star quality

cover

photo taken by me

I’ve always been fascinated by small sparkly objects. As a child when I would visit my grandma, I would run to give her a big hug hello and then b-line it directly to her bedroom and open her magical red velvet jewelry box. I would try on all her rings and necklaces and come out one by one and ask if one day I could have them. My fascination probably began with all my moms blingy 80’s jewels that initially caught my eye. To which I also ransacked her jewelry box all the time… oh wait I still do!

Today I love to mix and match my precious pieces with costume jewelry, very much the same way as I do with my clothing. Many of my pieces are mixes of precious and semi precious metals and stones. I love to stack rings, bracelets and necklaces, while wearing yellow gold, brass and silver all together.

I never gave too much thought on the origin or efficacy  of my pieces until recent years. Hollywood movies like, Blood Diamond, ignited those questions brewing in my mind, while in the last few years there has been a growth in small independent jewelers abroad. Whole waves of unique pieces, pendants, and styles have emerged, creating pieces far more interesting then your mass-market jewelry retail chain. Naturally, I like many are attracted to the variety of designs out there. It has also become interesting to watch the innovators who crafted individual styles and those who are mass marketing them in cheaper variations.

The jewelry industry is a very complicated one that proves challenging to trace the origins of its sources. The majority of precious metals and stones are mined in 3rd world and developing nations where ethical and sustainable regulations are not strictly enforced. Efforts to have universal certifications are making progress but still far from globalized.

Recently the BoF discussed the complications and delicacy of the industry behind the precious metals and gemstones used in the jewelry market. Needless to say the environmental and human efficacy is among the largest concerns the industry is faced with.

Never-the-less there are a number of progressive jewellers out there producing beautiful pieces at all price rangers.

Here are a few of my favs!

 

Pamella Love.

pamlove1

Her name itself sparks interest. Even if you’ve never heard of her before now, you’re probably thinking you have, the name is just to familiar and has that star like quality. That’s not far off, as her gemstones have the luster and sparkle like the night skies. Pamella’s carefully crafted collection is committed to sustainability and local production. As stated on her website, “all gemstones and semiprecious stones are ethically sourced and almost all metal used is recycled. The entire jewelry-making process, from design to sampling to full-scale production, is completed domestically with the majority of it done in-house at Pamela Love’s Manhattan studio.”

Her designs are rooted with spiritual and intuitive influence from all areas of interest: astronomy, astrology, alchemy, botany, the American Southwest, architecture, North Africa, Mexican folk art, and medieval European iconography. The result is signature pieces, easily identifiable with the Pamella aesthetic.

Pamella’s collaborated with a number of designers, which include some of my favorites as well: Suno, Mara Hoffman, Monique Péan, as well as Zadig & Voltaire, Zac Posen, JCrew and Opening Ceremony… to name a few.

Her price point varies depending on the metals and gems used ($200-1000+) but you are guaranteed to have a timeless piece in your jewelry collection.

Now that’s beautiful!

Prices range from $150-$1000+

pamella love jewels

 Monique Péan.

img-biography_1

A New York based fine jewelry brand known for its unqiue designs, avant-garde style and unconventional materials, including sustainable fossilized walrus ivory, woolly mammoth ivory and dinosaur bone. Monique Péan is committed to partnering with artisans around the world to support traditional craftsmanship and cultural heritage. Through her company, she strives to raise awareness of art, culture and global environmental issues through design. Proceeds from her jewelry sales contribute to global philanthropic organizations such as charity: water, which provides clean drinking water and basic sanitation to people in developing nations.

Second to that, Monique Péan’s ensures all materials using environmentally responsible procedures. As shared on her website in great detail, she “combines 18 carat recycles gold and platinum with conflict and devastation free precious stones, diamonds and fossils. Fossilized woolly mammoth, fossilized walrus ivory and fossilized dinosaur bones are sustainably gathered with no mining involved. The company is also a member of the No Dirty Gold campaign and a supporter of the Too Precious to Wear campaign”.

For more detail about her initiatives, please visit her website! You wont be disappointed.

