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Eco Fashion at Style Week Pittsburgh

Posted by on Aug 25, 2014 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Eco FashionGoing green isn’t easy and for many reasons fashion is one part of my life where I haven’t made much progress.

For one, defining eco fashion is challenging. When you see a fashion item labelled as eco-friendly it could mean recycled materials, reused materials, organic materials, a sustainable manufacturing processes, a local- or hand-made product, the ethical treatment of workers or all of the above. To make it easy the definition of eco fashion I’m shopping with is that an item can meet any one of the above conditions.

It’s also been difficult to find eco-friendly fashion in a variety of styles. Until recently I’ve only been able to find eco-friendly clothing lines offering boho, hippie, hiker or yoga style clothing.

Other issues I often have is size. I’m on the smaller side at 5’2″ with a petite frame and many designers don’t make clothes in my size.

Luckily, the landscape of eco fashion is changing quickly, both locally and online, thanks to small business owners who are trying to “do the right thing” and a greater acceptance of and desire for eco fashion. Last week Style Week Pittsburgh hosted many events around Pittsburgh, but the Saturday afternoon boutique crawl in Lawrenceville stood out as the “greenest” so decided to go exploring here’s some of the gems I discovered.

Style Truck

Locate the Style Truck via Twitter or Facebook.

Style TruckStyle Truck is a mobile boutique carrying fair-trade and eco fashions to neighborhoods in and around Pittsburgh. Owner Jackee Ging traveled frequently for her previous job and that experience informs her selection. Style Truck offers versatile fashions, that can be dressed-up or down, in materials that pack well so you can travel light and don’t have to iron. The collections found in the Style Truck mostly come from small companies with ethical manufacturing processes because Julie does not want to support the horrific working conditions that lead to accidents like the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh last year.

This past weekend the Style Truck was full of colorful tops, beautifully patterned dresses and trendy items like soft pants. I bought an Escapada Living color block top for $36 (on sale with a 10% Style Week discount). This is more than I would normally spend for a top but it’s something I can wear to work or on a weekend, and supporting a small business owner selling fashion with a conscience is a major bonus.

Phoenix

3627 Butler Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

My next stop was Phoenix, an upscale consignment boutique. Buying on consignments fits into my definition of eco fashion because items are given a second life instead of being sent to a landfill.

This was my first time at Pheonix and I was impressed by the selection, organization and quality of the clothing. I was able to find items in my size easily and nothing I took off the rack to try on had any defects. The prices were very good too. They had a “dollar” rack with items for $4, $6 and $8, anything 1 month old was 25% off and 2 month old items were 50% off.

I have expensive tastes and while working at a high end retailer in high school and college I learned to pick out a quality clothing in an instant. This is a consignment shopper’s super power and leads me to great finds. At Pheonix I bought a designer dress which as luck would have it, was 2 months old so I only paid $18 for a piece that I suspect would cost more than $80 at a retail store.

Mid-Atlantic Mercantile

4415 Butler Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Mid-Atlantic Mercantile’s website perfectly describes their collection which is curated “of the best in current, smart design and well made, heirloom quality goods with a focus on ethical sourcing and sustainable manufacturing practices.”

Mid-Atlantic Mercantile

Mid-Atlantic Mercantile is the type of place where buying eco fashion can get uncomfortable, because it’s hard to hit multiple points in my eco fashion definition, as all their brands do, without increasing the costs of production.

So let’s take a minute to stop and reflect. On average, we only wear 25% of the clothes in our closets. If we chose our clothes more carefully, buying only things we love to wear, could we buy less and afford to spend more per item?

For me, the answer is yes. So I’ve started to carefully scrutinize my purchases. Can they go from day to night? Weekday to weekend? Season to season? I want to own less and get more use out of what I have, but if I’m going to spend $80 or more on a button down shirt it has to be perfect.

I didn’t find anything perfect at Mid-Atlantic Mercantile that day. The dress I liked best was from the designer Dusen Dusen, but she doesn’t make anything smaller than a 2, which was a big big for me. I was assured the store tries very hard to stock designers that make smaller clothing, but the selection was limited because they were between seasons and the smaller sizes sell out quickly. So I’ll stop again soon when the fall selection is stocked.

Modcloth

Skunkfunk CobblestoneModcloth, was not a stop on the boutique tour but I wanted to add a Pittsburgh-based, online shopping option for our fabulous readers from around the world. Modcloth is a online retailer of vintage and vintage inspired clothing. I’ve been purchasing from them for about a year and I’ve enjoyed watching them grow their collection of eco-friendly clothing.

When shopping on Modcloth.com, I like to use the Eco-Friendly Fashion Finds page or search organic to find what I’m looking for. There are usually lots of reviews so almost all my purchases fit and are exactly what I expect. The prices are also very good, often well below the prices you will find for the same item on other sites.

Returns are quick and easy to make, but be careful, once an item is 70% off it’s usually a final sale. Last month I took a chance and bought a Skunkfunk organic cotton dress on final sale. There was only one review for the dress, but it was from someone almost exactly my size, who also has a pet rabbit, which I could see in the picture she uploaded. I figured it was meant to be and I was right, the dress fit perfectly and I’m very happy I took a chance on it.

What eco fashion shopping tips do you have? Please share them in the comments section below!

Nicole knows making small changes for the greener add up over time and hopes you’re inspired to make some changes of your own after reading her articles. She focuses on easy, green, homemade personal products and green living tips for city dwellers. Nicole lives in Pittsburgh, PA and you can find her on twitter at @_nlg_.

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