Fresh Friday Finds

August 15, 2008

1. CROW Clothing
New Menswear from CROW Clothing is made from organic cotton, bamboo, and soy. But that’s not the best thing – they have a sliding scale for prices, so you pay what you can afford!

2. The numbers are in!
Forest Ethics released a report this week citing that “emissions generated by junk mail is equivalent to the emissions of more than 9 million cars, or if you prefer, 2.5 million cars idling 24 hours a day for 7 days a week.”

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2. Howies Organic Denim
This Howies organic cotton jacket is perfect for fall. And their organic skinny jeans with natural indigo are half off!
NedsterBackyard Jeans

3. Monkey Thanker
Friend of DB, Karen Dawn (author: Thanking the Monkey) was recently featured in a news segment connecting going green with compassion for farm animals. Check out the video here.

4. HSUS Back to School Fur Free guide:

Printable guide to telling real fur from fake fur:
Printable fur labeling case report:
Printable list of fur-free companies:

5. It seems unbelievable…
…but the Bush Administration is quietly trying to redefine “abortion” to include birth control. The Houston Chronicle says this could wipe out dozens of state laws that protect women’s reproductive freedom and protect rape victims. This “rule change” doesn’t need congressional approval. Can you sign an emergency message to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, whose department is considering this rule change right now?

Babycakes & Secrets

May 14, 2008

Is there anything better than eating the best vegan cupcakes and brownie/icing sandwiches on earth while sporting an eco/poly-blend Tshirt about cupcakes from Partybots? I think not. Reconstructed vest by This Old Thing?.

Babycakes and Partybots!

Friend of DB, feature film director Esther Bell got in on the action too! These vegan sweets ring her bell!

Esther Bell at Babycakes

Check out:


Sears’ Saws, Horny Party, & Sustainable Collective

May 14, 2008

Sustainable Collective1. I just got a boner for my new favorite place to shop, and sustainable just got sexier (and more affordable)! Convoy Apparel’s Sustainable Collective menswear Spring/Summer 08 collection is chic, sleek, and organíque. Get your hemp, bamboo, and organic cotton skinny jeans, vests, hoodies, button-downs, and ties here. Their policies? Sweatshop-free, made in the USA, natural organic dyes, and all styles are shipped in custom “bio-bags” made of 100% compostable and biodegradable corn material. All boxes are 100% recycled. If it wasn’t for the organic wool, I’d get the ring out… And ladies, no need to feel left out. they have the hot stuff for you too

duke vestgranite

heliodormain1pier 22 tie

2. I had fun at the Time Out New York “Horny Issue” Party! Here I am on Fleshbot (!!!) w/ the lovely Kerin Rose. Where did I put those clothes? For those that missed it, I was the centerfold in TONY’s Horny Issue.

3. Sears is the largest producer of catalogs that has refused to adopt a progressive environmental policy. Tell them to stop fucking up the forests! Father’s Day is big sales-time for Sears, click Here to let them know your dad would rather have clean water, a safe climate, and thriving forests than a tie, tool, or new grill.

Sign up now to host an event.

Forest Ethics will help you plan your action. Here’s what you can do:
* Organize an event at a Sears storefront, on your campus, or in your community
* Flyer and postcard at a Sears store or on your campus or in your community
* Host a letter-writing party

BAMBOOZLED: ‘Spinning’ Eco Threads

March 12, 2008

I was shocked to discover that Bamboo Rayon is not an eco-friendly fabric! Thanks to Mark Morris of Turk & Taylor, who recently exchanged Emails with me regarding certain processes by which plants like bamboo are turned into soft threads, I was directed to this article which discusses in depth, the toxic chemicals and hazardous conditions surrounding a seemingly benign industry.


The major distinction here is between a rayon and a linen. Rayons are typically made using large amounts of hazardous chemicals like bleach, carbon disulfide, and sodium hydroxide (AKA: lye, caustic soda), known for a sleuth of environmental and health hazards, in a process called hydrolysis alkalization. Aside from the shock of finding out that something being touted as almost beneficial to the Earth and those of us living on it, I feel betrayed by those reaping the benefits of this perfect example of greenwashing.bambooBamboo yarn

It’s no surprise since the EPA has been a huge failure, and on top of that, even their limited scope cannot touch most of the “Free Trade” protected environmental catastrophes otherwise-known-as textile factories in other countries with little environmental regulations.

There are two typical ways in which bamboo is turned into fabric. One of them is considered sustainable – utilizing enzymes, one of them is not. Of course, the cheaper way is the dangerous one:

Bamboo the plant is wonderfully sustainable; bamboo the fabric isn’t so easy to categorize. There are two ways to process bamboo to make the plant into a fabric: mechanically or chemically. The mechanical way is by crushing the woody parts of the bamboo plant and then use natural enzymes to break the bamboo walls into a mushy mass so that the natural fibers can be mechanically combed out and spun into yarn. This is essentially the same eco-friendly manufacturing process used to produce linen fabric from flax or hemp. Bamboo fabric made from this process is sometimes called bamboo linen. Very little bamboo linen is manufactured for clothing because it is more labor intensive and costly.”

In a market already overwhemled with specialized labeling, how can we know that the things we buy are actually eco-friendly and sustainable, and not just some ridiculous ploy?

Oeko-Tex Standards“If you are thinking of purchasing bamboo clothing or any clothing that has been made outside the U.S., look for certification from an independent and reliable certification company such as Oeko-Tex, Soil Association, SKAL, KRAV or similar organic or sustainable certification body. Currently, the Oeko-Tex label is the most comprehensive label for insuring that the garment is healthy for consumers but it does not certify the manufacturing processes that produced the garment as being environmentally friendly and sustainable.”

