9.16.2014

BraveGentleman Pop Up show for Fashion Week

Last week Joshua Katcher hosted a pop up event for Fashion Week which showed his new season and was kicked off by a talk about animals in fashion.  Since I still can't wear any of Josh's menswear even though I desperately want a pair of sharp trousers and delicious tassel loafers I will selfishly focus on Josh's talk and forthcoming book.  (You can see some of what was shown on Brave GentleMan's Instagram here for apparel and here for shoes - including slim monk strap shoes and tassel loafers not at all in my size -- and the collection will be online soon at Brave GentleMan.)

I am excited that Josh Katcher has a book in the works about the grisly intersection of fashion and animals.  We got a sample of materials he's collected and some of his writings on the subject at the event and the photos are jarring. The slides started out with current-day examples of animals in editorials -- often with a live animal being used in the spread next to clothing made of animals.  Or, as Josh words it "whatever item that animal disappeared into" which I think is a great way to describe that practice.  The question he asked through all of those magazine spreads featuring both alive and dead animals was, "who do we love...and who do we wear?"  And why?  You know...how does one animal get pulled through the compulsory fashion machine and end up as a clothing item with all the unseen abuse...and others get hugged, petted, walked, played with and so on?

^ cover of the preview booklet ^ 

Whenever I see pictures of animals (alive or as apparel in fashion photos, in vintage circus pictures, people riding camels, swimming with the dolphins, as rugs, as trophies, etc) I always think of the animals' experiences.  It's why I am such a bummer to be around even if you're showing me a picture from 1950 where a bunch of show cats are dressed up in costume or there's an orangutan in a movie and so on.  It's just where my mind goes.  I'm hardwired to think about animals.  So when I see those fashion spreads with live animals and animal-derived apparel it always dumbfounds me -- because of the very question Josh posed.  Why does the magazine or brand think that one animal is adorable or exotic but the other one is fine to be dead and dismembered now, to wear?  It seems like you wouldn't even want them in the same picture.  Like when people who have pet potbelly pigs get asked if they eat bacon around their pets.  But I feel like it happens so often that for the general public there must not be a disconnect. They must not see the dead animal in the picture.

So the really interesting thing about some of the older illustrations and photos in Josh Katcher's collection is the really clear connection between how that dead animal was once alive and dies to make this fashion item.  Pictures of dogs with offers to have it made into a hat or a fur muff for a nominal fee.  Trading cards featuring the animal on the left, and the coat or accessory that can be made out of it's skin on the right.  Full birds, taxidermied, sitting atop society ladies' hats.  Stuff that's not all that common any longer.  We're much better at divorcing ourselves from the animal's body that makes the clothes nowadays.

photo.JPG 

^ Josh Katcher addressing the
misinformation that leather is eco-friendly ^

Besides not thinking about that animal's life before it became just a "thing" (the breeding, the housing, the handling, the harvesting, the absence of enrichment or medical treatment and, finally, the method of killing, including transport if not done on-site) we also do a bang up job of not considering that animal's life in the impact that item has on the earth.  Many people insist wool or leather is environmentally friendly because it's "natural" and not chemicals -- but a recent study on mink fur vs faux fur shows that mink is 3x worse for the environment than faux fur products, or more.  No one seems to want to factor in the resources that come with raising, housing, feeding and dealing with the waste management of animals into that footprint. 

While the topic is pretty grim, it was satisfying to hear someone talk about seeing the same thing I do when they look at these images -- to see expired animals and not clothing.  To see the whole chain of events and impact and not just the end product.  To see the big picture of what happens when animals are used as commodities behind the scenes in the fashion industry's dank underbelly.  And to try to thoughtfully posit how others who don't see it as we do might reconcile this information for themselves.  What's the narrative for people who love animals but buy leather, wool and fur?

I don't have the answers but I'm glad Josh Katcher is tackling this topic and I look forward to reading his thoughts and seeing what he unearths in his research. 

