All Posts in Sustainability

November 17, 2010 - Comments Off on Ecover Thirty Under 30

Ecover Thirty Under 30

Ecological cleaning product company Ecover hosted a party on November 10th in Manhattan to celebrate its 30-year anniversary, and announce the winner of its 30 Under 30 contest, open to 18-29 year-olds making advances in sustainability. Ecover CEO Mick Bremans announced the winner as Ryan Arnold, self-proclaimed “energy geek” who works with low-income citizens in his home state of Idaho to reduce their energy costs. The event was held in the beautiful Environment showroom, who also provided an amazing prize of a sustainable bedroom or dining room set!

Rachel Sarnoff of EcoStiletto also hosted a Green Blogger panel discussion, featuring Treehugger‘s Meaghan O’Neill, Inhabitat‘s Jill Fehrenbacher, Eco-Chick‘s Starre Vartan, The Daily Green‘s Brian Howard, and 30 Under 30 winner Ryan Arnold. Some personal takeaways from the panel:

* An alternate use for Facebook and Twitter: to LISTEN. Use these community tools not just to promote and re-post, but also as an open forum to learn from your readers and customers.

* Surprisingly, fact-checking does NOT seem to be standard for online content – not just due to lack of resources or time pressure to publish, but because the Web audience’s instant feedback is such a highly effective method.

* Ethical practices can lead to profits: Ryan mentioned a study in which financial success was measured for two categories of entrepreneurs: 1) those who focused and remained loyal to their morals 2) those who focused solely on making money, and 100/101 cases of financial success were from category 1.

November 17, 2010 - Comments Off on Nau NYC


I have been a long-time supporter of Portland-based urban & activewear company Nau for their attention to what matters: integrating least-negative-impact practices into their business model and sustainable materials into their product, fashion-forward detailing and high standards of apparel construction, commitment to giving back to the community, and the super-chill and talented members of their company. I love how their pieces are slim-cut, travel so well, stand up to weather, translate from trail to taxi, and are made to last and often recyclable at end of life.

So naturally I’m excited to have a Nau retail space in NY territory, even temporarily. They have partnered with workwear fashion brand Dunderon to open a three-month pop-up shop at their Soho location. Design Director Peter Kallen was in town last week, and Thursday’s event at the space brought out another Nau loyalist, actor Matthew Modine (of Full Metal Jacket fame), whose presence + fancy Batavus Old Dutch bicycles contributed to the great vibe of the evening.

The next event at the space will be held Thursday, December 2nd from 7-10pm, so come mingle, buy some fall jackets & holiday presents, and take part in the (as rumoured) bike-themed party!

Nau + Dunderdon NYC / 25 Howard St 10013

More pictures on flickr

September 26, 2010 - Comments Off on Bright Young Things, Indeed

Bright Young Things, Indeed

While familiar with the Bright Young Things “Wear-a-Thons” and “Style Challenge” via participating friends, I was excited to see the work of designer Eliza Starbuck in person. The concept behind Bright Young Things is versatility through creative re-styling of multi-functional, well-made garments. This notion of slimming down the number of garments in your closet by increasing their diversity in wearability is a key component of fashion sustainability. As someone who consciously avoids buying fast fashion and instead creates or purchases lasting, quality apparel in a mix of classic + unique items, I was definitely intrigued by BYT.

The debut Spring 11 collection consisted of eight pieces worn in 30 different looks, from casual to glam, kept simple or highly accessorized (thanks to Cri de Coeur & Vintedge). My favorites were the “everything halter”, the “wrap skirt/dress”, and of course the LBD, which can also be switched up as a romper, skirt, or jacket.

