Fashion That Gives Back Will See You Soon!

This post was definitely the hardest post to push myself to write….I am sorry to say that Fashion That Gives Back will be taking a short hiatus. For the next few months I will be devoting most of my waking hours to writing a thesis on the sustainable fashion movement!

Thank you all for your kind words and your support. For those fabulous individuals, including designers, experts, eco-advocates, editors, and consultants, who have contributed their time and expertise to the makings of this blog and to my research, I cannot express how amazing it has been to spend time in your presence and get to know your inspirational stories.

I hope that all readers have gained a better understanding of this most intriguing and down-right fascinating  realm that I like to call Fashion That Gives Back!

See you soon!


Q&A With Ecco*Eco’s Abigail Doan

Abigail Doan is one cool chick. With her knack for writing about sustainable fashion and the fact that she is always jet-setting to some far-away place, Doan has an eye for all things in the eco spotlight. Whether focused on her own artist blog or managing the one-stop spot for sustainable fashion, Ecco*Eco, Doan is certainly at the forefront of the eco fashion movement.

Check out what she had to say when I asked her some questions a few weeks ago!

1. First off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start writing for Ecco*Eco?

“I am an environmental fiber/textile artist who creates site specific, land-based projects as well as sculpting fiber forms with recycled/organic materials – principally fiber and vegetation. I started writing about sustainable fashion in 2005 as there was a lot of interesting overlap with my art work and what designer friends were doing in fashion and product design. I originally documented some of my ideas on my own artist blog,, but then there became a need to create a separate blog for ideas that were a bit more fashion-oriented. Ecco*Eco became a way for me to organize and share some of these discoveries.”

2. What does sustainable fashion mean to you?

“Sustainable fashion is very much about creating a system that works for you, your sense of style, and your lifestyle. Included in this are standards/ideas about environmentally friendly materials; social responsibility (fair trade initiatives, ‘locavore’ philosophies, and sustainable economic development); knowing oneself and one’s personal style so that one’s purchases are long-term; and perhaps most importantly, creating a relationship with the environment that is non-harmful and/or regenerative in some way.”

3. Do you think that the phrase ‘sustainable fashion’ could ever become redundant? If yes, how so?

“Perhaps not redundant, but rather contradictory. Sustainable fashion needs to continue to be both aesthetically and functionally pleasing without being exclusive as a moral/ethical agenda. Having attended a few fashion weeks over the past several years, I think that the best fashion is about thoughtful style and the dialogue that the designer creates with her/his materials and devoted followers. People want to be a part of the fashion story, and if more and more people believe that fashion is part of their lives, the term sustainable fashion might just melt away. That is, as they take more and more interest in how they dress while also greening their lives, the definition as we once knew it might need to be reworked and updated.”

4. Are there any eco designers that you feel have already bridged the gap between mainstream fashion and eco fashion?

“Yes, John Patrick ORGANIC, Eviana Hartman/Bodkin, Alabama Chanin, and perhaps Patagonia. Of course, these designer are still touted as being part of the sustainable fashion camp, but I believe that editors recognize them as being fashion-forward, first and foremost.”

5. Do you think that eco fashion can be profitable? Do you have any proof?

“I am not a designer, so I am not really privy to numbers. One example, I might share, though, is that fact that eco fashion stores/boutiques in small towns and communities in the U.S. are actually surviving and developing a dedicated following.

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A Tutorial in Zero Waste Design

You have all probably been hearing chit-chat about Zero Waste Design—I know I have—so I figured I would investigate and try to clarify what exactly it is.

Mark Liu's Zero Waste Fashion

A great info-savvy website, The Vine, happens to be doing a special series on their fashion tab that investigates different methods of eco and sustainable fashion. The first piece highlights and defines Zero Waste!

As you can tell from its name, the goal of Zero Waste is to prevent waste from occurring in the process of creating a garment. But according to The Vine,

“In commercial factories when garments are cut around 20% of the fabric is wasted through scraps. Zero Waste designers are using technical and conceptual advances in pattern making, producing garments that use all of the fabric selvedge to selvedge.”

Timo Rissanen

Although other countries such as Australia and New Zealand have been working on Zero Waste techniques far before we have caught on in the US, our country has been making strides. Timo Rissanen is New York’s first professor of sustainability and he has integrated Zero Waste into the curriculum at Parsons The New School of Design .

With such amazing sustainable innovation like this, the question of sustainability cannot be left unanswered. I can’t wait to see more and more fashion school students emerge as designers with the tools and the education to create a more environmentally-friendly fashion industry on a healthier planet.

If you are interested in learning more about Zero Waste, check out the first international Zero Waste exhibition, “YIELD: Making Fashion Without Waste.” Rissanen is working on it with Holly McQuillan, a Zero Waste expert out of New Zealand. The exhibit opens in New York this coming September.

