We give up; we can’t keep up with the Kardashians anymore, nor do we want to. After drawing the ire of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for wearing fur, Kim and her reality TV clan are now under fire from a human-rights watchdog group for hawking products allegedly made with slave labor, according to Star. In order to bring their K-Dash by Kardashian, Kris Jenner Kollection, and ShoeDazzle labels to market, sweatshop workers in China’s Guangdong province—some as young as 16—were said to have labored for 84 hours over a seven-day work week to help Kim and kompany rake in $65 million in profits last year. The workers, in contrast, received a mere $1 an hour for their efforts, making as little as $15 a month after food and rent. Talk about economic inequality.
Tired of dealing with greenwashing? Blissmo does the vetting for you by featuring businesses with a “people- and planet-positive approach” ingrained in their DNA. Blissmo features just one product a day, but with savings of up to 70 percent off, we can’t complain. Previous “savers” have included Nau, PACT, and Pangea Organics.
Borganics’ 72-hour sales offer subscribers up to 70 percent off socially and environmentally responsible goods— including bath, beauty, clothing, and accessories—from companies that are committed to making the world a better place. Also, if you snatch up one of its deals, you get to pick the charity that receives 2 percent of the net sale.
JP Selects is a marketplace without compromise. “Our brands pride themselves on the quality of their products and in giving back,” it says. “That’s best for you and better for the world.” The site launches a new product every day, available for 72 hours at a special introductory price. Once the promotion period is over, the item is archived in its online shop, where it’s available at—sniff—retail cost.
Despite its invite-only welcome page, signing up for Pure Citizen is as easy as supplying your email address. Each sale lasts just 24 hours and offers 30 to 90 percent off earth-friendly, ethical brands like Spun, Hovey Lee, Nicole Bridger, and C. Marchuska. If you’re feeling particularly generous, you can even donate a percentage of your savings to a charity of the featured designer’s choice.
Strawberry Earth gives it to us straight. “No one likes products made by unhappy employees, with nasty chemicals or silly packaging that sticks around for years,” it says. The Amsterdam-based site, which offers fresh deals every Monday, uncovers brands that follow its “Strawberry Principles”, which means no toxic chemicals, no sweatshops, and no disrespecting Mother Earth.
For animal lovers, Vegan Cuts is the site you seek. Run by vegan couple Jill and John Wiseman, the company offers a slew of cruelty-free fashion and beauty deals with discounts that average between 25 to 60 percent. It’s cool to be kind, particularly when brands like Vaute Couture, Christy Robinson, and Gabriel Cosmetics make it so easy.
MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
- Felt, fabric, or ribbon
- Needle and thread or a hot glue gun
- Brooch pin or large safety pin
- Embellishments (optional)
Cut a a long strip of felt, fabric, or ribbon measuring 9 to 12 inches long and 1 inch wide.
Fold your material in half lengthwise.
Cut slits along the length of the material that go almost—but not quite—to the edge. You can create uniform ¼-inch slits, or vary the width to create different size “petals.”
Keep the material folded and roll the fabric onto itself along its length (like you’re making sushi). Don’t roll it too tightly or you will end up with the inner half longer than the outer. If using a hot glue gun instead of sewing, place small dots of glue along the intact edge of the fabric every ½ inch or so.
If you’re using needle and thread, keep the fabric rolled tight and sew one outer edge to the other, making sure to go through all the layers. Repeat several times in different directions until all the rolled layers are held in place.
To add an extra dimension to your flower, cut felt or fabric leaves and sew or hot glue them to the bottom. You can also add feathers or other materials for a more personal touch. For the finishing touch, stick a pin through the base of your brand-new brooch.
While you can still find locally manufactured materials in the United States, Canada, and Europe, they’re generally isolated in small pockets with limited options.
Sourcing materials internationally, on the other hand, can yield a number of great finds from handwoven silks to khadi cottons. Global sourcing does come with its challenges, however. There is the consideration of customs duties and taxes for certain products, for instance. It’s also not uncommon to experience delays going through customs, so factor in an additional three to 10 days’ worth of wriggle room for international shipments.
