Last week saw my semi-annual jaunt to the desert for the Las Vegas shows. For the first time in sometime I actually made it to a whole slew of shows and even a few seminars.
At every show (this was my twelfth) I’ve always sought out the new and unusual, with a preference for domestically manufactured. Over the past few years that preference has become an obsession, add in the state of our planet and my work with clients on the eco spectrum and that obsession has become a necessity.
One of the seminars I attended was “Doing the Right Thing Now For Fashion’s Future” at SOURCING at MAGIC. It was a panel discussion led by Katherine Stein of SGS which featured Justin Dillon of Made in a Free World, Jeanine Ballone of FASHION 4 DEVELOPMENT (and also Senior Director, Global Sourcing/Innovation and Product Development at PVH CORP) and Amy Hall, Director of Social Consciousness at EILEEN FISHER.
It was a good discussion, one that felt, sadly, poorly attended. One statistic stood out to me.
By 2030 the world will need 40% more water than it can possibly provide.
It was a statistic I’d heard before, but amidst the mass consumerism that is one of the largest apparel tradeshows, it was much more sobering. It took my everything to not leave and run through the convention centers screaming “Go home – you don’t need to buy anything – our planet is dying -we’ll have no water left in 15 years!!!”
Instead I channeled my frustration into good and went on a hunt for conscious fashion in a city not particularly known for consciousness :)
My first obvious stop was at the Emerging Designer Showcase at WWDMAGIC. The designers had been moved to the main concourse, giving them much more exposure than previous years – definitely a positive move. It felt smaller and weaker this season though – but there were two definite standouts.
/EIS/ Los Angeles, (pronounced Ace) from Japanese born, raised and educated, Ayumi Shibata, is a line filled with gorgeous prints and textures, many pieces are reversible (multi-use = less clothing purchased = yay for reduced consumption) and most of the line is produced in the USA.
Luis Denim, another participant in the Emerging Designer Showcase, was showcasing a great made in L.A denim brand. All the styles were not your average denim cuts. I loved the overalls and the unusual button up shirts.
After WWDMAGIC I headed over to another MAGIC show, Project Women’s (formerly ENK Shows). At Project Women’s an effort had been made to showcase conscious brands under the project “Conscious Collections”. The definition was fairly broad and sought to highlight brands that were “making a difference”. These brands included charitable brands such as The Giving Keys and Half United (featured below) and eco brands like Eileen Fisher (love).
Less obvious inclusions were Rebecca Minkoff - I didn’t stop by their booth (I didn’t see that they were a participant until after the show) so I don’t know if they had a new project that would make them a valid participant. It could be through their collaboration with Honest Co – but if that’s the case, two bags does not a conscious brand make.
Half UnitedHalf United are a Los Angeles based jewelry brand that follows the give-back or “TOMS” (with whom they are partnered) model. For every product sold Half United provides a week of meals for a child in need. The company are “serving” the USA, Cambodia, Fiji, Nepal and Haiti. The majority of the collection features recycled bullet casings (symbolizing the fight against hunger) and is made in the USA.
After PROJECT Women’s I headed over to Pooltradeshow. Pooltradeshow is synonymous with indie art driven brands – so I figured this was a good place to stop on my hunt for “consciousness”.
I was super happy to see Nooworks – an out of San Francisco brand that I’ve posted about before (see my instagram) that focuses on limited edition, artist designed textiles with super simple silhouettes.
Thread and Onion is a minimalist line out of Savannah, GA. The clothes are made using luxury silks and natural fibers.
My last stop on the tradeshow tour was Capsule – another show known for it’s embrace of the emerging designer community. They were also showcasing a number of conscious brands in their “Above the Tree Line” collection.
Juniper Ridge are not a new brand to me, but were my first stop at “Above the Tree Line”. They’re stocked by our client Vert Beauty, and I’ve followed them for a little while (they have a beautiful instagram account). They’re a fascinating company, formulating “Wilderness Perfume” – extracting scents from nature – all of their products are 100% natural. They’re very good storytellers and their site and social media (and zine) do a fantastic service to the brand.
The also have a “Field Lab” collection which are small batch creations made on the trail, literally capturing a day in a scent. Extremely evocative.
Jungmaven is another Los Angeles based brand, founded by Robert Jungmann. The brand produces clothing made from hemp and hemp/organic cotton blends and the result is not crunchy ponchos and fisherman pants, but well cut and soft tees (for men and women), great dresses (the kind you want to live in) and tunics.
The blue, red and white tee pictured above was my favourite – an instant classic and I know I would wear this dress every day forever.
Jungmann has been working with hemp and natural dyes since 1993, He works with indigo, black tea, turmeric and coffee and even makes paper from the hemp scraps. Given the seminar mentioned earlier it was great to learn that hemp is substantially less water intensive than cotton, cleanses oxygen and one acre produces 250% more fiber than cotton and 600% more than flax.
Now those are reasons to buy a t-shirt.
10TreesAs someone who has spent the past 12 months really reconnecting with their outdoorsy side (well, making an effort to) this vest stopped me in my tracks. When I found out it was by 10Tree I was even more excited.
10Tree plant 10 trees for every purchase made, they also produce (overseas) ethically and use many conscious fabrics such as tencel and organic cotton. I cannot wait to take a hike (literally) in this vest when it comes out (and let’s be honest probably snap a pic and wait till I have WiFi again so I can post it on the interwebs)
After exploring “Above the Tree Line” I checked out the remainder of the show.
Vivian Chan is a made in Los Angeles brand that produces seasonally collections around a specific “girl” driven by a career – previous careers have included Pastry Chefs, Florists, Art Teachers, Tattoo Artists and more.
The line is extremely feminine and considering the quality, and made in Los Angeles factor, is extremely affordable – shop the Summer 2015 Collection now to see for yourself.
Make it Good are a made in Portland brand (I swear I didn’t intentionally gravitate to only West Coast brands…). They hand dye their fabric, make their own prints and produce everything in house. The result is super wearable clothing and a cute sister brand – Nell and Mary – with adorable bags and soft home goods.
Personally I want to live in this 3/4 sleeve dress for Fall.
So, overall, I found some new brands that I’m excited about, but I think all the shows could do a better job to be more inclusive of conscious brands and highlight their work and what makes them conscious – I want to see more of it showcased and made available – perhaps a glossary style code – “made in the USA”, “eco”, “charitable” – those tags would make navigating the three massive convention centers that much easier and really help guide those of us looking for a conscious alternative.