A Few Cool Brands: September

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I’m back with my roundup of ethical brands for September, plus what I read, listened to, watched and did.

This month, I committed to getting outdoors more (living in Austin does this to one) and upping my yoga practice to prepare for a retreat in Costa Rica later this year. Normally, yoga is more about mind than body to me, but I promised myself I would nail a headstand before this trip. So that meant no more “namastay in bed” habits.

With the intensified practice and upcoming travel, I focused on activewear and lifestyle brands. The pieces I got especially excited about stood out because of their versatility. They are:

  • Comfortable black yoga pants that aren’t boring
  • Modern black slides that actually have support (yes, they do exist)
  • A chic throw that triple duties as a towel, sarong or table cloth

Sundari

This Bali-by-way-of-UK ethical brand reached out to me at just the right time on my hunt for yoga pants. Sundari has three collections of versatile “movement-ready” clothes – think yoga, dance, pilates – that can be easily dressed up for everyday.

What You’ll Find:

Elegant activewear that pays special attention to cut, fabric and special details.

Ethics: People + planet

This is a small label (10 people) that’s able to pay close attention to its supply chain and develop real relationships with its pattern makers, tailors, and seamstresses. They’re paid well, work in a healthy environment, have fair hours and support quality manufacturing through their work.

Furthermore, Sundari uses sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, silk and tencel (their best option because it’s manufactured in a closed loop as a byproduct of tree pulp). They do use bamboo in some of their garments. If you can, try for alternatives, as this fabric isn’t the most sustainable option (here’s why).

As per quality, I’m happy with the leggings they gave me to review. I’ve worn them three times now – for yoga, errands and a run – to see how they would hold up in each situation. They’re excellent for yoga and comfortable enough that I wanted to lounge around in them for the rest of the day after. They wash nicely, are breathable, don’t hold smell, don’t pill and don’t shrink.

I have two notes about fit. The first being that the leggings fell down a bit when I was running. It could be that they’re too large for me (I’m normally a pant size 2/25 and I ordered a small), so if you’re super tiny or plan to do vigorous exercise, these aren’t the pants for you. Additionally, be aware that they sit low on the hips.

Highlight Piece:

The crisscross leggings.

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Jerusalem Sandals

Call me cliche but I was hunting for minimalist slides this month. When I started, however, I realized I had way more requirements than most shoes could deliver. I wanted a classic design, no fussy backstrap (limiting for travel and yoga), quality construction and a sole thicker than a dang centimeter. It was no easy feat – for my feet.

All the reviews I read online pointed me to Charlotte Stone – sold out – or Ancient Greeks – ordered but returned. For what I paid for the latter pair, I felt they should have delivered some arch support. They were super flat and the criss-crossed leather squeaked when I walked. The global shipping was a sustainability sin, but ultimately I wouldn’t have worn them so in this case I felt the return was warranted. Plus, it’s a vote with my dollar.

I discovered Jerusalem Sandals after nearing shoe defeat. I can’t remember how exactly; it may have been a retargeting ad. Anyhow, upon initial glance I thought they would be a bit beatnik for my taste, but the black flats were way edgier than I expected. Plus, much better price points!

What You’ll Find:

Handcrafted sandals in multiple styles, classic colors and clean shapes that honor heritage craft of the ancient land.

Ethics: People

Jerusalem Sandals are built on the belief that business can help bring piece – even if on a small level – to ease geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. The line is crafted by Palestinians and sold commercially through a business with Jewish roots, demonstrating that partnerships can evolve amidst conflict. Of all the ethical brands I’ve covered, they’re the only one I’ve seen tackling this issue.

From what I can tell, they don’t use ethical leather (more on that here) or practice sustainable manufacturing, which is a big miss. If these are deal breakers for you, look elsewhere for sandals and tell me what you find.

Highlight Pieces:

Go bohemian with The Good Shepherd.

Go metropolitan with The Aviv.

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Hamamlique

I discovered this ethical brand while shopping with my mom at The Frond plant shop in Austin. Their black and cream throw jumped out at me as the perfect addition for my camel sofa to give it a southwestern influence. Come to find, it’s a throw that’s mixed up about it’s identity – and in a good way. I can use it as a blanket, towel or beach cover up for my Costa trip!

What You’ll Find:

Handwoven throws, towels, and robes made from organic Turkish cotton, in subtle prints and unique colors.

Ethics: People + planet

This is a family company that preserves its artisan craft. It’s better for the environment because turkish cotton dries faster than regular contain and requires less water and detergent to clean. Don’t worry, it’s just as absorbent. Plus the multi-use factor, you won’t have to buy a beach cover up or new table cloth. Sidetone: again, opt for the cotton here, not bamboo.

Highlight Pieces:

The Marine Robe.

The Tulum Throw. They go fast! But you can still snatch the one I bought in mint.

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I read:

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: As a food “qualitarian” and sustainability advocate, I’m behind the curve reading this book, but I wanted to start with the first in prolific food writer Michael Pollan’s collection. This 2006 manifesto details American food production, untangling complex details about history, agriculture, natural symbiosis and our evolving consumption habits. I’m learning a ton about how our industrial agricultural system came to be and plan to tackle his more recent books next. Fair warning: this one gets pretty science heavy in some parts, but Pollan is witty and an attune storyteller, so you’ll stay engaged. Don’t have time for the full book – here’s a video synopsis.  Please, buy it used (trees are important to farms) and tell me what you think!

Is Ethical Fashion Elitist? This is something I often ask myself when writing.

All the sins of fast fashion, plus some. Alden Wicker reports.

This roundup of sustainable jewelry brands by EcoMono.

Amazon’s set on fashion next, which could be scary for our global supply chain.

H&M is backing a Global Change Award for a fashion innovation. Power to the individual – Va coolt!

The best interview on a minimal design aesthetic I’ve read. Elizabeth Stilwell reports.

I listened to:

Why ethical fashion newbies go crazy over Everlane. The Growth Podcast.

American Fashion Podcast’s reporting and interviews from NYFW. 

I watched:

Your clothes affect the way you feel more than you think.

Holly’s Costa Rica eco travel diary. To prep for my trip, of course.

The first Monday in May. Your real-life replacement for the Devil Wears Prada, YW.

Upcoming:

I’m going to SXSW Eco October 9-12 to connect with some badass leaders in sustainability. Be on the lookout for live reporting via Twitter and a recap after [fingers crossed I’ll land  some sweet interviews].

My Costa Rica trip will be in November/December with some fellow writers from the Ethical Blogger Network. Sumak, an eco-travel agency, is hosting us to learn about fair trade, the country’s natural resources and maybe some ethical brands. So, so much more to come!

Cheers to fall,

Kasi


*Sundari partially sponsored this post, which means the pants were gifted and I was compensated for my time writing, reviewing and editing. The review is still 100% my own candid opinion. I do the homework so you can shop informed. 

All photos via brands’ Instgram or my own.

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