I love fashion as much as I love food, and I created this Fall Fashion Lookbook and video to show that you can look great, express your personal style, and stay “on-trend” while being an ethical consumer. I am learning more and more about the world of fashion everyday, and the more I learn the more I understand the importance of stepping away from the mainstream cycle of want-buy-discard, and into the sustainable framework of reduce-repurpose-respect.
Hit play to watch my Fall Fashion Lookbook. Below the video you’ll find more details about what I’m wearing in each look. Keep scrolling to find practical tips and insight into how you can shop ethically and stay fly!
LOOK #1: My boots are from MATT & NAT’s new fall/winter shoe collection. They’re super comfy, versatile, and sturdy. Check out these boots plus many more shoes by this Montreal-based brand here.
I think the sweater is actually from Rag-o-rama in Atlanta’s Little Five Points. I bought it in college, and didn’t wear it until years later. My jeans are old Levi’s. I cut the holes into the knees and cut the bottoms off for a trendy un-seamed look. I plan to make a choker with the extra fabric I cut. Grey body suit and glittery black/gold socks are from American Apparel.
LOOK #2: The highlight of this outfit is definitely the beautiful Pop Caven t-shirt I’m wearing. I love the bantu knot and butterfly graphic, and I love that they sell so many t-shirts with other stunning African hairstyles.
I’m wearing old faux leather pants from H&M (where I no longer shop). Since there is a hole in the back of the pants, I cannot give them to Goodwill or sell them in consignment, so I wrapped this denim shirt around my waste to cover the hole. Old pants like this can also be given a second life as jewelry…faux leather chokers,anyone?!
LOOK #3: This is my favorite look! Since getting this lovely bordeaux cross body bag from Angela Roi, I can barely wear anything else. I’m obsessed and in love with how functional it is, especially for its petite size.
My beautiful choker is from Love, Beatrice, and it was handmade with love. Make sure you check out her beautiful vegan bags as well. Shana, the owner, sent me this choker plus two others all the way from sunny Los Angeles.🌟
The bomber jacket I’m wearing is from Buffalo Exchange consignment in Philly.
The gorgeous burgundy pumps are from Susi Studio, a fabulous LA-based company that makes the most luscious feminine shoes. All of their shoes are named after strong women.
I adore these bell bottom Rich & Skinny jeans that I bought 10 years ago. I cannot fit them anymore (zipper won’t stay up longer than 2 minutes), and that’s sad. BUT, I won’t be getting rid of them. I will take them to a seamstress and have them taken out to make them a bit larger for my big butt.
LOOK #4 aka Edgy Mom Look: I call this the edgy mom look because it makes me look like my own mom––especially the Bebe bodysuit 😂 I actually really love this bodysuit, which I found at a thrift store in Savannah last summer.
The highlight of this outfit is the big faux crocodile bucket bag from Denise Roobol, a Rotterdam-based handbag company.
I like wearing it with this short strap, but it also comes with a long one so you can wear it cross body.
The shoes I am wearing are from Cri de coeur.
WHY & HOW TO SHOP FOR ETHICAL FASHION
When I became vegan nearly 6 years ago I had no idea of the places it would take me. For me back then it was all about the food and abstaining from animal products for the sake of the animals. I still maintain that becoming vegan was the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s sort of like a marriage (I wouldn’t know from experience) that shifts and grows overtime. And since vegan is really shorthand for compassionate living with ahimsa (non-harm), I’m constantly confronting my own ignorance about that ways I am doing harm. First I gave up animal based ingredients in my diet, then I stopped buying clothing and accessories made with animal products, and just when I thought I had it all figured out I remembered the human cost of my actions.
I used to have the mentality that cheap clothes from Forever 21 and H&M were good for the world. These companies seldom use animal products, their clothing is cheap enough to be afforded by poor Americans, and the demand for cheap clothing in rich countries was helping create otherwise non- existent industry in developing nations. I was wrong. Fast fashion is not good for anyone except for the companies who profit from it. I recommend you watch The True Cost documentary for a bigger picture, but let me do my best to explain in a few points why I cannot condone fast fashion as an ethical vegan.
- Exploitation of workers. Do you remember the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013? 1,129 people, mostly garment workers, died in the collapse of that building that housed multiple garment factories making clothing for some of the biggest retailers in the world: Walmart, Primark, Joe Fresh, and more. Top down pressures and demands from clothing retailers on their factory suppliers creates unfair and sometimes outright dangerous outcomes. Factory owners cut costs and wages and sacrifice safety to meet the demands of retailers from rich countries like ours. The garment industry in developing nations like Bangladesh, where Rana Plaza was located and where a lot of our cheap clothing is produced, is made up of young women who make far less than a living wage. If American and European corporations are making billions of dollars in profit from fast fashion at the expense of actual lives I want no part of it.
