6397 Shorty Jeans
James Perse long sleeve tee | ten years old
Lauren Manoogian Alpaca cardigan | via Garmentory (get a $20 credit for signing up via referral link)
James Perse sneakers
James Perse mini tote
I did some shopping this week. And now I am finished. More on that later, but I am finished buying until at least January 1. With the exception of possibly ONE item from the James Perse sale that comes every Thanksgiving. Oh, and I need about a zillion more pairs of these “secret sleuth” socks by SmartWool because I LIVE IN THEM with sneakers, etc. But that’s it. Like I said: more later.
James Perse. We have a Partner’s Card event here every year where you buy a card for $70, 100% of the proceeds from which benefits The Family Place, supporting survivors of family violence. With the card, you get 20% off hundreds of retailers for 10 days, including James Perse. So…..
I really needed new tees in smaller sizes, so I bought three t-shirts (sheer slub crew in black, casual tee in white, v-neck in black), the brushed jersey turtleneck (which is heavenly), the mini tote, and the colony scuba slip-on sneakers. The mini tote is fabulous, and a great size for everyday – also, not leather. But the sneakers…I have been seeking a pair of non-leather sneakers that I loved, and were comfortable, but these aren’t it. The size is good, but the underside of the shoe where the neoprene is stitched together rubs the top of my foot uncomfortably, and is a little snug. And since it’s not leather, they won’t stretch out. Ugh. I love them, and it pains me to return them, but I have to.
Now, the sweater. I bought the Lauren Manoogian “coat” with credits from Garmentory* (and I added a little birthday money) with the expectation that I could return it if I needed to. Although I didn’t think I’d have to. Or want to. I was a little concerned that the sweater would swallow me up and be much too long on me, but it’s a good length on me, and while it’s definitely oversized, I don’t think it’s excessively so. Anyway, it’s meant to be my winter coat, so it can be big, and I wanted to be able to layer it over sweaters. BUT, it’s itchy at the neckline. And I can’t return it. Well, I can, but I won’t get my credits back. (If I’d read the return policy more closely, I’d have known that, but it probably wouldn’t have changed my mind. I was determined to get this sweater; I was in love.)
I don’t normally have significant issues with sweaters being itchy at all, so I couldn’t have expected it. Although I was concerned about the portion of polyamide in the sweater, in addition to the alpaca, but still, I didn’t think it would be so uncomfortable. Anyway, I’m going to try and work with the coat, and wear it with turtlenecks, or with a scarf, so it doesn’t actually touch my neck. But the beauty of this sweater/coat is that it’s got a lovely shawl collar so you don’t NEED to wear a scarf.
UGH. Well, much more on this later, as I start exploring my shopping habits and emotional responses again, but I’ll be honest and say I’m pretty frustrated with online shopping lately.
On a positive note, my Levi’s jeans are stretching out nicely. You really do have to wear them CONSTANTLY to break them in…I put them on yesterday and wanted to take them right back off again, but today: better.
How Nike Learned to Embrace Sustainability – Nike’s Chief Sustainability Officer linked sustainability to innovation and
has unlocked in the company a huge insight, which was [that] solving a sustainability problem can actually unlock new performance, new price or new aesthetic benefits
Brilliant, and hopefully something every company will be inspired by.
Is Ethical Fashion Just This Year’s Model? – from a men’s fashion perspective, but an interesting look at the “trend” of ethical shopping. Ugh.
Radical Transparency? H&M and Zara Are Actually More Transparent Than Everlane – It’s true. I have recognized this before, but chose to largely ignore it; Everlane doesn’t name its factories by actual name (they use the term “The Core Sweater Factory” for example), and in many cases, H&M, Zara, Gap, etc., DO name factories and contractors they work with. Just how transparent is THAT? The Fashion Law goes into legal reasons for Everlane’s not naming names, which is interesting, but not necessarily good enough. I’ll write more about this later, including my much more in depth thoughts on Everlane in general, but in spite of this, I DO think Everlane is “trying,” and in that way is a “better” choice than some other clothing brands, but there’s also something a little fishy about it, and a little disingenuous.
