Celebrating Two Years

This I Wear | Celebrating Two Years

Two posts in one week? Crazy, I know! But I thought I’d pop in for a moment and share some exciting updates.

So first things first, after mulling it over, I have decided to take a writing vacation for the month of August. Since things will be deceptively quiet here, I thought I’d share with you what I’ll be up to.

One of my hopes is that I’ll use my usual writing time to do a few site updates, especially around the pages.

TIW actually just celebrated its two-year anniversary on July 10th, which feels incredible because I am still bursting with ideas to share here. But I also know there is work to be done as both our community and I have grown – rethinking series, updating “About” pages, and doing some big picture thinking – all of which I’ve been wanting to do for awhile now but have been recently inspired to make time for.

My inspiration came in the form of Braid Creative’s Personal Branding ECourse, aimed at “creative entrepreneurs and bloggers (especially those of you who are both) who don’t entirely draw the line between work and life – and like it that way.” I was noticing a little identity crisis as my 9-5 and this blog overlap so much, which is such a blessing but at times is a source of confusion. I knew that digging into this distinction (and where I can continue the blur) would help me find better clarity for TIW. Not only did it do that, but it also gave me the courage to consider how I can share more of myself and my process here, and not just my closet.

(Your enthusiasm about posts that I have loved but was honestly terrified to share like “I’m Not a Fashion Omnivore” has also been a huge source of encouragement.)

Some of my time will also be spent training for my epic hiking and camping trip through Climate Ride to raise funding and awareness for my selected environmental nonprofits. I have just three weeks to go, and though my hike in the Catskills last weekend was great (check out that photo!), I need to get serious about training. Yet I also realize that preparing for this trip is just as much about building up courage as it is about building physical strength.

I know I’ve got a lot of learning ahead of me this month. In the meantime, go outside and enjoy the summer! I will be back in September and hopefully sharing a few surprises.

P.S. I LOVED the Braid ECourse that I mentioned above and highly recommend it for other creatives, writers, and entrepreneurs. In fact, the next course starts August 22nd! Full disclosure: if you use these referral links to sign up for the course, I will receive a commission. I promise that any money received through this will be invested back into TIW, and I will never recommend something here unless I truly believe in it.

My Closet: Ask & You Shall Receive

This I Wear | Ask and You Shall Receive
A few weeks ago, I had a hunch that if I put out the idea of my ideal sandal to The Internet, it might magically send the sandals I had been looking for my way. It was a crazy idea that somehow a pair of properly made, high quality, non-disposable shoes might enter my life and save me from my minimalist lifestyle-induced problem of having only one pair of sandals that were on the brink of death.

So if you’re looking at the above photo and asking yourself “how is it possible that she had these shoes made from a sketch in the three weeks since she posted the illustration?” you would be asking a very reasonable question. Except that these shoes were bought straight off the rack. And very fortunately in this case, on the sale rack.

After I wrote that original post, I ended up purchasing a pair online from a reputable brand that were way too big and way too much “foot exposure” for work, so I headed back to the department store in person to return them. Now shoeless again and needing to kill some time, I popped over to the sale racks that seemed overflowing with shoes. In that moment, I realized that I never go to department stores – there were so many options in one place – for better or worse. But I also had no expectation of finding anything.

I did a once over and then was somehow compelled to walk through again. That’s when I found these shoes. It was the exact shoe that Mike had helped me draw out a few weeks ago. And on top of that, they were the last pair in the store and they were in my size.

I looked around expecting that someone was playing a joke on me. As if the people in the store follow my blog (pfff!) and they had planted this shoe here for me. But this was a fancy department store, and there are no jokes there.

After 20 minutes of walking around with them on and searching the Internet to learn more about the brand, I decided to embrace that this was serendipity.

So how do these actual shoes stack up against the criteria I laid out in my “Ideal” post? Actually, pretty good.

- Timeless, work-appropriate design – Yes! In fact, these are made by a very traditional British brand known for their men’s shoes, so they do simple, classic design really well.
- Vegetable tanned leather – Yes! I actually sent an email to the company’s customer service once I got home with the shoes to get the full details since I couldn’t find the pair anywhere online. And yes, the leather is vegetable-tanned, though I had no way of knowing this in-store.
- Stitched insole + Leather sole – Yes! These shoes are sewn, rather than having the pieces of the shoe glued together. This means more durability and less toxic glues for the makers. It also means very durable construction, and the leather sole lends itself to infinite repairability.
- Conflict Mineral Free Hardware – Not sure. I did not ask this question and actually I’m not sure how many brands could answer this. So for now, this remains unanswered.
- Comfortable – Yes! I’m not sure how or why, but these just feel great on my feet and I knew it instantly.

