Tag Archives: fashion that gives back

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

Image Fest: Start 2011 Right With A Visit To SAVA Fashion

Just before the new year I went to visit SAVA Fashion in Philadelphia. After speaking with the line’s brilliant designer herself, Sarah Van Aken, I just had to plan a little road trip to see her beautiful garments and the store in which they are housed.

I was very impressed! The store is very welcoming and the garments are all so colorful and unique. I was so excited by the hang tags, which explained the sustainable elements that went into each garment.

Check out the photos below—and don’t hesitate to follow your desire to book a trip down to Philly! It is well worth it!

***There are more after the jump!

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This Just In! Wool’s Popularity Grows!

When it comes to sustainable fashion, it is not always about organic cotton and recycled fabrics. After speaking with several eco-fashion designers, I have learned that being a sustainable designer takes intelligent decision making and patient design practice. Sometimes it’s about looking at fabric choices and realizing what you have to work with.

Interestingly, some fabrics are NATURALLY ECO or SUSTAINABLE!

Take a fabric like WOOL—which has been around forever! Wool has always been a natural fiber that can be used without much processing or harm to the environment. It seems that wool has been REDISCOVERED and picked up again with the momentum of the sustainable fashion movement.

The San Francisco Chronicle spoke to Lindsay Sullivan, the owner of SET Boutique, a fair-trade website devoted to ethical fashion. She explained in a Press Release earlier this week that while working in Kathmandu, Nepal, she saw women hand spinning wool fiber into yarns—something that would not be possible with synthetic yarns that are acrylic.

“Synthetic yarns are also harmful to the environment since they are typically derived from petroleum. Wool is a sustainable fiber since it is a renewable source, and it also gives small produce groups the chance to gain income from their craft.”

The Press Release went on to explain that wool is also environmentally friendly because designers can avoid dyes and use it in its natural colors, such as ivory and charcoal.

Sounds good to me. I think I’ll go put on my favorite wool sweater…. 🙂