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Conscious Consumerism Challenge: Day 8

In this 8-day series, we challenged Isabel Gonzalez-Whitaker (InStyle Fashion Features Editor) to vet—and model!—brands that “do good.” As in, brands or sites that meet the following criteria: locally sourced, social responsibility (which includes repurposed/upcycle pieces), organic and all-natural, eco and sustainable practices, and embedded generosity.

K1X sneakers: K1X is a boutique sneaker brand out of Germany known for creating fashion-forward (and functional) basketball sneakers. These are men’s (sizing tip: When buying men’s shoes go down two sizes to find your fit) and from three years ago when they did a collection honoring the people and basketball players of the western Africa country of Sierra Leone. K1X locally sourced the fabric, and promotions around the shoes showcased the beauty of the region. Plus, a portion of the proceeds went to the Sierra di Lion Sharity Trust Fund. They have continued their partnership with Sierra Leone with a new release called Batik DCAC.

Bloom and Grace wrap bracelet: Each purchase from the new jewelry line Bloom and Grace translates to vaccinations for children around the world. This gold tone beaded and leather wrap bracelet, which was made by fair-wage artisans, comes with a tag indicating that nine children were vaccinated as a result of its purchase.

As I write this, a tally on the site shows that 591 children have been vaccinated since the launch of the line. Founded by Dani Lachowicz, whose previous experience includes work at the International Rescue Committee, Bloom and Grace works in partnership with the UN Foundation and its global immunization campaign Shot@Life. You can sort by style (statement stones) or by number of vaccinations (3 = $45 purchase).

Shop Hers Blazer by Ralph Lauren: Shop-Hers.com is an excellent, easy-to-use resource for consigning items from your closet and buying resale items from amazing closets of stylish women—including a few well known celebs who shall remain nameless. I’ve bought and sold a number of great pieces (lucky you whoever got my killer, cult-fave and too-small-for-me-but-I-bought-it-anyway Uma Wang dress).

This silver silk Ralph Lauren blazer was part of a suit, and it’s probably a few seasons old, but it’s classic to me. I often tell people that I look at my closet as a fluid economy—pieces come in, pieces go out—and sites, like Shop-Hers, with their simple buying and selling functionality, and their native, fashion-smart audience make the recycling of clothes that much easier. And fun!
 
People Tree x Peter Jensen tee from ASOS: When it comes to mass e-tailers and the ethical fashion space, ASOS deserves special recognition. Its "Green Room" is always stocked with hundreds of purposeful purchase options, including one-of-a-kind pieces from its reclaimed vintage line, its Africa collab (produced in partnership with communities in need), and lines—like People Tree— that are dedicated to conscious consumerism. This organic cotton top, covered in cute bunnies, is part of the People Tree x Peter Jensen collab, which paired the playful Danish designer (fans include Rihanna and Lena Dunham) with the fair trade and eco-practicing company.
 
Photo credit: Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Conscious Consumerism Challenge: Day 7

In this 8-day series, we challenged Isabel Gonzalez-Whitaker (InStyle Fashion Features Editor) to vet—and model!—brands that “do good.” As in, brands or sites that meet the following criteria: locally sourced, social responsibility (which includes repurposed/upcycle pieces), organic and all-natural, eco and sustainable practices, and embedded generosity.

Matterial Fix pendant necklace: Courtney Sims, the former model and jewelry designer behind Matterial Fix, and who I wrote about on InStyle.com for International Women’s Day, is determined to make life a better place for girls. Each of her high-design, inexpensively priced (starts at $28!) jewelry pieces is inspired by her visits with women around the world. Plus, proceeds benefit non-profits that help the girls in those communities. 

A percent of sales of this angular pendant (the design echoes traditional Andean weaving) goes to Peruvian Hearts, an organization that provides support and education to girls in need in Peru.

Chamuchic clutch: I learned about designer and do-gooder Claudia Muñoz and her label, Chamuchic, at a talk she gave about ethical fashion and cultural preservation in Latin America at New York’s Cervantes Instituto. Muñoz, who was born and currently resides in Mexico, collaborates with female artisans in the Chiapas region of the country to create accessories that meld her funky-cool aesthetic with traditional Mayan weaving techniques. Chiapas is a region rich in culture, so Muñoz’s work is critical in preserving historical practices, like looming. She currently employs, fair-wage, 20 women, who help create her woven bags, home decor, and dresses whose designs feature natural dyes and nod to Mayan textiles.

