April 11, 2007

These aren't your mama's clogs!

So last week it seemed that I got in the thick of things over here at Sew Green. It was pollution-soaked jean extravaganza. Not that I’m opposed, really I’m not, but what the post really did seem to provoke was a whole lot of comments and a lot of email from people asking me the question that seemed a natural follow-up:

“Can you recommend a place to get these non-pesticide riddled clothing oh fabulous eco-fashionista?”

Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite like that. The important thing here is that you, the readers of sew green, need clothes that aren’t as harmful to the world. I can give you that information that you so justly deserve. So here for your pleasure is a list of places where you can buy organic/sustainable clothing, companies that make organic/sustainable clothing, and information for those of you who really don’t want to consume more out there but want to try your own hand at fashion.

The DIY set:

Since this is a blog that is also centering on consumerism I thought that I would start off with the DIY (or “D”o “I”t “Y”ourself) information first. If you don’t have clothing that you can refashion already then what you want to do is get thee to a Salvation Army (or goodwill etc)! Why I say these sorts of places rather than one of your cooler thrift locals? Because the cooler thrift stores are already selling “fashion.” If you’re going to cut up a suit jacket and make a corset top then you don’t need to fork over $60 for that 60s suit jacket. Trust me on this one. Do you and your wallet a favor.

So you have your jacket. Now what? Here is a VERY small list of some of the places I know about where you can make magic happen. Check it:

Live in San Francisco Area? Don’t have a sewing machine or know what the hell to do? Stitch Lounge is the place for you. Run by “Two Melissas and a Hope” this great place not only teaches you basics but provides all the machines for you to do what you need to do! Serger? Check. Straight stitch machine? Check. Work tables, dress forms, notions and much more. Take a refashioning class if you don’t know where to begin or just go to their open studio times and have at it.

Live in NYC? Want to be craft? Step out to the Make Workshop! They have everything a guy/girl to need to craft up a wardrobe! Classes, supplies and so much more… all in the heart of Manhattan! Bring a t-shirt to turn into a ball gown or a suit jacket to make into a mini-skirt. This is the place in the NY area to make it happen.

Attention Austin peeps! First Samples is the place for you! Just like everyone else listed here they have a little something for the girl/guy who craves their own wardrobe their own way.

Love it but don’t feel like leaving your home? Then try some of these great books from the library!

“Sew U: The Built-by-Wendy Guide to Sewing Your Own Wardrobe” This is a book by NYC fashion darling Built-by-Wendy. On the whole I’m not a fan of her stuff BUT this book is great. You get three basic patterns and a whole lot of information. Great for intermediate sewers for sure.

“Generation T – 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt” This book always seems to find new readers. They literally give you a 108 ways to make a T-shirt interesting and new. The bonus? Try taking these techniques and ideas into FITTED shirts. Then you start cooking with gas!

“Sew Subversive” By the aforementioned Stitch Lounge girls. The book is for beginners. There are some projects that can perk your brain into different directions but if you are into sewing and refashioning this might bore you.

Need support? There are PLENTY of people out there (like our dear Nikki) who are there for you:

Wardrobe Refashioning


Ok, so this is the part that I talk about some of my favorite manufacturer’s of sustainable and organic clothing. Again, this is just some of the places and people with whom I have given my hard earned greenbacks for their amazing goods. Yes these products are more expensive than their “conventional” brothers/sisters but I would rather refashion 500 t-shirts so I can save and by a top by one of these great designers.

Del Forte Denim (of course I’d start here!): Premium organic jeans for women. $125-$190 I wouldn’t be lying to say that these jeans are just the greatest. From shorts to skirts to jeans Del Forte has got it all. Made from seed to jean entirely in the USA – a rarity even in the premium denim marketplace.

Loomstate Denim: Premium organic jeans for men and women $125-$150 Indonesian Organic Cotton made in the USA. Their men’s jeans are where it’s at for sure. The jeans they make for women are really ill-fitting to say the least. Plus 90% of them are the (what I like to call) “Britney Spears” rise (aka 6”.) Ew. For men’s jeans though they can’t be beat for cut and wearability.

AC Clothing & Bags: Women's clothing $50-$200 Oakland, CA Amy Cools is cooler than ice. Her clothes are all hand made in her studio in Oakland's Temescal district. Made of recycled materials, vintage materials and vintage trims. From simple cute T's to fantastic multi-layered dresses and petticoats.

Passenger Pigeon : Women's clothing $76-$200 A great eco-clothing like from Canada. While they use a lot of bamboo and soy fabrics (not the best processes in the world) these are beautiful clothes that are easy and simple to wear. Playing with prints and textures this company walks a great line of fashion and sustainability.

Terra Plana Shoes are sassy and sustainable. $100-$150 Men and Women's Shoes. Made in the EU with sustainable materials. Not only are many of their styles organic but they go the extra mile to cut down or not use many of the harmful glues required in the manufacture of shoes. They are committed to the environment and have their eco policies plainly stated. I’ve got several pairs of their shoes and they wear great.

