Sustainable change begins with a little fashion education.
If becoming an eco-friendly consumer were as easy as simply making good decisions and sticking to them, we’d all shop exclusively at upcycled mom-and-pop boutiques and munch solely on family-farm grown produce. Unfortunately, your desires aren’t always sustainable, or even sane. Sometimes Cheez Whiz calls to you. So do polyester blouses from Forever 21.
Luckily, a new retail tech start-up called Fashioning Change aims to streamline the process of fulfilling our retail desires a little more sustainably. Launched in November of 2011 – appropriately enough, on Cyber Monday – the company takes an entirely new approach to online shopping by recommending stylish, yet eco-friendly goods and services as alternatives to the mass-produced brands that you always gravitate towards.
How does this miracle happen? First, you log into the website with either your Facebook account or e-mail address and customize your personal profile through a series of questions. If you’ve logged in with Facebook – which CEO and Founder Adriana Herrera recommends, in order to access Fashioning Change’s full benefits – the company pulls your “Likes,” dislikes and various organizations you support. “Say you or a friend supports Human Rights Watch,” Herrera explained, “we will highlight products that are involved with helping survivors of human trafficking.”
Plenty of companies, both online and brick-and-mortar, purport to sell exclusively sustainable goods. However, Fashioning Change’s criteria for selecting brands are particularly stringent. For example, every brand must have a transparent supply chain, use fair trade principles and protect human rights. And unlike many other boutiques, sustainable or not, the company offers a full range of price points for every kind of shopper, for those who shop exclusively at affordable fast fashion stores to those who collect high-priced luxury items.
I signed up for Fashioning Change to check it out, selecting a number of both affordable and high-end brands to see what the company recommended. In the past week, the “Wear This, Not That” application suggested a Greenpacha panama hat as an alternative to J. Crew’s, and a silk georgette Carrie Parry blouse as an alternative to a Chloe one. While neither the Chloe nor the Carrie Parry blouse are precisely within my price range, both of the sustainable alternatives look remarkably similar to the original item, and I’ve bookmarked Greenpacha – whose hats are handmade in Ecuador and donate 2% of their sales – for any future sun-shading needs. A rotating bevy of guest stylists also assemble sample looks for specific occasions.
This Fashioning Change look was curated by sustainable fashion writer Stare Vartan
Herrera, a San Diego native, came up with the idea for Fashioning Change after realizing that being a great, eco-conscious designer doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a great marketer. Contrary to popular belief, there is an ample selection of affordable, sustainable brands. It’s just difficult to find them. Or, more specifically, it’s difficult to find brands you might like.
It takes most of us years to discover that Levi’s or Cheap Monday has the best jeans to suit our figure. Now we have to find those particular jeans, but manufactured responsibly as well? Almost impossible.
Herrera decided to harness the power of social media to link ethical shoppers, brands they like, and causes they support.
“The shopping habits of my generation, and younger ones, are driven by different variables than that of previous generations,” she said. “Media outlets, from NPR to Forbes, to high fashion magazines like Vogue and W are all covering topics on social responsibility, CSR, and eco-friendly and ethical fashion production.”
While Adriana might be the current face of Fashioning Change, she’s not running the venture alone. While she was working on teaching herself code in a shared work space, she met Fashioning Change’s co-founder Kevin Ball who was working for Causes.com an
If the twentieth century was one of remarkable technological advancements – from horse-and-buggy at the start of the century, to the internet at the end of it – then the twenty-first might be the age of behavioral modification. Companies that can bring about tiny tweaks in behavior, from the way we eat to the way we talk to each other, can bring about massive changes.
Like Instagram, Twitter and other social networking concepts, Fashioning Change seems positioned to become just that change we need. Earning money is hard enough. We shouldn’t have to struggle so hard to figure out how to consciously spend it when we do need something new.
Stay tuned for our launch later today with Fashioning Change!! EcoSalon will be featuring a daily “Wear This Not That” from them to keep you on a sustainable fashion track daily. Fashion with a conscience? Hell yes.