Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tumblr Tuesday: Designer Inspiration Threads

Gretchen Jones on Tumblr (source: Rafa Castells)

One of the things that I love about Tumblr is the trail that my designer friends weave as they integrate inspirational images into their stream of current designs or look books. There is something really captivating about these intimate glimpses into their creative worlds.

Heather Heron on Tumblr 

Native Kee on Tumblr (source: Obsidian Obelisk)
Erin Considine on Tumblr

Mociun on Tumblr

Who do you tumble with?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Erin Considine Jewelry Autumn/Winter 2011

Erin Considine's A/W 2011 'Brass Datum' earrings

There are only a handful of jewelry designers who I feel bridge the realms of art and design seamlessly, and Erin Considine is definitely one of them. Erin's commitment to sustainable methods and personal craftsmanship makes every piece in her collection a work of art that one wants to collect and wear but also gaze at as an example of pure sculptural ingenuity.

Erin Considine's A/W 2011 jewelry collection

Erin Considine's A/W 2011 collection, photographed by the amazingly talented Shawn Brackbill, celebrates the marriage of fiber/textile traditions and recycled metals in a manner that completely pushes the potential of hard/soft and ancient/future design boundaries.

The artist's slowcrafting process is shared in the following words via her website"(Erin) tests new textile construction methods with every collection, incorporating weaving, crocheting, and the Japanese braiding style of kumihimo into an ever-expanding roster of creation tools. Her metal forms are mined from the dregs of industrialism – whether it by repurposing dead-stock jewelry findings or sculpting models inspired by the antique metier."

I could not think of better holiday investment pieces for the season ahead and years to come. Erin Considine is one of the most original talents on the sustainable style frontier.

You can shop her new collection here and follow her blog here. Do not miss events and updates on the EC Facebook page as well. Stay tuned for more jewelry designer profiles throughout the course of this week.

All photos courtesy of Erin Considine© Shawn Brackbill 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Coclico Footwear Spring/Summer 2012: Building A Sustainable Vision One Step At A Time

Coclico SS 2012 featured in the Kaelen presentation
 during NY fashion week (photo by Jeannine Tan)

After ten days on the 'ghost free' vegan challenge, I have had a lot of time to think about the inner workings and cogs of the fashion system. One thing is for sure, my diet will certainly be far more vegan than it has in the past, now that I have experienced how good one can feel eating a diet of plant-based foods. I still grapple, though, with the use of leather in fashion accessories (at least by sustainable fashion definitions), as so many small businesses in Europe are dependent upon the craftsmanship of local leather goods production. Of course, I am an advocate for vegan shoes, bags, and jewelry designs (as well as some of the great names behind this movement), but I also know how wedded communities and cultures are to leather production methods. I support the evolution of ethical fashion, but I also support cultural diversity and the expression of artisan traditions. How to reconcile these differences?

Coclico SS 2012 heels with organic linen 
(photo courtesy of ORGANIC Girly)

Coclico is a footwear design company that is grappling with this issue on a day-to-day and long-term basis. Jennifer Barckley at ORGANIC Girly, tackled this topic very thoughtfully in her recent write up after a visit to Coclico's Nolita boutique for a preview of their Spring/Summer 2012 collection. As a vegan, ORGANIC Girly does a great job of building a bridge between the gray areas, if they are really any shadow zones remaining.

Coclico SS 2012 sculpturally stylish, handcrafted heels

Barckley's 'Timeless Is Worth The Wait' sums up many of the variables that this luxe footwear company is contending with as a small label that wants to improve upon its ethical sourcing, manufacturing, and community outreach efforts. The key thing for me in the select purchases that I make is just how transparent a company is willing to be in its disclosure about materials and methods. Coclico is a company that I feel quite good about on this front.

