Desperately Seeking Sustainable Style

I had to share this post on sustainable style by http://www.hautemind.com There are so many of us, searching for sustainable fashion & beautiful pieces. We should support each other! Enjoy this post 🙂

HAUTE-MIND

 “Looking back in History, we see that the origins of fashion portray the character of a world built by manual techniques and natural fibers. Design was carried out as a reflection of culture and society. These are the images of an extinct world we need to recover.”  

 Adriana Marina, Founder of Animana

Tribal Necklace copy.jpg Necklace by Gilded-Mane

Anyone with a vested interest in fashion, knows that the industry is in the midst of an existential crisis. Like the mythical dog “Cerberus,” the modern day hybrid that is currently terrorizing the fashion flock has three heads – social media, economic uncertainty, and climate change. While each cultural phenomenon has generated problems that might be considered manageable in isolation, together they create a formidable beast. Social media, which provides a real-time digital window into the inner sanctum of high-fashion, often creates unrealistic expectations. Just because a…

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My Sustainable Fashion Crush is Now Offering FREE Shipping Worldwide!!

Yeah, Baby…YEAH! Thanks to Twitter, I’ve been made aware that Shift to Nature is now offering FREE GLOBAL SHIPPING on a trail basis. As most of you know, international shipping is a real bug in my brain sometimes. So, as you can well imagine, I’m hanging from the chandeliers over this deal!

If you haven’t yet read my sustainable fashion feature on Shift to Nature, you can read it by clicking here. I love this company! 🙂

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Please check out Shift to Nature, and make sure to use the promo code M15 at check-out for 15% off and a giveaway bottle of vegan Noa Lane nail polish!

Wooohooo! I guess you know what I’ll be doing this afternoon 😉

-Mliae

Sustainable Fashion Feature: Shift to Nature

Greetings all!

As many of you know already, I have been on the hunt for friendly, fashionable, sustainable, fashion houses with great customer service which utilize sustainable business practices. And I found a great eco-fashion start-up that goes by the name of Shift to Nature, in Australia. They are awesome! Truly, super-cool and incredibly friendly and cooperative people! So much so, and I have to tell you this because it just never happens, that I was put in contact with the owner and personality of Shift to Nature and she is the one who made sure that every single one of my questions were answered, that I had all the facts, and went WAY above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that we have everything we need to make our own evaluations of the company! (and she returned all 8 million of my emails) This fact, in and of itself, really made me acquire a fashion crush on this company. I wish that more companies were able to understand the true value of incredible customer relations. As this can either make or break a sale, or a lifelong of sales, regardless of how pretty the item on the hanger is.

How I came to contact Shift to Nature

I have spent countless hours researching fashion houses. I’ve even spent loads of time searching brand names woven within massive e-commerce sites, in the search for a handful of businesses that offer fashionable sustainable clothing that I feel confident are the crème de la crème. However, even though sustainable and eco-clothing seems to be gaining in popularity, there are some boxes that need to be ticked for me to contact a company in the first place:

  • A majority of the products must be natural fabrics (I say majority because some of the businesses are doing good things by upcycling non-natural fabrics to avoid creating waste)
  • Fashionable items. I want to feel beautiful in my clothes at work, on a date and at home. I know you do too.
  • Fair trade (it doesn’t have to be registered fair trade. Using local artisans and product or helping those in need by paying fair wages IS Fair Trade…with or without the label.)
  • Sustainable business practices
  • Transparency in business practices
  • A non-market based orientation for their products. (Unfortunately, so many eco-fashion houses are mis-using the identity as more of a marketing strategy and less of a genuine concern)
  • Good customer service
  • Reasonable international shipping. (You know this is a MUST for me. I’m neurotic about shipping…not sure why.)

Shift to Nature has far exceeded my wish list.

To show you some of the 100% natural fabric women’s items I fell in lust with, I’ve created a virtual capsule wardrobe for ladies from some of Shift to Nature’s product line! Even the sunglasses are bamboo!

