Are you interested in sustainable fashion but you don’t know where to get started? This list of sustainable stores will help you take a step in the right direction in creating a wardrobe full of ethical and sustainable pieces. I asked members of our executive board to share their favorite sustainable brands and shops. Ahead, see the best shopping picks, starting with my own.



Rachel Zipin, Blog Writer and Marketing Associate: Offkut Studio


One of my favorite cool sustainable brands right now is Offkut Studio. It is a small business that sells the coolest tops with the most amazing patterns. The designer, Isabel Smith, creates her clothing from off cuts from remnant material and unwanted clothing. The prices are fairly reasonable and I have a feeling this brand is going to take off very soon!







Another favorite of mine is Cool is a Construct!


If you want unique, stand-out pieces this is the shop for you. Cool is a Construct has one-of-a-kind sparkly, colorful clothes that are all handmade from deadstock fabric. Anything you wear from this brand will make you stand out and feel cool and confident!












Katie Zhang, President: Kotn


Katie recommends the brand Kotn, an eco-friendly clothing and home decor brand that makes the perfect basics. All of their clothing is ethically made from Egyptian cotton. In fact, they support farmers in Egypt by providing them with living wages and building schools nearby to sustain their childrens’ education! Katie loves Kotn because their style is “minimalist and timeless” and she loves the feel of their shirts and jackets. This brand is perfect if you are looking for comfortable, timeless basics that are ethically produced!






Emily Kim, Corporate Director: For Days


Another amazing basics brand is For Days. Their motto, “Better Clothes for a Cleaner Planet” characterizes the brand perfectly. They sell high-quality, comfy basics out of organic cotton and they produce zero-waste. They have an amazing recycling program where you can send back your old items for discounted new ones. Emily loves For Days for the muted tones and comfy street wear, and she says they have the perfect clothes to wear for online classes!









John Paul Cawood, Marketing Associate: Veja


In need of a new pair of classic shoes? John Paul recommends Veja, a french footwear brand that makes the perfect sneakers to go with every outfit. Veja makes great quality shoes made from sustainably-sourced rubber and recycled materials. They are also ethically produced using fair-trade practices! Vejas are sustainable and stylish, what more could you ask for?













Tenzin Gonshar, Marketing Director: Athleta


In need of some new workout clothes? Tenzin recommends Athleta for high-quality, fairly priced clothes to wear to your next gym-outing or yoga class. Tenzin loves Athleta for their values, which include empowering women and making sustainable choices. Athleta makes clothing that is “designed for life”, meaning they are timeless and will last forever. Most importantly, their designs are super cute and comfortable!











Jennifer Dam, Productions: Reformation, Buffalo Exchange & H&M Conscious Collection


Jennifer blessed us with three recommendations, the first being Reformation. Reformation

uses sustainable practices to create some of the most chic, timeless designs. Personally, I love their dresses and skirts but Jennifer says “they have some of the best and most stylish jeans”. Reformation has the most beautiful pieces that will last you a lifetime.



Second, Jennifer recommends Buffalo Exchange, a thrift store that has many locations around the country including one in Atlanta. Jennifer expresses “I have many great memories thrifting at Buffalo Exchange during my first year at Emory. It was the first time I had ever gone thrifting and any hesitations I had about thrifting disappeared. I understood why so many people loved thrifting because there can be so many great finds.” If you are new to thrifting, definitely check out Buffalo exchange for unique, preloved pieces!






Lastly, Jennifer recommends the H&M conscious collection. As you may know, H&M is not perfect when it comes to sustainability, but the conscious collection shows that they are taking steps in the right direction. This collection is great for more affordable pieces that don’t break the bank. They have everything from comfortable underwear to chic sweaters to classic jeans.






Let us know if you have any sustainable brand recommendations as well! But first, make sure to consume more consciously (such as making a list of the items you need in your closet) and loving the clothes you already have. Shop responsibly!

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If you’ve been browsing the web lately, you’ve probably heard of fast fashion. It has become a sort of buzz word, but what does it really mean? Why is it bad (because it certainly seems to be)? How is it affecting our planet?


According to google,


Fast fashion is a term used to describe a highly profitable business model based on replicating catwalk trends and high-fashion designs, and mass-producing them at low cost.


At first glance, this doesn’t seem all that bad. It is highly profitable, and makes would-be expensive designer trends affordable to those of us who can’t get a small loan of a million dollars to redesign their closet...


But wait!


The key here is mass-production. This is what makes fast fashion problematic for people who are trying to minimize their environmental impact. Mass production means mass consumption.


Fast fashion creates the idea that you constantly have to be buying new clothes to stay on trend. Just to put it in perspective, we are consuming 400% more clothing than we were two decades ago. We are constantly buying and throwing away clothing.


Due to mass production, the market makes it easy. In fact, it encourages it. A lot of clothing is cheap and low-quality -- two things that make it easier for people to throw away a pair of pants once they get ripped instead of getting out the sewing kit. This creates an endless cycle of waste. Clothing is made out of resources that require a lot of energy, water and labor. They are manufactured and sold for cheap, then thrown away a year later. After that, they continue to be a detriment to the environment by sitting in landfills for years, sometimes decades.