9.12.2014

Found you: another MIA from my closet

One of the positives of stripping my closet of everything I'm ambivalent about was unearthing stuff I forgot I had.  (The dress and cardigan from my last post are two examples.)  Shoes were not an exception.  I installed two shoe racks and "limited" my shoes to 19 pairs, instead of piling shoe boxes on top of each other like some shantytown of Cri de Coeur boxes and I found a few pairs I forgot I even had.

Like these unworn American Apparel sneakers.  They needed some time with the shoe stretcher to fit right but they're canvas so it only took a day.



I recently heard from a former American Apparel employee that not all of their shoes and accessories are made in the USA, which is so misleading. I checked these guys out and there is a "Made in the USA" stamped on the bottom but that's something sneaky to watch out for at American Apparel.  How surprising.

9.10.2014

Coming clean: the closet cull of 2014

You would think I was really into cocaine if you saw the speed with which I cleaned out my closet after my last blog post.  Thanks for your suggestions and dissents.  All were helpful.  I would say 70% of the clothing I'm passing on was vintage/resale shop/thrift stores but I think 70% of what I kept is the same so that isn't indicative of much besides my general shopping habits.  I'm just as likely to not wear new and used clothing I purchase.

The result:
1 bag plus 5 pairs of shoes for resale or swaps
4 bags for the thrift store
5 pieces for the tailor 
(I haven't fully cleaned out my closet in years if that seems like a lot)

I have almost nothing left in my closet and I'm petrified to add anything to my closet because I clearly cannot figure out what I'll actually wear.  The good news is that I unearthed a few things that I do like to wear but which were buried under unwanted button-downs.  This Mary Ink t-shirt dress and cardigan are good examples - and I ended up wearing them together.  Black and white pattern mixing is about as adventurous as I get. I also hate rollercoasters.

I wore this to:  work, attend Brave Gentleman's Fashion Week Pop-Up and go pick up a tiny black kitten rescued by friends from the street so I could bring her to my work's Adoption Center the next day (I fell in love with her but we already have too many cats so I bitterly, sadly and with great melodramatic despair dropped her off at a place I was lucky to get her into - such is the Cat Lady Life) 

Outfit

Outfit

^ dress: Mary Ink t-shirt dress (USA-made) ^
bag: org cotton Baggu (monitored labor standards
cardigan: swap


Ignore that my face looks like I'm doing a headshot for a really serious endeavor in this picture below, where I am required to stare into the distance poignantly.  I promise you I didn't do anything dramatic or important this day.  But these clothes did make it through the closet cull successfully and so here they are.

I wore this to:  go to work; hang out with some people


Necklace 

^ top: Beacon's Closet ^
leggings: American Apparel
shoes: Cri de Coeur
necklace: gift from friend 

I'm still mulling over my lessons learned from the vantage point of surveying all the outcasts from my closet at one time.  (Note: I still have to go through a dresser as well so party time is far from over.)  So far this is all I got:

No List:
  1. No button downs or v-necks
  2. No colors except black/gray/navy and possibly cobalt, dark green and dark purple
  3. No shoes with a heel or that are uncomfortable to walk in
  4. Your shoe racks fit 21 pairs of shoes and that is all you're allowed to have
  5. Not all of those 21 shoes can be sneakers
  6. Nothing too girly or juvenile
  7. No peter pan collars
  8. Nothing ill-fitting - get it tailored or get rid of it
  9. No short skirts
  10. No trapeze jackets
  11. No dated business suits - no one wants to see anyone in those, ever
  12. No more crew neck t-shirts (I have some and it's enough)

Yes List:

  1. Black, gray, navy for top and bottom and cobalt, dark green and dark purple for top
  2. Black shoes, black shoes with detail or gray shoes only  
  3. Shoes with rubbery bottoms are the best and I'll wear them to death
  4. Flat shoes with good traction only - no tottering down the subway stairs and missing trains
  5. Boat necks or sweetheart necklines (not low-cut)
  6. Knee-length or midi skirts
  7. Dark dresses with a pattern - whether shift or fitted/semi-full skirt
  8. More longer tops so I can hide the fact I wear jeans to work all the time
  9. Patterns are okay (stripes, florals, geometric, dots) as long as the base is a dark neutral but for the love of god, nothing too twee (no cats, foxes, bicycles, etc)
  10. Having the psychics in the bra department fit you just by glancing in your direction is totally worth it even if they argue with you about cup size (trust them, they are right)

9.04.2014

How do you clean out your closet?