I like the singularity of this particular clutch (or iPad holder, if you prefer; it is super padded) and the muted purple color, which plays well with my Studio JUX top.

Studio JUX blouse from Accompany: Looks like silk, feels like silk, but it’s not silk. The top is actually made from wood—specifically wood pulp, a soft textile material that’s manufactured in Nepal from sustainably managed forests.

Studio JUX is a designer brand out of Amsterdam with an emphasis on designs that embody simple, structural silhouettes in pretty, rich colors. Their pieces, which include eco-merino knits in poppy hues, are made by fair-wage employees in Portugal or Nepal. For the designs made in Nepal, a number on the tag links you to the actual maker online. Through their site’s “handshake” gallery, I found out my garment was produced by the cute Rajendra Pariyar, a married father of a little boy, who grew up in Kathmandu and learned to stitch from his grandfather.

Studio JUX is one of about 100 designers vetted and sold on the new ethically edited fashion site, Accompany, which you can read about here. Founder, humanitarian (he speaks at the UN about social entrepreneurism), and former fashion industry brand strategist (John Varvatos, Converse, Kenneth Cole) Jason Keehn and his team curate the super chic—and fairly priced—global offerings that are artisanally made, fair trade and philanthropic.
 
Vintage Edgar Pomeroy leather skirt from Circles: I picked up this exquisitely tailored Nappa leather skirt from my favorite consignment and vintage shop Circles Unlimited in my hometown of Atlanta. Edgar Pomeroy, a bespoke suit maker and throwback dapper gentleman from an earlier era, was especially well known for designing men’s suits. But in certain Atlanta circles in the late ’80s and early ’90s, he was also known for a women’s line that was carried at Saks. The skirt features precise darting, silk lining, and it’s the perfect mini-not-too-mini length. For an Atlanta-gal, I consider this find a real gem.
 
Photo credit: Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Conscious Consumerism Challenge: Day 6

In this 8-day series, we challenged Isabel Gonzalez-Whitaker (InStyle Fashion Features Editor) to vet—and model!—brands that “do good.” As in, brands or sites that meet the following criteria: locally sourced, social responsibility (which includes repurposed/upcycle pieces), organic and all-natural, eco and sustainable practices, and embedded generosity.

Bow and Drape dress and top: Aubrie Pagano’s online-only label Bow and Drape is ethically produced by seamstresses in New York’s Garment District. This thick, boatneck ponte knit dress with three-quarter sleeves that I’m wearing is perfect for work. Today, I layered it with a cropped striped top (coming back to the site later this month) that features cheery floral appliques. The detailing is one of the many customizable offerings from the site. Others include design modifications, like sleeve length and hem length, and clever extras, like sequined custom lettering.

Hengst Metropolitan Coat: More love here for designers keeping things local. Though I live in NYC, I have the web to thank for learning about Hengst, a boutique in Manhattan’s Lower East Side that makes its items in the Garment District. One of my weekly must-clicks is Shoptiques, a site that aggregates small, hip boutiques around the world in order to bring a wider audience to these cool shops and independent designers. Susan Hengst, who was a 2012 nominee for the Smithsonian’s prestigious Cooper Hewitt design award, uses natural and organic silks and cottons to create her very wearable fashion-forward line (think structural shapes that convey ease, like this voluminous cashmere and wool coat that I wore all winter; also there is no better closet staple than a camel coat). 

