Sustainable Fashion is getting buzz in Washington, DC!
Sustainable Fashion Conference
Last September 2018, Lady Farmer was excited to be a part of Unveiling Fashion, Conversations about Fashion and Sustainability, a sold-out event hosted by the newly formed DC Sustainable Fashion Collective less than a year after launching their organization. Designers, writers, lawmakers, activists, entrepreneurs and fashion professionals from across the industry came together to discuss the negative impact of the current industry on our fellow man and the planet, its effect on their daily lives, and how they can implement sustainable changes in their lives and their neighborhoods.
The day was loaded with information and discussions, including a keynote address by Lauren Fay, Executive Director of Fashion Revolution USA, presentations by Whitney Bauck, Assistant Editor of Fashionista Magazine and Marci Zaroff, Founder & CEO of Metawear Manufacturing. In addition, there were four panels covering various subjects in the broad realm of sustainable fashion. Lady Farmer joined panelists Diana Watts of Trinity Washington University, Kaveri Marathe, co-founder of a textile recycling business called Texiles, and Amy Dufault of the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator in discussing The Consumer Trap (Buying Things You Don’t Need and Why). What is the impact of the current levels of consumption and its far-reaching economic effects around the world?
DC Sustainable Fashion Collective
The DC Sustainable Fashion Collective is a community-based organization, whose purpose is to foster and educate consumers in the D.C. Metropolitan Area on the importance of sustainability and ethical practices in the fashion industry. Established in January 2018, DCSFC is poised to develop educational programs, retail opportunities, workforce development/training initiatives, and networking opportunities for the local creative, sustainable and ethical communities.
Sustainable Fashion Movement
The level of participation in this lively and successful first-time event indicates that there is a keen and growing interest in the sustainable fashion movement. In our efforts to educate and inform consumers on the existing issues in the apparel industry, as well as to provide responsibly sourced and manufactured alternatives to fast fashion, we at Lady Farmer are delighted to join this organization in spreading the word!
We’re living in amazing times. Women are changing the world with their courage to speak out, take a stand, and act outside of a male dominated paradigm. We listen to unfolding events and yes, we feel the surfacing of deep anger and frustration at the status quo, but at the same time we feel hope and inspiration because we know that there is a movement.
photo: Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin by Peter Strangmayr
We believe so deeply in making change! We want to do something. But sometimes we get stuck. Beyond watching disturbing telecasts that entrench our convictions, posting on social media to people that already agree with us and traveling to events that we hope will amplify our voices--what do we do? Well, here is something huge you can do to help the cause of women’s empowerment–every single day.
1) REFUSE Fast Fashion
Yes, that’s it. There are few things reflecting women’s disempowerment on such a broad scale as the clothing industry. It doesn’t show up that often on social media and is not being televised on cable TV twenty-four-seven, but it’s something in which practically every single one of us is a participant. Yes, it sounds overwhelming– but it is every bit within your power to RESIST, starting now. Start with that T-shirt you have that proclaims the power of women and find out where it came from. In all likelihood, it was sewn by a woman who does not earn a living wage, who possibly has to live away from her children to have this work, who cannot afford adequate food, health care or child care. Please do not wear this shirt or buy it for your sisters or daughters or book club until you confirm the truth behind it.
80% of garment workers in the fashion industry are women. Fast Fashion is a women’s issue.
2) STOP perpetuating this behemoth of a broken system that enslaves women.
Is the fast fashion industry really that bad? Yes, it’s really that bad, and the worst of it is that the vast majority of people are literally buying into this system daily without even realizing what they’re doing. Don’t be one of those that doesn’t know. You can read all about fast fashion and its devastating impact here or here or here.
3) DO seek, find and support fast fashion alternatives.
Once you know, please don’t make excuses for not using the power of your choice. There is nothing that can change things in our economy faster or more affirmatively than the informed consumer. If you want to be truly invested in the empowerment of women, it is necessary for you to know this truth.
