Sunday, September 13, 2015

Cheap Chic is back

And it's just as good as ever. The fashion classic (first published in 1975, with an unsuccessful "update" in 1978)) went out of print sometime in the early 80s (although you could still find used copies around) and first editions were recently selling for outrageous prices online. Happily, Random House has re-issued Cheap Chic with a new forward by Tim Gunn. I was a worried they would try to "update" it again, but it is as it was back in the day.

The forward by Mr. Gunn is excellent; he hits all the high points about why the book is useful and fun:

The reasonable, often quite funny authors encourage us to ask ourselves the most important of all fashion question: 'Who am I, and how do I want the world to perceive me?'
The original introduction is prophetic, noting "we stuff our closets with masses of mistakes". And this was before clothing manufacture moved overseas and became really cheap.  Their take on the subject is firm but gentle. They take clothing seriously as self-expression, but the idea of fashion lightly ("your look should be in harmony with the way you live, who you are, and not reflect what the fashion magazines (or even we) might say").

Cheap Chic is divided into chapters that take apart a wide variety of "looks", giving you tips, essentials, and plenty of inspiration with an abundance of black-and-white illustrations, such as a Levi-Strauss illustrated ad (I still want the Engineer's Coat!), Greta Garbo in a suit, and even one of Bill Cunningham's hats.  It then offers short profiles and interviews of famous and not-so famous fabulously stylish people. Kudos to book designer Bea Feitler, who tied it all together.

My favorite chapters are Classics ("Sometimes Cheap Chic boils down to spending much more than you feel you can afford on the kind of classic, quality clothes we talk about in this chapter. We think it saves you money in the long run."),  Second-String Classics (if you really can't afford the Classics),  Antiques ("It feels good to wear expensive clothes, especially when someone else paid for them the first time out"), and Work Clothes ("Since they were never designed to be in fashion, they can never go out of style"). But there's something for everyone here.

I owned and treasured Cheap Chic in college–I clearly remember taking a deep breath to pay full price for it in 1976,  $5.95–but the lessons I learned from it have stayed with me my whole life. Can't give a better recommendation than that.  And it's only $16.00 now! Go get it and be inspired.

[Full disclosure: I was sent a promotional copy to review. Do you really think I would turn down a chance to talk about one of my favorite fashion books of all time?]

Cross-posted at Illustrated Obscurity.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Interview with Elizabeth Hudson of Ursa Minor

Here at Quotidienne we champion the small, independent designers who are working hard to make beautiful, wearable clothing. Elizabeth Hudson is the designer behind Ursa Minor, a wonderful line of sophisticated everyday essentials, ethically made in Montreal, Canada. We talked with her about her work and what inspires her.

How long have you been designing? How did you get started?

I'm a self-taught designer. After completing a painting degree at University in 2003 I got a job designing the house label for a local boutique. At the time I barely knew how to sew in a zipper. I started Ursa Minor in 2012 and, after taking a break to have my daughter, have just completed my second season back.

Can you tell us more about your process?

Lots of trial and error, I'm the worst kind of perfectionist. Inspiration comes from all over the place, but design usually comes down to what I feel like wearing myself. I obsess over textiles.

What is your typical workday like?

I work four days a week and try to be in the studio at least two of those days. I wear a lot of hats: designer, marketer, rep, accountant, salesperson, production manager, web designer... every day, every hour brings something new.

Do you have a favorite item of clothing or accessory? What does it mean to you?

Top of the list is an inscribed silver nameplate ring that belonged to my grandmother, whose name my daughter shares.

When you are designing, how do you put yourself in a creative frame of mind?

By surrounding myself with good things.

Do you have any new projects coming up you’d like to share with our readers?

Not remotely work-related but I've started making my own kimchi and it's the best.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Interview with Lee Coren

Lee Coren of Jaffa, Israel, makes beautiful geometric-print scarves in luscious colors. We asked her a few questions about her creative process:

Lee Coren (photo by Aya Wind) modeling the Pink Block scarf

Many of your designs are inspired by aspects of your local, urban environment. What drew you to these objects?

