You caught me. I skipped my cool brands post in October. That’s because I was searching for really standout pieces, some of which I’ve included in my holiday gift edit. I promise your wait was worthwhile.
This month, I found an architectural necklace to shine at your holiday parties, a boot/clog hybrid you’ll want to wear everywhere, and a new line of organic loungewear designed to take you from downward dog to daily life.
A note: This post contains some affiliate links.
What You’ll Find:
A concise collection of modern designs for women and children that celebrates artisans and craft traditions in emerging markets.
Victoria Road is a brand driven by design and fueled by women entrepreneurs. The company also adheres to an “inclusive supply chain.” Today, this term, and ones similar to it, get thrown around loosely by marketers, but Victoria Road takes it seriously. They back up their claim up through a commitment to full vertical integration, meaning their production is housed under the one roof and closely monitored. This happens at their facility in Lahore, Pakistan, while their sales, marketing and styling is run out of an office in NYC.
Ethics: People + planet
Victoria Road is committed to upending how traditional supply chains are structured.
In recent years, increased consumer demand has put pressure on brands to place large orders with suppliers, keep overstock inventories, and be ready to ship in an instant. This type of supply chain creates an abundance of unused fabrics and garments that bottleneck and eventually turn into pre-consumer waste.
Victoria Road is changing this by:
- Employing full-time, in-house design, sourcing, tailoring and logistics teams and partnering with reputable mills and small-business suppliers
- Up-cycling their own scrap materials
- Helping local designers and artisans enter new global retail and wholesale markets
- Prioritizing a membership with the the Fair Trade Federation.
You can read more from Victoria Road’s founder, Megan Brosterman, on why she decided to take production in house.
The Rema Coiled Necklace. The green gem is bold, but not cliche.
I also really love The Frida Silk Clutch and The Popinjay Anfa Envelope Clutch.
Victoria Road loves The Peahen readers and is offering 30% off all handbags and accessories with code PEAHEN30. Get them before they’re gone because these styles won’t be restocked!
What You’ll Find:
Contemporary leather classics rooted in heritage craftsmanship.
When I started writing about ethical fashion and changing my wardrobe, I recognized that I couldn’t give up leather. I formed this stance because I don’t think vegan leathers are better alternatives to animal hides. The synthetics they’re made from cause environmental harm and are more prone to greenwashing (more on that here). Because of this, I seek out brands that use humane leather production. I look for surplus (a byproduct of the meat industry), alternative and reused leathers and brands that have responsible waste, recycling and dying practices.
Nisolo is a pioneer in ethical leather, so naturally, they’ve been a partner of Peahen since the beginning. But this is the first time I’ve been able to review a pair. If you’re into minimalistic luxury with a laid-back vibe, you will live and die by their accessories.
Ethics: People + Planet
Nisolo’s ethical reach is far and deep. The team supports fair wages and a healthy work environment for a network of over 500 independent producers, artisans and manufactures spread across Peru, Mexico, Nairobi, Kenya, Trujillo and the US (they’re Nashville based).
Sounds expensive, right? Actually, Nisolo’s pricing is surprisingly palatable. Their mantra captures it best:
As for sustainable manufacturing, they say this:
We responsibly source our leather from tanneries committed to the ethical treatment of animals (always a byproduct of the meat industry) and the implementation of eco-friendly waste disposal systems.
But I wish they spoke more about this commitment. It’s really important, especially in our current political environment. We won’t know until the new administration takes action, but environmental regulations could be revoked or softened. If that happens, it will be up to companies and individuals to lead the charge on sustainable innovation, and they’ll have to do it in the absence of incentives.
My advice to Nisolo: make sustainability a bigger part of your story so other brands and consumers can learn from you.
The Sofia in Noir.
Nisolo sent me this pair to review and they’re comfy, supportive and versatile. The heel has just the right amount of height and doesn’t overpower. My favorite way to wear them is with vintage Levi’s and a chunky knit.
What You’ll Find:
A four piece collection of effortless basics that drape and gather in a really special way. Think off duty ballet girl.
A few weeks ago, Rachel, the founder, was kind enough to host me and a few friends at her temporary studio in Austin to preview the new collection. I tried on the wrap cardigan and it was unexpectedly elegant. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to break into a Swan Lake routine or snuggle up for a nap. Tough decision, really. The whole collection strikes a nice balance between chillwear and elevated basics. And it’s not the least bit athleisure-y. It’s the collection you never knew you needed.
