Wednesday 10 December 2014

a tale of two handbags

Ahhh, the life of a sustainable fashion researcher . . .

I promise it's not filled with endless purchases (endless online 'window' shopping, maybe), but I did recently make two exciting purchases I want to share with you.

First, I ordered this stunning Moa Tote by Angela & Roi from Modavanti.

I had been looking for a structured tote for awhile, something to take with me to interviews and meetings, and researched a lot time before making this decision. And now that it's arrived, I couldn't be happier with my choice.

I was so excited when it arrived I took a picture of it in the box!

It is a black vegan leather tote, and the colour of the bag corresponds to the charity Angela & Roi donate to with each handbag purchased - my black tote meant that Angela & Roi donated $5 to the Melanoma Research Foundation. They currently work with 11 charitable foundations - have a look at their gorgeous (reasonably priced) handbags, and see where you'd like your money to go.

* * * *

My second purchase was this delightful black beaded vintage clutch.

I've been in the market for an evening bag for awhile, and my patience paid off! This charmer jumped out at me on my trip to Wollongong last week (for my first ever academic presentation - success!) when I stopped in the Fairy Meadow Antique Shop.  The detailing and quality is remarkable.

So, two bags, two very different styles, two ways of enjoying fashion sustainably.

* * * *

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...
I wonder if Charles Dickens imagined that his famous opening line from A Tale of Two Cities would be as relevant in 2014 as it was in 1859?

Today we have the best knowledge and resources available to us at the touch of a button, our health and wealth is higher than ever, yet the world remains plighted with concerns of security, inequality and, of course, climate change. It can be so depressing to even turn on the news these days.

I know my handbag purchases won't halt climate change or sweatshops today - and some people will say I'm adding to the problem by making new purchases. But I also know that with each conscious choice I make, I'm shifting the way of the world ever so slightly. And when we all join in, and let these conscious choices flow into all aspects of our lives (including how we vote), we have the power to truly change the world.


Thursday 20 November 2014

finders keepers

I'm excited to announce I'll be at the Finders Keepers markets in Sydney (Eveleigh) on 13 December and will be signing books all day. Please come and say hi! 

I'll be with Carlie Ballard, so you can check out her gorgeous (sustainable) fashion pieces at the same time. If you don't know of her label yet, check out this article I wrote for Green Lifestyle Magazine a couple of weeks ago.

Have a great rest of the week!

Monday 17 November 2014


Last week the United States and China gave us something to celebrate - an agreement on limiting carbon emissions.


In case you haven't been following the climate debates as closely as I have, here's the very basic rundown:
  • International climate negotiations have been at a stalemate for years as countries debate how much action they should each take. 
  • A major sticking point was that America wouldn't put a limit on its carbon emissions unless developing nations - like China - put a limit on their carbon emissions. 
  • Now China and the United States have agreed on a deal - America will cut its emissions to 26-28% of 2005 levels by 2025, and China will reach peak emissions no later than 2030.

Sure, the details need sorting out, and President Obama now has to contend with his Republican Congress, but overall, as Paul Krugman says, "a major part of the anti-environmentalist argument has just collapsed."

And in my world, this is definitely cause for celebration.

Cheers, fellas, thanks for your dedication to the environment!
(Do you think this was organic wine?)


Tuesday 4 November 2014

finding balance

There is a reason 'Finding Balance' is a chapter in my book - living 'sustainably' is a constant balancing act.

Don't get me wrong, there are many effortless days, when it has become routine to use all natural body and beauty products, separate my rubbish into various recycling elements and use my trusty travel pass to dash around the city via public transport.

Then there are days like these, when I find myself in an interesting eco-conundrum; the latest confusion is due to the delicious Pressed Juices store that has recently opened up in Manly.

I am seriously obsessed with these little bottles of goodness!