Kenya Hara's book: Designing Design. In my favorite chapter in the book Hara talks about the term Exformation; it refers to the common knowledge that all individuals in a society share, but is not expressed within daily communication. However, without this knowledge communication would be impossible. The concept behind the project he held with his students was not to alienate the familiar, but to show it in a new fascinating way. I was inspired greatly by this idea. My 'Local Environment' collections take local icons that are most common in typical Israeli cities - and brings them back to consciousness from a fresh perspective. Since this initial collection, the line expanded into different cities and countries, all from my personal traveller experience with them.

Do you have a favorite part of the design process?

Screen printing, of course! 

Have you always wanted to be a designer? How did you get started?

I always wanted to create, but my way to design was more accidental. I wanted to study curation, but for that I needed a 1st degree that was in a similar field. I chose Visual Communications because it seemed interesting, though I had no idea what it was at the time. After my degree I had no doubt I wanted to explore textiles further, and went with my heart.  

When you wear your own scarves, what do you like to wear them with?

My favorites are grey jeans, knit top and either Knobbly Studio / Young Frankk Jewelry. I usually dress monochromatic so I love how the vibrant scarves bring the right amount of color to the look, and the jewelry add some shine to it.

Do you have a favorite item of clothing or accessory? What does it mean to you?

this Maayan Paz dress - I feel like a rockstar in it. 

Lee Coren's Pink Eclectic scarf with Matine's Petit Avgvst Pouch and Ilsa Loves Rick Whisper Bangles.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Easy Spring

Here are three outfits, all based on the same black linen Lazy Day Pants from Montreal designer Ursa Minor... they have a wide elastic waist, cropped ankle length, front slash pockets and two back patch pockets. You can see how super-versatile these are! They would also look fantastic with our Nuthatch Linen Tunic or modaspia's Mercury top...

First up: paired with Ursa Minor's black linen Pocket Top, 45 spacer earrings, and Ellen Truijen's Saddle Basic bag in cashmere Argil (Clay).

Paired with Lauren Manoogian's linen/baby alpaca blend knit pocket Tunic, Gamma Folk ceramic Arch necklace, and Btwn Wind & Water's big deerskin Portfolio Clutch.

Paired with Small Trades charcoal Carrie Tee, Ilsa Loves Rick's North South hoop earrings, and Ellen Truijen's Jip bag.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wearable Justice

I love hearing about ways of doing business not as usual! Wearable Justice is one of them.

Wearable Justice is a DC-based non-profit dedicated to bringing university students ethical fashion at an affordable price. CEO and Founder Jacob Maxmin answered our questions about the completely student-owned and student-run organization:

How did Wearable Justice get started? How did you get involved?

I started out as a brand ambassador on Georgetown’s University’s campus for two of the companies that I currently work with. It was very hard to market niche ethical fashion brands on a college campus. I started out marketing these brands on Facebook, and when someone was interested they would come to my dorm room and buy there. So I started to think about how an umbrella organization that could better distribute and market these products on campus.

I originally came up with the name Hoya Storefront, but Georgetown has actually trademarked “Hoya” and “Hoyas.” I decided to reevaluate my goals and came up with the name Wearable Justice and became a nonprofit. As a nonprofit, it makes it easier to operate on University campuses, and also enables us to maximize our social impact.

How does Wearable Justice choose partners? How do you judge if a business meets your criteria for social responsibility?

One of the biggest ways is by examining the needs of students on campus.

When we’re examining a company, we look for information about their raw material sourcing, where their products are manufactured, and who’s making the products. A lot of our partner companies have extensive information about their programs on their websites. We look to see how companies give back to the communities in which they operate, and how they create sustainable careers for their workers. From there we will go on to find third party reviews about the company, or talk to companies we already work with to see if they know them.

From there we will reach out to the company by email or phone. A company we work with needs to let us remarket their products on our website, and often those products will be listed at a lower price than original MSRP. Also, our partner’s need to be willing to work with us on smaller wholesale orders. If a company is okay with this, then we’ll order some samples to check quality, and then bring them to our table and see if people like the products. If this all works out then we’ll place our order.

One thing we require is extensive information about the supply chain of our partner companies. Even if it’s made in the United States, we need to check that the cotton etc. is being sourced fairly and the workers are paid a living wage.