A little something extra:

- Made in Italy – While this is a historical British brand (who knew that Northampton has a tradition of shoemaking?), the customer service representative confirmed that the brand makes all of their women’s shoes in Italy (the men’s shoes are still made in England). Ok, it would have been cool if they had been made in this historic town known for shoemaking, but Italy has some higher standards than other countries, and they have a tradition of making leather products that count on highly skilled labor.

And with that, I promise not to talk about shoes again for a really long time.

If you’re feeling lucky, tell the Internet what you really really want in the comments section and maybe your dream _____ will find you too.

Book Review: Let My People Go Surfing

This I Wear | Book Review: Let My People Go Surfing

I brought along the book, Let My People Go Surfing, from my Summer Reading List to the beach, and it quickly became covered in sand. After reading the book, however, I’m convinced that Patagonia’s founder (and the book’s author), Yvon Chouinard, would have wanted it this way as he is perhaps the most adventurous (and outdoorsy) businessman you might ever meet.

The outdoor industry of which Patagonia is an important leader does not view itself as part of the fashion industry and vice versa, even though both industries make clothes. So I can’t tell you how surprised I was that this book challenged my ideas of trends, quality and beauty, but it did.

Trends
Chouinard started off as a blacksmith making climbing equipment. At a certain point, he realized that the high quality, effective and popular climbing gear he was making was destroying the very mountains the climbers wanted to enjoy. So he got rid of the destructive model and improved on and then popularized a different, less damaging technology, and it sold like crazy.

He was also responsible for popularizing brightly colored outdoor clothing instead of the gray that dominated the market. But many years on, they realized those neon colors were full of damaging chemicals and so out went the neon colors and in came safer dyes (and absolutely no orange since no safe substitute could be found).

What if all of our trends came out of the pursuit of better technology, improved functionality and environmental stewardship? What if trends were about what is better and simpler rather than what is new and full of unnecessary frills? This idea is not just for climbing equipment but can apply to what we wear everyday. Perhaps the idea of a “timeless trend” is an oxymoron, but what would it be like if the latest thing was simpler and better in quality/design/sustainability than the previous version and that was somehow “trendy”?

Beauty
Patagonia’s list of values includes the pursuit of product quality “as defined by durability, minimum use of natural resources, multi-functionalism, non-obsolescence, and the kind of beauty that emerges from absolute suitability to task.”

We don’t usually talk about beauty in that way, but I got a few goosebumps when I read that line. For Patagonia, that kind of beauty is the baselayers that save your life because they keep you warm and dry in the freezing cold. In fashion, this kind of beauty could be the perfect linen top that keeps you cool while you’re out on that summer date, the versatile dress that takes you from work to an evening out, the shoes that let you work a long shift without leaving you in pain, or even the suit that gives you confidence in a job interview. It’s beautiful not just because of the aesthetics but because it supports your lifestyle. It’s also beauty that comes from not worrying about whether your swimsuit will fall apart as you get out of the pool.

Quality
After what sounds like an intense debate, Chouinard and his chief designer decided that quality is objective and can be defined. This means that for Patagonia, quality does not refer to subjective taste and preferences but instead is a very tangible and objective state. The company’s list of criteria for a high quality product is extensive but a few of the most universal components include:

- Is it functional?
- Is it multifunctional?
- Is it durable and able to be repaired?
- Is it as simple as possible?
- Is it easy to care for?
- Does it cause unnecessary harm?

Chouinard quoted one of his own inspirations who believes that “to make a high quality products is a way to pay respect and responsibility to the customer and the user of the product.” And honestly, I’ve never thought of a high quality item as being particularly respectful, but I really liked this idea. If this is true, then it would be easy to say that Forever21 has no respect for their customers (or their suppliers) by producing such poor quality products. Obviously their goal, unlike Patagonia’s, is not the pursuit of quality, but it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that they disrespect the customer by negatively impacting the environment and world in which the customer lives and by selling her knowingly insufficient products.