In addition to fashion and the environment, I have a passion for what I'll call 'health foods'. I am by no means an expert, there are plenty of other bloggers with that expertise. But I have been known to follow health food fads. First it was goji berries - I didn't love the taste but I kept tossing them into my cereal anyway. I quickly fell in love with Acai bowls (I could go for one right now, actually). And quinoa, kale and I have been in a serious relationship for awhile.

I've never been big into juicing, generally preferring to eat my fruit and veggies whole to take advantage of the fibre in the pulp. But something about the cold pressed juice craze has sparked my attention. I think it has to do with the claims of "up to 5 times more vitamins, minerals and enzymes" of other juices. Well, that, and knowing that with one green juice I can get a serious serving of leafy greens. It also helps that they are crazy delicious.

If you can't see the eco-conundrum I'm facing based on the photos I'll tell you - it's the plastic bottles. I confess I've had 4 green juices over the past 5 days, and I think I may get another one today. Yikes! That is a serious increase in my plastic consumption! Of course I am recycling the bottles, but I know that recycling plastic requires energy and the quality of the plastic is lessened with each recycle. There has to be another way!

I don't know that I'll follow this cold pressed juice craze for too long, and unsure it would be worth investing in a machine for myself. Besides, based on my schedule I don't know that I'd have the time to source all the ingredients and make myself one a day.

So, I'm afraid this isn't an eco-solution today, readers. In fact, I'm seeking your guidance. Do you have any suggestions on how I can participate in this delicious health fad without all the plastic? Or shall I just start communicating with these lovely companies, asking them for refillable containers?


Monday 20 October 2014

give a fork

Last week I attended the fantastic Give a Fork launch dinner hosted by Sustainable Table at the fantastic Studio Neon. This year's Give a Fork theme is #wastefree, and the dinner was an excellent (and delicious!) excuse to talk about shifting our food habits so we waste less food and food packaging. We were treated to a scrumptious meal cooked by eco-wise Aaron Teece, the owner of Studio Neon.

The table centre piece featured produce from Harris Farms' Imperfect Picks.
Guests were allowed to take home the produce at the end of the night!

Smoked Onion Risotto with Organic 62 degree hen egg. As a way to
make this a #wastefree dish the chef used the skin from the onion
to create the stock to cook the risotto. Clever!

Imperfect Orange dessert - I'm drooling again just recalling
this orange zest sponge cake served with orange rind puree,
Jannei goat's curd, and dehydrated orange. Heaven!

Why the emphasis on food waste? Well,
  • Australians throw away 1 out of every 5 bags of groceries they buy? That's 20% of our grocery budget right down the drain, about $1,036 per household. Ouch!
  • 20-40% of edible produce is rejected before it even makes it to the shops, because they don't meet our expectations of the 'perfect' piece of food. So it is wasted at the farm level.
  • Australians only recycle 36% of eligible plastic bottles, and globally we add 6.4 million tonnes of plastic into the ocean each year, a large proportion being food packaging.
This is the 'imperfect' produce I took home - I'm making eggplant parmesan
tonight, and last week that quirky potato made it into a soup and the asparagus
into a frittata.  Just because they look different doesn't mean they taste different!

Two Give a Fork ambassadors were on hand to share their personal experience - Take 3 Founder Tim Silverwood and writer Sarah Wilson of I Quit Sugar fame. We also heard from the effervescent Ronni Kahn, CEO and Founder of OzHarvest.

Good onya Tim! My hubby is a devout 'Take 3er', which
can easily turn into taking 4, or 5, or, you get the idea.

I didn't realise that the I Quit Sugar recipes also work
toward a waste free kitchen (or pretty darn close, anyway)

Aside from the speeches, we viewed a short documentary titled Waste Deep, which covered everything from the problems with plastic in our oceans (here are some stylish solutions to the current problem) to how we buy and cook our groceries.

This is all the waste that was generated from feeding 40 people - incredible.

* * * *

I left feeling inspired to host my own Give a Fork dinner - my hubby and I decided to tackle a low-food waste Thanksgiving meal next month - why don't you consider hosting one as well?  Sustainable Table has provided a free eBook talking you through easy ways you can reduce your food waste at a dinner party, and in your kitchen everyday.

