Summer Summer Summer!

Summer Summer Summer!

It has been months since I’ve updated my blog and I’m excited to get back into sharing my journey to ethical fashion with anyone who will listen! 

Now that we’re into our lovely warm weather in Ottawa, I’ve switched my closet over to my summer wardrobe! Yay! My summer capsule is a mix of old (non-ethical), second hand and new ethical items. I’m still battling the old headaches so my research has been limited over the last few months… but I have done some digging and “style” searching to further develop my personal style.

It’s been a weird season for us all. Between COVID and the Black Lives Matter movement, it can seem like things are crashing all around us. It’s hard to know what to do in response to all the hurting. I continue to search for ways to listen and love. My eyes have been open to my own prejudices the last few weeks and it has been humbling to say the least. I know I can do better at valuing the uniqueness of all people, particularly those who may look different than me. I have a lot of work to do, but I can honestly say I am committed to doing better.

While focusing on ethical clothing during this season may seem frivolous, I see it as a way to brighten up the darkness and focus on upholding the rights of garment workers worldwide.  

New Designer and Brand!

Instead of sharing my entire summer capsule wardrobe, I want to show you a few outfits which include newer pieces I picked up from new to me designers/brands. I realized pretty quickly with my first few posts that my main purpose for this blog is not to share style advice (I don’t have any!) but more to share where and how you can purchase clothing ethically in Canada 🙂

My first few posts and video showed very basic/casual items that I had purchased in 2019. While my style is definitely not fancy, I have recently realized that it has a feminine flare to it. I like to think I’ve taken some risks with recent purchases and really paired down what makes me feel comfortable and pretty. If I had to define my own style in a few words they would be: comfortable and simple with a hint of femininity.

Side note: If you’re looking to pair-down your wardrobe, start purchasing items that have been ethically produced and or you just want to feel better about what you’re wearing, take a look at my fave ethical style blogger Signe from UseLessHere she put together an awesome video that walks you through how to find your own personal style.

Now back to the clothes! My first outfit features my new fave Canadian designer from Quebec, Cherry Bobin. All of Cherry Bobin clothes are designed and manufactured in Canada with natural fabrics. I’m wearing the Tshirt Dallas from her 2020 Spring/Summer collection. I bought this shirt in-store at the Flock Boutique in Ottawa (which is now open!) but it can also be purchased on her website. This shirt may not seem like a step out of the ordinary, but it’s my first cropped shirt and I LOVE IT! On the bottom I’m wearing a basic black mini from tentree. I purchased this skirt in 2018 at Mountain Equipment Co-op so it’s no longer available. For anyone interested in the style, this season tentree does have a casual short made of Tincel that mimics the style of my skirt.

tentree is one of the brands that I would consider okay (but not amazing) when it comes ethical production. They are definitely rocking the environmental component of ethical production but are lacking in ensuring the people involved in the fabrication of their clothes are fully respected. I’ve recently decided to include tentree in the list of brands I buy from because they are making great improvements towards becoming more ethical. Not all brands start out amazing!

While surfing the Cherry Bobin website I quickly discovered that they sell their previous seasons’ at an extreme discount! I’d been looking for a blush top to add to my summer capsule and I found this beauty in the 2019 Spring Summer Collection. This 2019 T-shirt Mantra has little birds on it which I think adds a great detail without being too cutesy. Oh and the fabric (bamboo rayon) is SO SOFT. This tee comes in a variety of colors and patterns too. On the bottom I’m wearing my tried and true Rachel Skinny Yoga Jeans which is part of my year round basic wardrobe.

As you may have already realized, I’m really into Cherry Bobin this summer! I just love the balance of pretty and practical her clothes bring. In this third outfit I’m wearing the Matcha Top

 in black. This super cozy tee falls perfect on my not so perfect stomach and it’s reversible! And finallllllllly…I found a light pair of jeans that I feel great in. After ordering and returning many other pairs, I found my match: 721 Levi’s High-Rise Skinny Jeans. I purchased these online at Mark’s Work Warehouse – they have great deals on Levi’s. I sized one down on these jeans as they have significant stretch to them. I decided back in the winter that I wanted to get a light pair of jeans but couldn’t find a pair with any Fair-Trade or Made in Canada brands. I decided to go for Levi’s as they are doing “okay” when it comes to treating their workers well. I do feel good about this purchase. While Levi’s as a brand doesn’t align perfectly with my purchasing values, they are making great efforts to improve their ethical standards which is an amazing start for a major brand.

Other Noteworthy Purchases

Lastly, I purchased a few practical items this Spring that I’d been trying to find for quite some time! 

Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell 3L Rain Jacket

First, I love the color of this rain jacket and also just love how water repellant it is. Patagonia is totally kicking butt and leading the way with ethical production. I try my best to support the brand whenever possible. My husband bought one too…we are slowly becoming twins and it is a problem. I think I’ll be using this jacket for the next decade 🙂 I sized up on it so I can fit cozy sweaters under it without issue.