I have absolutely been guilty of not doing enough due diligence of late, especially when it concerns Everlane: their clothing is appealing, the website is clean, and their message sounds good, is presented in an organized way, and aligns with what I WANT to be true, so I don’t question it as often as I should. (case in point – $100 cashmere).
Not that I think they’re not making a positive impact on the industry and have truly shifted the way many companies think about presenting their products/manufacturing processes to their consumers, but they’ve been given the benefit of the doubt for too long. And perhaps at this point they’re just riding the wave of transparency that THEY THEMSELVES created, without actually being transparent….
Much more on that later. What are your thoughts on Everlane?
*for each person who signs up to Garmentory via my referral link, they get a $20 credit in their account and I do as well.
So glad you included that Everlane article and your thoughts on it — looking forward to reading what you have to say in greater depth. I personally think they have been riding their own “radical transparency” coattails, so to speak, as you pointed out. Did you see their original site and products when they first launched? I think I first noticed them in 2012, and at that time I believe they just offered t-shirts, backpacks, and maybe a few leather accessories (belts, wallets?). The t-shirts (and I think the backpacks too?) were all made in LA and the “radical transparency” extended further into information about the factory, though I don’t remember if they disclosed the name of the manufacturer. I am well aware that there is unethical domestic manufacturing, but I felt that their claims of transparency really shifted when they began with overseas production — the narrative seems to be much more around cost savings, affordable luxury, etc., whereas their early messaging (marketing) included a much stronger perspective on minimalism. I recall their campaigns talking about bucking the fashion system by creating a very limited line that’s so well made that it ‘disrupts’ constant consumption. I think the way they have brought attention to “knowing your factories” is commendable — it seems like they are a gateway to ethical shopping for many people, but personally I am very critical about the truth in their transparency, and would love to see them be more open about production as well as material sourcing. [end rant ! hope to read your full thoughts soon]
I read the Everlane link and took part in a conversation on the topic in a subreddit. While I agree, it would be amazing if Everlane named their factories but just because they don’t and H&M does, it doesn’t change the fact that what Everlane is doing is more ethical than H&M and Zara combined.
So are we more concerned with transparency or ethics here? Do we care more about naming factories or do we care more about changing industry practices for the better?
I also find that, when a company stands up and declares itself to be ethical and/or transparent, people are more inclined to bash them when they aren’t “ethical/transparent enough” even when what they’re doing is 100x better than other companies.
Everlane is doing a lot to challenge the traditional boundaries of the fashion industry. I much prefer to support brands that are actively pushing for change (even if they don’t get everything right or sometimes take a wrong step) than brands who clearly do not care at all about quality, morals, or ethics.
I’m really interested to hear what you say on this topic!
If you don’t keep that sweater, I would buy it in a heartbeat! I’m not convinced of Everlane’s transparency either and in addition am sort of put off by how much “stuff” they have on their website now; it’s just too much to sort through in my mind. So I will peruse there, but between vague transparency and so many items, it’s turned into a place I visit infrequently.
Everlane is definitely not transparent. For instance, one of their ‘choose your own price’ items, the lowest price was the items original retail price, but their text implies that you’re really doing them a disservice by choosing it. Just, like, why? And they have a track record of asking interns (or perhaps they call them ambassadors?) to do essential, unpaid work for them. Their unethical behavior is pretty well and widely known.
I have sent back so many things lately! Sometimes I just HATE shopping online… On the other hand… While walking in California recently on business I spied this top in a window, and ordered it online. It’s lovely and made in the USA. Guess all online shopping doesn’t suck but it sure can have it’s moments! http://velvet-tees.com/dya-dotted-print-challis-top.html
Ditto to several previous commenters about Everlane, especially Sophie.