If we’re partnering with an organization that works in Guatemala, we’re not looking for someone who goes down to Guatemala and buys products from street vendors, we’re looking for someone who partners with existing artisans and co-ops, who is purchasing from the same people again and again and creating sustainable partnerships in the communities they are buying from.

Some of the companies we work with do that, and some of the companies such as Della, based in Ghana, go further to even create their own co-op, to give all the women who work with them a living wage, educational opportunities, and loans.

How do you define “conscious consumerism”?

I define conscious consumerism as the ability to ask questions. If I’m a conscious consumer, I’m someone who’s asking questions every time I buy a product. These questions don’t necessarily have answers, but it means that when I’m shopping I’m having internal dialogue as I walk through the aisles. “Do I know who made this product?” “Do I know if this was made in a sweatshop?” I relate ethical fashion to organic foods. “Does the box tell me where this is from and how it was made?”

You really hear about this all the time in the context of food, and that’s a daily conversation because we eat food daily. A lot of times fashion and clothing can really take a back seat to that, but I still consider it just as important. What we’re trying to do to take price out of the equation, to let people ask these deeper questions, instead of just focusing on the cheapest possible option.

What are some ethical choices students and others can make on a tight budget?

Here at Georgetown, we offer products that range from under $10 to over $200, but the thing I try to encourage my friends to do and do myself is to remember that less is more. Going to H&M and buying 5 shirts that aren’t going to last very long doesn’t really make any sense. I try to push the quality over quantity ethic. Save your money and buy one ethically made shirt that’s very well made and going to last a long time.

What are some ways that individuals can promote socially responsible fashion?

On an individual level, the biggest way to promote ethical fashion is to buy a product from a responsible company and wear it around. Tell your friends about it, let them see it, let them touch it; tell them the story of the brand.

The biggest piece of feedback we get when people touch some of our shirts is “Wow, these are so soft!” The quality of our products truly speaks for itself.

Additionally, a lot of people my age have personal blogs and more than one social media account. Spreading awareness about small brands doing great things is really important. Getting people engaged in that conversation via social media is one way we can begin to change the status quo.


Wearable Justice is currently located on the Georgetown University campus, but intends to expand to more campuses. In the meantime, you can connect with Wearable Justice on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Saturday, March 7, 2015

New bags from ellen truijen

A Q favorite has returned (Mommy Dearest), but we have several new styles on offer, including a sweet little bag that's part of an artist collaboration! Ellen's bags are made of thick, luxe European leather with high-quality tan cotton lining that won't snag, and designed with thoughtful details that will make this bag a cherished friend for life! Every bag is hand made by "passionate Dutch craftsmen."

The 24 Hours Revival bag will take you through a full day plus some. Rectangular in shape, slightly wider at the top for good access. The opening has a sturdy zipper to keep all your essentials secure. The shorter, padded strap is super comfortable on your shoulder and the longer strap is perfect for cross-body wearing. You can use one strap or both, as they are easily removed using the smooth-functioning swivel clips. Available in Buffalo Hazel (a cool brown) or Buffalo Tobacco (a warm cognac).

The Saddle Basic is a lovely basic bag, not too small and not too big. It has cute rounded bottom  corners and also has the option of two shoulder straps, one long and one short. Or you can leave them both off and carry this as a clutch! Zipper closure with Ellen's favorite PacMan pull, cotton lining with pockets, sturdy rings to hold the straps plus anything else you want to clip on. Available in Cashmere Argil (a buttery smooth leather in a greyish taupe) or Buffalo Hazel (thick pebbled leather in cool brown).

Last but not least, the Jip bag is named for the Dutch artist that collaborated with Ellen on this bag. She created the adorable drawing on the inside of this little classic bag (instead of lining). It's an illustration of a young woman happily jumping into a little field of flowers! The bag itself is made from Saddle Cognac leather (a thick leather with a lot of body); features a simple flap with hidden clasp; the shoulder strap has an adjustable buckle for length.

If you're curious about Ellen Truijen and her work, you can find out more here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Introducing Sunja Link

Here's another exciting new addition to the Quotidienne line-up: Sunja Link!

Sunja Link (pronounced Soon-ya) lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia. (There's a lot of amazing clothing design happening in Canada right now. But that's another blog post!)