Any money you raise goes directly to funding Sustainable Table and the great work they do in educating Australians on sustainable food practices, and working with projects in developing nations to ensure communities have a safe and ongoing provision of food. 

I'll be in touch with an update after Thanksgiving!


Thursday 9 October 2014

plastic fantastic

- I love plastic, I want to be plastic -
Andy Warhol

Well, I don't feel the same way as Andy Warhol, but it's fair to say I have a love-hate relationship with plastic. The convenience and safety aspects are hard to beat, but the environmental damage being done as this material infiltrates our land and oceans is beyond destructive. (You can find the shocking statistics at the end of this post).
This image is from the film Midway, a stunning (in terms of beauty
and shocking destruction) documentary about the island in the North Pacific
and the havoc being wreaked by plastic on its animal communities.

The situation is bleak, I don't want to sugar coat it, but there are things we can all do to improve the status quo. The rest of this post highlights some very clever and creative people out there who are doing their part to reclaim and recycle (and upcycle!) our plastic pollution into beautiful new products. Perhaps you'll be inspired to find yet another use for our used plastic.

What do you think of these solutions to our plastic problems?

G-Star Raw for the Oceans
The much-hyped range of G-Star, in collaboration with Pharrell Williams, has hit stores. This line of denim, tees and sweatshirts uses Bionic Yarn - created from plastic collected along the coastline - to divert plastic from the oceans and make a sturdy fabric.

As Pharrell and Bionic Yarn founder, Tyson Toussant, say, "Wear the responsibility for Big Blue."

I'm oh-so-proud to say I know one of the founders of this ingenious company that turns used fishing nets from Chile into new skate decks for everyone. (Special prize if you can guess which character he is in Sustainability with Style).

Bureo, which is the word for waves in the native Chilean language of Mapuche, completed a successful Kickstarter campaign this year. Between working with Chilean fishers, setting up a recycling and manufacturing facility, and telling the Bureo tale around the globe, this team has been busy! Thank goodness they have new boards to get around in style.

The Minnow is now available - order yours on their website -and take 30 square feet of nets out the ocean.


This is not the first time I've mentioned Teeki - and probably won't be the last. This activewear label pushes all the right buttons - recycles plastic into clothing, creates some of the hottest prints and designs I've ever seen on yoga pants, uses Zero Waste printing technology, and celebrates health, the environment and self-love.

Thank you Teeki!

* * * *

So now there is even more you can do to help with our global plastic problem. In addition to saying no to plastic bags, using a refillable water bottle and recycling all your household plastic, now you can also take some of that plastic back out of the oceans and landfill with some eco-conscious choices. And maybe just make plastic fantastic, again.

* * * *

Why is it a love-hate relationship with plastic?

I love my lipstick tubes. I love the convenience of my click-and-seal food containers. I love the sleekness of my computer-mouse. I know this shiny, flexible material has made our lives safer through medical supplies. Once you start looking around, you can see how much plastic is part of our daily lives and instances where it has, in fact, improved our way of life.

But our reliance on this petrochemical-based material has gone too far. And I hate the environmental damage caused by our irresponsible use of plastic.  Just a few stats:
Between convenience packaging, poor recycling rates, and fishing lines and nets being discarded, plastic has taken over our land and our water, and it's impacted us all. So please, start taking action today.

Monday 22 September 2014

sustainable style : amour vert


I know, I've been absent during the past month. But with good reason. I've just returned from a wonderful few weeks in the US where I spent invaluable quality time with my family, including a celebration of my in-laws' 40th wedding anniversary. Congratulations!

Part of my time away was spent in charming San Francisco. While there I did a bit of research, and also a little bit of shopping. I mean, I couldn't be in the same city as one of my favourite sustainable fashion labels and not go in, could I?

Can you spot the Selfie Bench?

I first discovered Amour Vert about a year ago when I purchased this delightful striped dress made of organic cotton.

Worn here with a fave vintage poncho I picked up
in Melbourne a few years ago.