- Waste. The fashion industry is one of the most wasteful and environmentally harmful industries in the world, and as our demand for fast cheap fashion grows so does our negative effect on the planet. Cheap fast fashion creates a mindset that clothing is disposable. We are so disconnected from the source of our clothing that we fail to comprehend the energy, wasted scrap materials, and harmful chemical and dyes that went in to producing something that cost us just $10. Furthermore we fail to acknowledge where the item ends up once we throw it out or send it to our local Goodwill.
- Disruption of local economies. I first heard about this when I watched Poverty, Inc. a documentary that came highly recommended by my ever curious dad. Rich countries donate clothing and accessories we no longer want (especially cheap stuff) to thrift stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army. The clothing that isn’t sold back to Americans is sent to developing countries, especially in Africa where it is sold to the people there. Their garment industry cannot compete with such cheap imports so it dies, perpetuating poverty. Some East African nations are planning to outright ban imports of second-hand clothing.
There is a prevailing attitude that only wealthy people can afford to be ethical consumers. That is a myth. If you feel you cannot afford made-in-America clothing and accessories, or you feel like vegan and/or ethical clothing is just not your style, allow me to challenge your beliefs. We can all, no matter our situation, become ethical consumers and allies for the planet.
SHOP SECOND-HAND I have found some of my favorite pieces at consignment and thrift stores. I recommend reading Yelp reviews before heading to a store to get a gist of the type of clothing you may find there. You’ll often find the coolest pieces at the most unlikely places, you just have to spend a little time to look.
If you don’t have time to look through racks of gently warn clothing, use the internet. Ebay, ThredUp, Etsy, and Asos Marketplace are great places to search for exactly what you’re seeking. For example, I LOVE The Reformation, but their clothes are a splurge. I’ve found great pieces by searching that company’s name on Ebay. Asos Marketplace, Ebay, and Etsy are especially great places to find vintage pieces.
When you shop second-hand not only are you helping prevent garment waste––and so much more––you will also find the most unique and fabulous things!
FIND ETHICAL BRANDS The small and mid-size brands featured in this video and my other fashion videos (bags & shoes) may outsource to China, but they maintain a close relationship with the small factories they work with, even visiting the factories to ensure that the workers are employed in safe conditions.
I love shopping made-in-America brands, like American Apparel and the Reformation, but I don’t expect to only support them. Just because a garment is made in China or Bangladesh doesn’t mean that it was made in a sweat shop. Do your homework to learn more about the way it was made. If the company doesn’t have a clear statement about this, then I avoid shopping with them. Also, if a company is owned by a larger company with ties to unfair labor practices, I avoid them. I typically avoid large brands regardless of the ethical statements on their website because I do not feel I can trust their word when they are producing at such high volume across so many factories.
UPCYCYLE IT Back in the day, in college, I designed clothing and I even had a little company selling my pieces. It was called Green Peach. I like to think that I was at the start of making upcycling cool 🙂 To upcycle means you rework old pieces or old fabric to create something new and eliminate garment waste. I would purchase wacky garments at thrift stores or fish through my closet for old stuff, and turn it into unique and fun pieces. I still wear some of the clothing I made. If you are crafty I highly recommend upcycling your own clothing. Check out this Youtube channel, Coolirpa, for sewing inspiration!
Lucky for the uncrafty folks there are some companies selling upcycled clothing too! Check out Preloved, the premier upcycling clothing company from Canada. Even Urban Outfitters has gotten into the upcycling game.
REALITY CHECK Do you really need that new skirt, pair of shoes, or bag? Maybe you’re like me and you already have way too much stuff in your closet, too many bags, and shoes you don’t even know what to do with.
I needed to have a secular come to Jesus moment after I realized how my consumerism and nonchalance could be effecting the planet and people half way across the globe. Instead of buying that brand new coat I can sell some stuff at a consignment shop, and find one pre-owned!! I cannot tell you how many times I have remembered old items that I had shoved to the back of my closet, only to give them new life years later. We must start treating our clothing with respect because the item’s true cost is not only reflected on the price tag. There are so many steps that go into making our clothing, and we should take responsibility for each one when we make the choice to spend our money. I am not at all perfect, but I want to encourage myself and others to keep striving to spend money on processes we feel good about supporting. It’s really not that difficult.
Please let me know your thoughts on this topic & share your tips for shopping ethically!
This post is dedicated to my best friend, Maxx, for helping me see how veganism is more than the food on my plate.