We’re doing our best at Lady Farmer to educate and provide consumers with alternatives in their clothing choices. There are also some great lists and blogs online that will guide you, such as this one and this one.
Want to empower women every single day? Be a part of this movement by exercising the power of your consumer choices and refusing fast fashion.
Successful thrift store shopping doesn’t have to be fully a game of luck. Thrifting helps your wallet, your community, and your planet…but my favorite part is the search itself: I feel like I’m on a sort of adventure, looking for a gem in a messy jungle of fabric. The normal dopamine rush that I get from shopping is doubled when I’m thrifting: after taking time to explore, finding the piece that matches your style and size perfectly is incredibly gratifying.
Right now, I’m wearing Dansko clogs, Patagonia shorts, an Urban Outfitters shirt, Victoria’s Secret underwear and bra, and I spent less than $8.00 for the entire outfit.
As a self-proclaimed thrifting connoisseur, playing the “how much did I pay for this outfit” game is one of my favorite pastimes. I’m in college, and only have a part-time job during the school year–I don’t exactly have a large margin of disposable income. But thankfully, my hours spent in consignment shops has taught me that you don’t need to spend big bucks to look great!
Even if you do have enough money to buy name-brand clothing regularly, there are so many reasons to go thrifting instead! For one, it supports your local economy: buying an Old Navy dress at a consignment shop downtown supports a local business, instead of zooming directly up to a giant company. And many thrift stores are charity-based organizations that will use their profits to support local causes–I’ve been to stores that support hospitals, churches, after school programs, community centers, and more.
Shopping second-hand is also worlds more environmentally friendly. Imagine this: A woman goes into an expensive retailer and buys a blouse. Her money is supporting the production of A synthetic-blend textile, the pollutive process of dying the fabric, the factory assembly of the garment, and the shipping from overseas to the checkout counter. For one reason or another, it eventually is tossed in a trash bag labeled “donate,” and taken to Goodwill.
Fingering your way down a rack of tops, you find the blouse and take it home. It’s still cute, still high-quality material, and still a recognizable brand. But you pay a fraction of the price, and none of your money supports processes that exploit people or the land!
Thrift Store Shopping Tips
After getting my clothes almost exclusively second-hand for years, I have a few tips for finding the hidden treasures of consignment shops without wasting time. It doesn’t need to be a struggle or a 3-hour commitment!
1) Research where the good spots are to go.
Ask around about where people recommend shopping second-hand. It’s hard for people to accurately review thrift stores online, so word-of-mouth is valuable here. Some general advice from me is to go to the wealthier neighborhoods’ consignment shops; people who live and work in more affluent parts of town will typically drop off their donations close to home, and these spots tend to have a higher concentration of expensive brand names. (A side note for my friends down in the Southeast–Unclaimed Baggage in Alabama is by far the greatest spot to shop, with high-end clothes that can be over 80% off! Definitely worth a couple of hours in the car.)
2) Go early in the week, in the early afternoon.
As you start shopping at new thrift stores, ask the employees when they sort through new donations–Most places will sort through donations early in the week, and bring it out on the floor in the mornings. But always double check! Schedules vary, and you want to be one of the first people to look through their new clothing.
3) For a quick trip, know what you need.
If you just want a rapid, in-and-out trip, you need to shop with intention. Know what you need, run in and flit through the rack or two the store has. If you find what you wanted, great! But the more specific your expectations, the harder it’ll be to find, and you may have to go to a few different shops.
4) Save discernment for the dressing room.
Something about pre-loved garments make it difficult to tell if they’ll look good on or not; half the time I absolutely fall in love with something that I only mildly liked on the rack, or end up hating I thought was really cute at a glance. It’s hard to tell! So if I have the time to delve more into a store, I keep some flexible ideas of what I want in terms of fabric type, color, and brand, but give most clothes a shot. And as soon as I step into the dressing room, I kick my judgmental side into high gear to make sure I only walk away with clothes that I love and will wear regularly. It can be deceivingly easy to leave lugging armloads of stuff that you don’t really need, and the place to prevent that is in the dressing room.
