Ecofashionistas are environmentally-minded people who fashion recycled clothing and look good doing it! We like to keep warm in environmentally-responsible pea coats while somehow still managing to bike to work wearing organic cotton pencil skirts and vegan pumps. Our closets are a wonderland of vintage boots and purses made locally from recycled billboards. We are the ecofashionistas-doing good and looking good doing it.
Eco-fashion has come a long way from the tree-hugger fare of days gone by. Contemporary, sustainable clothing is now accessible on the runway and off the rack. Quality is essential when building a green wardrobe, whether you’re buying second-hand, sustainable or local attire.
Choose complementary pieces that are made well, fit you well and suit your personal style. If you won’t wear it, it doesn’t matter what the label says. However, if you can see yourself wearing those organic cotton jeans until your friends and neighbors can see through the denim, buying them is the right investment for your green closet.
Investing in an eco-fashionable wardrobe is a cinch in the Twin Cities where vintage retailers, sustainable clothing boutiques and local designers thrive.
All good trends-and some bad ones (e.g. “hammer pants”) – are recycled eventually, so it is only natural to recycle the clothing itself. “Fashion is so cyclical,” says Megan McGuire, owner of St. Paul vintage shop UP SIX. McGuire’s fashion pedigree comes from her mother, whose closet she still raids occasionally, “My mom would rock vintage all the time when I was young but no one could tell that her outfits weren’t new.” McGuire brings that same savvy to her store when choosing merchandise for her store off Selby and Snelling. She wants shoppers to be able to find fun, original versions of current trends on the racks, so that they don’t have to buy new to keep up. In addition to running her store, McGuire leads the St. Paul Retro Loop, which helps customers navigate their way to five nearby vintage stores where they can shop for their wardrobes and their homes. Look for Retro Loop sales in the spring and the fall!
For all the impressive qualities of eco-fabrics like bamboo, you might call them super-fabrics instead. Some have a silky softness, some have natural anti-bacterial properties and others will never require ironing. For example, hemp can be grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides because it is naturally resistant to weeds and pests (conventional cotton uses a pound of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers to produce just three t-shirts). Fabric made from hemp is good for skin as well, as it blocks 95% of UV rays. Long-lasting soy fabric is made from a byproduct of tofu manufacturing so it reduces food processing waste in addition to being one of the softest fabrics you’ll ever touch. Try on some eco-fabrics at local retailer Birch Clothing.
Buying nearby supports the local economy and creates a personal connection to a purchase. Lots of local jewelry artists, crafters, and clothing designers sell their wares at boutiques like Birch or Design Collective or craft shows like the Green Gifts Fair. The online handmade marketplace Etsy can also connect ecofashionistas by allowing the global community to browse locally. For example, Minneapolis-based Etsy seller Runamok uses recycled kimono fabrics and vintage buttons to make clutches, hair pins and brooches. Find out if a local designer you like has retail partnerships in the Twin Cities. Check if they will be at any craft shows this year or even get something custom designed for you. If you’re not sure it’s eco-friendly, simply ask the person who made it for details!
St. Paul Retro Loop: UP SIX, Succotash, Lula, Classic Retro @ Pete’s and Swank, stpaulretroloop.com