Amour Vert creates stylish and chic fashion from sustainable fibres, and all the pieces are made right in San Francisco. I love the style, and was thrilled to visit their new store in Hayes Valley. It was an eco-fashionista's dream come true!

Buy a tee, plant a tree.

The green wall, wooden light feature and hanging
plants made my experience all the more delightful.

I certainly didn't walk out of here empty handed - but I also didn't buy one of everything, as much as I wanted to. I spent at least 30 minutes in and out of the fitting room trying on nearly everything in the store (the sales assistants were just gorgeous - so friendly and helpful, and I loved hearing them spruik sustainable fashion to the customers!). And before committing to any purchases I thought about when I would wear something, and if it easily fit in with my wardrobe and personal style. Just because it's 'eco' doesn't mean I can buy one of everything!

This is what I did buy:

Blair Dress - made of silk and
perfect for Sydney's summers.
Mika Tee - made of Micro Modal
and spandex. And helped plant a tree.

This bracelet made of recycled metal - it was at the
counter and not available on the website.

All in all a delightful visit. Though I can't help but feel envious of the lucky San Franciscans who can visit this store whenever they please (sigh). 'Till next time!


Thursday 21 August 2014

sustainable fashion 102

In the last post I covered two of my sustainable shopping tips:
In this post I am delving into more details, and probably into the areas most people think of when they hear 'sustainable fashion'.
  • Know your fabrics and learn your labels
  • Get comfortable clicking

Maiyet - pioneers of sustainable luxury fashion, working with artisans
from around the world.

Know your fabrics and learn your labels

There has been extensive research and technology into developing more sustainable clothing fabrics. Similarly, there has been progress in labeling and certification of organics and fair trade production, to help shoppers understand what has been officially recognised by a third-party and is not just fashion 'greenwash'.

Sustainable shopping tip #3 - do your homework. Before you head out for your next purchase, do your homework on fabrics and labels so you know what to look for in new sustainable fashion.

Here is a quick breakdown of fabrics I prefer:
  • Organic cotton
  • Wool
  • Hemp
  • Linen
  • Modal/Cupro/Tencel*
  • Peace silk
  • Upcycled or recycled fabric
  • Reclaimed or surplus fabric 
Amour Vert - organic cotton, wool, made in USA
(San Francisco, to be exact!)

Goodone - made with upcycled leather.

The Reformation - reclaimed viscose
fabric, biodegradable when you're done!

Teeki - a favourite of mine, fantastic leggings made
with recycled plastic.

Here are common certification labels you may see on clothing swing tags:

Organic certification
Ethical / Fair Labour certification

ALAS sleepwear - GOTS certified organic
cotton, printed with AZO-free dyes

Studio Jux - made ethically in Nepal, uses eco-fabrics
including organic cotton, hemp and recycled plastic.

Ginger and Smart - ECA accredited, made in Australia.

Heidi Merrick - Linen top, Made in the USA
(right in Los Angeles)

Not all companies are as outgoing as others about their sustainability credentials - if you're unsure if your favourite label has any sustainability measures, hop onto their website or give them a call to do your own research before you make your next purchase.

I'm not going to lie, while it is getting easier to find and purchase sustainable fashion, it's not as simple as heading to your favourite mall or shopping centre. For now, anyway, we sustainable fashionistas have to do a bit more homework before we go shopping. But the more we buy, the more we can push out the un-sustainable practices and make it easier for everyone to find sustainable and stylish fashion.

Which brings me to . . .

Get comfortable clicking
In addition to researching fashion labels, I find myself doing a lot of online shopping these days. Many of the up-and-coming sustainable fashion labels do not yet have wide distribution and are more likely to be found online.

Sustainable shopping tip #4 - shop from your sofa. If you're not comfortable shopping online (I wasn't until I became a sustainable fashion diehard!), you may want to start with a 'low-risk' purchase like an accessory that isn't size dependent. Once you're comfortable and feel ready to move onto clothing, always check the return and exchange policy, and examine the size chart to give you more information, before making your purchase.

