Eco fashion comes in all forms, just like we do.. and unlike disposable clothing, sustainable clothing tells stories, has history, is a part of who we are.

This space is for real people wearing their own clothes telling the histories behind them.

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| True Stories |

Angela

Angela, San Francisco: I’ve always been a fan of big, cozy sweaters, but this is the real deal–an actual, sentimental grandfather sweater. I spent the year before I moved to San Francisco back home in Maryland with my mom, and while there, I reconnected with old friends, and became very close again to one of my high school girlfriends in particular, who I had grown apart from while in college. She and I spent tons of time together; she made that year living at home, which probably would have been boring and painful, actually really great. She always wore this big, cushy sweater that her grandfather had given her, and I loved it. Warm, oversized, and comforting, it’s the type of sweater that you can wear everyday, as an overthrow or a coat or just a thing you throw on when you get home. Anyway, Sarah gave me this sweater when I moved. It was such a staple of her own wardrobe, and an item of nostalgia in that it came from her very own grandfather before he died. The fact that she gave it to me meant so much, as a parting gift, but also as a token of our friendship and how important it was to me that year, corny as that may sound. So, when I moved to San Francisco in August of ’04, I packed a suitcase of clothes but most everything else was sent ground shipping from Maryland, about a 10-day process. Moving in August from the hot, stifling heat of the east coast to California, I expected, well, summer. Little did I know at the time, August in San Francisco is downright arctic. I, of course, packed nothing but summer clothes to hold me over till the rest of my crap arrived, except for the gift that my friend had just given me the night before I left—her grandfather’s oversized sweater. That sweater was my coat, and essentially my only sensible clothing item throughout the days that marked my inauguration into the city which has now been my home for five years. Today, an old, oversized sweater that her grandfather could have easily thrown into a goodwill bag remains one of the most meaningful gifts I’ve ever gotten.

tamara-earrings

Tamara, New York: Trade fairs are the bane of my profession. You’re on your feet for hours upon hours, jet-lagged and dehydrated, smiling and schmoozing and photographing and lugging a tote with twenty pounds of press releases. And when the day is over, you go home to an empty hotel room and have dinner with CNN. That’s my glamorous life as an accessories editor.

I was covering a jewelry trade fair in Paris, on auto-pilot as usual, when I saw a tiny booth full of oddly shaped, reflective objects. As I got closer, the shapes on the earrings and enormous bib necklaces started to look familiar. I introduced myself to the woman manning the booth, and between her broken English and my even more pathetic French, I asked what the jewelry was made of. Ray-Ban aviator lenses. Ray-Ban. Aviator. Lenses. Bright silver, blue, fuchsia and gold, changing color as the light hit them. My brain dispensed a rush of dopamine. The exhaustion, the loneliness, the weight on my shoulder—for sixty seconds I forgot it all. This was why I stayed at my job.

I featured the brand, Clash Mode, in my article on the fair and started emailing the designer to find out how I could get a pair of the earrings. There was only one US vendor: an art museum in Chicago.

In the end it took over a year from that first encounter at the fair, countless emails, and some very strategic use of my office’s UPS account. From old shades to new jewelry, from Paris to Chicago to Brooklyn, I finally got my aviator lens earrings. I have to carry around lens cleaner because every time they touch my face they do that smudgey thing, just like the original sunglasses. But it’s worth it. They are the single most unique, versatile, all around bad-ass piece of jewelry I have ever owned, and when I wear them I feel like a million bucks!

Take that, trade fairs.

