treat kidney disease. It's sap reduces fever and it's ash will cure prickly heat. Keep some in your pocket.

Food: more bamboo shoots please! It's pulverized bark is a natural food preservative. Taiwan alone consumes 80,000 tons of bamboo shoots per year (... hold the shoots please).


The nutty-crunchy roots of sustainable fashion are nothing to be ashamed of. Sure, we'd all love it if anything we bought from say D&G or DKNY was sustainable, but that's not going to happen any time soon. We can keep salivating over the few highly fashionable - and sold out - pieces by the most avante guard sustainable designers, or we can take a good look at some of the basics and see them with fresh eyes.

Sweetgrass is a great example. As I crawl the web looking for fresh sustainable fashion, I keep coming across the organic-yoga-pant type designers. Yeah, love your philosophy and dedication but yawn. Then I saw these hemp pieces by Sweetgrass with some wonderful touches that are clean and modern which made me realize that the movement is an evolution on both sides of the spectrum. High fashion toward sustainablility and sustainability toward high fashion. Which brings me back to the market where demand can encourage design. Once fashionistas become econistas, there will be more and more sustainable style to choose from.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

KellyB Couture

What is there not to love about KellyB's sustainable collection? Take a look at her organic cotton and linen blend jacket and vest, they're sophisticated for work but fun when worn with jeans. Or this sexy bamboo jersey dress and cross over top that look great on the beach or at the club.

Kelly graduated from California College for the Arts in San Francisco where upon graduation, she began a two year career as a production manager and designer for a supplier of organic cotton garments and fabric. Although Kelly's consciousness is a large contributing factor in the creation of her all organic cotton line, her primary motivation is to create fashionable clothing. And she succeeds at doing just that. Her cloths satisfy so many things that Econistas are looking for, design that makes a bold statement about both style and a future that is sustainable. Keep up the great work Kelly B.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Spotlight on Ingeo

Ingeo, the biodegradable man-made fabric that is made from renewable materials, is becoming more and more popular. Let's check out some of the designers who have been using it since 2005.


Nature vs Future
Elisa Jimenez

Linda Loudermilk of course.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I stopped using Bare Minerals

This spring 3 friends of mine were diagnosed with cancer. They’re all women, mid thirties to early forties. The news of these illnesses all came within a month and it felt like the sky was falling. I started blaming everything, cleansers, carpeting with it’s fire retardants.. everything.

About a month ago, I noticed that I had started feeling tight in my chest, like asthma or something. I had written it off as spring time allergies or the cat’s dander, but considering the issues my friends were facing, I thought I’d pay more attention and focus on when I felt the sensation the most. After a couple of weeks, I was able to link the feeling to when I wear my foundation.

For two years, I’ve been wearing Bare Minerals, “all natural” loose powder foundation and I have been very pleased with how I look and how my skin has responded… that is until now. I started holding my breath when I apply it and it definitely reduced the feeling in my lungs. So I’ve stopped wearing it and now I’m on the hunt for a new foundation (I have acne so I need coverage and it’ can’t make it worse).

I did a bit of research and found some articles about Titanium Dioxide, when inhaled in mineral and other powder based makeups it damages lung tissue and puts the user at risk of lung cancer. Yikes! I hope I’m OK. The first ingredient of Bare Minerals is Titanium Dioxide and I find it hard to believe that they aren’t aware of this research. But when used in a cream form Titanium Dioxide is not dangerous because it is a naturally occurring mineral, it’s only when it’s inhaled that it becomes a cancer risk (which makes sense since my sensitive skin didn’t have problems with it, it was my lugs breathing it in!).

I’m trying a few all natural alternatives and I’ll post results as I draw my conclusions. Dr.Hauschka products and Logona are both German and are BDIH certified all natural. Europe has strict rules about what can be called “all natural” while the US allows loose interpretations of this labeling (more posts on the rules will come). Meanwhile Lavera products, also BDIH certified, are also vegan and organic. Neither use any of the preservatives and petroleum based ingredients that have been linked to cancer and can be found in most mainstream beauty products.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Seattle based metalsmith Kim Williamson of dottyspeck crafts whimsical pieces that are lovingly handmade of sterling silver (can't you just feel the love?). Their graphic qualities are modern with a touch of childlike wonder. For girls who like a bit of playful cuteness but still want to be sophisticated, dottyspeck is the perfect choice. For places to buy, check out

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Discarded to Divine

This weekend in San Francisco, fashion students gathered for a fun runway show "
Discarded to Divine" down on the Embarcadero. The theme for the show was cloths made out of cloths... designers had to use only donated and unusable clothing making completely recycled pieces. Designers came through with some fantastic work, like the black and white dress (above) designed by Eva Garcia from the California College of the Arts. Who would have guessed that this bold piece is made entirly out of mens pants?