That said, this recent article via Cri de Coeur about leather tanneries being some of the most toxic places on earth is enough to stop one dead in one's tracks – quite literally. Chromium pollution is just bad news. It seems to me that ongoing definitions of ethical style can no longer afford to be just about sustainable materials, fair labor, and life cycle innovation – to name a few, but also increasingly about what one's belief system is when it comes to ideas about 'fashioning self in relation to the environment'. In the same way that we make assessments about political and social events, might it be too extreme to expect that our personal style might now allow others to decode us in terms of where we draw the line?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cruelty Free Friday: For The Ghosts and Finn

Finn, the whippet in Sofia

My ten day 'ghost free journey' aka vegan challenge continues through Monday, November 28th, and I could not be more pleased with how moving and transformative this experience has been. You can follow our dialogue and information exchange on The Ghost in Our Machine (TGIOM)'s Facebook page. During the time that I have taken this journey our whippet Finn has been very ill with a degenerative heart condition. The support of my new friends via TGIOM and e-mail from afar has been hugely helpful.

Finn the whippet on his couch, prior to our Thanksgiving meal

We are doing everything that we can to insure that Finn is comfortable and not in pain. Our children love him tremendously, and we are so relieved that we were able to bring him with us to Sofia during what might be his last winter with us.

Finn after our climb to the top of Cherni Vrah

Thanksgiving this year was dedicated to 'the ghosts' and of course, to Finn, the pillar of our family. A very special thanks to Donna Oakes, Rosemary Tarentino Foos, and Liz Marshall for their coaching and support during the ghost free challenge. This is just the beginning of a journey that has surely just begun ... for the ghosts and whippet lovers everywhere.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving And Receiving: Thanks To You

'Puritan chic' images via Noa Noa on The Swelle Life

My apologies for not posting very much this week, but I have been very engaged with my ten day 'Ghost Free Journey' (aka vegan challenge) with The Ghosts In Our Machine (TGIOM). For anyone who is interested in reading more about some of the topics discussed and the day-to-day challenges that I have experienced, please visit TGIOM's Facebook page. Stay tuned for my thoughts on where the journey has led me and how it has impacted my thinking about conscious living and ethical fashion.

Turkeys celebrating Thanksgiving as it should be
(photo courtesy of Jo-Anne McArthur of We Animals)

I also wanted to add, as I settle in this evening to begin preparing for tomorrow's meal and a morning talk at my sons' preschool, that I never could have imagined how rich, complex, and sustaining this project called, Ecco*Eco, has been for me. I experience bounty every day, and it is all because of the support and inspiration that comes from you. Thanksgiving 2011 is dedicated to 'the ghosts' and the community we have created by giving and receiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Marijn-Bennett Hand-Knits & Aki Kano Bags at Diana Kane in Park Slope Brooklyn with Ariel Clay

Ariel Clay reports on a few of her favorite fashion finds from Diana Kane boutique's trunk show in Park Slope, Brooklyn, this past weekend:
 Marijn-Bennett hand-knit braid accessories available at Diana Kane

I love these chunky hand-knit scarf necklaces by Brooklyn's Megan Noonan of Marijn-Bennett. Locally handcrafted from soft wool, these 'braided neck warmers' will add a pop of color and texture to any basic winter outfit. Megan is focused on small-scale production at this stage, but we hope to see more from this talented and creative knitter. Her one-of-a-kind creations typically include materials such as wool, alpaca, mohair, and cashmere. 

Aki Kano leather bags were also one of my favorite finds and with the byline of 'made in NYC with love and integrity', what's not to love. These hobo bags are lightweight, soft to the touch, and so easy to wear.

 I especially adored this tie-dyed, slouchy 'Mari Hobo' bag. 

We also love that designer Aki Kano expresses her creative side 
with these hip paintings as well

Follow updates on Diana Kane's events and sale specials via her blog. Sustainable designers such as Prairie Underground, Stewart + Brown, Loomstate, and other local talents are available at her fashion and handcraft outpost in Park Slope.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cruelty Free Friday: For The Ghosts

Morning coffee in Sofia on the first day of my 10 day Ghost Free Challenge

Today marks the first day of a ten day 'ghost free' vegan challenge that I will be participating in with The Ghosts In Our Machine on Facebook. You might recall my writing about Liz Marshall's amazing documentary film project when TGIOM was in the midst of their successful fundraising campaign several months ago. Here is a recap on the mission of this timely film:

Maggie The Ghost on her birthday (photo by Jo-Anne McArthur)

"The Ghosts in Our Machine is a cinematic film and an unfolding narrative online experience that attracts an audience leading up to the production of the film, and sustains and fosters community engagement throughout the lifecycle of the project. Together they seek to uncover the dark recesses of our anthropocentric society to illuminate the lives of individual animals used for human profit and consumption. TGIOM features award winning documentary photographer Jo-Anne McArthur as she photographs global stories of animals used within the machine of our modern world."