At the age of seven, Sunja was making fashion sketchbooks and knew she would have her own clothing line someday. In 1999, she started her own label and had a successful 10-year run, but decided to take some time off to raise her children and consider what clothes mean to her and the women she designs for. Reinvigorated and newly inspired, Sunja Link is back, creating easy clothing made from best-quality Italian and Japanese fabrics.

How long have you been designing? How did you get started?

Over 14 years. But I took a five year break and have only been back at it for about 1.5 years.

What inspires your designs?

Fabric, friends, everything.

Can you tell us more about your process?

I do love historical design. And I love textiles, so I'm always researching. I also design for myself. What I'm in the mood to wear.

What is your typical workday like?

There's no such thing as typical in fashion. Every day is different.

How do you balance productivity and creativity?

I wish I did balance, not sure I do. Good question.

What do you tell aspiring designers?

Get experience first.

Do you have a favorite item of clothing or accessory? What does it mean to you?

Maybe my Celine bracelet my husband gave me. Just because it's a big deal for hime to go out and pick something like that out.

When you wear your own designs, what do you like to pair them with?


Do you have any new projects coming up you'd like to share with our readers?

I am working on our first brick and mortar space in East Vancouver. That's exciting.


This spring, we have Sunja's Big T dress made with lush organic cotton navy jersey.

Friday, February 20, 2015

New in the shop: Nuthatch

 "inspired clothing named after that trend-bucking little bird that insists on walking in her own direction..."

A "people and planet friendly" studio with clean, elegant style, high standards of craftsmanship, and a considered ethic, we think it's a perfect fit with Quotidienne.

To help you get to know them, we talked with Jin and Beth, who head the Nuthatch workshop in Rockland, Maine.

How long have you been designing Nuthatch?  What inspired you to start?

Nuthatch was conceived three years ago when we weren't finding clothing lines that met our personal needs and the needs of our retail store — refined and versatile shapes that fit perfectly, are made from quality materials and are easy to care for.  

We want to be in control of the process from start to finish, we live in Maine and love working with the local community. 

What drew you to linens?

We started with both linens and silks, but linen quickly became our favorite fabric, especially for the warmer months. We want our clothes to be washable, and easy to care for.  We also wanted them to still to look good after years of wear.  Linen is natural and stable. It actually becomes more luxurious and softer over time and it continues to feel cool against the skin, even on the hottest days.

For fall and holiday we have expanded some of our best styles into seasonal fabrics, like washable wools and silk/linen blends.

Nuthatch studio workshop

Can you tell us more about your process? 

Our process is simple. 

We find beautiful and inspiring textiles and marry them to classic shapes that are wearable and chic today.  We have a talented team that transforms drawings to wearable pieces and years of experience to ensure that they fit real bodies.

What’s an everyday object you find uniquely beautiful? 

My grandmother's vintage serrated bread knife.  

I personally find old kitchen utensils and wood working tools very beautiful - perfectly proportioned to fit one’s hands and its use.  

A perfect balance between the material and function, it is designed to serve.

Is there someone whose style you find particularly inspiring?

Everyday street style - I can spend hours people watching and I am at an awe of the amount of imagination and possibilities that surround us.

What types of accessories do you like to pair with Nuthatch pieces? 

The great thing about Nuthatch's easy styles is that you can pair them with anything and everything.

A pair of n.d.c. ankle boots or Hasbeens wooden clog sandals with Lem Lem color block scarves is the summer uniform.

Do you have any new projects coming up you’d like to share with our readers? 

We are flirting with home design ideas...

You can see our selection here

Friday, February 13, 2015


A collection of things I just really like, with no rhyme or reason.

A collection of vintage pencils and pencil cases:

rms Beauty Lip2Cheek in Diabolique:

Made of nourishing certified organic ingredients if that's your thing. Very pretty and easy to use. And here's a cheap tip: make your own lip scrub with a dab of coconut (or olive, or mineral, etc) oil and a pinch of sugar. Gently rub over your lips, wipe off and apply balm.

This recipe for Gâteau au Chocolat Fondant, which I haven't tried yet, but plan to very soon.