That coat looks great on you, though, and I hope that it will feel less itchy when it’s actually cold outside–that makes a big difference for me w/r/t wools. That’s a pretty small percentage of polyamide, tbh, so it’s weird that it’s so scratchy, esp w/alpaca. I have an alpaca coat by Indigenous Designs that I **love**, but can’t remember if it has any polyamide.
Hi Sophie! I really agree with you on this topic. Everlane isn’t perfect, but they are pretty good in my book and were my introduction to ethical clothing. Grechen, I love their original v-neck tees as much as you love James Perse, and they’ve held up really well since I bought them several years ago. There’s that saying about not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, and I think this applies to Everlane exactly. I could never shop at places like H&M and Zara, which define fast fashion in my book, but Everlane seems like a good starting point for so many people. Yes, they could definitely improve, but they are a great option for shoppers new to the idea of more responsible shopping.
Grechen Reiter says
that’s interesting about it feeling less itchy when it’s actually cold. i would have never thought about that…
my zady alpaca sweater is also a bit itchy, and it’s 100% – but once i put it on and wear it, i forget about it.
this one, i put it on for a little bit and still feel itchy on the back of my neck for a while after!!
Grechen Reiter says
oh yes! i do agree with you on most of this, but i also agree that they are riding the wave they created instead of really advancing it as much as they could be, you know?
and to your point about caring more about transparency than ethics, i’m not sure a company can be entirely ethical without being transparent. everlane is definitely transparent to a point – but not a lot of it can actually be corroborated (like the wage information) because they hold the information so closely. which is understandable. i’m just saying…
we are absolutely harder on companies who identify themselves as “ethical” or responsible, and hold them to a higher standard, but i think that’s fair. we should hold ALL companies to such a high standard, but i think it’s because we ourselves have such high hopes for said “ethical” company – that we REALLY REALLY want them to succeed where others have failed, or not even tried – that we are *extra* disappointed when we perceive that they’re not being as open and transparent as they could be.
anyway, like i said, more later 🙂 but i love the conversation that’s started!
Grechen Reiter says
yes, material sourcing is a big issue as well, and i did ask about their wool back when the newer luxe wool was launched, but haven’t heard back.
and yes, i remember way back when they started, and i thought the message was a bit different than it is now. but companies do evolve, and i can’t fault them for that. but a major concern of mine over the years is really how MUCH product they’re rolling out – so much more than at first, and honestly, more than i think they probably could be to still be very successful.
Grechen Reiter says
i try to live by “better is better” and not strive for absolute perfection all the time (which is hard since i’m the product of a perfectionist mother…) and everlane is definitely better.
Grechen Reiter says
oh, nice top!
absolutely online shopping has it’s moments!! on balance, i love it, i just need to do better at managing my expectations, and knowing what to stay away from.
Okay ladies, I just got my ES order and I have a question for y’all. Does anyone know how significant the differences in sizes are for ES? I just got the Cecilia pants in size 6 and they are slim and fit closely at my waist, but are by no means tight on my legs. I’m trying to figure out if I need to exchange them for a size 4 but don’t want to if they are supposed to fit that way! I read your review Grechen and they were far easier to get on than how you described, so I’m suspicious that I may have the wrong size…
I also got the Harper ls tunic in black raw silk and I LOVE it. Like “want to wear it all day every day for the rest of my life” kind of love it.
As for the itchiness of the sweater what do you think about possibly washing it a few times to see if that doesn’t help? I have a few sweaters that are itchier than I like so I wash them probably about three times and they seem to soften If that makes sense.