5 Sustainable Fashion Stories to Read Now!

All I have to say today is—So little time, so MUCH TO READ!!!!! Fortunately, these stories are all extremely intriguing, and pleasurable to read. They highlight significant aspects of the sustainable fashion movement so get your read on!

Check it out…..

H&M + Swedish Hasbeens

The popular and philanthropic mecca that is Toms Shoes is dubbed ‘the little espadrille that could.’ (EcoSalon)

Emma Grady consults the Textile Exchange, (formerly known as the Organic Exchange) which says that global organic cotton production has increased 15% this past year. (Tree Hugger)

Another exciting designer collaboration to get your hands on—this time H&M pairs up with Swedish Hasbeens, one of Johanna Bjorks faves! (Concrete Flower)

Never wash your jeans? That just may be okay. (Ecouterre)

Amsterdam Fashion Week has begun. Look out for info on Eliza Starbuck’s entry with her amazing line Bright Young Things. (Ecco*Eco)

“Runway to Green” Designers Announced!

Yesterday I was so pleased when I came across a tweet from the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) that said “Participating #Runway2Green designers have been announced!”

I had just written about’s coverage of this spectacular event in fashion, and I was eager to find out which designers would be taking part to lend a green hand to help such an outstanding cause.

For those of you who are just as excited as me, take a minute to sneak a peak at the list of designers who have been confirmed to donate or create for this year’s Runway to Green!

Alexander Wang, Balenciaga, Burberry, Derek Lam, Diane von Furstenberg, Gucci, Jason Wu, Manolo Blahnik, Marc Jacobs, Marchesa, Marni, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, Osklen, Prada, Pringle of Scotland, Rachel Roy, Rag & Bone, Stella McCartney, Thakoon, Timex80, Tommy Hilfiger, Tory Burch, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Talk about a star-studded list. Now that I am in-the-know, I cannot wait to see the exclusive garments and accessories!! March cannot come soon enough.

Vogue Highlights “Runway to Green”

I usually start my day with breakfast and blogging. Aside from updating ‘Fashion That Gives Back,’ I love getting up to date with all the fashion news that seems to happen overnight!

Some of my favorite reads include the eco-fashion greats such as Ecouterre, Ecco*Eco, Goodlifer, and EcoSalon, as well as mainstream fashion sites such as Refinery29,,, and TheCut.

What makes me most ecstatic is when these two streams mesh—-for example, just last week covered Runway To Green in their Style Ethics column—and honestly it was the first time I had ever heard of this amazing program.

Set to launch in late March, Runway to Green has gathered some of the fashion industry’s best and brightest in an effort to raise money for the environment.

So far about 25 fashion brands have been recruited to create an exclusive item or donate a piece from Fall 2011 as part of a curated collection to be sold in select stores around the world.

Runway to Green, which funds the National Resources Defense Council, has made a vow to include only those designers who have or will be making a commitment to take on and learn about sustainable practices developed by the NRDC’s Clean by Design project.

According to,

“everyone from Yves Saint Laurent, Manolo Blahnik, Alexander Wang, and Burberry have jumped on board. A percentage of the proceeds from the sale will go directly to Runway to Green.”

The program kicks off alongside Christie’s “Bid to Save the Earth” event in NYC, with an A-list party hosted by Vogue, Salma Hayek, and the Rockefellers.

Not too shabby, eh?

The 2011 Observer Ethical Awards Are Here!

By now you are probably sick of looking at all the pink and emerald green dresses that showed up on the red carpet this past Sunday at the Golden Globe awards. With about a month until the Oscars in late February, there is something else to think about in the realm of sustainable fashion…..


Six years ago, the Observer Ethical Awards began showcasing designers, fashion houses, and retailers, with a serious commitment to sustainable fashion. This year the fashion and accessories categories, which have been called the “green oscars,” are being sponsored by (UK).

According to Vogue UK fashion features editor Jessica Bumpus,

“This year boasts a judging panel that includes model Lily Cole, actor Colin Firth, blogger and owner of Eco Age Livia Firth, director of sustainable fashion at London College of Fashion Dilys Williams, co-founder of The Body Shop Gordon Roddick,”

Model Lily Cole

and of course the writer herself!

How awesome is that?

Luckily, the deadline to participate is March 11th, so if you are looking to show off your sustainable skills you do not want to pass up this awesomely-green opportunity!

Enter here.

Image Fest: Stewart + Brown’s Ventura Gem

Last week I visited Stewart + Brown designers Howard Brown and Karen Stewart at their Ventura studio. I got a sneak peak at what goes on behind the scenes, and let me tell you, it was awesome!