Who exactly are "the ghosts"? I need to know and understand more.
'Great Grey Owl' photo by Wil Bloodworth (image via Lost in Fiber)

For the next ten days I will be eating a vegan diet, experimenting with new recipes, learning more about vegan fashion and notions of beauty, as well as contemplating the ghosts who are our animal friends and companions. My intention is to gain a deeper understanding of why and how vegan philosophy and activism might be essential to our creating a world in balance as well as a more compassionate and sustainable program to counteract our rampant consumption. Join me simply to learn and share your own ideas. This is meant to be an open dialogue and one that is non-judgmental and heart-felt.

Thanksgiving 2011 will also be dedicated to 'For The Ghosts'. More on this next week. Join the dialogue here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SIX Magazine at Shanghai Fashion Week S/S 2012

A special thanks to ethical fashion friends at SIX magazine for these gorgeous runway and behind-the scenes photos from Shanghai Fashion Week (SHFW) S/S 2012SIX Magazine was the official eco media partner for the closing show, which for the first time ever was centered on ideas supporting sustainable fashion and ethical production. P1.CN, China's first private social network aimed at the country's affluent class, worked in partnership with SHFW's organizers to redefine the focus and agenda of this high profile fashion week event held at the Shanghai International Fashion Center. It's great news that P1.CN has set a goal of creating a more sustainable future with its new E-Fashion: Beauty of Change platform. "E" in this instance representing "exceptional, ethical and eco".

We-Impact was appointed as the production company for the event – with steps towards a more environmentally responsible and efficient future made via the lighting, green energy, and transportation solution for the closing night's show. Lexus was also on hand to reveal its new hybrid vehicle.

Touted as an up-and-coming showcase for local Asian designers as well as celebrity invites such as Vivienne Westwood, this was the first season where the week's closing show genuinely showcased designs celebrating ethics and sustainability in fashion.

Featured designers, Swedish eco-luxury label Camilla Wellton and Chinese Menswear designer, Chi Zhang, demonstrated that cutting edge style and ethics can indeed work together seamlessly when redefining both local and global fashion strategies.

With all of the criticism that China continually receives for its textile manufacturing and unfair labor practices, perhaps this is a great new step forward towards the change that needs to occur, both on the runway and off. If affluent Chinese fashion followers are ready to invest in ethical luxury, the others just might follow in their style-conscious footsteps? Let's hope so. Fingers crossed that fashion buyers will also begin to make the trek to Shanghai as well.

(images courtesy of SIX magazine and Shanghai Fashion Week)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tumblr Tuesday: Past Fashion Future with Emma Grady

 Stylist and writer Emma Grady modeling Snoozer Loser NY's scarves 

For anyone who wants to keep a pulse on what is happening on the art, fashion, ethical style frontier in NYC and beyond, Emma Grady's Tumblr site, Past Fashion Future, is an essential resource. Emma shares her in-depth reports from the latest events, designer interviews, collection announcements, as well as her own projects as a stylist for up-and-coming fashion labels as well as clients and creative individuals.

Emma and her signature classic style

Past Fashion Future recently shared news of Emma's role as a model and stylist for Snoozer Loser NY's F/W 2011 look book. The images are fresh and totally believable in terms of the multitude of ways that some one might wear and celebrate these one of a kind designs. 

"When my friend Sonia Tay, the owner and creative director of Snoozer Loser NY, asked me to be the face of the New York-based label’s fall/winter 2011 scarf collection, I didn’t think twice. It was a perfect pairing from the beginning: We decided to juxtapose her modern prints with my classic and timeless style. Mixing old with new is a theme that runs throughout Past Fashion Future and it’s at the core of our styles series, Something Old, Something New."