  1. Bamboo Wide Yoga Pants,  2. Bamboo Long Sleeve Crew Neck Shirt,  3. Merino Wool Eco Snood, 4. Aurora Black Scarf, 5. Tortoise Ethical Eyewear

1A. Black Stripe Bra and Underpants, 2A.  Long Sleeved Organic Cotton Stretch Dress in Charcoal Grey 3A. Bamboo Wrap  4A. Celestial Nightie, 5A. Bamboo House Dress

A bit about Shift to Nature

Shift to Nature does work with designers, some are smaller than others, which creates a great opportunity for new designer discovery as well as for the consumer to find an item they go ga-ga over without having to pay the usually astronomical designer price. (Hello Virtual Capsule Wardrobe…you will be MINE!)  New items from different designers are added monthly, as well as keeping with some of the continuous favourites. They do re-order stocks of the best-selling items, so if there is something you love that currently isn’t in stock, ask about it and wait whilst daydreaming. It will be back!
Product pricing is affordable compared to many of the eco-fashion stores, but it is not cheap. It is quite clear that they go to great lengths to provide fair pricing and to take into account the customers relative sticker shock when making the move to eco-clothing. They also offer very reasonable international shipping (Yay! Happy me 🙂 🙂 )

I’m doing something a bit different in this feature. I hope it works out. While I was looking over some of the answers to my questions I received, I wasn’t exactly sure how to put it into narrative. You see, my problem was this: The answers just ooze personality. If I were to reformat that into my words it would….lose something. I think that the personality is so important to a brand, especially when it is the owner speaking and you can hear the passion and excitement in your mind while reading. I don’t want to take that away because it is so important! So for the first time ever, I am leaving it in Question (me)/Answer (Shift to Nature) format.

Q – Does Shift to Nature work with any designers?

A – Shift to Nature is a really large collaboration with designers and brands for their own products as well as new in-house Shift Collaboration such as Faite, Noa Lane Nail Polish and Lily & Leo organic cotton kids range coming soon! Designers with their own brands are featured such as Alas the label with Sleepwear, Eleven44 hot yoga wear and more. All of the designers work on a small scale and have chosen to make the shift to eco fabrics. While this has been in no way limiting their designs, as each designer brings the wearability and softness of eco fabrics into a contemporary colour, lines, prints and fits. Our “in-house” designers are actually wonderful collaborations with notable freelancer designers around the world. Aude in France, Tess in Perth, Project Change collaboration in Cambodia, eco designers in Sydney. For me this promotes alternate economies for people. Lovely and creative women, often mothers can work at home, managing their own time and also having fun with the process. It’s one of my favourite parts of the Shift to nature process – there is now a community of very talented creatives around it – including Bloggers 😉

Q – I see that you also include Lenzig Tencel, any thoughts as to eventually incorporating Cupro into your catalogue?

A – Yes I would love to include Cupro which is a regenerated cellulose fiber derived from cotton linter (the ultrafine, silky fibers that stick to the seeds of the cotton plant after it’s been ginned) creating a silk like cotton fabric. However as this is a new fabric it is still very expensive to make it into reasonably priced eco garments. I noticed that high end designers such as Donna Karen are using it. This raises the question of cost in the fashion industry – hopefully as the new eco fabrics are developed and become widely available a drop in their prices can make them available to smaller designers who can find the balance between eco and acceptable purchase prices for the consumer. There is a tension here. While customers move toward ethical and eco purchases there is difficulty often to justify the higher prices. The higher prices are ethical and related to the real transparent cost of eco fabrics, fair wages and ethical business. However due to fast fashion companies producing incredibly cheap and plastic clothes, consumers are now used to purchasing leggings for $5. This makes the shift to eco very difficult, unfortunately. For designers and makers we are limited to reasonably priced organic cotton, bamboo, lenzig tencel and other such more available fabrics to keep the costs reasonable.

Q – Approximately how many farmers, artisans, etc can you say that your Fair Trade practices help worldwide?
A – Goodness, that is very difficult to say. It takes a lot of minds, hands and hearts to make quality products. Possibly 100’s of families are helped through the activities of Shift to Nature designers and makers. This is probably unique as Shift is a collective with people making lovely items across the world – from Estonia, Bali, Germany, India, Cambodia, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Peru – rather than having a limited place of making. As we search for newly unique items everyday we find some wonderful items – and manage it all online, so as carbon neutral as possible in terms of business operation. And we are not limited to English – we love to stretch ourselves and make connections really finding the most unique products.