As sustainable fashion pioneers with a Patagonia-inspired past, the designing duo is completely transparent, with nothing to hide. Best of all they are completely sustainable! So for all those out there who want to know how to set up a successful, environmentally friendly fashion company, I would suggest following in Howard and Karen’s footsteps.

Enjoy the photos! (which were all taken by my amazing boyfriend Taylen Richards)


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Q&A With CocoEco’s Johanna Bjork

Simply put, Johanna Bjork is amazing. She wears many hats in the industry as the publisher and editor-in-chief of Goodlifer and writer for CocoEco. Not only is she an expert in the field of sustainable and eco fashion, but she has this awesome ability to articulate all of her intelligent thoughts in a powerful and interesting way. I was so delighted to get the change to interview her and I thought it was imperative to share her expertise with you all.

1. First off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start writing for Coco Eco and Goodlifer?

“I grew up in Sweden, where a lot of sustainable thinking is ingrained into our daily lives. When I moved to Miami ten years ago I was struck with what I felt was a total lack of concern for the environment — it was impossible to recycle anything and people drove these big cars and ate all this highly processed food. I was very disheartened for a long time, and it wasn’t until I started putting together a sustainability-themed issue of a magazine for a design organization I was on the board of that I felt like I had found an outlet for the thoughts in my head. People don’t like to feel like they’re being preached to, even if they wanted the advice in the first place. I found the internet to be the best outlet for me, since people will not come to a site unless they were actually looking for something. I guess it’s a sort of passive preaching that suits me very well.

I started Goodlifer shortly after I had moved to New York. Like for many others, it was that classic moment of feeling down on the world after seeing “An Inconvenient Truth” and not knowing what I could do about it. The newsmedia just feeds us with all this negativity and it’s easy to feel powerless. I decided that I needed to find the good stuff that was out there — people and companies doing great things rooted in sustainable thinking — and figure out what defines Good Life in the 21st Century. Since I was doing all this, I felt like I wanted to share it with anyone else who may be in that same place. Thus, Goodlifer was born.

The team behind Coco Eco and I found each other through mutual friends in the sustainability world, and since our philosophies had many synergies we decided we needed to work together. When it launched two years ago Coco Eco was the first “glossy” magazine to go entirely digital. I’m not sure if there are others out there now, but that kind of trail-blazing spirit is what I think we need to create positive change in the world.”

2. What does sustainable fashion mean to you?

“Well, I think the term is sort of an oxymoron, because fashion, by nature, is based on the new and the now. The fashion industry today moves at a ridiculous pace. Instead of two collections a year there are now at least four, people don’t even have time to take off the price tags before something is last-season!

I’m more interested in style and individuality. Fashion bloggers and sites like Lookbook have changed the way we look at fashion and style. It’s not about trends and who has this or that it-bag, it’s about creating a personal style that others can be inspired by. Designers are increasingly borrowing inspiration from streetstyle sites like The Sartorialist (instead of the other way around). I’ve always shopped at second hand stores and I keep everything I buy forever. It’s about creativity. Creating an amazing look from things you have in your closet is so much for inspiring, challenging and innovative than buying a runway look off the rack.”

3. Do you think that the phrase ‘sustainable fashion’ could ever become redundant? If yes, how so?

“I hope so. In my ideal vision of the future, sustainability will be something that everyone just does—because it’s smarter, cheaper and more efficient. People are starting to question things, and nobody wants to wear something made with toxic materials or using child labor. Information is power—if we spread awareness, the industry will have to change to meet our demands.”

4. Are there any eco designers that you feel have already bridged the gap between mainstream fashion and eco fashion?

“I really don’t think there should be a differentiation between eco-fashion and “regular” fashion. Eco-fashion is just fashion that’s smarter and better. That said, John Patrick (Organic by John Patrick), Eviana Hartman (Bodkin), Natalie Chanin (Alabama Chanin) and sportswear company Patagonia are good examples of designers whose lines are being sold in mainstream stores.”

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A Sustainably Chic Outfit For Any Frigid Winter Day

Lately I have been struck by some amazingly crafted, totally fashionable garments and accessories from some of my favorite sustainable designers and I just couldn’t help but piece together a fabulous outfit for any chilly, winter day.

I know how frustrating getting dressed can be this time of year. Often the freezing cold temperatures force you to put on the same go-to sweater, pants, and boots that you have been wearing all winter long.

Put an end to that habit by checking out this fantastically chic look that will not only keep you warm, but is 100% sustainable!

Clockwise from Top Left:

Lulu Frost Mesh Necklace With Deco Clip, $125, available at Kaight NYC

Feral Childe Crater Tee, $125, available at Kaight NYC

Heidi Ackerman Pant

Stewart + Brown Eliza Thermal Cardigan, $408, available at Stewart + Brown

Cri de Coeur Allison Open Toe Wedge, $375, available at Cri de Coeur