Where to buy? Check out her website for full stocklist. Prices go up from $1000

MP

MAIYET

A fashion conscious luxury love of mine, Maiyet produces more then just inspiring ethical and sustainable clothing designs and leather goods; they also create one of a kind jewelry pieces ethical sourced and produced. Although they come with luxury prices, they are timeless investment pieces in your jewelry collection.

Prices range from from $300-$1000+

MAIYET

EDUN

Primarily focused on clothing, EDUN’s recent collaborations with jewelry designer, Penny Winter has brought locally sourced and African made pieces to the global market, utilizing raw stones and training local craftsman’s the art and trade.

EDUN collaborations with URU Diamonds, guarantees a 100% conflict free gem stone jeweler, focusing on rough diamonds and precious gems. They actively work in cooperation with SOS Childrens villages, which support education for children in the rural areas where the stones are sourced.

Although EDUN’s jewelry collection may be small, the conscious effort is there to work sustainably with these artisans. Creative Director Danielle Sherman, traveled to Africa to meet with both local artists before collaborating.

Prices range from $400+

EDUN 

BARIO NEAL

A fairly recent discovery of this jeweler, I adore their unique style. Within the website they clearly outline the origins of their metals, diamonds and gemstones, which includes Canadian certified ethical diamonds from the Northern Territories, recycled and fair-minded metals, diamonds and gemstones with partnership with Tanzania Women Miner’s Association.

Helpful note: As noted on the website, “Fairmined certified miners are held to strict environmental, labor, and social and economic development standards. They are paid fair wages, work in safe environments, and mine on a small, environmentally conscious scale.”

Reasonably priced from $96- $1000+

BRIO NEAL

Alkemie Jewelry

Another recent find, Alkemie is a 100% reclaimed metal jeweler, reusing metals to create hand carved and crafted manifestations of all sorts. They use a gold and silver patina on lead and nickel free metals.

 alkemie

I would love to know who are your favourite socially conscious jewelry designers? Please share!!

 

xx

all photos sourced from company website and photoshopped by me

FIRST WORLD NATION

fast-fashion-youth-1

photo sourced by ecouterre

Raising controversy, Forever  21 opened an even cheaper sister brand F21 RED precisely located in LA’s South Gate working-class community of Azalea Shopping Center, where tops range between $1.80-3.80 and pants at $7.80. Evidently they are able to “deliver greater quantities of the styles [their] customers seek, while maintaining the value with entry-level category price points Forever 21 is known for offering” as Don Chang, Forever 21′s founder and CEO stated and shared on Refinery 29.

Needless to say, questions are being raised about the ethics, necessity & sustainability of such cheap fashions. Even in tough economic times, I think we can all agree that as a first world nation there is no need for clothing to be this cheap. Leeann Duggan from Refinery 29 makes a good point stating, “What does it say about the value we truly place on fashion — and the people who make our garments”. It is insult to injury to the 1133 factory workers who needlessly died, over 2500 injured and the hundreds of children consequently left orphaned from the building collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh just over one year ago. While many other design houses and commercial brands are focusing transparency throughout the supply chain and while global initiatives beginning to be set in place to change the garment factory working conditions, one can only raise an eye brow to this low brow scheme.

canda.com photo rana plaza

Photo sourced from canada.com “Forever 21′s $1.80 shirts: How cheap is too cheap?”

… Now, the views expressed are of my personal perspective. Brace yourself, I am going to be quite candid with you here’

I say scheme for a reason:

  1. Despite this being Forever 21′s first test concept store, F21 RED (could be considered “cleverly”) positioned amongst America’s working-lower-class. Perpetuating an ill twisted system of keeping the lower class hungry for “better deals” and encouraging them to buy more with the mindset that they are getting a bargain and saving money.
  2. Dare I say this is a capitalist mindset?! … keeping the rich, rich and the poor, poor etc. (for lack of better word), distracting them with “lower prices!”
  3. It is essentially a garbatory of clothing that is not made to last beyond a few wears let alone a season, if lucky! Thus contributing to a global problem of disposable clothing clogging landfills and exponentially spewing toxicity into the environment for every component of its development, manufacturing and its final resting place… in the trash.
  4. F21 RED prices purposely make them accessible to an even younger generation of customers… “children & tweens”… who could now independently spend their allowance, babysitting or birthday money on these cheap fashions. It just feels icky! A way to exploit children at a young age, teaching them needless consumption and greed for more. Dont get me wrong, I loved fashion and to shop from a young age but I still had to save up my allowance for a shirt, it was a special treat, not the norm and certainly not financially accessible at these prices.
Livia-Firth