Let’s take a closer look at what you’re wearing:



POLYESTER


About two years ago, I went on a shopping trip with my boyfriend since he needed some new shoes. Now, my boyfriend is vegetarian and was trying to limit his consumption of animal products, so he was looking for shoes that didn’t contain leather. This meant a lot of label-reading and research. One name kept popping up: Polyester.


It was only then that I decided to check what polyester really was, since all I knew about it was that a lot of shoes and clothes were made out of it. Turns out polyester is a type of plastic, which can’t be good for the environment. In addition to emitting over 15 pounds of CO2 for each pound produced, polyester is extremely hard to recycle and takes 2 to 4 decades to decompose.


We all know plastic is bad for the environment, but did you know that over 60% of clothing in stores contains polyester? Not only that, but a study by Patagonia titled “Microfiber Pollution and the Apparel Industry” discovered that every time you wash a polyester fleece jacket, over a gram of polyester microfibers contaminate the water. Up to 40% of this eventually ends up in water systems.


So Polyester is not the way to go. What about cotton?



COTTON


It’s soft, it's comfy, and most importantly... it's not plastic! In fact, it's a plant. How could a plant be bad for the environment? Well, there are a lot of ways.


The demand for cotton has been growing exponentially, and small farmers have continually struggled to keep up with it. Growing cotton requires a lot of water, pesticides and insecticides. In fact, cotton is responsible for about 25% of the total insecticide use in the world! The mass-spraying of cotton farming land is forcing smaller farmers to abandon their trade as they struggle to keep up with insecticide costs. What's worse, it negatively affects the health of communities living near these cotton farms by exposing them to harmful toxins. Cotton also happens to be an extremely demanding plant, requiring more than 5,000 gallons of water to grow 2.2 pounds of cotton.


Organic cotton is a good alternative, as it limits insecticide use and thus reduces the amount of water pollution. Still, producing as much cotton as the world is currently consuming is not sustainable because of how much water it requires.



LEATHER


Let’s go back to the shopping trip with my boyfriend. He did end up finding shoes that didn’t contain leather, but after reading such awful things about polyester he wasn’t too keen on buying that either. In fact, he thought about buying leather instead. He assumed it would decompose much faster than polyester and thus be better for the environment (RIP cows, I suppose).


Surprisingly, this was not the case. As it turns out, synthetic leather is much better for the environment than real leather. Real leather is probably the worst material to consume if you are trying to be environmentally conscious. This is in large due to leather tanning, the process which turns animal skin into leather by changing its protein structure. The process uses many harmful chemicals (including lead) that are notorious water polluters, not to mention the health hazard they pose to workers. To put it in perspective, synthetic leather only has a third of the environmental impact of real leather! This was determined by taking into account pollution, resource depletion, greenhouse gas emissions and water use.



Okay, so all materials have their downsides... What now?


After defaming the materials that most of your clothes are made out of, I should probably offer some ways for you to still rock your look without supporting an industry that is negatively impacting the environment. Now, you should try to do a bit of research about which companies you give your money to, as the vast majority of them don’t take the environment into account. Thankfully, there are plenty of brands trying to make a difference. If you’re just starting out, I suggest checking out Lucy & Yak, EcoVibe, Kotn, Back Beat Co. and Tentree.


But entirely avoiding polyester, non-organic cotton and leather is unrealistic for most of us. So the most important thing when it comes to consuming sustainably is not buying into fast fashion. You shouldn’t feel that you need to constantly be buying clothes to look good. This causes unnecessary stress to always stay on trend, and can leave you with a closet filled with clothes you don’t even wear often. Focus on buying pieces that feel good to you and the planet. Fill your closet with timeless pieces that you won’t want to get rid of in a year. Consume less without sacrificing the self-expression inherent in fashion. And when you do decide to upgrade your closet (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that), opt for a sustainable clothing brand or hit your local thrift store!


To find out more about how to make the most out of your trip to the thrift store, check out last week’s article here.



Check out the sources for this week’s article:


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Do you like thrifting, upcycling and all things sustainable fashion? This is your sign to get out there and GoThrift! You can enter your up-cycled thrift-flips to our fashion show for a chance to win scholarship money up to ~$1000! If you need supplies or resources, we’ve got you covered. GoThrift! is meant to help you find the thrifted items you may need to create your piece. Here is how it works:


We will give you a thrifted piece FOR FREE! Want to go thrift your item in person? We will be offering free uber rides for the first fifteen people who sign up:


Fill out this google form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdGx-SygzWkV8aodQgWohOUmHLAn0a4wd9ivaLtUkL4zbA6qA/viewform?usp=send_form&usp=embed_facebook




Need more supplies to take your piece to the next level?

Check out our display in the Emory Student Center and take fabrics to elevate your piece!



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