And if we’re willing to buy such insufficient products, what does that say about respect for ourselves (and the environment)? I could write a whole post about just this.

Overall it is a great book and a fairly quick read. And more surprising than any of this is that the book itself is an incredible resource if you are thinking about starting a company that makes products, whether apparel or otherwise. If you read it, I hope you’ll share your thoughts here too.

What does beauty from functionality mean to you? How would you define quality if you were (or are) making products? Share your comments below or tweet @ThisIWear.

Compression

This I Wear | The White Shirt

Last week, I had a very interesting experience in the form of a reading, which I can’t quite explain. And no, I’m not talking about books. It wasn’t astrology and she’s not a psychic, but it was a really powerful experience, despite the fact that I am, in general, a very skeptical person.

I won’t go into too much detail since I’m not really sure how much of it to take to heart nor do I want you to think I’m one of those people who goes around looking for these sorts of things. But one of my favorite parts of the reading was when she told me that I’m in a period of compression – like a seed that will eventually bloom (what’s not to love?). And because I’m in this time of compressing, it’s the perfect time to shed the things that aren’t working for me anymore – negative thoughts, relationships that have run their course, and things in my closet.

Little did she know that I’m already living quite the minimal life, but it was a great reminder to not hold on too tight to things that aren’t working, but instead to loosen my grip and see where things go.

This week, I’m compressing my computer. It’s been on the fritz for a little while, so after I back it up in just a few more places for safety, it’s getting a fresh start.

Before I head offline and clean up this tech, I thought I’d share a little inspiration along the same topic of compression and the search for simplicity.

One of my favorite things on Pinterest is the search for timeless style (in fact, I have a whole board devoted to it!). I love looking for style inspiration, but I also always ask myself when I see an outfit I love if I think I’d still love it in a year, in two years, etc. It’s good practice for continuing my search for my own style and for improving my own abilities to see past trends and focus on the classics.

And one theme I find myself constantly being drawn to? A great button-down shirt. Whether you roll up the sleeves or tie the ends in a knot, there are endless ways to style a button down. And one in a crispy white will never go out of style.

What wardrobe staples make up timeless style for you?

Photos via Pinterest: one, two, three

My Closet: Summer Shoes + Saving Up for Fashion

This I Wear | Summer Shoes + Saving Up For Fashion

Vanessa Friedman is the new fashion critic at the New York Times. This spring, she spoke at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, and she declared that sustainable fashion is an oxymoron. Instead, she said, we should talk about the sustainable wardrobe.

She gave the example of her grandmother, who worked hard to save up for the precious clothes she had and then took great care in making the clothes last as long as possible.

This was slow fashion. It was careful conscious investments over time. Now, we all think we must all have everything we want immediately at our fingertips (or at least at our doorstep through overnight expedited shipping).

But what if we changed this sense of time?

Recently, I was tempted to buy an expensive pair of shoes (not surprising given last week’s post), but I couldn’t bear the thought of actually paying that much money for a pair of shoes. Then, a close friend asked me if I’d work a catering gig for her growing business, and she would even pay me.

Suddenly I started to think a different way: what if I could buy the shoes as long as I saved up for them? The money for me was outside of my budget, which is based on what I earn from my 9-5 job. The additional perks were, of course, that the longer, slower process would give me time to make sure I really wanted the shoes, and the hard work of earning them would make me take that much more care once I owned them.

We all have different limits of how much we are willing and able to spend on our wardrobes. Sometimes, for reasons out of our control, we need whatever is fast and easy, which sometimes means cheap and often means imperfect. But how can we make those instances the exception rather than the norm? What if each piece in our wardrobe had a slow lead time to when we actually swipe our cards and take our prize home? Would we buy less? Would we buy better?

After all of the hard work and with money in hand, I decided I still could not spend that much on a pair of shoes. Instead, I opted for a beautiful pair of flats that were still an investment but half the price of the original pair. It was not fast, easy, or cheap. It did not solve all of my wardrobe problems. But slowly, I’m investing through thoughtful purchases. And hopefully that brings me a little closer to a sustainable wardrobe.

Watch Vanessa Friedman’s talk here.

Do you think “Sustainable Fashion” is an oxymoron? What word or phrase would you use instead? I’ve got a glossary of terms in the works, so please share if you’d got a favorite phrase or one that needs more clarity.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...