Love that sweater coat! Too bad about the itchy part. Maybe a scarf on the inside of your collar (looks very chic tucked inside too)? Agreed re: Everlane. While I think trying to be as sustainable as possible should still be something they mention on their site, radical transparency should stop being their main talking/marketing point. The whole direct to customer concept is not new. Any brand/designer that doesn’t sell to wholesale accounts is essentially doing the same thing. It’s better than cheaply made Macy’s brands yes but Everlane is far from the only one who has gotten rid of the middle and brick/mortar. I like Everlane because of their clean minimal style and high quality basics. I suspect that is why most of their customers shop there. They can still explain pricing, manufacturing etc & keep striving in that area but I think it’s time to stop marketing on that premise. Mention in interview yes but drop the “radical”.
Grechen Reiter says
It sounds like they’re too big? Mine are definitely not super tight in the leg (they bunch a little at the knee but they fit really well otherwise. I don’t know…it really depends on how you want them to fit, you know? I know Laurie had hers taken in at the knee or more of the leg a bit. Hopefully she’ll chime in here.
So funny- I wore mine today!! They’re so comfortable. Tight but not restrictive at all…
Grechen Reiter says
Thanks! Yes that makes sense. Maybe I’ll try that over the weekend…
Alexandra Marie says
I did end up ordering the modern loafers from Everlane, and I did end up sizing up a half size and I’ve been really happy with them. Still need them to stretch a bit in the toe box for my right foot, and I need to stuff the pointed toes with some wool, but the insoles are already showing imprints of my toe and they are creasing beautifully. I did have to laugh at myself, though- the soles looked like they were peeling terribly and I didn’t understand how leather could peel like that when I realized they had put a protective plastic film like an electronic with a screen. Face palm.
I just tried the Laundress Wool and Cashmere wash and I loved it!! A post you had done lead me to that brand and I’m now addicted! When I read this post I immediately thought of that! Good luck, that piece is beautiful on you!
I think Everlane’s making an effort, but it does seem to be veering more to the reasonably-priced luxury angle than sustainability/transparency. From a business standpoint, they may need to do this to remain profitable. I still think their transparency’s pretty good (not radical).
Having said that, I don’t buy from them because their cuts are meh. I’ve ordered a few things from them in the past few years and returned everything immediately. I find their clothes are so-so fitting on everyone, not great on anyone.
Grechen Reiter says
Haha! I’ve done that before 😉
Lisa Kline says
Just discovered your blog and have learned so much ! Love it and looking forward to reading more! But I am wondering- is Alexander Wang made responsibly? I’ve always seen his handbags and just assumed they were made elsewhere in some big factory? Am I incorrect to assume this ?
I really loved that article on Everlane. And I agree with Jess. Everlane has been clearly pushing the “designer quality by cheaper”, but there are already so many other companies that do it better. I am starting to question the quality of Everlane’s products their new $100 cashmere is thinner and itchier than their past cashmere. And I question the transparency on their prices when they lowered the cost for their cashmere crew neck sweaters, but raised the prices for all their other cashmere items.
I look forward to your post on cashmere as there are so many misunderstandings about it. For example, the concept of “Italian cashmere” and “Scottish cashmere” versus the facts of the origins of ALL the raw material. I was in Scotland not long ago and lots of “Scottish cashmere” is knit in China and many garments are sewn there. The quality cannot be measured by any singular fact ie high quality and low quality garments can originate in the same country and so one must judge on personal preferences (ethics, feel, style) rather than “oh this comes from ____.” I would note that pilling is not ubiquitous and in all fiber garments is a factor of the length of the fibers: short fibers rub and then stick up from the knit (pilling or fluff) while long fibers remain within the knit. In my opinion, what one ought to be paying for in high priced cashmere is long fibers (and in the context of the conversations you are initiating, ethics, and the two may be related). Vintage cashmere is often far higher quality than typical department store garments now. I have many vintage cashmeres with no pilling at all and with substantial heft.