And a sweet piece from Clementine Daily about many different types of love:
love arrives in many forms, some that may get overlooked, undervalued and taken for granted. So, here’s a little reminder of the many faces of love. Hopefully we’ll inspire you to think about your definition of love and how it manifests itself in your life, every day (not just on February 14th)
 Johnny Cash's To-Do List:

☼ A note: Nuthatch and Sunja Link coming soon!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Improbable Style Icons

I have a few tucked in my (metaphorical) pocket, like Olive Oyl (I think her style is pretty great).

And there's Fran Lebowitz, author and curmudgeon of Manhattan. She was interviewed for my style bible, Cheap Chic, back in the day. The chapter, as you can see, was called Grouchy Simplicity. But just look at those jackets!

And I'm not alone here. Even trend-conscious Man Repeller did a lovely illustration of Fran's style (interpreted in modern terms):

Who are your unconventional style icons? You can find them anywhere.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Interview with Jessica Lee of willow knows

How long have you been designing for willow knows? How did you get started?
willow knows started in 2011 out of a need to combine my love of textiles with basic, sexy, and wearable silhouettes.

What inspires your designs?
The natural world. My friends. Strong women.

Here at Quotidienne, we carry several of your gorgeous neckerchiefs. Can you tell us more about the process you use to create them?
The Quotidienne silk hankerchiefs are truly one of a kind pieces bundle dyed with all natural plant materials. Mostly using flower scraps from a local florist in my town.

In your work, how do you balance productivity and creativity? Do you stick to a schedule or go with the creative flow?
I most definitely go with the flow. I'd say that's true for all of the work that I do. I've learned that when I force work I create things I am not proud of. I try to be patient. I am lucky enough to say that the flow always returns rather quickly.

What do you tell aspiring designers?
Keep making work. Find a process you love and dive deep.

Do you have a favorite item of clothing or accessory? What does it mean to you?
A silk slip dress. I like to wear clothes that allow me to feel like I'm wearing nothing. Who wouldn't? Also our willow knows gathered dress. It's heaven with nothing underneath in the warmer months, and layered in cool weather brings you a touch of summer against your skin.

When you wear your own designs, what do you like to pair them with?
Ideally nothing ;) but when the weather calls for layering, chunky vintage sweaters and leather jackets.

Do you have any new projects coming up you’d like to share with our readers?

I do. I can't give too much away, but it involves vintage denim :)

Read more about willow knows here, and find our selection in the shop here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

In rotation

In our current era of air conditioning and central heating, we're no longer as subject to the seasons as we once were. Still, the concept holds on.  But it doesn't need to be that way, and life is simpler if you subvert the notion: year-round basics and then add and subtract as weather and climate dictate.

There is nothing here you don't already know, but it can be helpful to see it all together. The keys?

  • For basic pieces, stick with neutrals or at least a color theme of your choice. 
  • Choose clothing made with natural fibers or blends that bring you the best of both worlds (ie a wool/poly blend that feels like wool but is machine washable). 
  • Choose mid-weight, breathable fabrics for your basic pieces (and most of your wardrobe should be basic pieces).
  • Clean designs layer better, and you won't tire of them.
  • Layer up and down. Sweaters, jackets, scarves, tights, and leggings are your friends. (And you don't need as many as you think. Just a few items to shuffle with the rest of your wardrobe.)
  • Bags and shoes. Buy well, choose carefully, and enjoy. A terrific bag you love becomes a signature piece. A beautifully made pair of shoes makes any outfit look several times better. (Trust me, people notice quality shoes, not that you wear the same ones all the time.)
  • Have fun with jewelry. Cleanly designed, minimal clothing makes a great backdrop for jewelry. Go with signature pieces, wear your own handmade creations, or play the field. Conversely, wear no jewelry at all, which is its own statement.

The goal, if you follow this line of thinking, is to have a wardrobe that's in rotation for as much of the year as possible. A simple black linen shirt with sleeves rolled up becomes a jacket in hot weather, layered over a sleeveless dress or tee shirt. An easy skirt can be worn with a sweater, tights, and boots in cold weather. When it's warmer, pair it with a 3/4 sleeve striped tee and sandals or flats. In moderate weather, the black linen shirt and easy skirt go together.

