ENTER TO WIN one of these items:
Hey Murphy Necklace & Earrings from Aro | $180
James Perse casual tee | $50
Janessa Leone handmade wool Isis hat from Azalea | $150
Admonish Handmade Leather clutch | $195
Emerson Fry unisex Ryan tee in Storm Cloud linen | $128
Everlane u-neck tee | $15
Lizzie Fortunato pouch from Hampden Clothing | $155
Zady organic cotton t-shirt | $36 – pre-order yours now!!
Happy Monday! I am BEYOND excited to finally share with you something I’ve been working on for a while for this Earth Week – a Conscious Closet Challenge:
I challenge whoever will accept (including myself!) to take this week to really be conscious of where our clothing is made, what it is made from, who the designers/companies are who make our clothes, and whether we really need the things we have already, or wish to add to, our closets.
As a little incentive for you to do this, and report back here with what you’ve learned about your closets and how you might be more conscious about your wardrobe, I’ve partnered with some of my favorite brands and designers who have donated 8 made-in-the-US items to 8 different winners who participate in the Conscious Closet Challenge. Nice, right??
All this week, I’ll write more about each of these companies and designers, including why made in the US is important, feature more made in the US items and some of the challenges of conscious shopping and sustainable fashion.
Ultimately, this challenge is meant to encourage all of us to just be more aware – more conscious – of where the things we buy come from, who makes them, and why we bought them. How do the items in our closets speak to us? What do they mean? Why are they there?
Of course, made in the US isn’t the only way to have a more conscious closet, although I do think it can be an important part of creating a more meaningful, environmentally conscious wardrobe. Knowledge is power, but I wonder how many of us REALLY know where our clothing comes from and the conditions in which is it produced. Do you? I don’t know enough.
Whether you think you do, or you don’t, I challenge you to pay attention this week – read the labels inside your clothes, do a little research on the companies you buy from, the types of materials they use, and determine if you are putting your money where your mouth is.
Do your clothing/accessory choices reflect your ethics and beliefs about the environment (your personal environment included – if you’re trying to minimize), sustainability, and working conditions around the world? Do they reflect your personality and add meaning to your life?
That is the ultimate challenge: what do your clothes say about you? are they a reflection of what you believe to be right and just? How can you change that? What can you do differently? I think we can all start by simply being more conscious of what’s in our closets.
Now. Are you ready for the Conscious Closet Challenge?? Here’s how to participate:
- Leave your email address in the form below. This is required to enter the giveaway. By leaving your email address you are agreeing that Grechen’s Closet may or may not share it with companies who donated products for the purposes of direct marketing. Grechen’s Closet will NOT add your name to an internal mailing list or share it with any company other than those mentioned above as donating items for the giveaway. This is required.
- Tweet, Instagram and/or Facebook (using the hashtag #consciousclosetchallenge – I know!! it’s long…) your own personal closet challenge for the week – whatever that may be. Also, include the URL of this post if you’re posting on Facebook. THIS IS A BONUS ENTRY.
- Share your conscious closet challenge journey on your blog, then leave a comment here with a link to your post. THIS IS A BONUS ENTRY.
- All week I’ll be including bonus entry opportunities in blog posts or on social media. Make sure you stop by everyday and follow me on social media (Instagram | Twitter | Facebook) for all the details!!
- On Monday, April 27th, I’ll post about my own conscious closet challenge journey here on Grechen’s Closet. To finish your giveaway entry, you must leave a comment with at least one thing you learned, or discovered about your closet during this challenge, and/or how you will create a more conscious closet going forward. This is required – not a bonus entry. *updated* here’s the post!!
- I will select 8 winners randomly from all the entries received on Tuesday, April 28th. Prizes will be shipped directly from the company/designer donating the item. If you have NOT left your email in the form but completed all the other entries, you WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE to win. You MUST first leave your email, then complete the other entries, including leaving a comment on the final post to be eligible to win. This is a challenge 🙂
**all or most designers/companies will ship internationally!!
Go! Who’s with me???
Wow, I am so excited! And slightly terrified. I am going to post your quote on the wall outside my closet and think about what kind of choices I am willing to make.
I just spent the last hour researching the company/manufacturing ethics of the brand that is most represented in my wardrobe…and came up with NOTHING. I found a few search engines where I could punch in the brand, but there wasn’t anything substantive. I read the company policy manual, bit it focusses on employee rights and not manufacturing practices. I looked up the CEO and board of directors, and can’t find anything in the news related to any of them and environmental practices. Why is this so hard?
I am much better with buying ethical household/beauty items. This challenge is going to get me.
What a great idea! Already submitted my email address. Hope this challenge extends to submissions overseas. I live in Europe. Will be back next week to respond to your post.
Grechen Reiter says
hmmm…what is this brand??? i wish i still had access to company databases i used to work with many years ago…
it shouldn’t be so hard, but i love a challenge 🙂
i can’t wait to see everyone’s responses…
It’s Vince. (Why am I embarrassed? Maybe because I know their clothes are made in China, and no obvious disclosures doesn’t bode well). I learned a lot about the history of their company, and I do like that they started small and local.