Photo sourced by ‘reve en vert’

Admittedly I was shocked (but not shocked) by the gusto in Forever 21 motives. Proudly, I am not a customer of their store and find the shopping environment and experience unpleasant, whilst obviously I don’t resonate with the company morals or business model. More so, I find it such an odd contradiction to the global sustainability movement, like a last attempt to make fast disposable fashion relevant whilst having complete ignorance, disregard and lastly respect to all those involved in the supply chain and purchasing consumer. There I said it!

With this in mind, lets talk about getting  “more fashion mileage per piece”, an article recently written by Livia Firth (Collin Firth’s wife) for the BoF. Livia is known for her sustainable fashion initiatives, particularly raising awareness through and with her celebrity, while encouraging other celebrities to follow suite, thus sharing the message to the vast public consumer.

Regardless if we are talking about a different consumers, the same mentality applies. At all price points and income levels, education and importance on the value of our purchased items needs to improve. For many, we no longer have any value, regard or respect for the clothing we buy. We buy shirt for friday night on friday afternoon and we accept that it’ll only last a few wears and be tossed away afterwards and yet we are ‘okay’ with this system. Literally throwing our money away.

Livia poignantly says,

For the last 15 years, we have been… buying clothing in a rush and discarding it just as quickly. Meanwhile, the cost of fashion has plummeted. You can buy full outfits for the same price as a sandwich and a cup of coffee. But the true cost is picked up by those unseen in the supply chain, working anonymously in difficult conditions, sometimes enslaved, and rarely mentioned — certainly not on the swing tag.

It is time to change the terms. Fashion brands must begin to acknowledge their debt to both the natural world and to the people who make their business possible. They need to invest in sustainable approaches both for their future and our future. Why in haute couture do we talk about the hours of work that go into hand embellishing a garment, but in fast fashion we ignore it?

And this is why I am disappointed with companies such as Forever 21 (F21 RED) for not taking initiative or responsibility for their role in society and the direct impact they have on both the thousands of anonymous garment workers and the consumers they target.

We all have a responsibility here and the ability to participate and affect positive or consequently negative change.

In truth, I’ve found myself most recently going through my own clothing, bored of what I have to choose from, desiring new “cool” pieces and seeing what I have to donate. In actual fact, I dont dispose of that much each season or year. I would be lying if I said there are not a few pieces in my donate box that were “fast fashion finds” that only made it through a few seasons. Those are the pieces that although I enjoyed wearing them for their short lived time, I regret purchasing. I would have rather paid more money for a similar, if not authentic variation of the style, made of better quality material where I could still wear it today. Now when I look for affordable trendy finds, I search out “quality pieces”  in natural fibres where I know it will withstand multiple washes and wears for a few seasons to go. Even still, I am leaning away from purchasing cheaper imitations to save up for the designer styles I ultimately desire, that will become staples in my wardrobe.

It is also a great time to get creative. Rather then tossing out what feels like “out-of-date” or “irrelevant” clothes in my closet, I have been finding new ways to reinterpret them with this seasons trends: Here are some of my tips and tricks:

  • Trying on new ways to wear a jacket or shirt (rolled up sleeves, popped collar, tucked-in…)
  • Cutting raw hem, edges and distressing on my denim jeans, jackets and shorts
  • Cutting new necklines or armhole shapes in “old” t-shirts with raw edges
  • Also bleaching & dip dying my denim
re-fashion

photo taken by moi

I encourage each of us to buy more intentionally and get more “fashion mileage” out of each piece we purchase. To buy with commitment, integrity and a sense of liability, as we must not only fall in love with just the fashion itself but the stories the clothes bring within them.