Q – Do your sustainable practices extend to logistics as well?

A – Yes so for items that come to us as stock, we use sea freight if international. For packaging and posting to our customers we use Australia Post who have good quality assurance and standards. We also believe in public shared economy – so it is important to utilise the international postal systems in each country – keeping them alive and serving all. Based in Adelaide Australia, we have recycle policies of our local council. We remove as much plastic wrapping as we can and then hand wrap the items with recycled tissue paper. We then recycle or reuse as much as we possibly can.

Q – Is there transparency in Shift to Nature’s business practices?

A – Yes there is as much as possible. We will be applying for B-Corp status such that, this certification will require reports. However we are a startup and so I am partly still self-funding the business. We do not make a profit because all of the funds go back toward research and development of new designs and eco products. We are hoping that this will carry us into the future. Our business aims is to create a self-sustainable business – meaning that it can survive as a business stand alone, without additional investment, and that its income is reinvested back into itself to create better products. We spend much much more on R&D than on marketing, for example.

Q – Any new product lines we can look forward to?

A – 🙂 Big smile – yes! Without giving everything away, we think eco and fair products should start with kids. Kids have a big sense of fairness and care and childhood is where a sense of wonder and concern for the planet is sometimes at its strongest. They also want fun and comfortable clothes. Lily & Leo is just around the corner – but no peaking!

Here are some of the items for Home, Kids and Men available:

1B. Luxury Organic Cotton Sheets  2B. Bells Beach Turkish Style Cotton Towels 3B. Men’s Tailored Hemp Linen Shorts 4B. Dino Quilt Cover Set

And this is where it gets even better! 😀

Shift to Nature has very generously offered us a 15% off discount promo code (M15) AND is giving away a bottle of Noa Lane vegan nail polish* with purchase (remember promo code: M15)! *While supplies last, colours may vary.

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A bit about Noa Lane:

Q – I would love to share more about the Noa Lane Vegan Nail polish that you have so generously offered as a bonus to our readers! What makes it vegan?
A – This is so exciting! People often say: ‘but nail polish has no animal products’ but it actually does. Regular nail polish does, in fact, contain fish Scales (usually from Herring) that creates the Sparkle. The iridescent qualities of the scales make them “ideal” for grinding up into glitter. Noa Lane Nail Lacquer does not contain any Fish Scales. The sparkle comes from mineral Micas! Naturally forming mica flakes are from Muscovite mineral rocks which are refined and for safe cosmetic use, the result combined with colour gives the beautiful Opalescent finish. When used in nail polish suspension base the Mica powders distribute freely and evenly leaving a uniform colour saturation. The shine and shimmer of the mica compliments glitter polishes and unlike powder pigments micas do not clump or cause streaking in nail polish. Noa Lane Nail Lacquer also Does Not contain these animal by-products commonly found in regular nail polish: stearic acid, glycerol and cochineal, or crushed bugs. Items from the Noa Lane Mineral Cosmetics range are Vegan and Not Tested on Animals. They are free of Five particularly nasty chemicals including formaldehyde which has been linked to cancer by national research bodies. Noa Lane Mineral Cosmetics is made in Australia with ingredients comply with International standards.

It has truly been a pleasure to work in conjunction with Shift to Nature in order to write this feature on sustainable fashion! They have gained a lifelong customer here and I know that your experience, should you so choose to check out the company, will be as awesome as mine has been!

Thank you so much for reading! And please remember, if you find yourself on the Shift to Nature website  use promo code: M15 at checkout for a 15% discount and a complimentary bottle of Noa Lane vegan nail polish! (*While supplies last, nail colours may vary).

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-Mliae

Capsule Wardrobe Survival: 8 Ideas to make your black dress work overtime for casual, office and evening!

Hello ladies 🙂 This post is for all my comrades in the eco-fashion, capsule wardrobe journey. As well as those who, like myself, are wiling to invest in an item of clothing that can do triple-time, even if there isn’t exactly available funds for a luxury purchase. (Thus creating the necessity to make your few items work well for you in multiple social circumstances).