5) Always check the non-clothing sections.
A quick walkabout through the kitchen section and a glance through the purses can yield incredible results, and it’s always the fastest part of my trip! I would never have found my black leather Coach handbag if I hadn’t left the clothing section. And although I only fantasize at this point about my one-day kitchen, I am positive that it will be composed of mostly second-hand goods. I’ve found mason jars, cobalt glasses, complete fondue sets, pressure cookers, and more just by quickly walking past and glancing at the shelves. Incredibly easy, and incredibly worth it.
I hope that these tips will help you explore the exciting thrifting world! Second-hand shopping is a great way to vote with your dollar against fast-fashion, prevent textile waste, and save money. Best of luck, and happy hunting! 🙂
– Vanessa Moss, 2018 Summer Intern
Yes, we know that leather is an animal byproduct, and the whole tanning process is not a pretty one. So why do we support leather companies like our friends at Farrier and now Central Grazing Company?
Because the leather we support is sourced from regenerative cattle (and sheep!) farming, which like fiber farming (wool, hemp, flax, organic cotton, etc..) has the potential to heal our soils and change our world. Literally.
Recent reports are claiming that there are an average of 60 harvests left on the earth if soil degradation continues. Agriculture remains one of the top contributors to soil loss and increased atmospheric carbon. In order to stop the rapid loss of our soil and sequester carbon, change must take place on all levels, from lawmakers to farmers, brands, investors, consumers and innovative entrepreneurs.
That’s why we’re excited to tell you about Jacqueline Smith, the founder of Central Grazing Company, a women-led, regenerative food and fiber business committed to farming methods that actually build vital soil!
Jacqueline and her team are pioneers in the regenerative agricultural movement and are committed to changing the way we approach food and fiber products. She has designed a program that pays farmers premiums for high animal welfare and ecological standards. This gives farmers incentives to farm in ways that build soil, help balance the carbon cycle and gives animals peaceful, calm and natural lives.
Over the past few years, Jacqueline has been working to create a new farm-to-fashion leather line that comes from her certified Animal Welfare Approved sheep raised in the Midwest. Not only that, she has them tanned and manufactured in the U.S. Because of her closed-loop production process, her leather collection is 100% traceable. How incredible is that?
She is raising funds to launch her new consciously made leather line, and we’re so excited they’ve almost reached their goal! Let’s help them surpass it… You can see her Kickstarter campaign here.
Ethical leather is changing the clothing industry. By purchasing, gifting, supporting or promoting CGC’s full range of leather pieces, you, too, can help grow the climate-benefiting fashion revolution.
Jacqueline’s campaign will be running until June 10th. Every little bit helps. There are all kinds of rewards including deeply reduced prices on her amazing leather pieces! Sign up here for her newsletter for more details.
Also, if you would like to review their leather products, learn more about their process or simply to share this feel-good story, please reach out to Jacqueline@centralgrazingco.com. She’d welcome your feedback and, of course, appreciate your helping to spread the word! We found this FAQ page really helpful and informative…check it out!
Emma & Mary
Lady Farmer wants YOU to join the Fashion Revolution!
It’s been five years now since the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 24th,2013. Over 1,000 workers died and another 2,500 were injured when the eight-story building, known to be unstable, came crashing down on employees that were sent to work in spite of a large crack that had been identified in the walls. Now known as the worst disaster in the history of fashion, the event opened the world’s eyes to the grim realities of the apparel industry. Though blame might have been largely placed on local standards and regulations, most Americans had only to look in their closets to recognize our country’s complicity in the tragedy, as many major north American brands were made at Rana Plaza, including J.C. Penny, Walmart, North Face and Benetton.
