Now that you know why it’s important to make better fashion decisions, and what questions to ask (for more read here and here) I thought it would be great to give you some resources of where and how to buy. Below is a list of my Top 5 To Buy – listing the top five things I look for when purchasing a new item. I hope this list shows you to see that there are many options and ways to buy better and support great brands.
Sustainable Material & Brand
This is obviously my top choice for a handful of reasons. Mainly because standard pieces of clothing are associated with heavily polluting materials and excessive waste. Shopping sustainable brands ensure that you’re doing your part to minimize your carbon footprint and waste impact. There are several things that can allow a brand or product to be considered sustainable. Of course, the materials used is a big one, they could be made from natural fibers that have low impact, such as tencil or hemp. Or else, they can be made from deadstock materials, meaning they were purchased from a storage warehouse, rather than being produced from virgin materials. Other brands even use sustainable practices like waste reduction and recycling in their cut and sew process, or sublimated printing, which is a digital process with much less water run off than traditional dying methods. Whatever brand you support, regardless of what methods they use, just know that you’re making a good buying decision.
What I’m wearing: This super comfy t-shirt dress is from one of my favorite sustainable brands The Reformation. Reformation is all about sustainability, whether it’s using eco-friendly fabrics they produce or deadstock fabrics, and eliminating their waste and runoff water in their factories. I got this dress for $23 during their summer sale. They have 2 big sales throughout the year – late summer and the holidays – with markdowns up to 70%. If regular prices are out of reach for you, I HIGHLY recommend saving up and splurging during sales.
Fashion with a Mission
Another way to ensure that your purchases go to a good cause is to buy from brands with a social mission. Social enterprises, or for-profit companies with a social mission, are on the rise as more and more people are becoming passionate about the impact their purchases make. This is especially true in the world of fashion, where more and more attention is being drawn to the issues within the industry. You are probably already familiar with a few of these brands, such as TOMS and Warby Parker, who really introduced this model into the fashion world.
Some social enterprises have environmental missions, such as those who plant trees per purchase, or others that use profits to fund clean up projects. Other social enterprises have people at the heart of their mission, ensuring that they are supporting their workers with living wages, allowing communities to have the opportunity to become self-sufficient. Social enterprises go beyond charity because they look for ways to eliminate issues, rather than just giving aid. It’s a great way to ensure your purchases go to a good cause.
What I’m Wearing: Mexico En La Piel has quickly become one of my favorite brands. These beautiful handbags are not only a perfect, timeless addition to your wardrobe, they also have a social mission. Based out of Arizona, founder Paloma Del Carmen Gonzalez, was inspired by the beautiful textiles and her own Mexican culture while visiting family in Guadalajara. She envisioned creating a company that embraced the beautiful Mexican culture and empower women to embrace their own beauty and heritage. She decided that not only was she going to manufacture these bags directly in Mexico, but she was going to use this as an opportunity to support women and the community. Paloma believes in being transparent, treating employees fairly and making a difference – one handbag at a time. These handbags run at about $80, which reflects the high quality fabric and the fair wages Mexico En La Piel pays to it’s workers.
Small Business Bought
Often, the styles, items and trends we want to incorporate are not available through sustainable and social companies, and may be impossible to find through artisans. Never fear, this does not mean that you have to forgo that piece that would complete an outfit, or miss out on a trend. I love shopping at small businesses, especially when I have a specific item or accessory in mind. Unlike shopping at big, corporate fast-fashion, shopping at small businesses helps to support your community. Whenever I find a boutique I love, I become a frequent shopper, especially when I’m able to develop a relationship with staff. I find my relationship and experience at small boutiques to be much more pleasant that buying at big box brands, and I tend to take greater care of items from those stores.
What I’m Wearing: Sunglasses are a must, they’re practical and can elevate any outfit. My go to place for great sunnies (as well as cute tops and dresses) is my favorite boutique in LA – The Hob Nob Shop. Located in the Little Tokyo district of DTLA, Hob Nob is owned by the sweetest mother and daughter team. They always have the newest styles and an excellent selection of trendy sunnies – including the style I’m wearing by Quay Australia. If you’re a fan of Quay’s styles and collaborations, buy them through Hob Nob and support a great small business.
I’m always on the hunt for great pieces to add to my collection, especially those that are hand-made, tell a story, and share a culture. Artisan made is a great way to do this. I especially look for artisan made when it comes to jewelry, because often what we see in fast-fashion retailers are cheaply made and imitations of designs from throughout the world. There are many artisans all over the world who sell jewelry to support themselves and their family, and I love to be able to support them. I have a collection of artisan made items from my travels throughout the world, but there’s also a lot of opportunity to find handmade items near you. I love going to street fairs and art markets and finding unique one of a kind pieces which are made from high quality materials and will last a lifetime.
What I’m wearing: These beautiful, gold folkrolico earrings are by far one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. They are typically worn along with traditional ballet folkrolico attire for performances, but I love wearing them with just about everything. I bought this pair from a couple in Olvera Street – the oldest part of Los Angeles, that houses boutiques with items all made in Mexico. I’m also wearing a beautiful turquoise ring that I purchased during the Southwest American Indian Art Market in Santa Fe, which was handmade by a woman whose family had been making turquoise jewelry for generations.
One of the most unfortunate elements of fashion is that it is often discarded before it’s reached the end of its life cycle, meaning that a lot of the clothing that currently sits in landfills is still in perfectly good condition. Buying vintage clothing is a great way to minimize your fashion footprint by giving new life to unwanted clothing. Another great way to extend the life of the clothing you already have is to repurpose it, or to repair when damaged. There are many things you can do to ensure that you are incorporating sustainability and ethics into your fashion choices, and extending the life of clothing is one of the best ways to do so.
What I’m Wearing: This denim shirt I’m rocking – both as a wrap around and an over shirt – was an old work shirt I received while an AmeriCorps VISTA. I was not too happy about getting a work uniform with a big logo patch that I would never wear, but I really liked the weight and feel of the denim. As soon as my year of service ended, I started thinking of how I could repurpose this shirt. While walking through Olvera St. in Los Angeles, I came across these great Folklorico patches. I decided to buy a few and sew them onto cover the original patch. This has quickly become one of my favorite items, a great statement piece that I can wear with almost any outfit.
I hope this Top 5 list gave you some insight on ways you can improve your buying habits and make positive impacts with your purchases!
Con Mucho Amor,
Photos By: Salpy Talian
Location: Silverlake, Los Angeles