Below are some of my favourite online shops to get you started:

I have noticed a couple extra perks of online shopping, actually. It saves me a lot of time, and I'm able to buy lovely items that are not owned by very many other people because they are less available. Also, I'm able to consider each purchase more carefully without the pressure of salespeople, which helps me create a more considered wardrobe.

* * * *

Well, that conclude this two-part series covering 'What is sustainable fashion?' I hope that helped clear things up a little bit. I told you it was murky territory, but the good news is, it is getting clearer everyday. And the more that we fashion lovers demand better practices from our fashion producers, the easier it will all become.

I feel I have just scratched the surface in highlighting sustainable fashion labels and stores in these two posts. There are so many, and more popping up all the time. I recommend you do some of your own searching next time you're in the market for a little something (it's amazing what a Google search of 'eco handbags' can do) - just remember to share with the rest of us what you find!

If you still want more tips, including my complete shopping guide covering shoes, accessories, denim, beauty products and more, check out my book, Sustainability with Style.

As always, drop me a line if you have any questions, or want to have a chat!

* * * *

*These are all part of the 'new' line of fabrics created with more sustainable plant sources than cotton (which is incredibly water intensive and can be damaging to the soil - and when grown non-organically uses an obscene amount of fertilizers and pesticides). These fabrics generally have to go through a chemical process before they are spun into cloth. Ideally the chemicals are used in a closed-loop system, meaning the chemicals are reused over and over. I have mixed emotions on bamboo, and have left it off this list because it is largely unregulated in terms of growing and manufacturing into fabric. Because it is so hard in its natural state more effort is required to turn this into fabric than the others mentioned here. There are multiple ways of breaking bamboo down, either by mechanically crushing it, or by using strong chemicals. The latter option is cheaper and most widely used, yet there is little regulation outlining how the chemicals are disposed of, or if they are used in a closed-loop process. I am not saying you should never buy it, but approach bamboo with caution and ask questions before purchasing.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

sustainable fashion 101

Lately my days are filled with studying and writing about sustainable living. More frequently the topic has narrowed to sustainable fashion, which is brilliant because I have a valid excuse for mulling over my two favourite subjects - fashion and the environment.  It can be easy to forget that not everyone is as engrossed in these subjects as I am, however, and 9 times out of 10 when I tell people what I do they ask me:

what is sustainable fashion? 

Lalesso - created sustainably in Kenya

You'd think I'd have a standard response, but we're dealing with murky territory here. So over my next two blog posts I will explain what sustainable fashion is, and how you can make sustainable fashion choices. I also would really love to start a dialogue about sustainable fashion. If you have any questions or would like to pose alternate definitions, please leave a comment and let's discuss!

* * * *

sustainable fashion definition

In the simplest terms, sustainable fashion is clothing created with respect for both the environment and people. I find it helpful to reflect on the widely-used definition of Sustainable Development* as a starting point:
development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
I find that sustainable fashion complements this definition neatly. I interpret "meeting the needs of the present" to mean both our fashion needs and desires, as well as the basic needs and human rights of people making the clothing. And I see "without compromising future generations" to mean we are using resources responsibly, and avoiding pollution and overconsumption in our fashion choices.

Clean Cut, Australia's sustainable fashion council (of which I am a proud co-founder) defines sustainable fashion as:
fashion that encompasses both social and environmental impacts [and is] made with sustainable fibres, sustainable social practices and/or consideration of the whole clothing life cycle.

Clean Cut Designer Showcase, April 2014

what can I buy that is sustainable?

If you're like me, the above definitions sound great, but when you go to stores you are confronted by swing tags promoting bamboo, organic cotton, and Australian Made - or, more often than not, none of the above. At times it feels like mainstream fashion is anything but sustainable, and as shoppers it can feel like there are no good options.

I will discuss details of 'sustainable fibres' in the next post, as well as some of my favourite sustainable fashion labels and shops**.  But right now I want to focus on the really good news - the aspect of sustainable fashion you have the most control over - frequency and quantity of purchases.