Today, I bit the bullet and purchased this dress. (Ok, it was actually a joy, not a chore.) Although I do have a Vince Camuto LBD that I purchased years ago and still get quite a bit of wear out of, its short, low-cut and sleeveless. It’s winter now. I just…can’t. Something about snow, wind and a mini skirt just doesn’t calculate well. I haven’t had a basic black dress for winter in many years. However, I thought long and hard about how I could make this purchase worth my while with the items I currently have available for my winter capsule wardrobe.

As most of you know, I have made myself a promise that I would not buy fast fashion (Which unfortunately, also means affordable for someone with a next to nothing budget) and that I buy only natural fabrics. I went on a long search and found this dress. 95% cotton and 5% elastin. (I prefer zero elastin, but hey, sometimes it’s just there. Like, good luck finding a pair of jeans with no elastin. Am I right?) Then I kept it bookmarked for a few weeks while I weighed the options. Today, I checked out 😉

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The following are the ways I will turn this basic black into a Capsule Wardrobe essential that will work overtime for a variety of occasions!

  • Firstly, you can just wear it like it is with a pair of black flats.

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  • Dress it up for a semi-formal evening  or a hot date, with a glamorous necklace and sexy heels (rose gold, in my case)
  • Accessorize a great look for the office with a big cozy scarf, a light necklace, and thick heeled ankle boots
  • Go boho with a loose cozy poncho and thick heeled ankle boots or wedges
  • For an easy to achieve highly sophisticated look, pair the dress with a brown leather obi belt and brown and black heels
  • For a super casual day, throw on those converse and a denim jacket! (I’m so glad wearing sneakers with dresses is fashionable now!)
  • For another business look, pair with a cashmere cardi, a skinny belt and highly sculpted suede ankle heels
  • If it’s really cold and you just want to be warm, cozy and look super cute; Throw on your favourite boyfriend sweater over top of it and pair with boots or sneakers.

It’s all about accessorizing, ladies! It’s amazing how versatile this one item can be when using items you probably already own to make it go from casual to office to a night out!

What are some of your must-have capsule wardrobe staples?

-Mliae

*Please note: These photos have been taken from pinterest, google and my own items. There are no shopping links contained within.

Does my choice to wear natural fabrics, really dictate my fashion options?

…Sometimes, it really seems that way.

I am frustrated. I spent a large portion of my day doing some Christmas shopping online. Take, Zalando, for example. A website that is full of designer labels, clothing and accessories for the entire family. I scrolled and scrolled through for hours today. Literally, hours. Every time I found something that was stylish and somewhat affordable, it was a poly or acrylic blend. It is so frustrating.

Luckily, those I’m shopping for aren’t as picky about fabrics as I am. Though I would love to be able to get them some nice, soft, pretty items made from natural fabrics. I am starting to presume that this is a luxury wishlist, as it is just so difficult to find anything other than Tee shirts, the occasional college shirt or long sleeve Tee or cotton blend sweaters. I found 1…yes, ONE full cotton dress on the entire site. What is the deal?! I mean, I just don’t understand it. I would LOVE to be able to buy a silk maxi-dress for less than 1,000 ($/€) or wool pants for less than 500. Why is it, the fabrics that are most sustainable and take the least amount of processing, are also used the least and cost the most? Does anyone understand the logic in this?

How did we get here? How do we get the fashion industry’s attention to let them know that we don’t need a closet full of artificial, inexpensively made clothes that will be out of style in 6 months…that we need quality craftsmanship, natural fabrics and beautiful classic, versatile designs that will last years?! THIS I am willing to pay good money for, even save if I have to. Of course! What woman wouldn’t invest in her appearance if she knew she looked fabulous and that she could get her money’s worth out of her garment?!

I am amazed that I am able to find more natural fabrics and nice designs on amazon, than I am on Zalando. I never thought it would be this challenging to go ‘rogue’ when I made a deal with myself that I would only buy natural or sustainable clothing, at least for the year, to start.

Anybody else having this experience?

-Mliae

A Word About Sustainable Fashion

Good day, everyone 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

Today I’d like to discuss a topic which is becoming more and more of a priority for not only myself, but also for many fashion forward men and women. The words of the day are ‘sustainable’, ‘eco’, ‘fair trade’, ‘organic’ and ‘natural fibers’. The reason I would like to talk with you about it is because I am seriously considering launching yet another experiment here on lifexperiment blog.