Photo credit: Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

What We’re Wearing: One 9W x InStyle Shoe Collection, Five Different Looks

We admit we might be a wee bit biased, but we’re completely head over heels in love with our latest Nine West collaboration that recently hit stores and online. As proof, we snapped five InStyle staffers who came to work in their 9W x InStyle shoes, all individually styled to suit each editor’s personal MO. From downtown chic to uptown posh, see their looks above and their outfit breakdowns below:

Katrina Symonds (Senior Photo Editor) in the "Aila" slingback heels
Leather jacket: Acne
Button-down: Equipment
Gray top: Alexander Wang
Jeans: Bassike
Bag: Balenciaga

Claire Stern (Editorial Assistant) in the "Mahla" wedges
Cropped sweater: Peter Pilotto x Target
Dress: Wilfred

Angelique Serrano (Beauty Director) in the "Gamin" d’Orsay pumps (the snakeskin print is sold out online)
Blazer: BCBG Max Azria
White tee: Alternative Apparel
Drawstring pants: Walter Baker

Sharon Clott (Senior Editor) in the "Izzy" ankle-strap heels
Dress: BCBG Max Azria
Sweater: Saks Fifth Avenue
Clutch: 9W x InStyle 

Elyse Maloni (Accessories Assistant) in the "Gamin" d’Orsay pumps
Top: Express
Skirt: Celine

Photo credit: Alex Reside for InStyle.com

Conscious Consumerism Challenge: Day 5

In this 8-day series, we challenged Isabel Gonzalez-Whitaker (InStyle Fashion Features Editor) to vet—and model!—brands that “do good.” As in, brands or sites that meet the following criteria: locally sourced, social responsibility (which includes repurposed/upcycle pieces), organic and all-natural, eco and sustainable practices, and embedded generosity.

Same Sky Infinity bracelets: I wrote about Francine LeFrak’s company Same Sky that employs women in need and provides fair wages and wore their Easter-egg colored hand blown glass beaded bracelets on Day 1.  These two chain link-inspired bracelets are from Same Sky’s Infinity collection and feature glass seed beads crocheted onto a semi-stretch cord. One purchase of these bracelets amounts to three weeks(!) worth of food for the artisan.

Raven + Lily top and scarf: This company has impressive Hollywood roots: The founders are Kirsten Dickerson, a former film stylist, and Sophia Lin, a graphic designer whose creative agency worked with stars like Pitt and Clooney. Though they share a passion for glamour, they also wanted to make a difference in the world, so together, they created Raven + Lily, an e-commerce site with the tagline: “Empowering women through design.” The line of embroidered and screen-printed casual basics and edgy jewelry is made with repurposed materials and employs—fair wage—nearly 800 at-risk women from communities in need in across the U.S, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. A percent of sales also goes back into education channels in those communities.

Because the cotton basics are made with repurposed jersey, they are super soft, and I’m a sucker for animals on anything, in this case, giraffes. The infinity scarf, made from remnant jersey by formerly homeless women in LA, features a band of copper-hued leather for a modern accent.
 
AELLA pants: I wrote about this line of tailored pants on Day 2. Eco and locally manufactured in LA, this style is a cropped version of what I wore previously. These pants—because they are of a knit fabric that is substantive and, I swear, will not crease—are in constant rotation in my closet.

The Root Collective ballet flats: Yesterday, I wrote about The Root Collective’s work they do on behalf of artisans in Kenya. Today, I brought flats into the office because I can’t walk New York sidewalks in these very pointy, glittery, golden heels (I leave a trail of gold dust in my wake).

So on days like today, these Guatemalan print ballet flats become my walking shoes. Each pair is made by a cobbler known as "Don Otto," who works and resides in the La Limonada slum of Guatemala City. He sources the pretty handwoven cotton fabric uppers from Mayan women living in rural areas who practice traditional weaving, and they come in a variety of pretty prints as well as richly saturated solids.

This flat—or its adorable peep toe cousin—could easily become your summer music festival shoe paired with denim cut-offs and a cropped top (my 23-year-old self would have rocked that look).

Photo credit: Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Conscious Consumerism Challenge: Day 4

In this 8-day series, we challenged Isabel Gonzalez-Whitaker (InStyle Fashion Features Editor) to vet—and model!—brands that “do good.” As in, brands or sites that meet the following criteria: locally sourced, social responsibility (which includes repurposed/upcycle pieces), organic and all-natural, eco and sustainable practices, and embedded generosity.