There's no militancy about this. I own a few light, long skirts that are perfect for really hot weather, when I want billowy fabrics that don't touch much skin. I also own a couple of hefty sweaters that are great for really cold, damp, winter weather. But I don't have an entire wardrobe that needs to be packed away (or shoved aside, depending on how organized you are).

There's no right way to do this. Find what works for you and play with it. Above all, have fun and enjoy.

Friday, January 30, 2015


My newest addiction is not the confection but a Japanese fashion magazine. Most of the brands featured are well-known Western ones (Mulberry, Chanel, etc), so nothing new there, but the combinations are inspiring and very down-to-earth. And of course, the models are very young, but at they don't look like Vogue mannequins, they look like real young women. (Thanks to Jane over at simple/pretty for the introduction!) I get this at a local Japanese/Asian grocery/book store.

From the December issue:

Cute stuff, or what?

From the November issue:

This is the perfect magazine to curl up with on a chilly afternoon with very hot cup of tea.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Social Alterations

Reliable information about socially responsible fashion can be hard to come by. Mary Hanlon and Nadira Lamrad are both PhD candidates (University of Edinburgh and City University of Hong Kong, respectively) who are deeply concerned about the way our consumer habits impact human rights and the environment. They developed as an online resource to "bridge the gap between the theory and practice" in both design education and consumer behavior. We asked Mary and Nadira a few questions about their project and how they got started. It's a great resource and a still-developing project!

How would you summarize your work with Social Alterations?

MH: Well, it’s meant to be a safe space for learning. It is the most exciting project I have ever been a part of because there is no ceiling to the learning. The challenges facing global systems of fashion and apparel production are really complicated, and can often be confusing. At Social Alterations (SA), we build free online learning resources, as well as collate current research, to enable industry stakeholders to gain quick and easy access to information they’ll need to work responsibly.

NL:  Our mission is to drive a change in mindset. In our posts, our learning modules, our resources, we're asking tough questions and showing a different way of thinking about fashion—a topic that impacts every single person on this planet. From the day we are born until the day we die we all wear multiple items of clothing and some form of footwear; we use textiles; we carry bags; sometimes we wear accessories. This is not a frivolous topic. Fashion is a truly transnational system and structure that affects and interacts with the politics, societies, cultures, and economies of so many people across multiple borders. It is both local and global. It has overt and hidden meanings. It projects our understanding of ourselves and where we fit in this world. It reflects our values.

How did you become interested in socially responsible fashion? What led you to found Social Alterations?

MH: I had originally wanted to be a fashion designer, actually. My educational background is in textile arts, and I was lucky to have had been trained by a wonderful group of educators that supported alternative thinking. I went on to study international development studies, and then carried on to cultural studies, and now sociology. Because of my educational background and my interests in fashion, it was a natural progression for me. Of course there was no formal training in ‘responsible fashion’ available when I first began studying, and so anyone interested in this area had to sort of find their own way. When I set out to learn about ir/responsible fashion, there seemed to be no easy online resource, with the exception of Fashioning an Ethical Industry, which was a major inspiration in developing SA.

SA really started after I finished graduate school. I felt like my studies would all have been a big waste of time if I didn’t try and share what I had learned. My sister-in-law and brother introduced me to Nadira, and we just seemed to ‘click’. It was really wonderful. Meeting Nadira in those early days, and asking her to come on board was just the best decision I could have made to get the project where it needed to be.

NL: It started when a very good friend started working at American Apparel. That was when their marketing had a greater emphasis on the sweatshop free aspect of their business model. My friend pointed that out to me and ever since then, I wanted to know more. But, even before then I had an interest in supporting community business, ethical consumerism and environmental protection. Now these topics are all lumped under the sustainability umbrella.

Mary and I met through her sister-in-law who basically said we were so similar we had to meet! We had a few skype meetings and I felt as though we’d known each other forever! During one of those conversations, Mary told me about her project and asked if I would be interested in joining, which, of course, I was, and here we are years later with Social Alterations.

What are some of the most exciting changes in sustainable and ethical fashion production currently taking hold?

MH: I get pretty excited when I hear about collaborative projects; when diverse stakeholders come together to share knowledge and experiences. Transparency as a buzzword has been gaining loads of attention lately, but transparency alone won’t cut it; there needs to be (open) space to discuss and share lessons learned and mistakes made.