The clothing was auctioned off and proceeds went to
St. Vincent de Paul Society which gives free clothing and food to low-income and homeless people in San Francisco. From the quality of the work produced by these students, it looks like a successful fund raiser.

This wonderful piece was designed by FIDM student Steven Allen Neff who constructed it out of six pairs of jeans. It was the hottest item at the event and auctioned off for $400.. now that's quite a few hot meals!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I'm Not A Plastic Bag - USA

Anya Hindmarch is the British “queen of bagland” with over 30 stores world-wide selling her gorgeous bags but last April, it wasn’t her leather bags that caused people to line up at 2am, it was an unbleached cotton $6 bag: “I Am Not A Plastic Bag.” It was all the rage in the UK and the limited edition run quickly sold out.

Now, this June, she's releasing the US version of I'm Not A Plastic Bag around the US. These bags will be in navy blue and you can register at her website to find out when and where you can line up at 2am to get yours. Some customers want the bag because it’s a cheap Anya Hindmarch, but I’m sure others like me want to support a green project from an otherwise non-green designer.

That’s not to say that Anya Hindmarch doesn’t care about the issues, in 2001 she launched a charity project “Be a Bag” which allowed customers to have their own photos printed onto a bag and proceeds went to more than 20 charities around the world.

This latest project “I'm Not A Plastic Bag” addresses a few issues too. Besides making a statement about plastic bags, Anya also addressed labor issues by making sure the factory in China was a reputable supplier who’s workers are paid double minimum wage and that complies with all aspects of Chinese Labor Law (what ever those are… perhaps a future post). “The factory also retains external consultants to monitor it from an international standards standpoint” (what ever that means).

Anya admits that the most environmental thing about the bag is that it’s unbleached and it replaces plastic bags (as long as people use them). She admits that she didn’t use organic or fair trade cotton. But she shipped the bags by sea and carbon offset the production and freight through the purchase of carbon credits. Which to me demonstrates that she understands the issues.

Thinking like an Econista:
This is a great example of a mainstream brand starting to make changes. It also exposes an interesting dynamic in branding: when mainstream brands go green, they must address all of the issues in question. Because how they respond to the issues begins to redefine the brand. This is due mostly to the fact that these green products are being sold to a different audience than their traditional products – they’re being sold to Econistas! These consumers are educated about the issues and therefore the brands need to address the issues with more than just marketing (or, like Anya, admiting failures). It’s the wonderful free markets in action and proves that an Econista can change fashion.

For a laugh, check out this by Marrisa V. lol.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

People Tree - Limited Edition

One of the most active organizations in the sustainable fashion scene is People Tree out of the UK. They work with 50 fair trade groups in developing countries providing jobs and fair wages to some of the most marginalized communities in the world. They’re dedicated to respecting people and the planet.

For the June 2007 issue of Japanese Vogue, People Tree has collaborated with international fashion designers Thakoon, Richard Nicoll, Bora Aksu and Foundation Addict to make these gorgeous pieces from organic cotton and recycled fabrics. These are a limited edition (100 pieces) so if you want one get yours now here. Profits go to supporting and expanding People Tree’s good works.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wildlife Works

Ok, does this organization do anything objectionable? Are they hiring? Wildlife Works is a S.F. based company that's approach is "Consumer Powered Conservationsm". Their consumer brand stands for wildlife conservation by promising that their proceeds go to saving endangered wildlife around the world, promoting fair trade and creating jobs.

When you buy something from Wildlife Works, you are helping them create sanctuaries like the one they made in Kenya, Africa. An 80,000-acre Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary, where elephants, cheetahs and 45 other large mammal species now roam freely. To go even further, Wildlife Works built an eco-friendly factory nearby where they employ members of the community to create some of their products.

Many of their products are made from organic materials because they are committed to keeping drinking holes clean for all species. They use recycled materials, run their operations under fair trade rules and donate proceeds to causes. Wow!