Look, I hate when environmentalists suggest "we just need to buy less stuff", or, my least favourite saying, "Live simply so that others may simply live." I understand these comments are filled with the best of intentions, but to me this is too simple a solution. It doesn't take into account how we live our lives today. And I for one love fashion. I don't want to apologise for it. But I do want to ensure my favourite pastime isn't causing irreparable damage to the planet or causing other people pain. So it is with mixed emotions that I suggest buying less, but I'm going to endeavour to help you make the transition as pain-free as possible.

My recommendation for getting the best of both worlds and shopping sustainably begins with two very simple steps:
  1. Choose quality over quantity
  2. Love pre-loved items

Choose quality over quantity

Today we buy more fashion, more frequently, than ever before. And it's increasingly made of poorer quality and in questionable factory conditions. I won't go into detail about the problems with fast fashion here, but if you're interested have a read of  Overdressed and To Die For - both excellent books filled with shocking fashion statistics.

Sustainable shopping tip #1 - buy less, buy better. Instead of rushing to the Zaras and Top Shops of the world - even though their styles can be oh-so-fabulous - spend a little more money on fewer items that have been made well and will last many seasons. Importantly, consider how the items will fit with the rest of your wardrobe; there is no point in buying a stunning top that you'll never wear because it doesn't go with anything in your closet.

Titania Inglis - organic cotton, natural dyes, made in NYC

I was speaking with a colleague the other day about a pair of Prada boots she's had for 7 years. Yes, 7 years. She still loves them, they are still comfortable, and they have taken her around the world many times in style - they are probably on their last winter, but after 7 years they've earned a nice retirement. While the price tag on Prada boots may give you a minor heart murmur, considering a 7 year lifespan and a classic style, the price should work out to about the same, or less, as buying a new pair every year or two.

It's been my experience (with a Max Azria silk blouse - 12 years - and this Sass and Bide dress - 6 years) that you're likely to consider a pricier purchase more than others, and end up with a finer, more considered wardrobe as a result. And there really is nothing like wearing a very finely made piece of clothing.

I don't want to imply that quality equals couture, or that high quality comes with an astronomical price tag; there are plenty of mid-range labels that make high quality pieces. But you're not likely to find a well-made, quality item for $15, either. Examine clothing before making a purchase, including feeling the fabric and examining the stitching. And place quality as high as style on your fashion checklist.

Love pre-loved items

I admit, I really had to get used to this one. I was not a born op-shopper. Where (and when) I grew up in suburban America it was not cool to wear secondhand clothing. I was once taunted by a Mean Girl in elementary school who told me she used to have the outfit that I was wearing, but she gave it to Goodwill (implying I was wearing her hand-me-downs). Mean! But now I am obsessed with the op shop hunt.

Sustainable shopping tip #2 - consider secondhand as your first option. Check out this hot biker jacket I just scored on eBay - on trend yet a classic style, a fraction of the retail price, and I am extending the useful life of a quality jacket.

With apologies to my vegan and animal-rights readers;
I did struggle with this decision, and rightly or wrongly
justified it by buying secondhand. What do you all think?

Next time you're in the mood for a particular item, ask yourself seriously if you need to purchase it new, or if pre-loved will do. Research*** has shown that the energy to collect, sort and resell secondhand items is between ten and twenty times less than creating a new item - a little effort in the hunt makes a big impact on the environment.

I have really fallen in love with secondhand shopping in a way I had not anticipated. For one thing, I save money. For another, I am more likely to find items that no one else is wearing. And I find my creative juices get flowing like mad when I am considering how I will wear these one-off items. Thanks to secondhand shopping and a good tailor, I have a few very lovely items in my wardrobe that are entirely unique. (I really must learn to sew...).

Sometimes the answer is yes, you do need or want something new, and that is okay. Just make sure to ask yourself the question and consider secondhand as your first option.