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January 26, 2010 - Comments Off on Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion Exhibit & Panel Discussion at Pratt

Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion Exhibit & Panel Discussion at Pratt

In conjunction with their Ethics + Aesthetics = Sustainable Fashion exhibit, Pratt hosted a panel discussion on the topic. Panelists included (former) SVP/ Fashion Director of Barneys Julie Gilhart and designers Mary Ping (Slow and Steady Wins the Race) and Caroline Priebe (Uluru). My takeaways and observations:

- Based on customer reactions to Barneys’ organic designer collaborations, public perception still appears to be skewed, as the majority seems to think that “organic” items should cost less than non-organic items. As a result, many sustainable brands are downplaying their green focus and some retailers are merchandising product created with a consciousness in with the rest.

- However, consumers will eventually become more educated and positively discerning. As noted in this month’s Fast Company, even Walmart is planning on implementing a Sustainability Index so customers will be exposed to the environmental impact of the various products sold at Walmart, and use this information to guide their buying decisions. Therefore transparency and honesty on the side of the designers and manufacturers are a must.

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January 5, 2010 - Comments Off on Jill – Reclaimed Rehearsal Dinner Dress

Jill – Reclaimed Rehearsal Dinner Dress

Jill was able to obtain both of her husband's grandmother's wedding dresses to use in new creations for herself. The dress from her husband's grandmother's first marriage at the turn of the 20th century we used in Jill's wedding dress; the dress from the second marriage circa 1940s we decided to use for Jill's rehearsal dinner dress.

I cleaned and restored the lace, and we did a serious of dyeing experiments before deciding on a pretty mauve shade that complemented Jill's complexion.

Very few alterations were necessary on the dress (which goes to show how tiny Jill is!) She had a black slip dress that worked perfectly under the lace dress, and we added a black velvet ribbon as a contrast at the empire waist. In addition to the beautiful dress, Jill had also obtained a bolero jacket, which we dyed the same colour.

January 4, 2010 - Comments Off on Jill – Reclaimed Wedding Dress

Jill – Reclaimed Wedding Dress

As founder and editor-in-chief of green design blog Inhabitat, Jill was only willing to go the sustainable route with her wedding attire. In addition to sourcing minimal impact materials, we wanted to design a dress indicative of Jill's sophisticated style, in a silhouette that was fun and fresh, and also re-wearable. We first started by exploring fabric options such as organic cotton tulles and silks, such as the below.

Jill was then offered her fiance's grandmother's Victorian wedding dress from circa 1900, which was a beautiful lace gown, completely deteriorated in most sections, but intact in others. Jill had already decided that she did not want a full-length gown, but I had to make sure that we had enough material from the vintage gown to create even a knee-length dress! Through careful cutting and efficient patternmaking, I was just able to make it work, utilizing the lace's scallop edges at the neckline and asymmetrical hemline of the dress.

The lace needed to be carefully cleaned and restored back to its original colour, as pictured below.

We both love the colour green, and decided on a hand-dyed ombre (green with a gradation from light to dark) silk charmeuse for the underlayer of the dress. From my collection of vintage lace trims, we selected one to use for the straps, which I dyed using green tea to   match the ivory of the dress lace.

The wedding and reception were held in San Francisco's beautiful Presidio Park, which tends to become cool at night, so we made a custom bolero jacket in a matching green to cover Jill's arms.

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January 2, 2010 - Comments Off on Lisa – Reclaimed Wedding Gown

Lisa – Reclaimed Wedding Gown

Lisa brought me the wedding dress of her grandmother, who had previously passed, in the hopes that I could incorporate the fabric in some way into her own gown. She had her doubts, however, because her grandmother's dress had not been cleaned post-use, and endured a long life in a heavy smoker's house. While the lace itself had not deteriorated, the discoloration was one of the worst cases I had seen - completely yellowed and brown. I dismantled the dress and went to work cleaning the lace. Several days of intense stench-and-stain-releasing soaks, much to our surprise, resulted in a pure, bright white!

Based on the design of her grandmother's dress, there was not enough lace available to use as the primary fabric, but we worked it into the design by inserting into the front neckline and the many skirt godets. We paired the lace with white silk duchess satin and silk chiffon. The silhouette I designed for Lisa focused on a low back, with soft, sheer straps, an empire waistline, and a full fit-and-flare skirt.

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