August 3, 2009

Congratulations to Ralph Kelleners of Belgium. He is The Discerning Brute July Contest winner! We challenged our readers to take a photograph of themselves that demonstrates how they speak up on behalf of animals, people, or the environment! Here is our winner:

 Ralph Kelleners


We thank him so much for the work he does on behalf of animals. The picture he submitted (above) shows how he raises awareness about painful and outdated experiments that companies like Proctor & Gamble continue to conduct on animals like rabbits.

Enjoy the organic cotton, French terry cardigan from COVET , worth $110 USD.

And thank you to all of our readers who entered for all of the amazing work you do! We are truly inspired.


July 1, 2009

Win this $110 COVET organic cotton, french terry cardigan!


Straight from COVET‘s fall 2009 menswear collection, this organic french terry cardigan is warm, soft, and luxurious. Tara St. James of COVET has been creating superb, handcrafted, organic garments for both men and women for years.

You can win this COVET cardigan in a few simple steps:

  1. Take a photograph of yourself that demonstrates how you speak up on behalf of animals, people, or the environment!
  2. Send to TheDiscerningbrute@gmail.com. The Subject line must read: JULY CONTEST: COVET (otherwise it may get trashed)
  3. The best, most moving and creative photo wins!
  4. Deadline is July 31st.
  5. The winner will be announced August 1st.

Ladies Lotto: No Man’s Land

May 3, 2009

Ladies Lotto I made history recently. I am the first man ever allowed into a Ladies Lotto monthly meeting. I really had no idea that dudes were not allowed into their top-secret conclaves, but when I showed up at the door, I immediately knew I was in for trouble. “What are you doing here? No boys allowed,” She said, with her arm blocking the entryway.

The Discerning Brute, Joshua Katcher with Summer Rayne Oakes

Joshua Katcher with Summer Rayne Oakes photo© andreabakacs.com

Thankfully, my friend Summer Rayne Oakes saw what was happening, and came out and vouched for me. Summer was the special guest speaker that night, so she had some serious bargaining power. After much fanagaling (I was told I could only have one drink!) and she led me into no-man’s-land! The room was packed with really cool gals. I was a bit of an eyesore, so I got to meet a lot of people. All these ladies were doing really awesome stuff – and the host was one of our favorite designers, Tara St. James of Covet!


© vanessabahmani.com


© vanessabahmani.com


© vanessabahmani.com

I’ve been raving to all of my gal-pals that they absolutely have to join this network of independent, motivated, creative businesswomen! It was a really supportive, motivational, and inspirational collective. Summer Rayne spoke about her new book: Style, Naturally, and the process of writing and publishing. There was vegan food and drinks and lots of networking going on. I truly felt honored to be allowed into their midst.

If you have a lady in your life who would benefit from a network of smart, savvy, hooked-up peers, definitely tell her to join Ladies Lotto. Right now!

Wall Street Goes to the Farm, Anti-Sex Teen Magazine, & Vegan Suits

June 16, 2008

1. Vegan Suits that Don’t Suck

DB Reader Jared asks:

I have been on a year-long quest to find a good vegan suit, but to no avail. There are of course cotton suits, but I am looking for something more classic (but slim) and slightly more professional looking during the non-summer months. H&M is the best that I have found, but their options tend to look polyester-ish and have low rise pants. Would you happen to know of somewhere where I can obtain what has become my holy grail? I would be forever indebted to you.”


Jared, you are not alone in your quest for ethical suitage! When I was attending the anti-globalization protests in the early 2000’s, I posed the question to some of my fellow protestors “Can you image what would have happened if every activist showed up in a business suit? The f***ing cops wouldn’t know what the hell to do!”. I still believe this – especilly since the main purpose of the police is to protect the haves from the have-nots. Since the suit is a symbol of having, the typical dance between activists and cops would take an interesting turn for sure. It certainly wouldn’t be as easy to know who to arrest or whose face to bash in with a night-stick.
Organic Blazer
Isn’t it funny how the suit has come to represent the official non-verbal symbol of power? This is the power of fashion – it’s all too underestimated in many activist circles. When searching for an ethical suit, there is a near conflict-of-interest when we consider 1) what the suit represents, and 2) how suits are typically made (sweatshops, animal skins & hairs). It’s almost like wearing a faux-fur! “Don’t worry, this suit isn’t really a tool for global domination, oppression and resource pillaging.”

Covet s2008

So what’s to be said for appropriating a powerful symbol in the name of gaining clout for your cause? I think it’s great!
If you need an affordable suit – I would first go to a thrift store. Some people are opposed to secondhand wool. I am not, and my argument is simple: If you are purchasing something that looks like a suit, no one is going know if it’s wool or synthetic. Buying a new synthetic suit requires a lot of undesirable processes and labor practices. Secondhand requires no new resource extraction or labor. In the ethical equation of new synthetic vs secondhand wool I have to say that secondhand wool wins. The drawbacks of new synthetics are just too great.



Next I would check sample sales. Finally, if you can afford to purchase new designer suits or commission a designer to make one for you, some ethically produced suits are:
Linda Loudermilk (not everything is vegan, so check labels)
Turk & Taylor (not everything is vegan, so check labels)
Covet (not everything is vegan, so check labels)
Bamford & Sons (they use fur & aligator skins, so def write them a letter )
Pangea Vegan Store
DownBound (Organic Hemp Suit Jacket)
Seersucker Suits
Hemp Suit
Linen Suits
Sale Tan Linen Suit

2. Wall Street visits Farm Sanctuary! Read the article Here (thanks to Dawnwatch for this newsbite)

Farm Sanctuary's 175-acre spread in Upstate New York is home to 750 animals, including Sprinkles the pig.

3.Right Wing Tiger-Beat?

My friend Esther Bell pointed me to the scary and inaccurate new tactics that some right wingers are using to scare kids about sex and abortion.

The publication is described by the Human Life Alliance as “this extremely marketable, cutting edge magazine will cause your friends to want to get their own copy. The colorful graphics will catch their attention, and the thought provoking stories and facts on the inside will challenge them to change the way they think about sex outside of marriage.”

These “facts” are actually (and not surprisingly) tons of misinformation cloaked in teen rhetoric. One example is a advice column type section with Dr. Mary Paquette, who she contends that abortion causes infertility, breast cancer and ruins girls lives. The feature also ends with a section called “My Choice,” where there is what seems to be a biographical note of a teen who put her baby up for adoption, saying, “I thank God every day that I don’t have to visit the memory of an aborted baby, the grave of an innocent life.”

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’.