NL: There’s so much happening... Technological innovations have been amazing lately, with everything from waterless dyeing to bacteria-grown materials. I also think that we’ve seen a greater willingness on the part of consumers and, therefore, large fashion brands (who are also educating consumers), to adopt and promote responsible fashion. We’ve seen greater discussion and collaboration at a global level (at the UN, OECD, ILO, etc…) about the norms and values that surround responsibility, not just in fashion but also in other industries. Brands have also started incorporating human rights into their corporate responsibility guidelines with the introduction of the UN’s Guiding Principles. On the transparency end, the fashion industry is at the forefront of traceability and impact assessments beyond the first tier of the supply chain (see Puma’s Environmental Profit and Loss Reports). There are also some very interesting experiments in traceability by smaller brands as well (see honest by) empowering consumers to understand costing, social and environmental impact, price breakdown and so on and make informed decisions about their purchases.

This is all super exciting, but the missing piece to this puzzle is to address manufacturer’s concerns as well. The profit squeeze on manufacturers is a serious issue. There has to be earnest consideration of the needs of suppliers and the way that the costing structure can be reformed to take into account the real costs of responsible production practices. I think this is the next frontier for driving positive change in the fashion supply chain.

What Social Alterations resources would you recommend new readers start with?

MH: I would recommend starting with the Social Alterations Google Earth (SAGE) module. The lessons are accessible through Google Earth, but all of the resources are available to download individually. Start with Stage 1 (the ‘GET’ stage), and work your way through the other stages. Once you feel comfortable, seek out additional resources and share them with the SA community. We have created a wiki over at Wikiversity that anyone can edit and add content to. And most importantly, once you learn, share!

NL: The Social Alterations Google Earth module is a fun resource built to follow the life cycle of a hypothetical t-shirt. SAGE is a holistic overview of the entire story from farming the cotton to the t-shirt’s life after it’s discarded from the owner’s closet. We built it as an interactive module that provides a reading list, additional activities, and other resources geared toward either self-learning or as part of a coherent curriculum. As with all of our other resources, SAGE is released under a Creative Commons license and we encourage readers to go ahead and share the knowledge with your own network.

We also encourage new readers to join us on social media (Facebook and Twitter). We try to post regularly on everything from current topics to upcoming events to random stuff floating around the interwebs that we find interesting. Our main goal is to facilitate conversations between people so we absolutely LOVE it when people comment on our posts and engage with the topics. We try our best to also respond to our readers, many of whom know much more about some topics than we do. That’s the magic of SA - connecting with others, learning from each other, seeing different topics from diverse perspectives that we may not have ever considered, pooling the network’s wide variety of unique expertise to provide a more holistic snapshot of issues and solutions.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"Who are you?" or, Wardrobing the Persona

I think this quote from Simon Doonan exemplifies the Quotidienne approach to dressing. Minimalist and/or uniform dressing can be a springboard for self-expression: the devil is in the details and the combinations that work for you personally. As he says, there's no way to get it wrong if you stay true to who you are.

Simon: You can be a great craftsperson and be very stylish. In terms of personal style, I encourage women to approach it without any self-critical or masochistic thoughts. I talk about this in my book, Eccentric Glamor. There is no such thing as a faux pas. There is no such thing as a wrong choice. [emphasis: ed] The fashion landscape is so huge that you have to approach it as self-expression, which brings you to the question of “Who are you?” That’s the question you should be concerned with, not trends. When you know who you are, then you are just wardrobing that persona. You’re not frantically looking for a transformative something in a store.

Simon Doonan, Etsy interview, 12/11/2012

Eccentric Glamour is one of my favorite books and one I name whenever anyone asks me for book recommendations about personal style. (It's very irreverent and doesn't take fashion seriously, but that, of course, is what I like about it.) Personal style is timeless and ageless.

Tippi Hedren on the set of "The Birds"

Paris Street style from the Sartorialist, 2007

Paris Street Style via Streetpeeper

Artist Issa Samb

Corrine Michael West (1908-1991) Abstract Expressionist painter, poet, and actress. Photo taken in 1930 by Jon Boris