* * * *

Hopefully today's shopping tips have given you a realistic starting point for shopping sustainably. My next post will cover more specifics on sustainable fibres, certification and some great labels and shops who are making waves. In the meantime, drop me a line to add to this discussion, and keep the sustainable fashion conversation flowing!
* * * *

*Initially used in the 1987 report Our Common Future

** If you want a complete list of my favourite shops and fashion labels, as well as my go-to beauty brands, check out the shopping guide in the second edition of Sustainability with Style. You can buy your copy online, or if you're in Sydney head over to Darley Collective in Manly to pick up a copy (and check out a hot new pop up sustainable fashion store co-owned by Carlie Ballard).

*** Gibson and Stanes, 'Is Green the New Black? Exploring Ethical Fashion Consumption' in Ethical Consumption: A Critical Introduction eds Lewis, T. and Potter, E. 2011.

Thursday 31 July 2014

changemaker : kestrel jenkins

One of my favourite parts of being involved in the sustainability movement is meeting passionate people with strong visions for creating our sustainable future. Many of these people I know in person, other relationships remain online, yet all have inspired and encouraged me along my journey. I am starting this changemaker segment on my blog to introduce you to some of these amazing individuals - some may be familiar names, others are quiet achievers, but they all make up the face of the sustainability / consciousness movement that is sweeping the globe.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce sustainable fashionista, Kestrel Jenkins.

I didn’t know exactly where I was going next but I knew it had to be related to conscious fashion.

Photos c/o Drew Mcgill for Mermaid by Hand Jewelry's summer lookbook.

Kestrel (who lives in Southern California) and I first met online following the launch of Sustainability with Style when she asked me to create a look for the Fashioning Change website. It was a very fun project, and I could tell through our brief email interactions that this was one clever and dedicated woman. Ever since she's been on my radar through twitter and various projects, and her latest project is the AWEAR campaign - inspiring stylish change, one real person at a time.

I recently sat down for an e-interview with Kestrel - below is an excerpt from our conversation:

Tell me about how you became involved in conscious clothing:

After graduating from college with degrees in Global Studies & International Journalism, I was at a loss for what my next step would be. I knew that I wanted to be connected to the fair trade movement but I didn't know in what way. While back home in Wisconsin, my mom had a light bulb moment and said, “what about fashion?” I immediately jumped online and searched high and low for any fair trade fashion companies around the world. I found People Tree, the pioneer in fair trade fashion, and was set on securing an internship with them. Finally, months later, I had a phone interview with their London office and was offered the internship. Two weeks after the interview, I had moved across the ocean and was living in London, absorbing everything I could about the world of sustainable fashion. This experience working and learning from People Tree sparked this deep fire inside of me. I didn’t know exactly where I was going next but I knew it had to be related to conscious fashion.

Photos c/o Drew Mcgill for
Mermaid by Hand Jewelry's summer lookbook.

What is your favourite part of dressing with awareness (awearness)?

Undoubtedly, having the opportunity to share the stories behind my style. I love being able to embrace a more intimate connection with what I am wearing. Basically, my canvas has always been my own body -- what I wear has become a form of art for me. I'm the most able to express myself / share the way I feel / or simply have a creative outlet via the way I style my outfits. Understanding the depth of the stories behind what I wear and being able to relay those powerful supply chain messages to others gives me the purest joy.

How did you come up with the idea for AWEAR?

In 2009, I completed a yearlong project called Make Fashion Fair, in which I pledged to only purchase clothing that was made consciously with regard to people & the planet. This project evolved into becoming the core of the way I generally function. I took a brief hiatus from being engulfed in sustainable fashion last year :: mostly for my soul and a personal need to reconnect with myself and my true passions. The idea for AWEAR evolved after this break :: it takes the Make Fashion Fair concept and applies it to a large community who are ready to be stylish changemakers - for me, the larger intention in the sustainable fashion sphere has always been about reaching the mainstream consumers.

Photos c/o Drew Mcgill for
Mermaid by Hand Jewelry's summer lookbook.