Cariuma OCA Low Off White Canvas Sneaker

For those who know me know I have HUGE feet. Size 13 womens to be exact. On top of that I’ve got some other crazy feet issues that limit what type of shoes I can walk in. I spent most of last summer sporting some beautiful New Balance runners – I wore them with dresses, jeans, skirts…you name it! Comfort over style for this chicka – at least when it comes to my feet! While my New Balance sneaks weren’t the most stylish, I started to see a lot of girls wearing white “old school” looking sneakers with a variety of outfits. I set out to find a pair of my own. As I started to search the good old web, Google picked up on my search and started sending lovely advertisements to my Facebook account. This is how I was introduced to the Brazillian company Cariuma. In the past I’ve really left my ethics at the door when it came to buying footwear because I have such a tough time finding shoes that fit in the first place. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Cariuma is doing “okay” when it comes to respecting the environment and the people involved in making their products. I ordered the OCA low online and they arrived in a few days! I’m loving these shoes…and they even fit my lovely orthotics and carbon plate. BONUS!

I’ve recently put together an Ethical Brand Directory. Don’t forget to check it out!

It’s time for some JEANS

We’re nearly 1.5 months into 2020 and I am just starting to plan some of my clothing purchases for this year. I am in desperate need of pants – mainly casual pants at this point. I currently have two pairs of blue jeans and one pair of black that are getting quite a bit of wear. I am hoping to pick up at least two pairs of pants in the next few weeks.

In 2019 I had decided to only purchase clothing that was either Fair Trade Certified (FTC) or Made in Canada or the USA (Check out What I bought in 2019). This year I plan to stick to my ethical purchasing habits, but expand my purchasing criteria beyond FTC products or Made in North America. Through recent research I have found that there are a select group of companies who are producing clothing while respecting the people involved in their supply chains without being under at third party certification process like FTC. Obviously seeking third party certification is extremely costly and can be inaccessible to smaller producers. That being said, if and when I venture to purchase a non certified product, I will be sure to do loads of research on the company to ensure ethical production standards are being maintained.

Now, I’ve started my research for jeans and have narrowed my search down to the following brands:

  1. Prana (www.prana.com)
  2. J Crew (www.jcrew.com/ca)
  3. Yoga Jeans (yogajeans.ca)
  4. MUD Jeans (mudjeans.eu)

Some of you may be surprised to see J Crew on that list – I was too! At the moment, J Crew has started a line of Fair Trade Certified Factory Denim that is selling at a reasonable price. Now, on a whole J Crew is not known for its ethical production standards and it is clear that this Denim line is one of their first steps towards appealing to consumers who care about the ethics behind their clothing. As you may know, this brand does not have a good rating on Good On You. I’m torn…is it good to support their efforts towards making ethical clothing? Or should we only support companies that have a mission focused on ethical production? What are your thoughts?

Due to cost MUD Jeans are out this time around. The jeans look great and the company is amazing but the overall cost of the jeans (including pricy shipping to Canada) would be over $200.00 CND AND if I wanted to return them I would need to pay to ship them back.

Now Prana is a tricky brand for me right now too. I really the style of this brand for casual items. I first was drawn to them because they have a FTC line of clothing. Unfortunately their FTC line is minimal this season. After further research into the brand, it appears that the company is doing a fairly good job ensuring the human rights of those involved in the production process are respected. If you take a quick look on Good on You you’ll see that Prana is only listed as “It’s a Start”. If you look at the breakdown of the ethical categories they score Great in Labour. Now I 100% think animal rights and the environment are important – but as I explained in previous posts the most important thing to me is how the people involved in the production process are treated. The crappy part about Prana right now is that they closed their Canada warehouse which means shipping and returns are more expensive :(. BUT you can buy some Prana things in stores in Canada (Mountain Equipment Coop carries the Kayla pants right now).

Last but not least Yoga Jean, made right here in Canada, are a great option! The price is reasonable, I like the style and returns are easy. I have one pair of Yoga Jeans now and find they fall down quite a bit. I’m hoping to remedy this in my next pair. Tip – they sell Yoga Jeans at Simons if you want to try them on and have an easier return process.

SO what did I buy?!

Kayla Jeans (Indigo) – Prana
$54.95
Purchased at: Mountain Equipment Co-op (Ottawa)
Link: HERE

Medium Indigo Rachel Skinny Jean, by Yoga Jeans
$168.00 Size 29
Purchased at: Simons (Online)
Link: HERE

Now – both of these jeans look similar, I know. But I really needed some basic jeans. I plan to keep the Yoga Jeans for more “going out” occasions and the Prana ones for everyday. The blue jeans that I have now are about ready to be retired. Video coming!

What I bought in 2019

My ethical clothing haul

I learned so much about purchasing ethical clothing this past year. I found some stores and brands that I love and I’m excited to share them with you. Below you’ll see a video where I so professionally (bahahaha!) model my purchases. I clearly missed my calling.

I didn’t include all the clothing I purchased in 2019 in this video – I specifically left out the socks and underwear I picked up but I will be sure to discuss these in future blogs 🙂 I roughly calculated what I spent on all my purchases and it came to just under $1,000.00 CND. This may seem like a lot or not depending on how you shop – for me it was less than I would have spent in the previous year on non-ethical clothing.

Closet breakdown – it’s a mixed bag of ethics!

When I made the commitment to purchase ethically I was tempted to throw everything away in my closet and go on a huge shopping spree. I quickly realized that this would 100% go against my commitment to ethical fashion as it would be extremely wasteful and not to mention EXPENSIVE! Instead I evaluated my closet for each season and made a list of what I think I needed/wanted in the coming year to fill the gaps. You’ll notice in my video that I mostly purchased tops this year – that’s what I needed!

If you’re interested in seeing my entire 2019 ethical haul and where to find each item, check out the doc below. Unfortunately not all items I purchased are still available – but most are 🙂

If you have any questions about the items in this blog just give me a shout!