Each anniversary is now highlighted by a global awareness campaign known as “Fashion Revolution Week,”during which consumers worldwide are encouraged to ask the brands #whomademyclothes? It’s an easy but powerful step on the part of the masses that have allowed the fast fashion machine to become a reality such as Rana Plaza, a simple exercise in consciousness and inquiry.
We ask of ourselves and the brands who make our clothes:
- Whose hands measured and cut the cloth, sewed the pieces together just so and added the buttons or trim that caught our eye in the first place? Most likely it was a woman.
- Is she a mother?
- Where is her child while she’s at work?
- How far does she have to travel to the factory every day?
- Does she make enough to live in clean and safe housing and to provide her household with food?
These are simple and reasonable questions. In asking them, we’re not trying to move all of apparel production out of these countries and shut down her job. We’re not trying to take away her only means of income. But we do want to make it clear to these large companies that their lack of transparency in the supply chain will not work anymore. Consumers all over the world are making their buying decisions based not on price and quantity, but integrity of materials and production. In doing so, producers will have to comply with the demands of an increasingly discerning public and make the changes necessary to prevent the Rana Plaza incidents of the future.
Want to be part of the Fashion Revolution? It’s easy. All you have to do is ask #whomademyclothes?
The Lady Farmer Essential Collection Line on the runway! Made in the USA using fair trade practices and of materials that are natural and biodegradable, the Lady Farmer Essential Collection is our own project in manufacturing in a way we feel good about.
As with so many things in our industrialized world, we have a problem with excess clothing. Most of us have way more than we actually wear. This isn’t just an issue in our homes, it’s a problem for the whole planet. Americans discard an average of 80 lbs of textile waste a year. What doesn’t end up in the landfill is often “donated” and shipped to other countries where it overwhelms local systems and disrupts local economies by removing demand for domestic products. As well-intentioned as we might be in wanting to pass along our rejects “to someone who can use it,” the truth is that in many cases we are sending our waste to be a problem somewhere else.
Where does that leave us in terms of trying to simplify our own lives and spaces?
Slow Fashion and a Sustainable Closet
Here are some suggestions for addressing clothing clutter and passing things along in a less wasteful way.
- Refrain from buying anything new for a season and see how it feels. Do you find yourself lacking in things to wear, or do you find yourself using things you already have in ways you might not have before?
- If some items have been hanging in your closet unworn through a full cycle of seasons, box them up, write the date on it, tape it shut and put it out of sight. It’s most likely that you won’t wear it again, but if you find yourself thinking “Well, maybe when I lose weight… or go on a cruise… or get an invitation to the inaugural ball…” and so on, ask yourself this– is it worth the aggravation of having it in the way and taking up your limited space until those things occur? If in one year you haven’t missed any of those things, get rid of it without opening the box.
- To move things out of your house, donate them as locally as possible. For instance, local church rummage sales and thrift stores are more likely to be visited by people in your area who can actually benefit from the clothing you no longer need and keep them out of developing countries or the landfill.
- Shop at second hand and consignment stores to keep existing clothes in use longer. You will be saving money and keeping your dollars out of the fast fashion sector.
- When you do decide to buy a new item of clothing, consider sustainable fashion brands that can account for responsible sourcing and manufacturing. You will likely be spending more per item, but this is an opportunity to evaluate the significance of cost. What does it actually mean when we say something is a good price? In terms of slow fashion, asking this question can give us a new perspective. In making this shift in your awareness and subsequently in your buying habits, you will be using your purchasing power to help establish a new consumer paradigm!
We have a feeling that the quest for the perfect pant is a universal thing. Why? Maybe because it doesn’t actually exist…it’s an ideal we all chase after to no avail…or that it is simply a matter of fact that the “perfect pant” means something different to literally every single person. Which is why, as we set ourselves to the task of creating a Lady Farmer pant for the Essential Collection line, we ran into roadblock after roadblock until we came up with something that we hadn’t actually seen before. Without trying to claim we invented it, we’ll just say that the pant closure we came up with (non-elastic, no zipper/plastic, yet adjustable AND fitted…) seems new at least to us. It’s a tie and a button for full adjustability, but not too much to maneuver.