Stewart and Brown: Women’s clothing $55-$500 Organics, sustainable fabrics, factory surplus. Imported fabrics, Made in the USA. Stewart and Brown are the “organic pioneers” as they so humbly state on their website. But let’s face it – they were. Most of their line used to be a bit to “earthy crunchy” for me but they have begun to really get the fashion market as of late. Very pricey on their knits but oh so sexy.

Cydwoq: (pronounced sidewalk) shoes are little bits of leather art. Men’s and Women’s shoes $200-$300 (ow!) These are limited edition handcrafted shoes made in the USA Vegi-dyed leathers and water based glues. Way too pricey for this gal but I’ll tell you, if I could afford them – I would. They fit AMAZINGLY well and are so unique.

Enamore Lingerie Women’s lingerie $40-$125 What you expect to find in fine European undies. From bed-jackets to sexy bras this place has it all AND it is Eco. Hello nurse!

Junky Styling Refashioned clothing for the modern woman and man. $125-$500 I was blown away by these two women when I was in London. Takes refashioning from people's sewing rooms to the runway almost seamlessly (pardon the pun.) You can't tell that my sexy longsleeved wide necked shirt was once a track suit and a pair of men's pants. It's amazing. Best is that they can take your old vintage clothes and turn them into their latest runway clothing. Making thier clothes even more special to you. Top Notch.

So now a little love to the small boutiques in the bay area that (and NY) that sell eco fashion lines, but also some of the made in the USA smaller local designer types. After all, if you can't buy eco the next best thing is to buy local. Not only are you helping out the small shop owners you are benefiting the designers who sell there. Double bonus!

Doe: Lower Haight in San Francisco for Men, Women, Baby and Home. This place is just too great. Local made goods and amazing ones at that. Great for anyone in the bay area to find a "just right" gift for just about anyone. From beautiful vases to beautiful dresses this store's aesthetic is right on.

Gomi: Brooklyn, New York Women and Home This eco boutique is a powerhouse despite it's small size. For serious! The shop owner, Anne, picks out every piece herself (much like the above Doe - rock on Kati!) and the time it takes SHOWS. She has discerning taste and it's all eco and sustainable. Sexy and saving the planet. I heart GOMI (and it's not just because she sells our jeans.)

Relish at Home: Oakland, CA Men's & Women's (limited clothing) Home, Garden, Accessories This amazing little shop in Oakland pack a punch. This woman's shop is TINY (is this a trend?) and she packs it with some of the best independent designers this place offers.

This list is only the beginning. Please feel free to post YOUR favorite local businesses or sustainable clothing lines in the comments section. The more people who are out there making a demanding local and sustainable the more likely big companies will begin to "get it".


Ginny said...

For those in the UK a good site to find links to eco makers and also lots of good info and exciting pics is this exhibition archive site from tghe Crafts Council - the exhibition has just finished touring, but was great!


sarai said...

I didn't see rawganique.com mentioned. They sell clothing from fibres produced all over the place, so aren't necessarily local, but most of their clothing is organic. There is some made with conventional hemp I think, but lots of organic cotton, hemp, linen etc. It's sweatshop free too.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for this. It prompted me to fire off an email to my favorite shoe/sandal company to find how how they rate in the environmental responsibility category for production of their shoes (their Web site talks about the great things that people who wear their shoes are doing, but I want to know what's under the hood of the shoes themselves). I'll let you know what I hear back. I think that urging people to take the step of opening a conversation with people at the companies making the stuff we buy is a great way to widen the circle of change.

Lori said...

Here is DIY place in Toronto, ON Canada:


beklina said...

Also another great store...

Beklina is very modern with well edited selection. -lots of great sales too.

Deb G said...

I've only made one purchase, but I recently got some organic cotton material from NearSea Naturals (nearseanaturals.com) and was very pleased.

Edie said...

don't forget Wardrobe Refashion! awesome blog on recycling/reusing/repurposing clothing. http://nikkishell.typepad.com/wardroberefashion/

Dutch Girl said...

Yes yes yes!! These are all great sites (and stores! - hi Beklina!) I'm going to try to assemble all of these into a "buying guide" for sew green so please keep the comments coming!

Hurray for green!

prudence rabbit said...

I'm one of the Wardrobe Refashionistas, so I shop at the thrift store and/or sew clothes for myself. However, I did recently discover the following site--organic fabrics, natural power usage, and cute casual clothes!
Check out Prana, http://www.prana.com/storefront/

Heather said...

Great post! I'm going to be in the Bay Area next week and I will definitely visit the shops you mentioned!

Jennifer said...

Following up; it's long, but here's the email I received back from Keen Footwear -- a line of outdoor shoe/sandals (they are hybrids).

We applaud your interest in supporting products made under good environmental and working conditions. Ecologically friendly and sustainable practices are of the utmost priority in the development and production of our footwear. A few of our current practices and projects include:

- Designing the first 100% biodegradable shoebox

- Creating design patterns that, when cut out of material, produce as little waste as possible. We are also introducing a new product line made partially out of our own materials scraps.

