• Ethical Fashion: Part 6, Made in the USA and What it Really Means

    Posted: Apr 09 2018

                   Whether you consider yourself to be a patriot or not, you probably agree that the phrase “Made in the USA” is a positive one, and often implies higher quality, attention to detail, and overall integrity. I remember the surprise I felt in the early years of running Ember (in the Heights) when I would unwrap a new garment and see the Made In USA tag. Admittedly, it never occurred to me to ask questions until several years later, as I assumed this catch phrase could be nothing but a great selling point for my product. As I’ve said numerous times, though, the declining quality of fabrics, combined with the increasingly shoddy construction I was seeing failed to add up to anything encouraging in my book. I began an investigation into what Made in the USA actually means these days. There are 3 main...

  • Ethical Fashion: Part 5, The Plight of Global Garment Workers

    Posted: Apr 02 2018

                                      (Photo Fashion Revolution, Facebook)         “Who made my clothes?” It’s a simple question, but one that we seldom ask. Even less often, can we actually find the answer. When you picture the factory floor where your favorite top was produced, can you connect with an image of the (most likely) woman who cut and sewed it? What was she paid? Why is she there? Where does she live? Is she supporting a family? Is she comfortable? And finally, is she safe? In 2013, the fashion world gained international attention following the tragic collapse of a prominent garment factory in Bangladesh. The Rana Plaza Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh was built with substandard materials and its owner had a history of blatant disregard for maintaining safety codes.  Consequently, the structure of the...

  • Ethical Fashion: Part 4, The Dirty Truth

    Posted: Mar 12 2018

      Okay, it’s time to talk some trash, and I mean unbelievable, incomprehensible, mind-blowing truths about garbage. Until very recently, the fashion industry has been pegged as the second largest polluting industry on the planet. However, after a recent, behemoth of an analysis conducted by The Global Fashion Agenda the fashion industry now ranks as the 5th most polluting, from strictly a carbon-emissions standpoint. It’s worth noting that the study didn’t factor in the devastating effects of water pollution from factories world-wide, for some reason. This post will vary from my others in that I am not going to put any personal spin on the piece. The stats will speak for themselves and there isn’t much I can say to intensify or detract from their truths. I will say that if you want to stay in the know when it comes to uncovering the facts about the environmental impact of...

  • Ethical Fashion: Part 3, The Evolving Psychology of American Shopper

    Posted: Mar 06 2018

              Do you remember when shopping was a big deal? In the 90’s, my family would go twice a year to visit the “big city”, which was Little Rock, AR. Most likely this visit coincided with the first Razorback home football game of the year. We would spend hours at the mall stocking my brother’s and my fall wardrobes at Gap, Banana Republic, Express, and the Limited. I remember the smell of cookies baking in the food court, the sounds of the arcade, and seeing the turning leaves through the skylights. These are good memories. Ironically, the 90s were a pivotal point in the US garment industry and what we didn’t realize is that things were rapidly changing in the way fashion was being produced and sold. This, in turn, would have a major impact on the way we all would begin shopping. But first, let...

  • Ethical Fashion: Part 2, The Rise of Fast Fashion

    Posted: Feb 26 2018

           Fast Fashion is a phenomenon that has completely revolutionized the garment industry within the past 10 years.  Until recently, the world of fashion has traditionally followed a 2-4 season cycle. Fast fashion, by contrast, has accelerated this cycle to a break-neck speed in which new product hits the floor constantly, at a whopping 50 cycles per year.  Zara, the Spanish retailer, was the first to introduce this process and totally blow everyone’s minds. Not only were they designing, producing, and distributing product at a fraction of the conventional speed, they were doing it cheaply and beautifully. Sounds like a huge step forward in retail commerce, does it not? Beautiful clothes, low prices, lightning fast turnover and presentation of new styles--what’s not to love about this? Let me answer with a question: What do you think of fast food, how it has impacted our lives, our environment, and...