DIY: Find more upcycled projects here
ATTENTION CONSCIOUS CONSUMERS: The Aztec/Geo/Tribal trend has gone global! Not that you needed that news flash since the multi-faceted design has erupted around the world. Just give the Manhattan-once-over to your fellow subway patrons, glance over the editorial magazines, or take a scroll through the blogosphere and you’re sure to witness the print’s explosion.
Of course you’ll find the typical photos snapped of rounded beauty Kim Kardashian strolling down the sidewalk dressed in a tight, form-fitting, geometric-print maxi with the slightest hint of color.
And of course there are the troops of angular models clad in brightly-colored armor charging down the runways.
But even more exciting, Aztec/Geo/Tribal is growing in fields of everyday people seen sprouting their sense of appreciation for the international eye-catcher. The evolution of this tri-fold trend has made its way home to craftsmen in South America after circling ‘round the world.
Originally established in the Americas, ancient Mesoamerican architecture with massive structures of stairways and enclaves provided protection and served as temples. The Aztec/Geo/Tribal print of intricate lines and interlocking shapes is testament to that architectural aspect.
Originating in Central and South America during ancient times, the amalgamation of Spanish and New World tribal influences collided; these empires’ influential intersection in a fusion of foods, mixing of music, and amalgamation of art still exists today in the worldly wardrobe staple that is “geo.”
The geo-tribal influence returned to Europe in epic fashion proportions. From London-based designer Matthew Williamson’s fierce focus on “dynamic prints” in his 2009 collection to later collections at L.A.M.B., Missoni, and new-comer Whitney Eve; this pop of print has popped up all over the globe. Head down-under to find an Australian interpretation of the design at The Fashion Niche or to India for a glitzy glimpse of the print on the Bollywood scene.
In the past, tribal clothing served as a means of separation among one’s position in society, but at present, the tribal trend is positioned as a universal unifier. Splashed across everything from couture dresses to commercial mini-skirts, men’s tank-tops, and basically every garment imaginable, the trend has flowed to footwear! And while the general consensus is to style the loud print with classic silhouettes and subtle accessory additions, I say go louder!
Flip this trend around with funky shoes like these Matthew Williamson sandals:
Turn up the hype on mixing prints and wear a pair of Inkkas with your favorite Aztec top for a complimentary combination or just kick-it in some Low Tops with an ethical jean choice and an organic cotton tee.
Personally, I’d pair a pair of Inkkas High Tops with a white linen, ruffled eyelet dress and be one fly señorita.
Only a true trend-setter can pull off Inkkas’ line of sneakers.
The only question is:
are you willing to make the sacrifice?
Inkkas foregoes 10% of its profits to benefit the Amazon rain forest and its collections are hand-made by artisans in Peru. The brand’s fabrics sourced from local regions in beautiful bold patterns is sustainable fashion development at its finest.
Keep the geo trend evolving with a bright step forward in Inkkas’ products.
“Don’t just buy a product, buy a small piece of a better world.”
Or is it don’t judge a book by its cover? Childhood phrases and parental teachings aside, there is general encouragement to not judge others or the unknown based solely on outward appearances. As human beings, favoritism exists for the ism “don’t judge a book by its cover.” But as consumers, do the same rules apply?
All labels aside, it is of course up to us to educate ourselves as buying customers and to get involved as is the case with all issues of civic engagement. However, isn’t it up to “them,” or companies, providing us with a product or service to provide awareness, especially since we are after all, all potentially buying customers?
I don’t like to say “us” versus “them” as though we are in a dueling match, for it is a dual obligation when it comes time to be our own judge. Companies, though, are required to label products and advertise services in accordance to signed laws and corporate activities are monitored by assigned authorities; these rules and regulations have been established so as to protect the consumer while also providing a fair playing field for all parties involved, including competing small businesses, SMEs, and corporations.
Our needs are changing and new rules and regulations must naturally evolve. We see this need to evolve in the Big Food revolution with past legislative failures in states like Oregon and most recently with Proposition 37 in California as well as opposition to the Just Label It movement. ”You are what you eat” is often practiced by medical professionals, mindful mothers, and even our own conscience coach when making personal food choices.
If we are what we eat, then shouldn’t we care about what we wear? Many of us do! As seen in the variety of outlets and in the diversity of support for conscious consumption when it comes to one’s purchases, fashion and apparel is an expression in demand. Whether one is cutting down on the industry’s intake, incorporating more mindfulness when making purchases, or choosing to buy environmentally and socially sustainable fashions from retailers and organizations with a mission and values closely related to one’s own individual beliefs, there is a need for an upgrade in rules and regulations when it comes to labeling our clothes.