 

THE FUTURE OF FASHION THROUGH CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM

I recently read an interview with Julie Gilhart posted by BoF about Conscious Consumerism. Julie Gilhart was the former Fashion Director at Barney’s NY, currently a consultant to Amazon.com & their online clothing store.  What immediately caught my attention was her independent passion to merge her own sustainable beliefs & lifestyle into the world of fashion through conscientious decisions and empowerment.

273aa930-db4d-41ad-918e-edd811ec9279

Known for her love of discovering, encouraging, supporting and connecting young design talent to retailers, Julie has significantly influenced the fashion industry, drawing attention to sustainable initiatives and designers alike.

For those of us who actively seek conscientious alternatives in our lifestyle, many of us remember when or what first triggered our change. As for myself, from a very early age I was concerned about the environment. I never littered, I was appalled by those who did (including friends of mine) and I went so far (& still do) to pick up the trash on the streets left ignorantly by others. I will never understand why some people think it was someone else’s job to pick up after them? Why should that job even exist…? Where in their upbringing were they told this is an okay’ behaviour…? It’s a strange sense of entitlement that I never understood.

Continue reading

MY AHA’ MOMENT

Unknown

Last year I discovered the beautiful luxury brand Maiyet upon reading an article by the BoF, “Business of Fashion” (articles which I share often). Upon further researching the company, I instantly fell in love with Maiyets brand, their story, philosophy, and vision of the future. It is not surprising that they are quickly rising to fame with a desirable appeal to the global fashion community & beyond with tons of loyal fans.

It was around the same time I discovered Maiyet, that I was establishing my short-term and long-term goals for my career and life as a whole. I have always had a strong interest in the environment, ethical practices and have a desire to include this interest in my own career initiatives.

Working in the fashion industry makes this challenging to incorporate, as there is so much frivolous excess in production, consumption and not enough effort understanding the global impact of the process. I am faced with these moral challenges as I work and seek employment within the industry. Faced with a cross road in my young career, as I require and desire more industry experience but ultimately would love to work for a company that shares similar ethical and environmental beliefs and practices as myself. It is a compromising position to be in, you need the job, so do you compromise yourself for it or take a stand for your own moral beliefs? There are consequences and sacrifices to both sides and I only hope that in either case, the opportunity allows me to work towards achieving my long term goals.

So when I discovered Maiyet, it was like an affirmation in my life and confirmed that my idea is possible. There are companies who share similar values to myself and ultimately this provided a quick flash into my future. I knew where I wanted to take it and began to see the steps on how to achieve this, one of which being to re-launch my blog!

What I love about Maiyet is:

  • the founders of the company, Paul Van Zyl, Kristy Caylor, Daniel Lubetzky all have a backgrounds in either human rights, sustainable, environmental and/ or ethical practices.  Paul Van Zyl, the founder and CEO has worked around the world to facilitate transitions of human rights protection, specifically in South Africa.
  • I am attracted to this form of leadership or initiative because in turn it resonates with another one of my design beliefs & motivations individuals whose strength and courage [break]/ broke societal norms of their day”. This is exactly what the leaders of Maiyet are doing.
  • They are pioneering the industry without blatantly branding themselves based solely on these initiatives, thus attracting the luxury market as a whole in a relevant and contemporary way-  inspiring!
  • I love that they celebrate rare artisanal skills from communities around the world, particularly in developing countries, such as Columbia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mongolia, Peru and in established countries like Italy. Fostering global economic prosperity, sustainably and ethically.
  • They are partnered with Nest, a not-for-profit organization established to train and develop artisan business. By doing so they are working to revive the ancient tradition of weaving in Varanasi India.
  • Through these practices I love the truly unique pieces designed and created not only for ready-to-wear styles but accessories, handbags, shoes and jewelry. The products are innovative & luxurious.
  • From a purely visual perspective I adore the numerous ad campaigns featuring Canadian Model Daria Werbowy.
  • And in closing, I believe they represent all the ingredients required to set the standard among the fashion industry, turning the page to a new chapter and era within the future of fashion.

Here you have it. This is the first but certainty not the last I will be confessing my love for Maiyet. There is so much more to share!

Check out their website to learn more about the company & view their collections!

X