Tell me about the fabulous AWEAR logo

The AWEAR logo was designed by one of my best friends, Ian Kearns. He has seen me grow up, watched me evolve as a person, and heard my stories along the way. In this case, there is incredible depth in his design of the AWEAR falcon. My name is Kestrel -- which is a type of falcon -- that's where it begins. Ian explains this far better than myself :: 

"One of the wonderful things about you [Kestrel] is the multitude of experiences in travel, people you've met, and stories you've garnered to make you who you are today. I see this as a direct correlation to your AWEAR idea:  to bring a collection of people with different experiences, viewpoints, and stories together. So with this in mind, along with the qualities of stitching and patching, I thought of a quilt. A well-made quilt tells a story, whether it's literally through a depicted story on a square or even through the stitching handwork of the craftsman that made it. An AWEAR quilt could start with the looks of a Kestrel Quilt, but perhaps it gets filled in along the way with all of the participants and their stories and ideas." 

Ian's final design of the AWEAR logo is basically a quilted falcon. The design is just as beautiful as the story behind what it meant for Ian in the creation process, and that's exactly what the foundation of AWEAR is built on for me.

Thank you so much, Kestrel, for sharing your story with me! I look forward to the day when we can meet in person, but until then, I love knowing that I have a conscious-style soul sister living across the Pacific.

So, are you all ready to become AWEAR? Join the movement today.

You can see my AWEAR look here - I am so regretting not wearing sunnies on that extremely bright day, pardon the squinting and just enjoy the sustainable look instead.

* * * *

I hope you all enjoyed meeting Kestrel. Do you know any other chagemakers I need to meet? Shoot me an email and let me know.


Saturday 19 July 2014

review : wewood watch

Check out my gorgeous new watch!

Ooooohhhhhh, so pretty! And sustainable packaging!

Thanks to the lovely folks at WeWOOD I am trying out one of the watches in the new range - mine is made from Indian Rosewood and has the delightfully decadent name of 'Mimosa Chocolate'.  It's so pretty, I don't feel the photos do it justice. The wooden face has a delicate shine, and the metal beneath the glass gleams - for a watch made of wood, this little darling has a lot of class.

I've been an admirer of WeWOOD since I first spotted them, not just for their Italian designer look but for the company's sustainability credentials. In addition to being created from sustainably-sourced wood (recycled and reclaimed timber, much of it offcuts from the furniture industry), for each watch purchased one tree will be planted through Carbon Neutral in Australia; American Forests and Trees for the Future are used in other countries.

There are a range of shades and wood types available, and a wide range of styles - from my delicate watch to those with larger bands and faces in different shapes. I'll admit I was afraid this colour wouldn't go with enough of my clothes, but I've been pleasantly surprised at the versatility of this rich chocolate brown.

So, what does one wear with a wooden watch? Here are just a few looks I rocked this week and my WeWOOD was a fabulous addition to each.

Writing and studying
American Apparel circle scarf
Carlie Ballard traveler pants
Vintage denim top

Off to yoga
Sosume long sleeve tee
Teeki Deer Medicine hot pants

Night out with friends
Sosume tuxedo jacket
Veronika Maine tuxedo pants
Bassike striped tee

Other pluses?

The watch is incredibly lightweight. I'm not a regular watch-wearer, but it is so light that I frequently forgot I was wearing it (then was super-pleased to see it on my wrist!). And the sustainability initiatives continue to the care for your watch, with recommendations to owners to polish watches with olive oil and lemon juice, and the occasional treatment with beeswax or walnut oil, to keep your watch nicely (naturally) nourished. 


It's not waterproof for you water babies out there. And if you're really keen on shiny gold or silver watches, this will take some getting used to. Perhaps the inner glow that comes with knowing your watch was created responsibly and beautifully will help.

All in all, I'm really enjoying my new accessory - thank you WeWOOD, and keep up the great eco-work!


*Disclaimer - I was asked to provide a product review of this watch. All opinions above are true and my own.