Of course, as clothing consumers, we can research a retailer’s practices and uncover more about a brand. We can of course read the item’s label, but is “Made in Bangladesh” or “Manufactured in China” enough? Some prefer to buy local or only shop certified Fair Trade items. Some might not even read the label’s contents. Similar to a content person in a label-less relationship, some might not even need a label at all. What do you look for in a label? Share your shopping criteria @fashainable with the hash-tag #mindfull.
And beyond the mindset of the consumer, what about the other side? Turn the label over and you might find that big box retailers and their suppliers may voice the same argument as those in the business of Big Food: any additional labeling would be too cumbersome resulting in excessive regulation and ultimately, higher end prices for the consumer.
Refreshingly, some brands have taken it upon themselves to make note of the ingredients used, processes infused, or related #brandaid news as seen in the faces of “The People Behind the Product” by One Mango Tree. It’s inspiring initiatives like these and like this image of an imaginative label shared by Dress Up Cycle highlighting a probable product’s positive points that can help point us in the right direction. Don’t like what you see? No sweat. Send your labels back or sign a petition and get dressed.
Informative labeling of existing practices—which claim to be safe and workers conditions which claim to be humane—is less of an issue of red tape and higher costs along the supply chain and more of an issue regarding lifelong lessons taught at an early age in that one shouldn’t judge what one does not know. If we don’t know exactly what it is that we as consumers are buying, than how are we to judge?
Cereal boxes have managed to evolve over time as 3-D crossword puzzles and our shampoo bottles and conditioning counterparts are now accompanied by trivia Q&As. Surely the commerce community with business models built on principles of efficiency and effectiveness can manage to invest the necessary resources into a more exemplary labeling system without placing the burden on the paying customer.
But, who am I to judge?
The Zone diet. Grapefruits galore. Paleo or Vegan. From Low-fat to Atkins and more. Last year it was just juicing. The newest diet craze? A fashion cleanse. Shed the pounds from your closet hangers and dresser drawers by discarding leftovers from years’ past. Improve your wardrobe’s well-being with a design detox by recycling looks or investing in high-quality, people and planet-friendly outfits.
To ring in the New Year why not wring your wardrobe of its extra garments and give away any unnecessary items? For a guaranteed way to lose the weight of worrying about the latest in-thing just look inside yourself. “Buy a new coat to make you feel better!” the guy from “What Not To Wear” exclaims for Macy’s BIGGEST-EVER New Year’s Sale; he screams this declared diagnosis for mental health issues on the television screen. His backdrop? Shiny beginnings bright with promise as images of impeccably-trimmed figures pretend to lift weights or jump high with glee as they reach for the impeccably-timed figures denoting 70% off, the BIGGEST-EVER markdowns to sell-through the retailer’s full stock.
No, Clinton Kelly, I don’t need that new coat to make me feel better. No, Macy’s, I won’t rush to the store or fall for you online, even with your hook of free shipping, to gobble up what you’re throwing out. Just as we have become empowered as consumers to fight the fast food epidemic, confidently opting not to pick the ketchup red and mustard yellow Big Mac, so, too, can we fight our Fast Fashion fix, confidently opting for fresher, green picks. Like many readily-available conveniences in our fast-paced world, big box retailers have capitalized on our changing times—take the “H&M effect” of churning out unhealthy choices—tossing out the season’s projections quicker than a batch of the day’s deep-fried selections. But the times they are still a changin’ for now we have evolved social tools to fight the big retail chains’ advertisement reels telling us how we should look and feel.
Whether you believe that technology has advanced to meet our needs or that we’ve evolved because of an advancement in technology, social media is arguably an online reflection of an offline social revolution. There are political and economic influences, too, with increased government transparency, the rise of B Corporations, and CSR incorporation; this has created opportunities for genuine sustainable development initiatives, for inauthentic “greenwashing” tactics, and for brands like H&M to highlight their conscious actions.
Marketers know that time is of the essence, perpetually flooding our senses with urgency and stuffing us with overwhelm. But guess what: the world did not end. We made it this far; we were able to sustain. Now, it’s time for a come back in order for our culture to maintain. So, let’s welcome the year 2013 with open arms and embrace the 2013 collections with a full mind. As our eyes feast on the latest and greatest fashion statements off the runways and in window displays, let’s #DoItOurselves and make a shared fashion resolution to consume fewer, mindless trends and produce a more mindful, timeless mindset.
Cheesy baked layers of lasagna. Hearty beef stew on the stove-top. Warm apple pie à la mode. Gooey, chocolaty fudge brownies. Raw vegan oat bites. Comfort food.
