What constitutes eco and ethical fashion?

When people ask me about my interests, and I tell them "eco and ethical fashion", many have never heard of these terms--and so there is often some confusion about what I am even talking about.  So I'm here to clear things up and provide you with some information and perspective on something very near and dear to my heart. 

"Eco" (ecological or sustainable) fashion is clothing that is kind/good to the EARTH, and "ethical" fashion is kind/good to PEOPLE (and animals).  Eco fashion is not always ethical, just like ethical fashion is not always good for the environment--but when your fashion items are both eco and ethical, its a win-win for both the environment AND people! 

Photo by me, taken at MATE the Label, Headquarters in Los Angeles, a brand dedicated to sustainability.

Photo by me, taken at MATE the Label, Headquarters in Los Angeles, a brand dedicated to sustainability.

EXAMPLES OF "ECO FASHION" PRACTICES:

-Buying secondhand from a thrift or consignment store (this is the most sustainable option): 1. These items are discarded or donated as the owner no longer wants them. If these are not given to a secondhand store or new owner they will be thrown away, likely into landfill waste. 2. You can use less gas by shopping at small, "local" thrift and consignment stores that are often within your own community.  3. You are literally REDUCING your total purchases at a normal retailer, the cost of the item (your wallet thanks you!), and your environmental footprint, REUSING someone’s discarded clothing, and RECYCLING the items back into your closet so the pieces can have a new life. 

-Buying secondhand from an online store such as Tradesy, eBay, Poshmark, Mercari, Depop, thredUP, etc. Buying online as opposed to in person is slightly less sustainable as you have to factor in environmental pollution from packaging materials and shipping/transportation.

-Buying something secondhand that is still new from online or in-store. Not all secondhand items have to be "used". Although buying new secondhand items is slightly less sustainable than buying used, it still offsets the manufacturing and production impacts in comparison to buying new straight from the company or retailer. A great item to buy secondhand that is new is swimwear, as it seems unhygienic to most people to purchase swimwear worn by other individuals. 

-Using more sustainable fabrics such linen, hemp, modal, tencel, etc. Bonus if you use organic! 

-Using recycled fibers, fabrics, and materials. An example would be using old plastic bottles to spin into fibers and then into fabric to make a new shirt. 

-Upcycling fabrics and clothing items. This is not to be confused with recycling as upcycling does not go through a shred>spin>new fabric cycle that recycling does. Upcycling keeps the general fabric components. An example would be cutting up an old t-shirt and making a reusable grocery bag out of it. 

-Purchasing products from companies who implement sustainable practices and elements in their production, factories, packaging, etc. 

-Purchasing products that use natural dyes like vegetables or seaweed instead of harsh chemical dyes that impact your health and the environment.

 

EXAMPLES OF "ETHICAL FASHION" PRACTICES:

-Having a "Sweatshop" free environment: There should be no harsh working conditions for the employees, all the design and production and shipping facilities and factories must comply with state/country regulations and standards.

-Fair Trade: Workers are compensated fairly for their work in accordance with regulations and wage guidelines.  

-Any initiatives, programs, partnerships, etc. that a brand may have that is dedicated to social/environmental good.  An example could be an artisan jewelry company that donates a percentage of profits to the World Wildlife Foundation or charity wellness programs for the artisans who make the jewelry. 

Taken at MATE the Label Headquarters. Wearing vegan hat, MATE the Label organic cotton tee, thrifted vegan belt from Poshmark, Boyish by Her jeans made from 30% recycled denim and 70% BCI cotton (Better Cotton Initiative) designed by one of my best friends Nicole Azevedo, and vegan Coconuts by Matisse x Free People booties.

Taken at MATE the Label Headquarters. Wearing vegan hat, MATE the Label organic cotton tee, thrifted vegan belt from Poshmark, Boyish by Her jeans made from 30% recycled denim and 70% BCI cotton (Better Cotton Initiative) designed by one of my best friends Nicole Azevedo, and vegan Coconuts by Matisse x Free People booties.

OVERLAP - CAN BE BOTH ECO & ETHICAL

Made in America: Most clothing items made in the United States are not necessarily eco-friendly or sustainable. However, if the clothing is made in the United States, wages and working conditions in American factories are usually better than in other countries, due to stricter regulations and workplace standards. However, there have been reports that there are still sweatshops in the US where workers are not earning minimum wage, or are required to work long hours or work in other potentially hazardous conditions, so try to do some research. By shopping local(ish), you also cut down on transportation pollution. Something shipped within the same state or country has much less of a transportation environmental impact than something shipped from overseas. Some companies take greater measures to implement sustainable practices and materials than others. Depending on the company or brand though, you could be shopping both eco and ethical made in the USA items! Bonus: by purchasing items within country or state lines, you're also supporting the economy and hardworking Americans! 

