Ecologique Fashion | ways of change
Ecologique Fashion is a sustainable fashion PR and events consultancy based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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What We Did In San Francisco For Fashion Revolution Week

Over the last 5 years I have spent living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area as an ethical fashion consultant, my network of local makers and brands has grown- from fashion designers, milliners, metalsmiths, jewelers and shoe makers to weavers, knitters, farmers, natural dyers, textile artists and creators in between. I am proud to say that I pretty much have access to an entire supply chain within my own backyard. Every time I meet someone new, the conversation often goes to “Well, do you know Sally Fox the organic cotton farmer?” or “I know a local knitwear designer or dyer who can help you with that”.

While Fashion Revolution Day was on its way, I had an urge to bring all these talented folks to one space. I reached out to Luke Swanson, West Coast Coordinator for Fashion Revolution Day to assist me in an attempt to start some conversations and connections in our local fashion economy with an official sustainable fashion community meet-up last March. This was followed by creating a Sustainable SFBay Facebook group, so that we all could connect in the digital realm, and I organically adopted the role of organizer for these sustainable fashion socials.

It was truly amazing to see about 50 – 60 people attend our first impromptu meeting on a weekday evening at a local brewery. After that, we partnered with the 25th Street Collective and Hiroko Kurihara who was kind enough to offer her space for other meet-ups in preparation for Fashion Revolution Day.

What began as a response to the worst garment factory disaster to date, the Rana Plaza complex collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh that killed 1,134 and injured over 2,500 in 2013, Fashion Revolution Day has ignited an international movement demanding transparency and radical change in the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased. This momentous grassroots campaign, consisting of tens of thousands of supporters in over 80 countries, has encouraged consumers to “be curious, find out, do something” by engaging on social media with the brands they purchase fashion from and asking the question:“#WhoMadeMyClothes?”

There was no way the Bay Area was going to sit this one out.

We held two more meet-ups before we collectively decided on three events to produce to commemorate the victims of the Rana Plaza collapse, as well as remind wearers of clothing to ask “who made my clothes”, which included:

1) A Fashion Revolution Kick Off Party and Panel Discussion featuring guest panelists Rebecca Burgess of Fibershed, Shamini Dhana, founder of Dhana Inc. and Associate Producer for the True Cost movie, and Starre Vartan, travel journalist and founder of Eco Chick.

FRD SFBAY Panel Video Preview

(A video recap of the panel discussion can be found on the Facebook event page here: part 1part 2.)

 

2) A Slow Fashion Pop-Up event in collaboration with Skunkfunk featuring apparel by New Market Goods, Tonle, Annaborgia, and the Tripty Project.

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3) A Fashion Revolution Day Press Event +  “Who Made Your Clothes” FASH MOB Parade through Union Square in downtown San Francisco.

San Francisco marched in a “fash mob” parade, sponsored by Wildlife Works Apparel – the world’s only carbon neutral, fair trade factory protecting wildlife in Kenya, to ask for greater transparency in the global fashion supply chain. Co-produced by Ecologique Fashion and Eleanor Amari of LOLA Creative Agency, the parade’s objective was to ask for greater transparency in the global fashion supply chain.

The “mob”, consisting of models, designers, sustainable brands and ethical fashion supporters, recognized Fashion Revolution Day, a grassroots campaign sparked in response to the Rana Plaza garment factory complex collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh that happened three years to the day, leaving 1134 people killed and 2500 injured.

Fash Rev 7

More than fifty people strong, the fash mob commenced in Union Square, continuing down Powell St. and into the Westfield Mall with participators cheering  “Who Made My Clothes? Ask.” and holding bright signs as well as a parade banner, made from upcycled t-shirts, that read “Fashion Revolution”. Shoppers who joined the march were given the official San Francisco Fashion Revolution t-shirt by Wildlife Works Apparel, screen-printed locally by Social Imprints.

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Participating brands, of which all are San Francisco Bay Area based, included Wildlife Works Apparel, The Tripty Project, Skunkfunk, Fibershed, Indigenous, Synergy Organic Clothing, Soko, New Market Goods, Ways of Change, Callina, PACT, Indosole, and Okiino.

Special thanks to Chanel Fu, stylist, Lindsay Stevens PR, Bare Snacks, Makeup artist Olga Pirmatova of Tokyo SF, Photographer Bryan Berry of Lola Creative Agency, and Remake for videography.

 

 

Slow Fashion pop-up photos by Daniela Degrassi | Fash Mob photos by Bryan Berry

 

 

 

Traditional Patterns and Dyeing Techniques Emerge for Spring/Summer 2016

Previously written for EcoHabitude.

This Spring/Summer ’16, trend isn’t the only thing dictating the fashion calendar. The emphasis is on conversation pieces that tell a story, and fashion enthusiasts are feeling more connected than ever to the makers and cultures that inspired or created their outfits. Lively color, mimicking native flora, is also in demand. With the momentum of the slow fashion movement comes a resurgence of natural dyes and earth-inspired patterns that replace toxic, synthetic dyes with color derived from plants, minerals, wood– even insects.