Pomona was the Roman goddess of fruiting trees and plants.
Because one of our goals is for our garments to be completely biodegradable, we wanted to create a pant without any elastics or other synthetics that would never break down. These pants have an inner adjustable tie that’s both practical and flattering, plus they are super comfortable and you can wear them for any occasion.
Like all of our clothes, they could literally be returned to the earth to nurture the soil when their useful life is over. But that won’t be for a really long time because they’re made of a hemp/organic cotton blend that lasts and lasts!
The Pomona pants are made from a hemp/organic cotton blend. They are pre-shrunk/machine washable. Available in non-stripe charcoal and pinstripe. Currently in production, sign up here to be the first to know when they become available to order in our shop.
photo by Amber Breitenberg (@alittleterroir)
As a sustainable apparel company, we’re looking to create pieces that are both functional/practical and something we feel good in. Part of sustainable wardrobe is making sure your clothes can actually work for you! The Demeter Tunic is the queen of practicality. With four GIANT pockets and an oversized shirt/tunic feel, she can work as anything from a painting smock to a stylish summer picnic piece. Here she is modeled by Rebecca of A Daily Something.
photo by Amber Breitenberg (@alittleterroir)
Demeter is the first garment we created, named for the Greek goddess of agriculture, Mother Earth, the ultimate Lady Farmer! She fed the world abundantly and humankind thrived with her bounty. Designed for functionality, our all- purpose tunic is inspired by this powerful feminine energy, with its classic lines and sound construction. Mid-weight, roomy, with ¾ length sleeves with wide deep pockets in front and back that hold anything. Great for on-the-job gardening, painting, photography, foraging…whatever it is you love to do! It can be worn as a top with leggings or as a dress for those who like the shorter style.
The fabric that we originally used to sample this piece was a hemp/organic cotton blend, but we have since been unable to source that same fabric in the quantities that we need. (We need to be growing hemp in the USA so that we can use this amazing fabric!) Instead, we’re using an equally luscious organic linen/cotton blend that we are so excited excited about! We’re currently in production on these garments (hooray if you were a Kickstarter backer!) and will be building up an inventory as well, ready to ship in late April 2018. Make sure you’re on our mailing list to be the first to know!
photo by Amber Breitenberg (@alittleterroir)
This post was originally published on February 1st, The Feast of St. Brigit, 2017. Since then we have designed, developed, and put into production a lovely pair of sustainable hemp/organic cotton overalls aptly named “Brigit” in honor of the this legendary Lady Farmer.
As Lady Farmers, we want to pay homage to our predecessors, the women figures from history, myth and legend who embodied a powerful connection to the earth. As archetypes these personifications of the feminine are capable and independent, deeply nurturing, infinitely creative and fierce champions of nature and her cycles.
So it is with Brigit (also spelled Brigid or Bridget). It is said she was born on February 1st, the Celtic Festival of Imbolc celebrating the cross-quarter day between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Legend has it that her birth took place over a threshold. Fittingly, she became the patroness of transitions, literally from winter to spring, and symbolically in many aspects of nature, life and the human experience. She presides over the birth of the new lambs (the word Imbolc means “first milk”) and represents fire and light as the sun makes its return. She is seen as the protector of the home and keeper of the fire. She tends the hearth, preserving the eternal flame. She is patroness of healing, cooking, the arts (particularly poetry and weaving), animal husbandry, midwifery–and beer making! She is thoroughly and completely a woman’s goddess, and given the wealth of evidence we feel confident in claiming her as patroness of Lady Farmer.