Made in Europe, Australia, or Canada generally have similar working conditions to the US. 

Vegan Fashion:

Vegan fashion includes clothing items that are free of any animal products! This means no leather, suede, wool, silk, cashmere, fur, etc. The debate of vegan fashion needs to be addressed--you can make the case that it is eco or unsustainable and you can also make the case that it's ethical and non-ethical.  Every situation requires a bit of thoughtful analysis--Here are a couple of examples:  

Example 1: Company X sells Vegan shoes for ($10 - $30)

-Eco: Good because you're using much less resources to produce the fabrics and materials to make the shoes. Bad because this particular company is known for its pollution, harsh chemicals, etc. to produce shoes--thus potentially harming both the environment and workers' health. 

-Ethical: Good because you're not harming animals, but not so good because this company may cut corners in taking good care of their employees, and not pay them a fair wage for work, and there have less than good working conditions in their factories. 

Lower price point items are typically made cheap, do not last as long, but are much less likely to have animal products, whereas most more expensive items (unfortunately) are made with animal products and are durable. This is not the case with all brands and items though.

Example 2: Company Y sells Vegan shoes ($500+)

Eco: This company as a brand is dedicated to sustainability efforts in every area of its development and production.

Ethical: This brand is ethical all the way around - to humans, animals, and the environment. 

Promoting and practicing sustainable initiatives. Environmental sustainability is both a concern for both ethical fashion and eco fashion. While it is both eco and ethical--there is sometimes a conflict in that you can't always afford to buy the most expensive items you'd like--a good time for shopping for resale.

 

Reflect

I hope this information helps you think about the purchases that you make and the types of companies you support. This has been quite the learning process and journey for me over the last few years and I’m always learning more about this topic and am happy to share with you all. As sustainable/ethical fashion awareness grows, so does the industry. Consumer demand drives companies to make changes, so the more we learn and talk about these issues, the more companies will shift their mindset. Let’s #MakeShiftHappen! 

StyleWe Collab Part 2

This is part 2 of my collaboration with StyleWe! The first one went so well, we decided to do another :) I met up with model, @cosettedemille , in Manhattan Beach and we explored the area looking for cool spots to shoot around! She was a pleasure to work with and also happened to be vegan so we bonded about that! Not only was she my model, but she was also the girl behind the lens for my photos! Don't ya just love when people are multi-talented?

In my first look, I'm wearing the IVY Floral-print V Neck Boho Long Sleeve Mini Dress! Besides the fact that is was super windy out and my dress kept flying up (definitely wear shorts under), I absolutely love this dress! It's also short enough that it would look really cute as a long top with black skinny jeans as well,  but I'll save that for next time! BTW I tend to like to blend in with plants if you haven't noticed already lol. 

In the second look, I'm featuring the Casual Sleeveless PU Paneled Pierced Midi-Dress from Liya's Closet! I'm a huge fan of how leather looks, but I'm very against actual leather for many reasons. This is why I'm a HUGE fan of vegan leather styles - you get the same look without all the cruelty, environmental impacts, and smell (yes, leather smells..bad). After visiting a tannery with my study abroad group in Morocco a few years back, I will never look at leather the same way again. I started dry heaving and was having gag refluxes seeing and smelling all of the rotting carcasses and harsh chemicals. It was hard for people to breath, myself included. Sorry if that got too graphic too fast haha but I needed to share! So in light of my experiences, when I find a cute vegan leather style I gotta have it! This dress was so cute on and I liked how it was slimming but still a relaxed fit. Thanks for the goodies StyleWe!  