- Using organic cotton for our canvas

- Using only leather that comes from the US , and is a bi product of the beef or dairy industry; and ONLY supporting tanneries that follow all the standards to be certified for environmental quality and humanitarian regulations.

- Developing water-soluble and vegan solvents, and using vulcanized rubber instead of glue

As for labor standards, our US based product development team is in constant contact with the factories, and visits them regularly to ensure that they fully adhere to our labor standards. The standards address the following issues:

Keen will seek business partners who do not discriminate in hiring and employment practices, and who make decisions about hiring, salary, benefits, advancement, discipline, termination and retirement solely on the basis of the person's ability to do the job.

Workers shall not work more than 60 hours per week, including overtime, except in extraordinary business circumstances. In countries where the maximum work week is less, that standard shall apply. Workers shall be entitled to at least one day off in every seven day period.

Keen will not work with business partners that use forced or compulsory labor, including labor that is required as a means of political coercion or as punishment for holding or for peacefully expressing political views, in the manufacture of its products. Keen will not purchase materials that were produced by forced prison or other compulsory labor and will immediately terminate business relationships with any sources found to utilize such labor.


Keen will seek business partners who share our commitment to the betterment of wage and benefit levels that address the basic needs of workers and their families so far as possible and appropriate in the light of national practices and conditions. Keen will not select business partners that pay less than the minimum wage required by local law or that pay less than the prevailing local industry practices (whichever is higher.)

Keen will not work with business partners that use child labor. The term "child" generally refers to a person who is younger than 15 (or 14 where the law of the country allows) or younger than the age for completing compulsory education in the country of manufacture where such age is higher than 15.

Keen will seek business partners that share its commitment to the right of employees to establish and join organizations of their own choosing. Keen recognizes the right of all employees to organize and bargain collectively.

Keen will seek business partners that strive to assure employees a safe and healthy workplace and that do not expose workers to hazardous conditions.

Every factory producing Keen products will publicize and enforce a non-retaliation policy that permits factory workers to speak with Keen staff without fear of retaliation by factory management.

Keen will apply these Human Rights Production Standards in our selection of business partners. Keen will seek compliance with these standards by our contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and other business partners.

To assure proper implementation of this policy, Keen will seek business partners that allow Keen full knowledge of the production facilities used and will undertake affirmative measures, such as on-site inspection of production facilities, to implement and monitor these standards.

Keen takes strong objection to the use of force to suppress any of these standards and will take such actions into account when evaluating facility compliance with these standards.

Thank you again for your inquiry, as well as for your commitment to supporting ecologically responsible and humanitarian products and companies.

Keen Footwear

nita said...

www.hyenacart.com is a mall of eco minded sellers that make everything from toys to clothes for children and adults and it also has a strong emphasis on cloth diapers. You can find organics, refashioned clothing and like minded folks there.

kim goodnight said...

For Immediate Release
April 2007

Got a s(eco)nd?

This August 27-29th in Las Vegas , Pooltradeshow will launch a new area entitled s(eco)nd that will focus on the new breed of environmentally & socially conscious organizations that are emerging world-wide. s(eco)nd will take place in conjunction with Pool in Las Vegas .

Pool, the incubator of new & emerging lifestyle fashion, began as a non-traditional forum to fulfill a need for the specialty market. For the last 6 years, Pool has been a place where key retailers connect with innovative apparel & lifestyle designers. Now, Pool is introducing a new branch that will fulfill a need in the industry for the new generation of consciousness. s(eco)nd will showcase the best new talents who are also making a positive impact on our world.

Director of Operations for Pool & creator of s(eco)nd, Mindy Wiener says “ Now, we have an opportunity to lead by example on what is seemingly THE issue of our time. True visionaries such as Fred Segal tried to introduce this concept over a decade ago but he was too far ahead of the market. We recognize that timing is very important in the Fashion Industry. We’ve been working to raise awareness for the last few seasons but have not felt like the timing was quite right to take a stand. Now, there is no doubt that (people) businesses have become more aware & are implementing changes that are impacting the industry. By introducing the thought that it only takes a s(eco)nd to change the world, s(eco)nd will allow us to take a second look at how we do business and will encourage our audience to rethink their most basic day-to-day habits. We are proud to take a stand, paving the way to greater change.”

s(eco)nd will carefully hand-select each of its launch brands.
For media inquires and more information on how you can become involved with Pool or s(eco)nd, please contact:

Kimberly Goodnight
(323) 664-0003

alice said...

You might like to check out the refashioned clothing at http://www.LyricCouture.com, all made of recycled materials. There's also information about ecological issues pertaining to the clothing industry and how to be "greener" in your fashion choices.

sonja said...

A new online boutique of eco and sustainable design.


League of Lovers & Thieves Boutique

you can also check out www.thieves.ca and www.leagueoflovers.com

Dutch Girl said...

I thank all of you for putting up information about products (Keen seems to be greening themselves up wonderfully - thanks so much!!) stores and events. I'm so inspired to be involved here!

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Alyssa said...

Another wonderful all-American shoe company (made in the USA from USA materials) is the Aurora Shoe Company


The shop is in upstate NY and the shoes are simple and COMFORTABLE!!!