I’d also like to look into Theory and Helmut Lang, but haven’t made any effort yet.
As much as I struggle with buying things online because of fit concerns and return policies (James Perse, Emerson Fry), it is interesting how I stop thinking about ethics once I get inside a store. I go for what fits when everything is in front of my eyes without the fine print. I really would like to become more intentional about these things. Thanks for getting the ball rolling.
Grechen Reiter says
interesting – i’ve never known much about vince, really, and it’s no wonder if it’s that hard to find information out about the company! i do love the clothes, generally, but have never been pushed over enough to buy much i guess. a big reason is that they don’t manufacture ANYTHING in the US.
good point you make about shopping in person vs. shopping online – i absolutely agree that once an item is in front of us, and maybe we’re trying it on, it’s harder to think about company ethics, or whatever. especially if it fits well 😉
This is a great challenge. I am trying to focus on quality in my wardrobe and yet keep falling prey to the “this is so cute, I deserve this” and not focusing on what will add quality and versatility to my wardrobe. Thanks for helping me press the pause button this week (and hopefully beyond!)
OK. So this is the motivation that I needed (Can you say “Carrot on a stick”?) to finally do my closet purge! I’m challenging myself to complete the purge and only keep what I truly LOVE and will WEAR! And I’m actually excited about it.
Grechen Reiter says
YES! i knew it would get you 🙂
can’t wait to hear your thoughts next week!!!
Oh sh*t!!! Haha! Christina, guess what I wear a lot of?!?
Grechen Reiter says
i absolutely understand that – it’s a struggle for me a lot of the time also. baby steps!!
i can’t wait to hear about your week!
I know! 🙂
For me it’s sad when companies stray far from their indie roots and get acquired by holding conglomerates and private-equity firms – which is what happens to most if the original owners need to cash out and want to keep the brands alive. Sometimes the “about us” section on a formerly indie company’s website will celebrate the founders and their guiding principles and inspiration without a word about who really drives the bus. Agreed that trying to find anything out is completely frustrating. There are ways if you’re super ambitious – trade publications, registration statements, bankruptcy filings, etc. Most stuff like that is Googlable, but not exactly right out there for customers to use in making informed decisions.
Vince is publicly traded, as Vince Holding Corp. (ticker symbol VNCE) so its corporate filings are posted on the SEC’s website. If you were really ambitious, combing through their latest 10-k filing would lead you to a wealth of info that by law they have to provide to the government and investors. Also the prospectus for its IPO (which was in November 2013). Vince is still majority-owned by Sun Capital Partners, the private-equity firm that acquired it from the founders in 2006 and owns some other brands, including Rebecca Taylor.
Again – I’m not expecting you to spend time hunting this stuff down. It’s really just a long way of saying that for too many companies, investors come way before their customers – even though without customers, they would have no investors.
This is a great idea Grechen! How awesome that you were able to work with all those great brands on this. I won’t be participating because I’m too pressed for time, but I’m looking forward to getting inspiration from everyone. Have fun!
Thanks, Christine, for explaining in layperson’s terms what my non-Econ mind fails to comprehend. It’s disappointing to find out that a formerly “indi” company has gone for the big bucks. But not surprising.
Hi Mama – for some reason I’m unable to respond under you so I’ve done it here.
For many small companies, selling out – in the literal and more perjorative sense – is a matter of survival. Sometimes their money allows the brand to continue with whatever name recognition it has in the market, and in some cases the founders will keep creative control. Not always though, and even if the creators do remain involved, they’ve almost 100 percent of the time given up day-to-day operations and descision-making. Hence why it gets harder to find out information about a company’s materials sourcing and the like, because tasks such as purchasing fabrics, contracting with factories, etc., are ceded to the larger umbrella company that is often making decisions for all of the brands under its ownership and looking for efficiency. I hope that helps/makes sense without my boring everyone to tears. I felt like I needed to clarify what I meant by a couple of things.
I’m in an interesting position for this challenge, going on 6 months pregnant. Recently I’ve badly needed things to wear to work, and I have several high profile, formal work events coming up. I also needed work out clothes because mine were becoming uncomfortably restrictive. I follow a bunch of mom FB groups to try to buy resale items but I find even if it’s a good deal and I’m reusing clothing, I don’t have time to drive all over creation and pick them up. I’m leaving in the middle of my day today to pick up a formal black dress, which I really hope works.
Which leaves ordering online. I love Isabella Oliver and Seraphine. My core pieces are from there, but they’re expensive if it’s not on sale for a item I’ll wear for a few months max. So I’ve had to fill in with tons of cheap clothes from Old Navy. It’s convenient, shipping is fast, and the clothes fit reasonably well. I can’t imagine the working conditions of a place that sells $7 shirts though. They can’t be great.