Spring 2016 Trends :: Nature Dyed

Natural dyes aren’t something new, they’ve been around since the bronze age. It was only in the mid-19th century that synthetic dyes were introduced and began their wide-spread into many of the products and clothing we use today. Over time, the craft of natural dyeing took to the underground, but has stayed alive through traditional cultures of North America, Africa, Asia, and the Scottish Highlands. Shibori, a Japanese art of dyeing where the cloth is bound, stitched, folded, twisted or compressed before being dropped into the dye vat, has also resurfaced this season. With shibori, one can create gorgeous geometric shapes and resist patterns without having to machine print onto fabric.

modern shibori

Hexagon Silk Scarf : Modern Shibori

This year, many designers have partnered up with natural dye experts, artisans and foragers alike to integrate this ancient art form into their lines. Some are even learning the technique themselves and basing entire collections upon these gorgeous color ways and irregular effects. Take for example, San Francisco based Elizabeth Brunner, founder and lead designer of sustainable fashion brand Piece x Piece:

“Honestly, it never really occurred to me as to why I decided to learn how to dye on my own. I guess I’m stubborn in a way because if I really want something, I figure out how to roll up my sleeves and get it. It can be really hard sometimes but it’s always gratifying. With dyeing it was the same, it started small then I just kept saying to myself… ‘now let’s try this’. The rich natural colors of those first experiments ended up being my muse and inspired me to evolve my brand and take it to the next level.  

My creative process is simple. I do what feels right. With the new collection it was about creating a non-toxic collection. Organic cotton is starting to become more prevalent, why not take it even further and demand less chemicals in the dyeing process too? For me, it’s a small positive contribution to a bigger issue, but every effort to make things better, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.”

 

“The rich natural colors of those first experiments ended up being my muse and inspired me to evolve my brand and take it to the next level.”

Elizabeth Brunner, Piece x Piece

 

piece x piece

Eva Silk Jacket : Piece x Piece

As the weather warms up, many of us are re-introduced to the outdoors as the season brings with it the ever-awaited music festival. From Coachella to SXSW, people are gearing up to get back in touch with their roots. Expect to see a lot of bold, ethnic patterns inspired by African, Navajo and Andean cultures. Speaking of bold, a revival of thick chunky bracelets, long earrings that dangle to shoulder, and chocker-esque statement pieces that rest at the base of the neck will be accessorized.

Spring 2016 Trends :: Ethnic Bold
 Like natural dyeing, we are seeing traditional crafts emerge this year, peaking the interest of the mainstream – and rightfully so. These handmade works of art have a history and uniqueness all their own. Through conservation of these invaluable skill sets we can help them survive while supporting the economic wellbeing of the people that make with them. Many fashion companies are doing just that by partnering up with artisan collectives in places like South India, Peru and the Thailand Burma border.

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Pochampally Ikat Shoulder Sling : EST WST

Socially focused company EST WST works with handloom weavers in rural Nepal and India to create authentic rucksacks, messenger bags, slings and ipad cases from traditional handwoven textiles like dhaka, a staple in western Nepal, and ikat, a resist dyeing technique used to create tie-dye effects through weaving . These crafts are quickly vanishing with the rise of machine wovens. EST WST co-founder, Jhana Clayton told us:

“The first factory to start weaving dhaka in Nepal once employed, housed and fed 400 weavers, now they have 25. Although technology will always progress, in rural areas there’s a huge problem with power shortages and extended daily blackouts; the incredible thing about handloom textiles is that they don’t require the use of electricity. Through the practice of weaving these authentic fabrics, women can work from home instead of migrating to the overpopulated, polluted city. They can earn a sustainable living from home, without having to compromise time with their children or time caring for their land or livestock. This is where slow fashion can be so empowering: it produces more jobs and provides economic opportunity in remote regions, usually for women who would otherwise have a very hard time earning a living wage.”

“Through the practice of weaving these authentic fabrics, women can work from home instead of migrating to the overpopulated, polluted city. They can earn a sustainable living… without having to compromise time with their children or time caring for their land or livestock.”

Jhana Clayton, Co-founder of EST WST

Pesticide use is also a problem in the area resulting in high rates of depression and farmer suicides in rural Andhra Pradesh, not to mention the contamination of local water sources. In response, the use of EST WST ikat, made from organic cotton and azo-free dyes, not only supports fair wage opportunities for the weavers, but in purchasing an EST WST ikat product, you are helping save enough fresh water for somebody to drink for a year.

layered cuffs ways of change

Layered Cuffs : Ways of Change

Conscious consumerism, a new form of philanthropy, can also offer a way to support those affected by conflict and migration by connecting them to a global community. Ways of Change, a fashion brand inspiring change through community development, works directly with artisan refugees living on the Thailand Burma border to create gorgeous brass jewelry utilizing skills that have been passed down for many generations. We spoke to the company’s co-founder Lauren Baird:

“From the start WoC has worked in collaboration with refugee artisans because we wanted to help in the preservation of the traditional Kayan and Karen jewelry making skills that were otherwise dying out due to a lack of sustainable income. It allows us to create truly unique and one of a kind collections that are both inspired by modern designs while simultaneously capitalizing on traditional skills. The best part of the whole experience for me is watching the younger generations learn these traditional skills and become so excited about keeping their culture alive”

 

“The best part of the whole experience for me is watching the younger generations learn these traditional skills and become so excited about keeping their culture alive”

 

Lauren Baird, Co-founder of Ways of Change

 

In addition to helping secure a livelihood for artisans, a portion of Ways of Change profits go towards community projects focused on empowerment and sustainable living, providing support to refugees as they become repatriated, resettled or integrated into local communities.