Thinking like an Econista:
I've been wondering for a long time about the true value of a dollar. Because to us in the US, a dollar isn't worth much, but elsewhere, it's worth a whole day's earnings. So what is it's true value? I guess Einstein knew the answer: it's relative... sort of. If I buy a shirt from a company like Wildlife Works, they can use that money to do so much... as if the one dollar is worth ten dollars. But then, if I spend the same amount with a mainstream brand, it just gets absorbed into a bank account somewhere. Why can't they do something meaningful with it?

I think the answer is that the dollar is worth what you want it to be worth. Wildlife Works wants to use the dollar to benefit a lot of causes, conservation, organic farming, recycling and fair trade. This is their intent, so the dollar works toward making their intent into reality. If a company's intent is to make a profit or wealth, well then, the dollar will work toward making that a reality. With this in mind I, as a consumer, intend for my dollar to be worth more than a cup of coffee, I want it to support families, animals and land. I want my dollar to effect the future as we know it, not the future of a few individuals. So, to make this intention a reality, I need to ask where the money is going, how is it working for my values and a company like Wildlife Works is right in line with what I care their cloths are cute!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Polyester... friend of foe?

Lookin’ groovy in polyester man! Polyester isn’t traditionally a sustainable fabric. Your grandma might love her polyester pant suit (I know mine did) and your kids may cuddle up in their fleece hoodies, but polyester isn’t doing us any favors.

Polyester, like most plastics, is essentially made from CRUDE OIL. Yes, the ancient stuff under the Arabian sands that humankind goes to war over. By reacting two petroleum extracts, terephthalic acid with ethylene glycol (commonly known as antifreeze) under very high temperatures, you get the chemical polymer used to create polyester. As this cools, it becomes like a syrup and is forced through small holes to create tiny streams which dry and solidify into the yarn that is woven into fabric. In England, this polymer was called terylene. Du Pont secured exclusive U.S. rights to the polymer in 1946, calling it polyester, with the brand name Dacron.

The same polymer can be formed into other plastics like the one used for soda bottles. Because soda bottles and polyester have the same chemical makeup, some polyesters these days are made in part or whole by recycled bottles. Maybe polyester is sustainable after all… just read the labels!

Here are a couple pieces from Patagonia’s Hempton’s line which are made from a linen-like blend of recycled polyester, hemp and organic cotton. Nice! Patagonia has a bunch of options that contain recycled polyester including their staples of Synchilla® made from 8-oz double-faced polyester fleece (85% recycled fiber) which has saved numerous lives on the top of Everest or out camping on a cold night.

Thinking like an Econista:
I keep going back to certain themes and here again, is one. Irresponsible science has gotten us into this climate crisis. Because without all these scientists and patent-holding companies, we would be using naturally occurring fibers, grown with sun and water the way humankind was living for millenia. We wouldn’t be choking on pesticides, using crude oil to cloth ourselves or be breathing in chemical waste if some guy in a lab coat didn't come up with it. So Patagonia is a great example of how we can put science to work for us to solve our problems. Maybe there’s hope for our civilization after all.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Deborah Lindquist

Mini skirts and ski sweaters, what better icons of LA winters? Deborah Lindquest is an LA designer who has dressed famous trendsetters who care about the environment. Such stars as Gwen Stefani, Carlize Theron and Paris Hilton. Her creations are a mix of recycled cashmere, repurposed kimonos and saris, vintage silk scarves, and sustainable materials such as hemp, organic cotton, and organic wool. Her aesthetic is flirty with corset bodices and flounced skirts being eternally feminine. But then she'll add a strong graphic element from a tiki influence, a fleur de lys, skull and bones or native american patterns to make a modern and at times irreverent piece.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Urban Forest Project

What comes to mind when you hear this phrase: The Urban Forest Project? Planting trees in the inner city? The creation of more green spaces in urban environments for our children to play in? Donation programs to save trees in non-urban areas? Those were my first thoughts when I saw this phrase. But that’s not the case…read on.

The Urban Forest Project was an outdoor exhibition of 185 designer’s vision of the tree, a form that, according to the project’s website, is a metaphor for sustainability. The designs were all made into massive banners and displayed throughout Times Square as a large scale public art installation that was like a graphic forest on an urban canvas. In the spirit of sustainability, all of the banners are being recycled into really cool tote bags (designed by Jack Spade) and sold to the public (for $120). The proceeds from the totes benefit graphic design scholarships and mentoring programs of AIGA to “sustain the next generation of design talent.”

