Model and green activist Summer Rayne Oakes wants the world to know that dressing green isn’t about burlap and Birkenstocks. In her new book, Style, Naturally (Chronicle Books, $25), she instructs the earnest on how to be fashion-conscious and environmentally conscious at the same time. Here are some of her shopping tips, plus some sources for eco-fashion.
1. Buy the basics. Start with items you wear most regularly: socks and undergarments. Gaiam has basic, functional undergarments; UK–based Enamore offers sexy intimates. Then look for basic tees, sweaters, shirts, and jeans, focusing on pieces that will wear well and work season to season.
2. Accessorize. You don’t have to start big. Accessories like shoes, bags, wallets, and jewelry are a good place to start if you’re looking to green up your wardrobe.
3. Save for something special. Many eco-fashions tend to be on the high side, so find something you love and save.
4. Don’t limit yourself to the mall. The best green shopping can be online.
5. Go vintage. It may be the most stylish way to recycle. Find a few shops you like and stop by often. Or troll eBay. Just be careful with sizes; pay attention to measurements online.
The Four Hundred
High-end sustainable design from Bahar Shahpar and friends
Chic, eco-friendly outfits for women
Organic cotton jersey dresses and tops
Hip clothes for both sexes (even organic plantation selvedge denim)
Weekend casual for men and women
Organic or recycled cotton eco jeans
Niki Robinson’s Té Casan
Limited edition footwear from recycled materials
Made with vintage fabrics
Uses latex, wood, and recycled rubber soles in the Vivo Barefoot line
*See tylenaturally.com for an extensive list of designers and e-commerce stores.
Spotlight On …Safia Minney, People Tree
People Tree works with 50 fair-trade cooperatives in 15 countries, teaching locals how to improve their designs and materials for a global market. The company recruited designers such as Thakoon and Richard Nicoll to add a couture sensibility by collaborating with particular co-ops on some products. People Tree even launched organic cotton-growing programs, which are a win-win for their co-ops and customers: no local exposure to pesticides, sustainable fiber for buyers. The result is artisan-made clothing that doesn’t just sustain the environment but communities as well.
Ann Wizer, XS Project
They say one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, but some trash is just trash -- until XSProject gets ahold of it. The nonprofit buys flexible-plastic packaging from the “trash pickers” of Jakarta, Indonesia, who collect and sell consumer waste for a living. That garbage goes to small nongovernmental organizations and cottage businesses for transformation into colorful messenger bags, notebook covers, and other whimsical accessories.
Blake Mycoskie, Toms Shoes
Traveling through Argentina, Amazing Race alum Blake Mycoskie saw hundreds of barefoot children and had a brainstorm. He designed a shoe patterned after traditional Argentine footwear and announced he’d give one pair to a kid in need for every pair he sold. The project took flight, and now celebs such as Keira Knightley, Tobey Maguire, and Scarlett Johansson are sporting the colorful, comfortable shoes. And Toms is still doing its one-for-one donation, but now in Africa as well as in Argentina. Now that’s a feel-good shoe.