The Root Collective beaded necklaces: The Baltimore-based founder of The Root Collective, Bethany Tran, travels the globe finding local artisans to partner with in creating pretty colorful shoes and accessories, which she then sells on her site. The artisans get paid fair wage for their work and 10 percent of sales benefit NGOs servicing their communities (the buyer gets to pick the beneficiary NGO). These beaded necklaces—they come in different colors—were made by a Maasai artisan in Kenya named Emily. Her earnings mean that her children get to go to school.

SBJ Austin dress: I got this roomy-around-the-belly SJB Austin dress when I was pregnant and it quickly became a closet go-to. Fifteen months—and a somewhat tinier waist—later, I still reach for it. The crisp and thick (organic) cotton means it works across seasons. The simple-yet-feminine silhouette in a neutral gray print means I can easily dress it up or down. The line—which includes seersucker shirtdresses and brushstroke-print tunics—is designed by Mallory Carroll out of Austin, Texas, where they’re also made. Any dresses that aren’t sold are donated to Dress for Success.

Study Two-Tone Baseball Tee from Of A Kind: I have so much love for Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur, the equal share editorial and style savants behind Of A Kind, the site they started that features limited edition runs from collector-worthy designers, like Ace & Jig and Collette Ishiyama. They’ve done a few limited editions with Study’s Tara St. James, the talent behind this oh-so-easy, wear-with-anything, gray and cream sweatshirt-tee hybrid. St. James does a rare thing these days: She sources her organic cotton domestically (Texas). Earning her further ethical fashion halos is her practice of no-waste patternmaking as well as dying and sewing her pieces locally, which for her is Brooklyn.

Photo credit: Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Look Who We Met: Charles Michael Davis of The Originals
Who: Karen Levy, Entertainment Editor; Janelle Grodsky, Associate Editor; Stephanie Samson, Special Projects Editor; Tiffany Faure, Editorial Assistant; Tessa Trudeau, Editorial Assistant
Star: Charles Michael Davis (of the CW series “The Originals)
Where: West Coast Bureau of InStyle
Tiffany Says:  “We were treated to a visit from heartthrob Charles Michael Davis, star of the CW’s spin off series “The Originals.” On the show, he plays the role of Marcel Gerard, the powerful, self-proclaimed vampire king of New Orleans, but in real life Davis could not be sweeter or more down to earth.  
We chatted about everything from his Netflix queue (he’s currently hooked on The New Girl) to his surprising daily workout regime—the former college track star does everything from ballroom dancing to Muay Thai to keep his body in tip-top shape! Before leaving, he struck a pose with the March issue for the West Coast Bureau’s new Instagram account (@InStyleLA) and made all of our hearts swoon.”
Be sure to check out “The Originals” on the CW every Tuesday at 8 PM!
Photo credit: Janelle Grodsky

Look Who We Met: Charles Michael Davis of The Originals

Who: Karen Levy, Entertainment Editor; Janelle Grodsky, Associate Editor; Stephanie Samson, Special Projects Editor; Tiffany Faure, Editorial Assistant; Tessa Trudeau, Editorial Assistant

Star: Charles Michael Davis (of the CW series “The Originals)

Where: West Coast Bureau of InStyle

Tiffany Says:  “We were treated to a visit from heartthrob Charles Michael Davis, star of the CW’s spin off series “The Originals.” On the show, he plays the role of Marcel Gerard, the powerful, self-proclaimed vampire king of New Orleans, but in real life Davis could not be sweeter or more down to earth.  

We chatted about everything from his Netflix queue (he’s currently hooked on The New Girl) to his surprising daily workout regime—the former college track star does everything from ballroom dancing to Muay Thai to keep his body in tip-top shape! Before leaving, he struck a pose with the March issue for the West Coast Bureau’s new Instagram account (@InStyleLA) and made all of our hearts swoon.”

Be sure to check out “The Originals” on the CW every Tuesday at 8 PM!

Photo credit: Janelle Grodsky

Conscious Consumerism Challenge: Day 3

In this 8-day series, we challenged Isabel Gonzalez-Whitaker (InStyle Fashion Features Editor) to vet—and model!—brands that “do good.” As in, brands or sites that meet the following criteria: locally sourced, social responsibility (which includes repurposed/upcycle pieces), organic and all-natural, eco and sustainable practices, and embedded generosity.