So what the fuh? The name “Urban Forest Project” is a misnomer. They just used the tree to make artwork that would raise money for themselves. This project cares more about artificial representations of trees rather than actual trees. It was just an exploration of the form of the tree, an intellectual juxtaposition of a tree in the urban jungle, without any real benefit for the environment. The time for metaphors and simple alerts about the issues has past.

Thinking like an Econista:
This is a perfect example of why I started Econista. Humankind needs to look at the environment in a different way if we want to solve the climate crisis. Nature is not simply a muse that’s there to inspire art. In order to solve our problems we must make a cultural shift and those who define culture (like graphic designers) are responsible for influencing this shift.

We must make the tree MORE important than art. Or at least equal to art, 50/50 where the benefit to real trees equals the benefit to graphic design students. That would be a great start. We can no longer afford to simply let art imitate life and hope for the best. Especially when we have the capability to do more.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Mohop Shoes

Annie Mohaupt thinks outside the box. Her innovative shoes are handmade by her in a Chicago studio. Inspired by skateboards, the souls of her sandals are composed of recycled rubber soling, birch from Finland and then screen-printed with graphics designed by Annie. She uses environmentally-friendly woods, glues, sealers and inks.

But what’s most unique about her shoes is the strapping system (patent-pending) that enables the wearer to customize the look in an infinite number of ways by using ribbons tied in different configurations. Mohop sells vintage and embellished ribbons to help customize the look. So if you love sandals, you can have as many pairs as you can imagine with one pair of Mohops! Talk about the perfect resort shoe!

Mohop website...

Friday, May 4, 2007

Teens for Safe Cosmetics

The more immersed into the environmental movement I become, the more I see how surrounded by artificiality we are. Walking down the street has become a tour of plastic forms and smelly gases, a literal man-made maze. I was recently shopping and the “new” cloths smell was driving me nuts (what is that smell anyway?). Trusting my surroundings is more and more difficult… which is no way to live.

There are women out there who feel the same way. Here’s a movement out of the bay area that is working to clean up the beauty industry. In fact, members of Teens for Safe Cosmetics played a significant role in the passage of an unprecedented bill in California: The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005.

This cause is not only bonding mothers and daughters, it’s also getting the word out to young women that they don’t need to sacrifice their health for beauty. Their goals include promoting truth in advertising, labeling standards and requiring that ingredients are thoroughly tested before they are brought to shelves.

Teens for Safe Cosmetics recently held a fun rally in San Francisco’s Union Square called “Project Prom” where participants wore their prom dresses while educating the public about their cause. They educated young girls about the 6,000+ chemicals found in many beauty products. Chemicals like Cocamide Dea/Lauramide Dea which is used in cosmetics as a foaming agent. It’s found in shampoo, body wash, facial cleansers, liquid hand soap, saving products, moisturizer, hair dye, hair spray and much more. There is insufficient toxicity data to determine safety, but some of the compounds are known cancer causing carcinogens.

For decades, American’s have trusted that companies and scientists have the consumer’s interests at heart and that the government would never jeopardize the public’s health, but as we have seen over the past generation, this is not true. It is up to the consumer to protect their own health in the face of tens of thousands of man-made chemicals floating around our lives, in our homes, and in our bodies!

Elle magazine (may 07) published an article about the chemicals in our blood. As compared to European levels, American’s have astronomically more chemicals floating around inside of them. I’ve started doing the Kitty Sniff Test… Otis and Tito (my kitties) don’t mind the smell of rotting food (which man finds gross and unhealthy… eek bacteria!), but they squint and grimace when they sniff antibacterial soap, moisturizer or window cleaner. Try the Kitty Sniff Test today, it's very telling.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Panda Snack

Bamboo all the way! Panda Snack is a fresh label that takes sustainability to heart. Not only are all of their cloths made out of beautiful bamboo, they are committed to working with manufacturing partners who are environmental. On top of it, they dedicate a portion of their profits to select environmental causes, now this is a company I can wear with pride!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Armour Sans Anguish

Go NorCal! This fresh label is the love child of Tawny Holt and Julie Edwards; two crafty gals who share a love of one-of-kind clothing. Each one of a kind piece is handmade, constructed of recycled and vintage clothing without the use of sweatshops! Zero carbon footprint here. Their style is young, fresh with a west coast twist for fun in the sun. Some pieces have Victorian influences, while others have girl next door charm. Check them out.