I don’t consider Everlane to be a model of transparency. It’s great they helped to get a transparency conversation going, but they’re by no means leading the conversation. I’d like to know more about the entire supply chain – the origin of the materials, the treatment of the workers throughout the process, the manufacturing, the environmental impact, etc. And most companies aren’t giving consumers that much information. And even if they were, most consumers (myself included) aren’t actually in a position to judge whether the company’s actions are good. It’s really easy to point to terrible, but much harder to identify good enough, since answering that question I think requires detailed knowledge of the industry, and the country too. So, I do think that ethical shopping is a trend for the average consumer, simply because they don’t understand or evaluate whether something is actually ethical, and it’s exhausting/disheartening to keep it up.
Grechen Reiter says
i don’t think alexander wang is necessarily manufactured “responsibly” but I don’t know for sure, i haven’t done the research into his brand specifically.
I’ve wanted a James Perse tote for a long time! I’ll be eager to hear how you like it after you use it for a while. I have never seen one on sale…
Grechen Reiter says
I’ve been using it today and it is fabulous. The new smaller size is perfect (I’ve wanted one forever but thought the mid-sized one was just too big for every day) and really comfortable to carry by hand or on my shoulder. I would honestly buy one in every color but I’m not going to. Because That would be crazy 😉
I was just googling the James Perse outlet in San Marcos. Is it closed? I am going to be in San Antonio in a couple weeks and thought it might be worth a trip. The small tote is now on my wishlist!
Grechen Reiter says
i think it is closed, actually. i used to go quite often when i lived in austin, but not since…
would definitely be worth the trip if it’s still open. those outlets there are pretty good otherwise though, my friend always had really good luck at the barney’s outlet.
Refreshing to see someone questioning Everlane. The past few years Everlane seems to have been everywhere–they’ve definitely been the cool kid on the block. It is hard not to scroll through my Instagram feed without seeing a post where someone has tagged their Everlane clothing item or bag.
I see their transparency thing as their marketing strategy rather than genuine transparency. What stands out as ironic is that they don’t have customer reviews on their website. They also had a couple of posts on their IG feed where they seemed to be mocking customers’ feedback. Those left me with a bad taste in my mouth about them, as well as a couple of Glassdoor reviews I read. Their choose your own price thing is also suspect–I read the discussions on Reddit about how the lowest price option is sometimes the original price of the item. This summer I toyed with trying them out again anyway, but one of the t-shirts I ordered arrived with a decent-sized hole at the collar, confirming my suspicions about the quality. They do this jack-of-all trades, master-of-none thing. I think they are overrated and not the saints they make themselves out to be.
I had merely thought the choose your own price thing was a marketing way of getting around saying “sale”. Some brands are adverse to admitting they need to do markdowns the same as anyone else. I don’t shop there enough to have noticed whether anything was misleading about the price tiers being offered but will search for that reddit thread, thanks for referring to that. I always choose the lowest price. I already have to pay for expedited shipping or wait at least 1 to 2 months for my items so I don’t feel guilty for taking the lowest price. After all, they aren’t a not for profit org but it does feel weird psychologically when I choose the lowest.
Late to the party here, but I read the article you linked to about Everlane, and a couple of things stand out to me: 1) Everlane started their business as a UNIQUE entity in garment production based on “radical transparency,” which sounds great but no one can really agree on what that means. They need to not only define it, but have accountability for it to mean anything. 2) Yes, without a doubt, Zara and H&M are “fast fashion” but I’ve owned H&M items for years. It doesn’t inherently make them bad. 3) Preysman saw a market niche that was ripe to be filled….and Everlane filled it. And those of us that are interested in being “greener” or living a more sustainable life, WANT to believe in that concept. But that doesn’t necessarily translate into the operators of these companies overflowing with integrity. It might just mean that they have a beautiful veneer but are plastic underneath. I believe that the same holds true for the plethora of “natural and organic” beauty sites that seem to be popping up left and right. I’m not a cynical person, but let’s face it: No one goes into business to lose money! I continue to hope that more companies attempt to model transparency and that we consumers hold their feet to the fire of accountability.