Sseko bangles and scarf: After college and while living in Uganda, Liz Forkin Bohannon founded SsekoDesigns (the name “Sseko” is derived from “Enseko,” the Lugandan word for “laughter”) as a way to give women in the country a safe place to work and generate income during the nine-month gap that is standard between secondary school and college. The money earned helps finance their educations, and so far, they’ve employed more than 50 women. The company has become the largest exporter of shoes in the country, with their cute and easily interchangeable cloth-tie sandals (perfect for beach and music festivals) getting most of the press.

I happen to love their other accessories, too, which are made in Ethiopia by fair-wage paid artisans. I admit I’m bangle obsessed, so these four brass ones (out in the fall; available for pre-order now) work seamlessly into my wardrobe. Each one features a name of the artisan who made it, which makes a single $25 bangle that much more meaningful.

The scarves are silk and cotton, and woven on traditional looms yielding stunning graphic designs. I love the chambray look and lightness of this one, in particular (it’s also a fall design; available for pre-order now).

Milo sweater: I dream of Barcelona. While Paris gets all the publicity, Barcelona is quietly one of the coolest cities in Europe. From the architecture to the clothes, there’s a telltale structural signature—beauty meets edge—that inhabits the city. So no wonder I’ve recently fallen in love with Mireia Lopez, the Barca-born designer behind Milo, a super luxe (the textiles, the fabrications) line featuring modern silhouettes and detailing. I love the boxy-yet-fluid shape of the oversize sweater I’m wearing, and the fact that it has a deep V, which means you don’t feel so covered up.

Lopez, who lives in Brooklyn and has worked with Zac Posen, Miguel Adrover and Cushnie et Ochs, is also dedicated to fashion that gives back. She uses organic cottons and eco-friendly yarns and sources her cashmere in Nepal where it is produced at the “The House of Hopes,” a center that helps and trains disenfranchised women and widows. Proceeds of sales of Milo’s cashmere sweaters also support free healthcare clinics in the region.

Photo credit: Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Conscious Consumerism Challenge: Day 2

In this 8-day series, we challenged Isabel Gonzalez-Whitaker (InStyle Fashion Features Editor) to vet—and model!—brands that “do good.” As in, brands or sites that meet the following criteria: locally sourced, social responsibility (which includes repurposed/upcycle pieces), organic and all-natural, eco and sustainable practices, and embedded generosity.

Objects Without Meaning top from Covet + Lou: This unadorned, easy to navigate site, which launched last year, features the impeccable picks from owner Tina Burgos. Previously Burgos owned one of the most fashion-forward boutiques in Boston, Stel’s, but closed shop after ten years to focus on her family. She didn’t leave us hanging though: Covet + Lou allows her to showcase her groovy taste with a tightly edited selection of emerging and cult-fave talent (like Kai-Aakmann, Margaux Lonnberg, Giejo).

This Objects Without Meaning shirt is one of select offering from the relatively new label from Alex Hogge (formerly of streetwear line Ksubi) and has a local focus: designed and manufactured in LA. The cuts are super relaxed (as lounge-worthy as your most comfy PJs) so while I pair it with relaxed jeans and scruffy kicks on weekends, for work I contrast the draping with tailored skinny pants and classic pumps.

AELLA pants: This new line from artist and designer Eunice Cho is strictly pants, though skirts will debut in the fall. Manufactured in LA and sold direct to the consumer, Cho’s pants are shipped with minimal packaging and made from a thick knit jersey that hails from a premium eco-conforming mill in Italy. The textile is luxurious thick, more so than traditional jersey, and has impressive stretch, so it conforms without constricting and is seemingly wrinkle-resistant. In other words, they are practically perfect.

Shauns sunglasses: This Cali-based company was founded by namesake Shaun Paterson, who has been legally blind since age 15. The sexy, on-trend and wallet-friendly designs are produced in family-owned workshops in Italy and each purchase yields a pair of vision glasses plus eye exam for someone in need. Should you need to be reminded of your good deed, the logo on each pair is three raised dots—the letter S in Braille.

Photo credit: Sarah Balch for InStyle.com