(About the picture: rocking the earrings in my very unglamorous office)

 


 

damien3

Damien, Los Angeles:

I’m sitting at the bar, waiting for Maggiy to pick me up. When she gets there I trot across the street, hop in the SUV she’s borrowing from a friend’s parents, and we drive off. She’s all like, “D! Check out that bag next you. I got some shit for you when I was thrifting today!” (She speaks exclusively in exclamation points.) I grab the bag and open it up and see a vintage Fisherman’s Wharf jacket that is probably going to be too small for me. I say thanks, because that what one ought to do, and then I notice the bag.
“Maggy, what’s this bag?”
“Oh, dude, that’s from my store.”
“From your store?”
“Yeah, dude, I make them.”
Okay, quick backstory: Maggy has been living in Costa Rica for a long time now. A few years back her father was murdered. She had to fly down there and take care of his affairs, selling his house and what not. When all was said and done, she had made out with a stack of money that she didn’t know what to do with. She thought to herself, “What have I always wanted?” And she answered herself, “I’ve always wanted to open a thrift store.” So she opened one in San Jose, Costa Rica. It is called Me Extraña, Ropa Americana. Ropa Americana because there is no “vintage” business in Latin America. Apparently only North Americans get rid of ‘old’ clothes.
“Maggy, you make these?”
“Yeah, bro. Whenever it’s, like, slow in the store and I ain’t got shit to do I bump some Outkast and just crank those suckers out.”
“What is it? Just old newspapers?”
“Yeah, dude. It’s hella easy. I just take old newspapers and glue that shit together.”
“But these are strong,” I say, “like real department store bags.”
“I ain’t fucking around, dude.”
“Nah, for real, Mags, how you do this?”
“It’s easy dude. It’s just like paper-maché.”
“Like kids do in kindergarten?”
She laughs and says yes and smiles big and toothy.
“You like it, D?”
“Yeah, they’re awesome. What are the handles made out of? Do you just buy string separately?”
“Hell no, dude. I don’t buy shit. When old hoodies are too worn out to resell I re-use them for other stuff. Those are the strings from old hoodies, dude.”
“Oh, shit! That’s tight.”
“Ha ha ha ha ha.”
“Can I keep this?”
“Yeah, of course, D.”
I studied and caressed the bag the rest of the day. I don’t even know where the jacket is.

photo photo(2)

Melissa, New York: My favorite eco fashion items are my vegan shoes. I really wanted some slip on sneakers so I wandered over to Moo’s Shoes in the Lower East Side. I’ve been trying to make better, more sustainable fashion decisions, and Moo’s made this an easy and successful attempt!

So, I’m a casual kind of gal, but casual in a cute kind of way. Moo’s Shoes had exactly what I was looking for. Black and white slip on sneakers. I bought them and have worn them so frequently they are beginning to fall apart. These shoes have been everywhere with me, from the streets of Brooklyn to the Sacred Valley of Peru. Every time I wear them, I am compelled to proudly tell whoever will listen that my shoes are vegan.

So yes, I might win the prize because I’ve inspired nausea in you due to the condition of my shoes, but I also sent you to Moo’s Shoes. So there are my extra bonus points.


suesring

Suzanne, Washington DC: My fiance Mike custom designed our engagement ring using raw, ethical diamonds from Todd Reed. I love to tell people about it (ok, I brag about it all the time.) He made it just for me.


november-2008-103

Rebecca, San Francisco: When I was working as a furniture buyer, I received the dubious “Eco Awareness and Green living award” in this dress. It’s organic undyed cotton and I LOVE it. My boyfriend calls it the potato sack dress, but I think the cut outs in the back are sexy as hell.

Sally, New York: My husband and I got married at city hall. I didn’t want a big wedding, and I also didn’t want to participate in the consumer culture that surrounds weddings in our society. My husband’s grandmother gave me her antique wedding band to wear as my own. It makes me feel happy that I didn’t have to make some poor boy empty his bank account to put some metal on my finger. That’s not what it’s about.

Nzingha, Texas: My friend Heather made this skirt for me. The tank top was “recycled” from a friend. The sunglasses and bracelet are vintage. I love the skirt because it was made with love in every stitch, the tank is on a poppin’, the bracelet because my mom wore it back in the 70’s before I was born, and the glasses, well because they fuckin’ rock!

One thought on “True Stories

  1. Seed and Sew,

    Love your blog – especially these True Stories. I really think it is key to a more sustainable clothing industry for us to become more ’emotionally involved’ with the things we wear. If our garments mean something to us (a reminder of a place/person/time), we’re going to think twice before replacing them with others.
    Keep up the good work!

    Bagsful

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