Ethics: People + planet
PonyBabe is woman owned, made with organic cotton and bamboo and manufactured in the USA (Brooklyn to be specific). The line also uses recycled and biodegradable packing. More on ethics here.
Hands down, The Cardigan.
These were the grand ideas in fashion this year.
What you should be asking ethical fashion companies.
A primer on peace silk. Because it’s all I’ve wanted to buy lately.
An essay on modern feminism. This read is controversial if you’re a staunch feminist. Lately, I’ve been in the mood for challenging views and my feelings about feminism have become more fluid. I think it has a lot to do with the violence, inflated rhetoric, and hate speech that are all starting to define our time.
A retro but good article on waste, freegans and supply chains.
A thoughtful essay on fundamentalism.
Conscious Chatter: Fashionkind, Luxury + Sustainability.
Can ethical fashion engage the masses?
My eco-trip to Costa Rica is this week with my EBN buddies at Life+Style+Justice and Mochini! Stay tuned for the stories on Instagram. I’m so excited Sumak Travel is hosting us!
*Victoria Road partially sponsored this post, which means the necklace was gifted and I was compensated for my time reviewing and editing. The review is still 100% my own candid opinion. I do the homework so you can shop informed.
Hi Kasi. Love Victoria Road and that necklace is sick! Thanks sharing the cool brands you found. I do have to disagree with the Quora essay you linked to under “I Read.” If you identify with the author, it might be the type of feminism you and she have experienced. What I read was an account of white feminism, which is a particular kind of feminism that fails to be intersectional (a theory by Critical Race Theorist Kimberlé Crenshaw which analyzes how different types of oppression often intersect). White feminism is problematic in its exclusivity and should be avoided, and is perhaps why it feels wrong. But white feminism is not the only type of feminism — intersectional feminism (called this by women who live an intersectional life of racism and sexism, and other -isms) is something I encourage you look into and read more about. I think you will find it more inclusive and justice-driven, though perhaps even more challenging to your worldview, as I found it.
There definitely are real structural systems that disadvantage women, and particularly disadvantage women of color. In addition, LGBTQ, non-conforming, and/or women with disabilities are further disadvantaged. I’m sure you have seen this writ large though the work that you do with companies who employ women in developing countries — women who are victims of sex trade, inequality, and other types of oppression that come from a world that systematically disadvantages countries made of of people of color. As privileged white women in America, we will always benefit from these systems, even if we don’t “want” to. And so I encourage you to research intersectional feminism and listen to the women of color who share their stories so that when it is possible to share your privilege, you will understand how to go about it. I think this article speaks to many of the issues in the Quora post: http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2014/03/04/second-wave-white-feminism/
I am definitely still learning about all of this as well and would be happy to discuss more. —E
Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for stopping by and reading, especially all the way through! I think you could be correct in identifying it as white feminism. I’ve definitely had some off-putting experiences that left me wondering if the feminist movement was really inclusive. I’ve come across intersectional feminism in reading, but find that it hasn’t made its way into the masses yet, at least in practice. Has your experience been different? I don’t agree with everything said in the Quora article, but I wanted to share it in the spirit of staying open minded to alternative views and voices. I think it’s important to know how people respond to communication and advocacy in order for it to be effective. For instance, I think the author of the Quora article came across some feminists who shamed her instead of rationally explaining their viewpoints and letting her come to her own conclusions, which ended up hurting their cause. Thank you for sharing that article. It resonated and helped put into context what I’ve experienced.
If you made to the comments I encourage you to read both articles and tell us what you think.
I thought I set this to email me your response but maybe I didn’t, so glad I returned. Thanks for reading the other article and I’m glad it resonated with you. I think it could be useful to see other people’s experiences like the Quora article, but what I’m saying is that just because those people the author had shame her *said* they were feminists, that doesn’t mean that they are. Think of it as the equivalent of greenwashing. Brands can use the word “sustainable” but without having the knowledge to know what sustainable should mean, it can be misused and harm the concept overall. So what I mean is, don’t reject the concept of feminism (equality for all people) because of the actions of individuals. Knowing how feminism *should* be (inclusive) can help people sort out what is and actually isn’t part of the movement, regardless of labels.
That’s a good analogy and one I hadn’t thought of, Elizabeth. It especially resonates with me to look at it from an idealistic perspective and keep an open mind. And thanks for coming back. I wish my comment functionality automatically emailed without you having to request it.
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