Very interesting challenge !
I am very aware and “conscious” about my clothing purchase, but that does not mean I necessarily buy “made in the USA” for various reasons:
– The item “made in the USA” may be cut and sewn in the US, but that does not mean that the fabric, leather and other components are from the US and environmentally friendly… Most likely not.
– Clothes manufacturing is a very important industry in a number of developing countries that desperately need this export income and a major source of jobs for women in those countries. I believe it is more important to support efforts for better work conditions in these countries than limit oneself to “made in the USA” (or any other country in this regard, you have the same eco-consciousness going on in France as an example) that not everyone can afford either. Lower-cost labor is not a bad thing as long as it is a good wage for the country.
– Even though I regularly fall for so-called “luxury brand” (Vince, Joie, etc… but always on sale!) because there’s something to be said about the style or the feel of the fabric, I always feel a bit disgusted that “luxury” means “bigger margins” more than anything else (not much of the higher price we pay goes into the quality of the item, most goes into marketing, merchandising, PR and shareholder’s pockets… the price of dream). Kudos to the research and information provided by Christine in this regard.
– I definitely avoid the “dirt cheap” stuff : you can only imagine the production conditions. But my tight-budget, college-age daughters can’t really follow that rule … I buy a bit for them and try to instill my other rules below.
– In addition, and more selfishly, I love fashion and clothes, but If I try to combine my personal taste (very picky!) and strict eco/social-conscious rules, I would not find anything to buy!!!
Conclusion – What to do ?
– Even though virtual shopping and fashion blogs are my #1 hobby, I buy very little, the mere necessary, very consciously with the goal of enjoying it thoroughly : it must be perfect! Whatever we buy, the most “polluting” and irresponsible thing is the quantity of “stuff” we go through during our lives. So I try to limit myself as much as I can in this regard and enjoy what I have, the “Kondo” way 🙂
– My girls grew up dressed 90% second-hand… and continue: thrift, family, friends… They know I hate “waste” above anything else!
– I really wish for more transparency from manufacturers, the Everlane way (or Chie Mihara: check her website!). Manufacturing conditions can be really good in China, and people can make a decent living there. More worried about Vietnam, Bangladesh and such… I am ready to pay the price when I know where things come from, USA or elsewhere. I want to make sure I don’t support slavery or sub-par working conditions. There should be an international “humane certified” label for clothing manufacturing the same way there is organic certification throughout the world…
– The first step is what you are doing : spread awareness about the ecological and social price of clothing around us, so that everyone becomes a bit more aware (even in a guilty way, it’s a first step!) of the implications of their purchase. I know a lot of people who don’t even have a clue that cotton is polluting (i did not know until a couple of years ago) or slaves make their clothes…
Grechen Reiter says
absolutely agree re: made in the US – and i’m writing a post for tomorrow right now addressing those same issues…
i think made in the US is a good starting point – it’s “easy” sometimes, and elicits a positive emotional response in most circumstances – but it certainly isn’t the end all and be all of making fashion more sustainable or eco-friendly by ANY means!
cotton as a crop uses more pesticides than any other. when i learned that, it stunned me, i’m not sure why. also denim manufacturing can use a LOT of water, and especially for manufacturers in California, that is a very serious concern. these are all things to consider, and try to learn more about. and be aware of. that’s all i want – for us to be aware. be armed with knowledge…
Well said, Marie!
I added this challenge to my Friday links because it’s such a great opportunity to look at the pieces we buy. I’m already committed to wearing ethical clothing, but I love learning about new-to-me brands. 🙂
I’m a little late to the party but I’ve started the challenge. This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I already have what I used to consider a minimalist wardrobe but it needs to get much smaller. I just posted a short article on my blog that outlines my goals.
Grechen Reiter says
never too late!!
i’m really interested in hearing what you learned, and love that you’re doing this in Italy, and learning more about what “made in Italy” means. fascinating!!
Grechen Reiter says
thank you catherine!! – and what a wonderful list of links. i’m going to make time to read them all..
Leah Wise says
Groovy! I found myself hyper aware of my closet. Though I’ve made an effort to purchase more ethical things over the past several years, I was so happy to realize that many of the things I wear regularly are produced with regard to people and planet. I was also hyper aware of the things that weren’t, like a pair of Gap loafers I knew I shouldn’t have bought. I’m trying to live with the knowledge that I’m human and imperfect, but make better choices moving forward.
I also capped off the week by modeling in a local fashion show. It was so fun to support local designers who produced their items in this region.
Hey Grechen – I’m entering because, you never know! I have really enjoyed the direction you’ve taken with blogging – consciousness of consumerism, minimalism, while also knowing yourself. Maybe I’ll get there one day – probably not too soon though.
Melissa Keyser says
My guess is that if a company is made in the US or proudly using fair-trade/ethical labor, it will be easy to find. If companies aren’t proud of what they are doing, it won’t be clearly listed.