Some even say, soul food.
B.B. King. Marvin Gaye. Billie Holiday. Bedtime songs. Church hymns. Dave Matthews.
Music for the soul.
Whether it’s that delectable morsel or that detectable music, a home-made dish or a certain note, no matter how you feed your soul; it’s the guaranteed comfort and full delight that keeps us going back for seconds, or more.
Close your eyes. Think about that feeling and what memories come to mind. Think about the people who surround you and the emotions that fill you up. Ride it out. Think about the sense of satisfaction that you receive. Think abooutttt what you were wearing?
Yea, think about that. Clothing can be a connection, too; it can be treasured. Have you ever had that resurgence of a remembrance of a certain time, another place, or another state of mind, after pulling on your favorite cozy sweater or after pulling out a not-so-favorite ex’s tee-shirt?
Over-sized baggy sweatshirts. Worn-out flannel pajama bottoms. Delicate lacy under-things. Soft, old Chamois button-up shirts. Clothes that, when worn, transport you in comfort, physically and mentally. Some even say, emotionally.
Soul clothes, could they be?
Here’s to wrapping up in the chunkiest knitted cardigan and savoring the moment.
May this holiday season wrap you in warmth and feed your soul.
“Where’d you get those earrings?” It was during study hall in high school and I was asking a girl a grade ahead of me named Leah. “Oh,” she replied, “I made them!” Pleasantly surprised, I was like wow, cool, the coolest—or so I thought. Unfortunately, some would discredit her genius gems by questioning the difficulty in the pair’s design. Sure, while the actual construction might not have been extremely advanced (seemed to be a puncturing of a metal bottle cap and an insertion of a hook), the actual idea behind the designer’s creations was extremely modern. Leah and I lived close to one another in the same small community and we soon became friends, bonding over goofy inclinations and inklings of travel. Her creativity and confidence were endearing qualities that I always admired; I mean, she was “upcycling” bottle caps into earrings before DIY was the next BIG thing!
Last year, I moved to New York and found myself living in Greenpoint, bordering Williamsburg. I was fresh out of college and it was a pleasant surprise to again find myself as part of a community. I soon became acquainted with that little Polish neighborhood of artistry, couples, industrialism, and families, often exploring the many mom-and-pop shops and local artisans’ offerings. Working in the city, I soon realized that Leah’s office wasn’t far from mine in the same area of the Fashion District—how funny life is to have an adolescent memory catch up with you in adulthood.
We did catch-up, on a meet-up one day, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she was still making jewelry. An FIT graduate, she was working for a popular brand while developing her own brand. I had actually seen some of her work on her Facebook page and was eager to own my own piece. During our talk I placed an order, which she accepted and promised to fill right away. It’s no surprise that Leah’s work has gained popularity (a former schoolmate even asked her to design her wedding bands) since her creative confidence is reflected in her line.
Now on Etsy.com, Leah Rose Damour Jewlery is an eclectic mix of classically-constructed collections with a whimsical flare. Take my custom-made gold necklace: the quirky tooth, an upcycled crest from a local dentist, is a fun symbol of a deeper connection as my grandfather was a dentist and a person whom I adored, often draping me in his knowledge. When draped around my neck, the brilliantly-finished molar reminds me to think wisely because it reminds me of him. Etsy has enabled the connection of hundreds of thousands of artists like Leah to advertise and sell their creations to happy customers like myself.
Such a connection is shared between dozens of special occasion party-goers and a former colleague of mine who is exceptionally skilled in analysis, baking, and jewelry-making. Our Merchandising team members would showcase their hidden culinary talents, often times bringing in baked goods to share. My team’s Assistant Planner, Hilary, was always trying the latest baking gadgets and recipes; it was a truly delightful discovery to find that this stellar business grad also had a creative side! Unbeknownst to me at the time, Hilary was quite the entrepreneur who turned out to have her own merchandise online at Etsy in her bloom belle shop. Her line of floral jewelry designed for special occasions is named Hilary Caroline Jewlery and her name is now aligned with a successful launch of an online boutique based out of her hometown.
Home-made treats don’t have to be edible—with local artisan markets in places like Greenpoint or your hometown and with handmade marketplaces like Etsy bringing hometown designers from around the world to your computer —they can be wearable! Do you want to be pleasantly surprised? Look out for the Leah in your life or the Hilary in your hallway and make room for something sweet.
From a demand for E to M to S-Commerce,
we consumers are DIO and cutting the Fashion Tech industry’s facets.
By demanding these personalized features,
it could mean less guess work for those involved in the industry.
By customizing the future of fashion,
it could mean a more sustainable environment for all of us.