I’ll admit it. Even though last week, I promised to stay away from the New York Fashion Week hoopla in all its unsustainability, old habits are hard to break. And as the week winds down, I’ve had my fill of Fashion Week related snaps, scopes, insta street style, live streams, and tweets.
But I’ve also discovered that New York Fashion Week isn’t quite as unethical as I first allowed. After all, there are some (partially hidden, at times) silver linings. And so today I’ve got a special treat for you! It’s a round-up of all things ethical fashion New York, with highlights and mini reviews galore!
Sometimes hyped as THE New York fashion label, Public School has always been about a NYC street wear-inspired aesthetic. They make the list since everything is made in New York. However, the founders of the brand, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, are now also working with the considerably less conscious DKNY — a corporate high fashion brand.
I’ll admit, this one is my least favourite collection on the list. Anything that even remotely smacks of athleticism in fashion (or in life really) makes me want to hide. However, in this, their collection that represents the evolution of Public School’s style, there are pieces that even I would wear. Perhaps that’s why it’s being called an uneven season: those collared tops with stark piping and pleated near tennis skirts are so me. But Public School, as a whole, is not.
Tome makes the ethical list for also being produced in New York City. And you know how I love American made!
No surprise here, in the midst of a season awash in black and white, most of this collection is as well.
— Sense of Aesthetic (@SenseAesthetic) September 11, 2015
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js There were some peeks of colour here and there: an acid yellow, lime green, pale pink. It was the first hints at the pastel spring that’s coming against a monochromatic canvas.
And I also noticed something else during this show. A couple of these ethical designers are doing something that others are not: edging towards ethnic diversity of models, if but slowly. Once that’s finally mastered, next on the to-do list of ethics? Differentiated bodies, please!
Another brand produced entirely in NYC, Novis gave a presentation rather than a runway show. And I loved it. The aesthetic was very bold, very mod, with whole neighbourhoods adorning tops and skirts, and quirky, kitschy landscapes that are less cool girl than they are freaky nerd next door (um, like yours truly). It is so different than anything else showing this season, with not a whiff of 70s inspiration. And I respect that. I adore that!
Perhaps no one is talking about colour blocking anymore, but I don’t care! And that shear (naked) embroidered floral maxi dress? To die for!
Also made in America, I love Mara Hoffman’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection. As fashion week always seems to be rife with cultural appropriation nonsense, I was all prepared to get huffy about the long braids/head band combo until I realized it was a tribute to Willie Nelson. Gaffe!
Beyond that, this collection is perfect not only for someone with the personality of a living Muppet such as myself, but for any girl who will be looking for festival clothing inspiration come next spring. I mean that cloud print? I could wear that all day.
Manufactured in Los Angeles, Frame Denim has gained a reputation in the past few years as the cool girl’s go-to. And there’s been a lot been made of their newest, denim-light collection and the French girl aesthetic it embodies. Specifically, according to the founders, this season represents “an American girl who visits France in the 70s.” And there’s definitely something about this collection that reminds me of my mom’s story of being 19 and visiting Jim Morrison’s grave not long after he passed away.
There is a definite laid-back French sophistication here, with the requisite horizontal striped tops in red, black, and blue. But there’s also 70s colours in simple, chic silhouettes that really could be the building blocks of a minimalist, sustainable capsule wardrobe. My favourite pieces are the white button-up with matching menswear-inspired tie, as well as those mentioned French girl stripes.
Founded by Ali Hewson and Bono, Edun produces its collections in Africa in the hopes of encouraging North American trade there.
I’ll admit, I was a bit disappointed by this collection. It was again a black and white spring with bursts of citrus and poppy. The colours were wonderful. But there was something about the amount of tassle and the sloppy frayed edges that turned me off. I’m a true believer that ethical fashion can be glamorous, and I shy away from anything that smacks of patchouli-spiced self-righteousness.
It’s as if Edun wanted you to be and whoever sees you be very aware that you’re wearing deadstock or leftover fabrics. Whether or this is actually true, it makes for a collection that is a little too far on the “I don’t care about fashion” fashion for me. But there are some bright spots. Like an adorable sailor ensemble in lemon, or that unusual Bardot top in tangerine!
Maiyet is a high fashion label that works with artisans in developing countries to bring training and prosperity to communities around the globe. They work with the Nest initiative to help promote entrepreneurship through weaving of fine fabrics and jewelry design.
In a sea of black and white, this show was like a breath of fresh air. Perhaps fresh desert air? The naturalistic set featured rock formations that looked like they came straight from Arizona, and the collection had a palette to match. There were muted grey and pastels, glimpses of metallics and plenty of whites. The one nod to bold colour was a burnt orange outfit.
It was a lot more modern than most of the 70s nostalgia that’s been all over fashion for a couple (too many) seasons now. Maiyet represented more of a futuristic desert nomad from another planet (maybe from the planet fashion?).
More to Come
Suno is another label that works with local artisans from Kenya, India, Peru and New York. Its SS16 collection will show at 9 a.m. EST Wednesday 16th of September (tomorrow, if you’re reading this the day its published — September 15th). Nanette Lepore, who’s collections are produced in New York City and is outspoken about saving that city’s garment district, shows later today at 7 p.m. EST.
And even though I don’t usually focus on inclusiveness in the high fashion world, it is definitely another facet of what it means to produce truly ethical fashion. To that end, definitely check out Addition Elle (yay Canada) Presents Ashley Graham at 11 A.M. EST this morning! You can check it out via the Addition Elle Periscope. Expect beautiful lingerie from Ashley Graham, who’s also hosting an online show with Yahoo Style’s Joe Zee this week!
I’ll be back next week with another Conscious Fashion Swap! But in the meantime, let me know what you think? Would you rather a Swap, or do you love my crazy fashiony ramblings. If only I had more conscious fashion shows to review! 😛