DB’s Etiquette Recommendation: I am no chemist, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please drop a comment with any tips or advice.

COVET: Interview with Tara St. James

February 27, 2008

Canadians are really cool, and not just from the temperature up there. Using soybean rayon, organic cotton, bamboo, as well as natural dyes and processes, Tara St. James – the mastermind behind Covet, has created quite a buzz around herself – and it’s no surprise, Covet really is sailing into uncharted territory by making sustainable clothes that are actually really cool. I can count on my hands how many other designers are doing what I call SSA; Sustainability, Social Justice, and Animal Advocacy. RealizingTara St. James this crucial interconnection is a rare feat that only a few industry visionaries seem to be able to proffer.

Tara St . James has been a vegetarian and environmentalist for over a decade, and is an industry leader in what she refers to as “hand crafted redemption”. The spring 2008 collection from Covet is almost totally vegan, as compared to the Fall lines, which tend to be very heavily wool and cashmere based – and while we disagree on the use of wool and silk, Tara is a beacon of light in the dark, jagged landscape of the fashion industry.

Covet s2008

Covet has been featured in Elle, Lucky, MR, WWD, IOU, and Sportswear International, and showcased at events such as Toronto’s sold-out Sustainable Style World Wildlife Fund fund-raiser. Ms. James’ endeavor is gaining momentum, and I got a chance to interview her recently to find out about her vision, and what’s going on out in the trenches of sustainable fashion’s uprising. Here is the interview:

DB: How did you get into fashion, and what led up to the creation of Covet?
TSJ: I’ve been working in the industry for about 10 years, mainly designing for denim brands.

DB: What were your inspirations for the spring 2008 menswear collection?
TSJ: I wanted to reference the casual yet classy clothing of the 1950s, before baggy jeans and tees were a staple.

Covet s2008

DB: When did you become an environmentalist, and describe the process of actualizing that in your work – including difficulties. Did you meet resistance? Do you have plans to use organics?
TSJ: I don’t know if there was a specific turning point which made me ‘an environmentalist’. Once I left school and started my career in fashion, and as I grew older and more responsible for my actions and my lifestyle, I also became aware of the circumstances these entailed. Information about the destruction of the earth was abundant, so all I did was put it into practice.

Covet s2008

DB: You seem to be at the forefront of a shake-up in the fashion industry where people are actually demanding accountability for the ways in which their products are made – from labor to raw materials. What’s happening out there?
TSJ: Firstly, thank you for the compliment. ‘Going green’ has become very trendy over the past two years or so and to be honest I don’t mind one bit. Whether consumers are buying eco-friendly products because it’s trendy or because they feel a sense of accountability towards the environment, the same end result ensues… eco products are slowly becoming the norm in every day use and people are educating themselves about the repercussions our choices have on our future.
As for labor and raw materials, it’s becoming increasingly easier to find resources both overseas and domestically. Factories in India and China are performing complete overhauls in their methods and products in order to offer labour and eco-friendly products.

Covet s2008

DB: The fabrics you use are not common in mainstream fashion – from soybean rayon to bamboo cotton. How are these products made, why are they so great, and how come everyone isn’t using them? What other exciting processes and materials are on your radar for the future?
TSJ: So many beautiful fabrics, so little time! I currently use organic cotton for all my knits, bamboo, modal, soybean blends, tencel and silk.
As for the future, I’m working with an organic merino wool quality that is beautiful. I’m also looking into ingeo (a corn-based yarn), seacell (a version of tencel mixed with seaweed), recycled polyester (made with old plastic bottles), and a milk-based yarn. All very interesting.

DB: Many of my readers are animal advocates. Thank you for not using any fur or leather! Where do you stand concerning the fur and skins trades, and animal advocacy in general?
TSJ: I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 14 years old. I refuse to buy or wear fur, but haven’t quite kicked the leather habit (a girl needs her shoes after all!). Luckily companies like Stella McCartney and Natalie Portman for Te Casan are starting to offer beautiful vegetarian shoes that may help me kick that nasty habit. I also buy vintage leather shoes instead of new whenever possible.

Covet s2008

DB: Is ‘cool’ being redefined in our culture? How is iconography changing, or is it not?
TSJ: The world has become a very fast-paced place in which to live. Trends no longer last 2 to 3 seasons. They don’t even last one season, for that matter. The industry is in such a rush to catch up to itself that I think the consumer is looking for a way to stand out, not only in a fashionable way but by wearing their personal philosophies as brands, the way we used to wear band t-shirts or sports jerseys. Now that ‘eco’ is a trend, consumers want others to know they make specific ethical choices when purchasing goods (without wanting a huge recycle logo on their chest)

DB: What other designers do you have your eye on, and who should we be looking out for?
TSJ: For menswear I’ve always been a fan of Alexander Herchcovitch, Henrik Vibskov, Marc Jacobs. The world of mens eco-fashion needs to start moving away from organic cotton jeans and tees. I look forward to the day when a sustainable tuxedo walks down the red carpet at the oscars.

DB: What album are you listening to the most right now? What are you reading?
TSJ: I am currently reading The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov and listening to Cut Copy, DJ Krames and MIA.

Covet s2008

DB: What can we expect to see from Covet in the coming year or two?
TSJ: I plan to expand the woven organics part of the line (shirts, pants, jackets, etc…) I have been using linens and wools as standard issue, but I want to introduce organic cottons and hemp blends in future collections. Hemp has come a long way.

DB: Anything else you want to say to these Discerning Brutes?
TSJ: Thanks for reading!

To find out where to get covet clothing, click HERE the click on ‘shopping’.