I've been planning on reducing my closet to only the stuff I wear regularly (excluding fancy dresses I have to keep because people insist on having fancy events).  While I love my vintage batwing parrot shirt (seriously) and understand why I've collected 9,000 button-downs over the years there is no reason for me to hold onto them. I don't wear them.  I am not a parrot-shirt button-down kind of girl.

Outfit closet
^ this is stuff I wear all the time, actually ^

I've been reading Tim Gunn's A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style (shut up - it was a gift from someone who had multiple signed copies) and he has a fairly simple way of sorting your stuff:

1) Stuff you looooooove (it fits, you wear it, you love it - keep!)
2) Stuff you like but repairs are needed (you have 5 days to repair this stuff)
3) Give away (assuming this is what goes to resale shops, swaps and thrift stores)
4) Throw out (I'll assume he means textile recycling here)

What else would you add to this closet clean-out process?  I will probably give myself a month for repairs because 5 days sounds like some horrible Mission: Impossible movie.  What am I, an adult?


Yes, it's actually the end of summer, somewhat predictably.

Everyone is talking about the end of summer like the sky is falling. I actually missed most of spring and summer because I was so sick. On one hand, I am a bitter spoiled brat about this. Summer is my favorite season.  Outside! My birthday! More outside! Beach! Parks! Day trips! Whatnot! And on the other more gracious hand, I am just grateful that I only lost the summer.  I never got a conclusive diagnosis (there are strong suspicions) and I'm almost back to normal. There are many people who have what I had for life.  But of course it doesn't stop me from thinking expletives when people complain that summer is ending.  At least you had a summer, person. And then I have to remind myself to be grateful again. 
 
 I wore this to:  work, food co-op shopping


photo.JPG 
shirt/American Apparel (older)
necklace/Clyde's Rebirth
skirt/Mousevox Vintage
shoes/Cri de Coeur

Apparently I did a bang-up job increasing my caloric intake since I surpassed my previous winter weight and am now over that.  I didn't realize it until I put on this skirt and ouch, man.  I don't care about a few extra pounds but it's a bummer when clothes don't fit comfortably any longer. 

8.21.2014

Fall Wardrobe Recommendations, Edited


del - fall wardrobe

You know, if needed.  

Seriously, what do they think happened to all of the fall clothes I already had?

8.18.2014

What's Up with Green Fabrics: Bamboo

One of my 2014 Ethical Fashion Goals was to learn more about fabric's ecological and labor impact.  Then I got sick and thought I was dying (literally) and didn't blog for a while and got very behind on those goals.  Anyway, I ran into this post about bamboo fabric on Treehugger and figured I'd excerpt some of it for you.

Growing bamboo is eco-friendly but the process to get it into material is not:

"The growing of bamboo is environmentally friendly but the manufacturing of bamboo into fabric raises environmental and health concerns because of the strong chemical solvents used to cook the bamboo plant into a viscose solution that is then reconstructed into cellulose fiber for weaving into yarn for fabric."
Panda

The FTC noted that the end product of cellulose is rayon (regardless of what the cellulose started as) and needs to be labeled as rayon.  But there are some rayon exceptions that are more eco-friendly: 

"However not all rayon is created equal; Lyocell, or Tencel, is made in a closed-loop process using less toxic chemicals. Like conventional viscose, it can be made from any form of cellulose including bamboo."

"Once the stuff had to be called 'rayon made from bamboo' it didn't sound quite so natural and green anymore and pretty much disappeared. If you see bamboo clothing, it might be spun directly from the fiber and described as bamboo linen; otherwise, unless you see the Lyocell or Tencel label, give it a pass."
Hopefully one day I'll write a longer series on fabric impact but I thought this was an interesting point to note now.  Thanks, Treehugger.