SWATCH IT UP
Think of swatches as the samples before the sample yardage. They are a critical component to any designer’s creative process, serving as material inspiration for upcoming and future collections. By examining a swatch up close, you can get a keen sense of the fabric’s quality, color, and hand before you commit to a sample or production yardage.
It’s also often difficult to gauge what a material truly looks like on the computer screen—no matter how good the photography might be. Choice of lens, differences in lighting, and computer color settings will affect how a material looks online, so be sure to get a swatch beforehand to make sure it’s exactly what you want.
MAXIMIZE YOUR MINIMUMS
You may have heard about “production yardage minimums,” but it’s important to note that “sampling yardage”—or the yardage that is often sampled prior to placing a production order—often has minimums or cutting fees, as well.Designers may not think this is a big deal, but for suppliers who have hundreds of SKUs of material and hundreds of requests for small orders, the result may be thousands of yards of material that go to waste. Keep this information in mind when you’re purchasing sampling yardage and accept that the supplier may charge a cutting fee or require a down payment as a guarantee that you’ll purchase the remainder.
MAXIMIZE YOUR MINIMUMS
You may have heard about “production yardage minimums,” but it’s important to note that “sampling yardage”—or the yardage that is often sampled prior to placing a production order—often has minimums or cutting fees, as well.
Designers may not think this is a big deal, but for suppliers who have hundreds of SKUs of material and hundreds of requests for small orders, the result may be thousands of yards of material that go to waste. Keep this information in mind when you’re purchasing sampling yardage and accept that the supplier may charge a cutting fee or require a down payment as a guarantee that you’ll purchase the remainder.
GO FOR THE GREIGE
“Greige” goods refer to raw fabric before it undergoes dyeing or bleaching. Greige goods vary slightly from PFD (prepared for dyeing) or PFP (prepared for printing) fabrics. In the case of PFD and PFP materials, a minute amount of chemicals and processing are used to ensure that the dye takes well to the fabric.
If you’re planning on using the same material for seasons to come, consider purchasing greige goods of PFD/PFP fabrics that you can dye yourself or through a professional dye house. It’s a smart investment because the materials either cost less upfront or they can be purchased in larger quantities at a lower price per yard.
MAKE THE INVESTMENT
If you’re confident in your skills and your ability to make initial product sales, you should feel confident in making an investment towards the material you purchase for your collections.
The story and quality of material, almost as much as the finished garment itself, can get you noticed, particularly if you’re competing with mainstream brands and other independent designers. In an industry defined by how many seasons-old a collection is, a smart, upfront investment can make all the difference for a new designer looking to make a name for yourself.
These suspenders aren’t just for holding pants up. Handwoven by staff members at the Textile Arts Center in New York City, the one-of-a-kind pieces also support arts education at the organization, which hosts classes, workshops, and events for fiber-obsessed and fiber-curious alike. Each one is fully adjustable with an elastic back piece for extra stretch. They’re also available in kid’s sizes to keep smaller slacks in check.
The halo on Victoria’s Secret is looking a tad askew after a report alleged that malnourished, underaged West African children picked the cotton used in some of its undergarments, including a number labeled as fair trade and organic. In a startling exposé by Bloomberg News, reporter Cam Simpson documents the heart-wrenching story of 13-year-old Clarisse Kambire, who works on an organic-cotton farm in Burkina Faso under a program designed to financially empower women and enable more children to attend school. But Kambire’s reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Beaten and verbally abused, she labors in the fields on bare hands and feet to harvest tiny tufts of fiber that are sent to factories in India and Sri Lanka to be fashioned into leopard-print hip-hugger panties and lacy fishnet thongs.
At a time when U.S. domestic cotton subsidies are at an all-time low, the federal government has decided to move forward with several initiatives to help the four leading African cotton-producing countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, otherwise known as the C-4) engage in global trade. As the 8th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization geared up in Geneva on Thursday, U.S. representatives resolved cotton- trade issues with the world’s Least Developed Countries by extending duty-free, quota-free access for upland cotton—the most widely planted species of cotton on the planet—and pledging to drum up legislative support for a new cotton assistance program when USAID’s West African Cotton Improvement Program expires in April.
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