As most of you already well know, I am a huge proponent of natural fabrics. There are several reasons for this, some are as follows:

  • Studies have shown that linen is the most hygienic fabric for sheets, and that bamboo is naturally antibacterial
  • Chemical processing. Fabrics like polyester, rayon and acrylic are treated with various acids and chemical processes. What’s the use in leading a healthy lifestyle if you are absorbing these chemicals through your skin? Of course, you aren’t going to get a ton of it, but some of these have been said to cause cancer and I’m thinking that 5 minutes of saved ironing, isn’t worth it.
  • It’s basically plastic. I don’t eat plastic and I don’t want to wear plastic. However, I do eat flax, so linen is ok 😉
  • Money. If I am going to invest in a gorgeous piece of clothing, I want to feel gorgeous in it! Also, if I can buy a poly dress for €5, why would I pay €300 for the same thing? This is a major bone of contention with me.
  • Natural fibers feel better. Ever notice how you always get hot in that poly blend shirt, but never in organic cotton or silk? It’s back to the plastic thing. Natural fibers breathe better. Personally, I’m in love with the way silks, linens, cotton (especially organic, for some reason), cashmere, wools and leather feel on my skin.

In searching for these beloved fabrics of mine, I have made some interesting discoveries. There are actually tons of companies that now specialize in sustainable, natural or eco-friendly clothing. And it’s not like it used to be! Remember 10 -12 years ago when basically all the sustainable clothing was only in stores that also carried candles and incense? When the first thing that came into your mind at the sound of ‘organic cotton’ was bicycle Tee’s and cargo pants? Totally not the case anymore…much to my delight! 🙂 Some of the online shops I found actually had some really fabulous business wear, daily wear and I even saw a few wedding dresses! Now here’s the rub: Although most places are very upfront about which branch of eco, sustainable, organic they are on – sometimes, you just have to find what you like, click and hope the fabrics are what you’re looking for. Here are some of the differences I’ve noticed:

  • Fair Trade: This usually refers to locally or regionally sources fibre, and it also refers to the labor. Fair Trade labor is always better because you don’t have to worry about sweatshops, under payment or child labor. Fair Trade is awesome 🙂
  • Sustainable: This can represent a multitude. But the main meaning behind it is that either the fabrics, production methods or business are done in such a way to drastically reduce waste, pollution and over-use of resources. For example: I have found several companies which use recycled bottles, recycled polyester or recycled cotton and cashmere to make their clothing items. Some of them are really cool too 🙂 This drastically reduces waste as the fabric contents are recycled, so no new production there (apart from the recycling process, of course). Also, another example, is companies who do not make the item until it is ordered, in order to reduce the waste of over-production. Sustainable is good 🙂
  • Eco: Eco is kind of ‘all-encompassing’. It can mean using recycled material, fair trade, organics, or not using the harsh chemical component to some of their textiles. Eco is good, but can be confusing.
  • Organic: No pesticides used on the crops (including silk, because the silk worms can eat natural – non chemical filled – whatever silk worms eat. Leaves?) which go into your natural fabrics. If it’s organic, it’s natural. This is great, and might explain why organic cotton feels so much fluffier than regular cotton. (I don’t know, I’m still trying to figure out why that is…)
  • Natural fibers: Yeah, Ba-by – Now you have my full attention! Linen, silk, cotton, hemp, soy, mohair, rabbit hair (I actually found a place that combs and shears their own rabbits to make rabbit hair products – with no harm to the bunnies!), bamboo, leather, wool, cashmere. Love this. When I find a place with great natural fiber clothing – as a general product line, not a diamond floating in a sea of acrylic sweaters – I will be a customer for life.

What I’m proposing is this: Since I’m already on a constant search for natural fiber, eco friendly and sustainable clothing anyway on my own time, what if I just share the experience with you? Let you know when I find a company I like and what their specialization’s are, or share when I find an outfit or two that I totally fall in love with. Or rant when I get totally feed-up and frustrated with the search. What do you think?

Since it is our time that I am taking, I would really like to hear your thoughts and feedback. Would you be interested in continuing the search with me for highly fashionable, natural fiber, eco-friendly and sustainable clothing?

Thanks for reading and taking part! I’m really looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

-Mliae