Recycled hemp dress | $238
Organic Olive Midi skirt | $158
Soy knit dress | $188
Layered silk blend tank | $98
I brought up in a recent post a frustration that a lot of you are feeling that “sustainable/ethical” fashion seems to cater mostly to a specific body type, or is full of oversized silhouettes and flowy shapes not everyone likes. I tend to think that most of that is a reflection of the direction modern style is taking lately, towards architectural, boxy shapes that work very well on more gamine/straight body types and appeals to those of us who like to experiment with androgynous styles.
But all is not lost for those who love traditionally feminine styles or need clothing for a more conservative work environment, and want to build a more sustainable wardrobe. Enter Arkins. Arkins’ new “conservation collection” was inspired by the need to reduce the fashion industry’s impact on the environment, specifically water pollution, and works with materials like recycled hemp, organic cotton, soy, linen, and silk blends. And everything is produced in-house in NYC:
Moved by the coral bleaching epidemic, we sought out to make a conservation collection with a low water impact. Realizing the direct link the fashion industry has on water pollution had us empathizing with the sea critters who are devastated by the toxic run-offs standard of fast fashion. In fact, the World Bank estimates that almost 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles. This all greatly affects coral reef health, putting the extensive marine ecosystem (25% of which are reliant on the reefs) at risk too. According to the Nature Conservatory, if the present rate of destruction continues, 70% of the world’s coral reefs will be destroyed by the year 2050.
I love the modern, feminine designs, and think any of them would work for a casual, or conservative work environment, but would also be sturdy enough for play, if you’re so inclined!
What do you think? Have you found any other sustainable designers producing items suitable for work?
OMG, dear Grechen, you’ve read my mind!! Just this morning I was thinking that I really really want to find additional eco-sustainable products and companies as I slowly, overhaul my style and household. I LOVE your blog and have found you SO inspirational in helping me to further embrace eco-consciousness in shopping and style. As an Eileen Fisher customer for YEARS I’ve rejoiced over the last decade as the company has become more and more responsible with regard to the environment and to women and the world (as a matter of fact, it was somehow through their website – or maybe it was Unefemme.net, that I came across your blog). Most of my wardrobe is from EF, but I’ve longed for more style choices and really appreciate you bringing up this topic again. I’ll be seeing my cousin from out of town today, who happens to work for the environmentalist David Suzuki (in Vancouver, Canada), and I’m planning on getting her top eco-sustainable fashion and lifestyle sources. I promise I’ll post them to you when I get her list. But in the meantime, I just had to tell you how much I love your blog and your style and the forum you’ve created here for all of us. A thousand thanks for sharing all of your passion and your reviews and for your raising of consciousness.
And not only that, you cannot know how HUGELY impactful and comforting your openness and generosity in sharing about weight struggles and body confidence and healthy eating have been to me, as I g-d knows I have wrestled with similar issues all my adult life. Thank you so, so much for that.
Have an awesome, beautiful day, and I’ll let you know if my cousin knows of any eco-sites I haven’t already heard of through you.
P.S. I totally forgot to say that I LOVE the Arkins pieces! I’d never heard of them, so thanks. The organic olive midi skirt is especially gorgeous and versatile. I want it!!! 🙂
Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 says
A for effort but the execution does nothing for me, personally. The clothing is unflattering on a younger, taller, and skinnier model and most of it on the website looks cheap and weirdly constructed to me (I think there’s actually a loose string hanging off the model in one photo – hardly fatal to a garment, but not helping my impression). I don’t think I’d wear a single piece of this to court. Maybe the white top. But probably not even that. And the prices. Just…no, thank you.
I have been looking for work-wear I could get excited about and wear for a trial (I’m an attorney with a business casual office) for years now. I haven’t found anything that really seems promising. This is closer: http://wallisevera.com/collections/all (In particular, the Claire dress is gorgeous, and they have a simple pencil skirt and a jacket that feels fresh but not super-trendy.)
I am optimistic that both companies’ entry into the market means there will be more coming, and so appreciate you sharing this to try to address this! Perhaps this collection is an AHA! YAY! moment for someone. But knowing my body as I do, I wouldn’t touch much of this collection, if anything, even at half the price.
Grechen Reiter says
thank you so much holly!! i look forward to learning more about what you find out 🙂
Grechen Reiter says
thanks for the link to wallis evera – they’re new to me. i like the pencil skirt/jacket combo idea, it’s very modern!
with regard to arkins, the styling could be better, honestly, but i appreciate the unique-ness of the pieces. they wouldn’t work for me at all, either on my body, or for my life, so they’re not particularly appealing to me, but i was impressed by the innovative use of fabrics, and that they are designing for women who work in a more formal setting and/or appreciate feminine silhouettes.
Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 says
Agree! And right after I posted, I saw someone else was really excited about it. I wonder how much of it is concerns about fit and bad experiences with cut/quality of some brands putting me off in general…!
Grechen Reiter says
yes, it could be that, it’s hard to separate out those frustrations and experiences. i know! also, as i’ve come to REALLY understand from writing this blog for a million years, we just all have such varying tastes and preferences when it comes to clothing, both in terms of what we wear ourselves, but also what we appreciate on others. to each her own 🙂 !!
So true!! Somethings I feel like finding pieces that suit me and I love that are truly versatile is like searching for the holy grail. That’s why it’s so great when you post about new designers, and, in your reviews you try on and suggest all the different ways something can be styled – for work or play.
So I spoke to my cousin the environmentalist and I had to smile, because most of the sites she mentioned, like Rodale’s and Zady.com are already completely on your radar (naturally!) 😉
The only individual designer she mentioned of whom I hadn’t heard is a Canadian, nicolebridger.com. It’s a VERY small collection, but her intent and usage of ethical and environmentally responsible materials is great. A few of the pieces would be work-appropriate and have a wee bit of structure, but most seem to be designed for comfort and flow.
Grechen Reiter says
thanks for reporting back holly! i remember nicole bridger from WAY back in 2007-8 when i had my eco-fashion blog but I didn’t realize she was still around! I will definitely look back in on her though…
Great post– I have a lot of trouble finding structured, sustainable clothing (much better for my frame). I have had good luck with some Eileen Fisher pieces that are more structured and love Everlane for basics. I also stumbled upon this post and thought it was incredibly helpful. Not sure if you’ve heard of all of these sites but they were new to me. Hope you’re having a great day.
Thanks for this!
Normally I feel like exactly the kind of person the current trends are for (I get the annoying question “are you a dancer” a lot). I often gravitate toward oversized/drapey clothes, though a combination of the oversized trend + increasingly large sizes has left me with the weird experience of trying on a size 0 dress that is too big.
However, I just got a really short and hip haircut, and it has me swinging in the opposite direction with my clothes–I want floral dresses in pink and purple 🙂 I understand that for people building a wardrobe simple pieces in neutral colors will sell best, but any ideas where I can get some more fun, femme options that weren’t made in sweatshops? <3
I just found this website that could be perfect for someone who gets dressed for work and requires a jacket. Love their sustainable philosophy.