I asked Emma how the roles of fashion writer and stylist dovetail for her these days, and she shared these thoughtful words:

"What appeals to me about styling is that it is a visual platform; I’m able to explore my personal style aesthetic, which is rooted in classic and timeless fashion. Styling is a valuable tool to show how ethical and locally-made fashion can look no different – in terms of aesthetics – than more mainstream fashion. It has to be executed well though. If something is “green” but not visually appealing or designed well, I won’t use it in a shoot. 

Styling is an opportunity to show how ethical fashion can be worn with mainstream fashion; it doesn’t have to be separate. In fact, I prefer it to not be separate because that’s just not accessible. If I'm working with other stylists, my knowledge of ethical designers comes in handy because you can introduce a designer that they might not
 have heard of otherwise. Overall, I do not consider myself an "eco stylist." I am a stylist, with a knowledge of ethical fashion and eco designers. This distinction is vital: I want to be held to the same high standards that any other stylist faces."

Past Fashion Future's feature on Maria Moyer's 'Untitled' wall installation recently on view at Rogan, 330 Bowery Street in New York City – image courtesy of Maria Moyer.
Follow Past Fashion Future here / Shop Snoozer Loser NY here.
(look book images courtesy of Emma Grady and Snoozer Loser NY)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Feral Childe Fall/Winter 2011 'Orchestra' Trunk Show at Kaight Brooklyn with Ariel Clay

Introducing eco-model Ariel Clay in NYC

Shopping for a winter coat has definitely been on my mind these past few weeks, particularly after New York City's brief and unexpected Halloween snowstorm. As a native Californian and newcomer to New York, I have been on a mission to find something warm yet also uniquely stylish. And as a shopper who seeks out eco-friendly wardrobe options, I was thrilled to learn more about Feral Childe's Fall/Winter 2011 collection during this past weekend's trunk show at Kaight Brooklyn

Unique hand drawing / print by Feral Childe for F/W 2011

Feral Childe, the creative endeavor of Moriah Carlson and Alice Wu, is a sustainable fashion line that sources the finest eco materials and while also doing all of their production locally in New York City. Their Fall/Winter 2011 collection is based on the theme, 'Orchestra' (each season has a specific theme), and this latest collection celebrates chic easy to wear dresses, tops, jackets, and pants. I particularly fell in love with their cozy fleece jackets and wool coats, though.

Ariel Clay and Moriah Carlson at Kaight Brooklyn

Feral Childe's jackets and coats are made from mill end material, which is the material left over from larger production orders. This production strategy not only allows small fashion houses to buy higher quality material at lower costs, but also allows for the recycling of fabric disregarded by the larger fashion company that had it produced. This is a win-win scenario for both the environment and small fashion labels.

I know that these coats would keep me warm and stylish all winter long.

 I love the belted ties on the long coat and tuxedo tailoring on the jacket. 

Feral Childe's original hand-drawn artwork on the fabrics also makes for whimsical and feminine dresses and linings on the coats.

Stay tuned for more of Ariel's reports from NYC.
(photos courtesy of Ariel Clay)

Sylvia Heisel & Martha Flood Collaboration

Sylvia Heisel collaboration with Martha Flood Design

I was really excited to learn about this recent collaboration between NYC fashion designer, Sylvia Heisel, and Berkshire-based textile designer, Martha Flood. This hyper-realist grass print designed by Flood is made from a digital direct-to-fabric print on eco-poly canvas. Based in North Adams, Massachusetts, Martha Flood Design offers an innovative line of eco-friendly textiles inspired by the New England landscape and textures found in nature. This skirt is a great addition to Heisel's Spring/Summer 2012 collection and speaks to her ongoing mission to explore sustainability and eye-catching art/fashion collaborations.

'Hoosic River, Grass & Savoy Birch Fabrics' by Martha Flood Design

Sylvia Heisel collection for SS 2012 with Martha Flood 'grass' print detailing