Green Vegan Suede Hat - Free People

Black Floral Dress - StyleWe

Cream Socks - American Apparel

Black Lace-Up Vegan Suede Shoes - Coconuts by Matisse

Black Vegan Suede Hat - Free People

Black Vegan Leather Dress - StyleWe

Silver Necklace - Free People

Gray Studded Vegan Suede Booties - Coconuts by Matisse

Saltwater Luxe Collaboration

This was probably one of my favorite shoots I've ever done! I had the pleasure of working with Saltwater Luxe, a casual luxury brand based in Long Beach, California. No joke, their office is two minutes from my apartment!! As you guys know, I'm a huge advocate of ethically sourced goods and Saltwater Luxe is Los Angeles made (yay no sweatshops!), and often sources vintage fabrics reducing their carbon footprint. Their style is beachy bohemian with a little adventure. Toria Webber (model) and I sought to capture the wanderlust #SWLBabe vibe and hit the road on a day trip to Angeles National Forest just east of Pasadena. Side Note: I highly recommend going on a weekday, there were barely any cars or people! We also ventured around some neighborhoods around Pasadena. It was so much fun and I can't wait to work with Toria and the gals over at Saltwater Luxe again in the future!

Boyce Thompson Arboretum

One of my oldest and best friends, Kelsey Hughes, and I decided to go on a day trip to Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior, AZ about an hour or so out of town. I was amazed on how much there was to do out there! We just went on the main trail which passed through multiple greenhouses, a bridge, a creek, and a short scenic hike around the area.

I recommend going here during the winter because everything is outside, not much shade, and your going to be drenched in sweat, likely getting a sunburn in 90+ degree weather if you don't. Unlike most national parks, scenic areas, and nature spots, there is an actual address to pinpoint where you are going and there is a huge parking lot which makes life way easier. You likely won't have cell service all day either and there aren't any food or snacks to buy so make sure to pack your own food! This is definitely worth a trip and makes for an awesome get-out-of-town day trip with friends!

Denim Shirt (Kelsey) - American Apparel

Black Distressed Skinny Jeans (Kelsey) - Topshop

Cream Fringe Sweater (Allison) - Free People

Vegan Suede Brown Hat (Allison) - Gigi Pip

High-Waisted Blue Denim Skinny Jeans (Allison) - Free People

Brown Vegan Western Booties (Allison) - Coconuts by Matisse

Black Vegan Suede Hat - Free People

Army Green Denim Shirt (Allison) - American Apparel

Taupe Shirt (Kelsey) - Kastlfel 

High-Waisted Black Denim Skinny Jeans (Allison) - American Apparel

Maroon Fuzzy Sweater (Allison) - Kensie

Black Tri-Blend Racerback (Allison) - American Apparel

Vegan Waterproof Hiking Boots (Allison) - Jeffrey Campbell, purchased on Poshmark

 

 

Camelback Mountain

Went out for a shoot around Camelback Mountain to feature some of my new pieces I got for the holidays (aka my mom and I went to Nordstrom Rack together over Thanksgiving weekend, I found cute stuff, and she saved it for me to open for Christmas). One of these items being this flouncy pirate-looking top from Free People - at least my dad thought I looked like a pirate haha but it wasn't exactly the look I was going for. Second, being the vegan suede fringe vest! I always love finding synthetic suede and leather, it gives me hope about the future of ethical fashion! 

AC-Blog-Camelback-1701005.jpg

White Top - Free People

Distressed Denim Jeans - Nasty Gal

Taupe Fringed Booties - Coconuts by Matisse, purchased from ShoeMall

Vegan Suede Fringe Vest - Bagatelle Collection, Nordstrom Rack

 

Desert Stardust

This was the same day as the Cotton Field excursion, however different vibes call for a different blog post! Ryen was awesome and let me get a little creative and put glitter/foil all over her face. Made for a beautiful stardust effect or starDUSK in this situation because it was sunset :)

Denim Shirt - Buffalo Exchange (consignment store), brand is Madewell

Tan/Brown Vegan Western Boots - Coconuts by Matisse, purchased from ShoeMall

Brown Vegan Western Boots - Coconuts by Matisse, purchased from Amazon

 

Deserted Farm - Becca Booker Media

Part 2: This was the same farm/deserted horse stables in Scottsdale that I explored with my friend, Becca - pretty cool area! Also, I'm obsessed with this vegan leather jacket I purchased off of Mercari. It's a new app that is similar to Poshmark but is less of a social network and they only take out 10% of sales instead of 20% like Posh. You can buy new or used items on the app, I highly recommend it! By the way, this is not a sponsored post, I just genuinely like using these apps haha. My jacket was gently used, so yay for reducing my carbon footprint (and getting a good deal)! 

Vegan Felt Hat - Target

Vegan Leather Jacket - Free People but purchased on consignment app, Mercari

Lace-Up Black Top - Free People

High-Waisted Black Jeans - American Apparel

Vegan Western Boots - Purchased from Free People, brand is Coconuts by Matisse

shot by @beccabookermedia, edited by me