I am inspired by Brigit in so many ways here on our small patch of earth, as folklore tells us she presides over almost every one of our daily tasks. I think of her on these cold mornings as I get the kitchen fire going and go out to tend the animals. She inspires me in my cooking and gardening, my exploration of culinary and medicinal herbs and fermented foods, as a weaver of ideas and words in my writing and as a weaver of earth friendly materials into healthy and sustainable garments for Lady Farmer. In keeping with an ancient Celtic custom, on February 1st, I will place a square of cloth representing Brigit’s mantle outside my door to catch the morning dew of Imbolc. Thus the cloth becomes a token of her blessings and protection on our household throughout the next year.
Here is a prayer to St. Brigit, a women’s Goddess and Saint. When in chaos and darkness, may we take comfort in the return of the light, the promise of spring!
Saint Brigid Hearth Keeper Prayer
Brigid of the Mantle, encompass us,
Lady of the Lambs, protect us,
Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us.
Beneath your mantle, gather us,
And restore us to memory.
Mothers of our mother, Foremothers strong.
Guide our hands in yours,
Remind us how to kindle the hearth.
To keep it bright, to preserve the flame.
Your hands upon ours, Our hands within yours,
To kindle the light, Both day and night.
The Mantle of Brigid about us,
The Memory of Brigid within us,
The Protection of Brigid keeping us
From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness.
This day and night,
From dawn till dark, From dark till dawn.
(prayer Courtesy of SaintBrigids.org)
There’s word of a frost tonight, the first of the season. It’s mid- October so this should be no surprise, but we’ve been in such a warm stretch it feels like it snuck up. I was out in the garden just before sunset and saw all the things that are still there– fresh herbs, sweet potatoes, sweet peppers and green tomatoes, lots and lots of beautiful zinnia and dahlia blooms, lovely fragrant tansy, lemon verbena and pineapple sage. Of course they won’t all disappear overnight but there is so much I still want to do before it’s all gone, like drying out the herbs for cooking and for tea, making fried green tomatoes and apple pie and using the flower blooms to dye something before the color fades.
I think, though, that this fall I will have to let some of that go. Sometimes other things are calling, and in the last few weeks it’s the exciting momentum Lady Farmer that has our attention! This season of our Kickstarter campaign has brought us not only a quickly funded goal (100% in 100 hours!) but the pure pleasure of seeing how our project has reached out and created meaningful connections and authentic community. Even through dark days of heartbreak in these recent weeks, some wrought by nature and others by human hands, the light that shines on our power of choice is hope itself. Each of us can choose a better way, especially in our decisions about our food and clothing and how we live with respect for each other and for our planet–and that is where we will see change for the good.
A Daily Something’s Rebecca Gallop in our Demeter Tunic. Photo by Amber Breitenberg
In reaching our initial crowdfunding goal, we’ve raised the funds to manufacture the “Essential Collection,” our first line of sustainably sourced and produced “farm-to-closet” clothing. From our launch party in downtown DC to various events in Virginia and Maryland this month, people have affirmed that they want and will support a clothing choice outside of the toxic and inhumane system that dominates the industry today. That’s why we set a “stretch” goal for the remaining twenty-six days of our Kickstarter. If that goal is met by the close of the campaign on October 28th, we commit to stretching ourselves into even more information sharing and community building in at least two ways–we will develop a Lady Farmer Podcast by summer of 2018 and will also announce plans for a Slow Living Conference for 2019.
A lot has happened this month and is STILL HAPPENING! I guess no matter how much is accomplished, however, we must always leave a season with some things undone, because try as we might we will never get it all done. As frustrating as that sounds it’s actually a blessing. Those desires and ideas propel us through our days with vision and purpose. Call it the creative edge, the energy of expansion, that part of our human nature that’s always reaching for something better, all the time.
If you haven’t already, there’s still time to go to our Kickstarter page and be a part of this awesome community of changemakers. Hope you’ll join us in the stretch!
With love and gratitude,
Mary and Emma
Find our Kickstarter here! http://kck.st/2xIcaWq