Hi! Last month was a total whirlwind – I started planning a big move to Austin, Texas and flew to New York to give a TEDx talk on ethical fashion and to go on a recording of American Fashion Podcast (it will be out soon and I will share, promise).
Needless to say, I neglected my April post but have made up for it by finding some phenomenal ethical fashion brands for May. I even got to visit one of them at their NYC showroom during my trip.
These picks will prepare you for building a wardrobe of office attire or everyday staples – whatever your life demands. Plus, I added in some denim for fun.
I’m making more of an effort nowadays to make sure I’m trying on and assessing everything I write up and providing my honest review of the brand’s quality and ethics. I’ll note in my reviews where brands have provided samples or I’ve purchased the item(s) myself.
As always, shoutouts and stuff I’m reading is at the end of the post.
This is brand on a mission to end BLAH workwear. The founder, Sarah LaFleur, is an ex-financiare (hey, like me) who wanted to make shopping easier for the modern career woman. She’s done it by delivering a collection that’s part pragmatic, part sophisticated and ready to move with us in our big lives. Because, hey, we’ve got more important things to worry about than ironing dresses on a business trip
Where MM.LaFleur excels is in its attention to detail – shown in understated gold clasps and sewn-in cuff links – and its fabrics, oh my gosh the fabrics! The brand sources from Italy for luxury fabrics, like wool, and from Japan for techy fabrics, like acetate, that give the clothes their wrinkle-free appeal.
If you’re not into cubicle life, the designs may look a bit stuffy to you, but trust me, there’s something for everyone at MM.LaFleur. I tried this stuff on in person, and watched a few other gals do the same, and I can’t say enough about how good it looks on the body. While I was visiting, three of us rotated trying on The Catherine Dress and it looked different on all of us.
There are also a few ways to buy. If you prefer to shop a la carte, like me, that’s an option. They have stylists to tell you what will look best on your body too. Or, you can sign up for a Bento Box that delivers 4-6 pieces for you to consider for purchase based on a style profile. And if you’re an NYC-based reader, you can also schedule an appointment at the shop on Broadway or a personal session with a stylist.
What You’ll Find:
Said it all above. Every piece you need for a productive and inspired work life.
Quality craftsmanship. Innovative fabrics. Manufactured in NYC.
Many of their pieces are made for hand washing instead of dry cleaning. Since the majority of resources are generated in the care and maintenance of our clothing, this is a huge way to cut down on chemicals. Just be conscious to wash only when needed. Full disclosure: MM.LaFleur does use synthetic polyester in many of their garments, which is a petrochemical and resource-intensive fiber when its not recycled. If you do decide to shop here, try to stick with the designs made from wool, acetate, or viscose. They will last you longer too. Note to MM.LaFleur, one way you can improve is by sourcing from more organic and recycled textiles when it’s an option. I’d spend a little more, and surmise to say others would too, if these were options.
Hands down, the Apfel Shirt. It looks 10,000 times better on than in the picture. The drape says it all. It ends up coming off more like a slouchy tunic than a work blouse on me, but I’m only 5’4″. I spent a little more than I normally would because I can dress it up or down and style it many ways.
I found you the ultimate substitute for your chambray button down. Meet NOORISM, an upcycle brand that takes apart old jeans and uses the pieces to create a funky new line of clothing and accessories.
What You’ll Find:
Denimwear in reimagined silhouettes. There’s a sexy cut-out dress, a skirt with unexpected volume, and a patchwork blazer you could pull off for the office. Each piece is slightly unique based on the nature of the old jeans they use. NOORISM’s denim quality is much thicker than what you’d find from mass market brands and they use quality seam work like Honk Kong and bias binding.
Upcycled (aka – no new materials are used). Manufactured in Brooklyn under safe working conditions. Transparent relationship with suppliers. Small portion, $5 to be specific, of proceeds go the CHARITY: WATER.
The biggest concern I usually hear about ethical fashion is the high price tag. I know it can be off-putting, so I’m constantly on the hunt for more accessible brands that can substitute for big fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M. Unfortunately, cheap prices tags are often a sign that the people who made the clothes weren’t paid a fair wage.
Except in the case of IMBY. This brand turning what was once a fashion pipe dream – affordable AND responsible clothes – into a reality.
What You’ll Find:
A hyper-refined collection of basics from some of the best ethical brands in the biz [Seamly and Amour Vert].
IMBY is built on a commitment to affordability, responsibility [100% manufactured in the USA], and principles of minimalism. And, here’s the best part – everything is under $200, with most of the basics priced between $30-80.
My favorites happen to be the not so basic items – like the convertible jumpsuit that can be reimagined a million different ways. It’s the ultimate bang for your 130 bucks. Also, this versatile grey/green blazer and throw-on-and-go dress.
Kamea’s book came in! Pre-order it on Amazon and join me poolside.
What I’m reading:
[Or listening to] Conscious Chatter podcast by Kestrel Jenkins.
Finally, a halfway decent corporate sustainability report. Thanks Kering.
One of a kind sustainability’s shopping guides. Seriously, all of them.
If you’re a fashion savvy brand that upholds ethical or sustainable practices and are interested in being featured, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.