Wednesday 18 September 2013

eco shopping : LA style

I must say, for all the cliches about the hippies in Los Angeles, I did not have an easy time finding sustainable fashion labels in Tinseltown.

I spent more time than I'd like to admit researching where to shop, including looking up sustainable labels to see where (if!) they were stocked in LA. Compounded with the horrendous traffic, it wasn't as carefree as my San Diego shopping excursion.

But all complaining aside, I did manage to track down a few gems.

This label specialises in taking vintage and surplus materials and transforming them into new chic styles. All pieces are made ethically in either LA or New York. I had a fabulous time wandering through Reformation admiring the fashion-forward upcycled creations. I didn't purchase anything myself, the majority of the pieces just didn't quite suit my personal style, but from the steady flow of shoppers it's clear this label is a hit with many of the local bright young things.

8253 Melrose Avenue

Visiting Myrtle was hands down the best part of my LA shopping adventure. (It was my last stop of the day and the only place I purchased anything, so I was thrilled to end on a high note.) Shop owner Whitney Bickers has curated a beautiful, edgy and occasionally quirky collection of independent designers into her Echo Park store, and all pieces are available online as well. Though if you're in the area, I recommend you stop in and meet the very charming and knowledgable lady herself, you'll be glad you did! Not all pieces are made of sustainable materials, but the majority are made in LA under ethical conditions. There is also a selection of vintage pieces. This shop will definitely be on my itinerary next time I'm in the area.

2213 Sunset Boulevard

I bought this Thomas Sires tweed skirt - made in USA
from (admittedly) non-eco fabrics.

I also bought this adorable Feral Childe top - made in USA
using sustainable practices.

It was a fluke that I came across SUPRNATRL while in LA visiting my amazing cousin's amazing art show. This shop is new on the scene having just opened in August and carries a collection of natural, sustainable and local labels. I was drawn to the pieces by As Is - funky tees and maxi dresses - but the pieces I particularly liked were made of non-eco synthetic materials. The label started out as a vintage remake label, and still does some pieces in that style, so no need to avoid them at all costs. There are many items for men and women in natural fabrics, including hemp, and an abundance of locally-made jewellery and dreamcatchers, too.

2400 Main Street

My friend Yatu over at Thinking Fashion gave me the heads up about these fabulous yoga pants made of recycled plastic bottles, and I went on the hunt for a sweet pair of my own. I didn't have much luck in the few yoga shops I visited and called, apparently these hot pants sell like hot cakes, but there is an online store. One yogi I met said she heard a rumour that Teeki is currently not in production. Gasp! I hope everything's alright Teeki! We need you in this evolving world of sustainable fashion!

Northern Lights hot pants from recycled plastic?
Yes, please!

Eileen Fisher
I'd headed to Bloomingdale's in hopes of finding some Loomstate organic cotton basics, but was given a very perplexed look by the shop assistant, who insisted they did not carry that label despite what Loomstate's website mentioned. I wandered around on my own anyway - I hadn't been inside a Bloomingdale's for ages, the pretty lights, the lovely smells, all trying to get me to buy, buy, buy - and eventually bumped into the Eileen Fisher section. Oh Eileen! How had I possibly forgotten about you?!

Timeless classics by Eileen Fisher

My aunt first introduced me to this label when I was a fresh-faced teen visiting her in the Big Apple, and I should have paid closer attention to the wisdom she was trying to impart (I was too caught up in looking hot in my Diesel denim and French Connection tight t-shirt - it was the 90s).

Eileen Fisher has a strong sustainability and environmental policy, taking a holistic approach considering everything from raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, wear & wash, recycling and end-of-life. Have a read through the environmental policy on the website, I'm sure you'll be impressed with the measures being undertaken. (I am also particularly taken with the suggestion to only buy pieces you love that will be in your style for years - sage advice not frequently imparted by a fashion label.) Eileen Fisher also follows strict labor guidelines and has a focus on human rights, having become a signatory to Social Accountability International in 1997, the group that has developed fair labor standards globally. A great label to purchase some timeless classics that should last many, many years to come.

I love clear labeling. It is my dream to have
all labels do this in the future.

LA has tons of fabulous vintage and consignment shops - including the vintage couture shop Paper Bag Princess with *to die for* pre-loved designer gowns and accessories - but I didn't have the time to vintage shop this time around.


Even though I eventually found some great pieces and clever boutiques, generally my LA eco-shopping experience left me wanting. Perhaps it was just a reality check to show me that despite the great progress being made in sustainable fashion, we still have a ways to go until it is prevalent in mainstream stores.

Did I miss something in LA? Am I wishing for too much? Should I be glad to find some sustainable labels without over-hyping the 'greeness'? I'd love to know your thoughts on this complex topic.


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