Your Sustainable Guide to Fashion Week

Living in a big fashion capital like New York, it can often be tough to stick to sustainable habits. However, once we're properly informed, avoiding fast-fashion shops like Zara and Forever21 can become quite easy. Other habits are harder to form, especially as fashion week approaches. We see celebrities and models dressed in gorgeous new outfits every day. We’re bombarded with the new "must have" trends that models wear as they strut down the runway, some available for purchase before the show even finishes... and we’re invited to parties and networking events where food is left untouched and plastic straws and cups are littered about, most of which will not be recycled. It’s an exciting time when the city comes alive and everyone shows off their best-looking selves but why is it we forget what truly matters, our duty as human beings to be more environmentally conscious? Shouldn’t our utmost priority be to make sustainable sexy? Here’s how!

Going to an event? Not sure what to wear? Try some of these options below. 

Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway is a company that lets you borrow dresses and evening wear for those special events, then return it for free as soon as you’re done! You can order in multiple sizes so you can ensure you get the right fit and don’t have to worry about dry-cleaning post wear, they’ll do all that for you!

When you rent a dress, you’re saving all the natural resources that go into manufacturing a new piece of clothing. The average woman throws away around 82 pounds of clothing per year. Renting helps reduce this significantly. [1]

We often wear that statement dress only once or twice, so why not get something fab (they have 250,000 designer pieces to choose from!), wear it once and then return it? It’s about shifting perspectives of the consumer and letting your friends and peers know it’s okay to rent something that’s already been worn and it is so much more environmentally friendly. 

Have a clothing swap

I’ve written about it before on a previous blog post but I can’t stress enough how amazing a clothing swap party is! You can do it with as little or as many people as you want, and the whole thing can be done without spending a dime. Have some extra clothes laying around that don’t get worn? Bring them (or host) a clothing swap party where everyone brings a few garments and trade away! It’s the perfect way to revamp your wardrobe and get some awesome unique pieces that your friends no longer wear. The best way to ‘shop’ sustainably, and reduce waste is to reuse! [2]

Borrow from a friend

Sometimes, the easiest and most cost effective way to complete a look is to borrow from a friend. Rather than my friend buying a fancy clutch she’d only end up using once for an upcoming wedding, I let her borrow one from me. Now I know in the future I can count on her to lend me an accessory or even a dress if I need it. We all have way too many things in our closet so why not share and save a little money for some more drinks with your girls at the bar?;)

Second-hand shopping

Here in New York, we’re lucky enough to have some truly amazing second-hand shops. The stuff is already made and reusing that is, without a doubt, the most sustainable option out there, even more so than making new clothes out of sustainable materials. You can often find some one-of-a-kind pieces that will make your outfit so much cooler than whatever Zara outfit every other person is wearing. Then, when you get stopped by a street-style photographer asking where you got your blazer, you can be that cool, off-trend person who says they got it from the second-hand store;) Often, used items are less expensive as well. Beacon’s Closet, Buffalo Exchange, and even your local Goodwill are excellent options. 

Reduce the Plastic

With a plethora of parties coming up and with that, a decent amount of drinking, why not make a pledge to yourself to #stopsucking? The Lonely Whale foundation seeks to educate people about the oceans and our impact on them. From overfishing, plastic pollution and acidification, our oceans need us to live smarter and become more aware of our actions. In the U.S. alone we use 500 million plastic straws EVERY DAY, many of which end up in the ocean. Lonely Whale has set out to combat this pollution by not using any plastic straws and encouraging everyone to join them. Paper, metal, glass and bamboo are all MUCH more sustainable options. Take the pledge to #stopsucking on single-use plastic straws and challenge your friends! Going out to a fashion week after party? Order that drink sans straw. Or, if you prefer your drinks with straws bring one with you! Read more about strawless oceans here

Your Straw offers incredible bamboo straws as an alternative. They’re the perfect size for anything from coffees to smoothies and come with a tiny brush so you can keep them clean. Purchase your own Your Straw here.

In addition to straws, try and carry a tote bag with you everywhere you go. That way, if you get some cool gift bags from shows or have to do a quick grocery shop on the way home, you can skip the plastic bag! I also always try and carry a fork and spoon with me. It’s the easiest way to reduce the single-use plastic options and is great to have on hand as I run from casting to casting all over the city.  

Take Public Transportation

New York City Fashion Week is spread out with a conflicting schedule that makes attending a few shows each day near impossible. Traffic is always a mess and people are always running late. Why not take mass transit to avoid the headache of being stuck in traffic knowing you’re not doing the environment any good? “A bus with as few as seven passengers is more fuel-efficient than the average single-occupant auto used for commuting.” [3] Sometimes the high heels are too high to navigate the subway steps and grates, so if you plan on using Uber or a taxi as your main resource try and pool with as many friends as possible. 

Living sustainably is without a doubt more difficult. But taking positive action is not only beneficial but is necessary. If we stick to our current ways by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. Our actions have a direct impact on our earth and we have the resources and knowledge to reduce this impact and live cleaner. Fashion is the second dirtiest industry after oil. We can make a significant impact just by shifting our consumption habits... even in small ways. So, as you get ready for fashion week try a couple of these recommendations and share some with your friends. Rather than buying the newest, latest thing, why don’t we all try and make sustainable trendy? Nothing is sexier than a cleaner, greener environment.   

Sexy, Sustainable Street Style Basics (Click the boot to see entire collection) 

A Sustainable Sunday

Too much stuff!

That's how my friends and I felt about the amount of clothes we own. Our New York closets were always bursting at the seams and we felt it was time for a little spring cleaning.

We realized, especially having careers in fashion, that we easily get caught up in the amount of stuff we're made to think we have to have. At one point in time, New York closets were made for the few outfits you had, the type you would mend if anything needed repairing and would last you a lifetime. Buying clothing (or even buying the fabric to make your own clothes) was an investment that took a long time to save up for.  However, as we modernized, our perceptions of the amount of clothing we had to have drastically changed. Fast-fashion, when companies sell as much as they can for as cheap as they can, was introduced and the average amount of clothing people owned exploded. The small-sized closets that were once sufficient for many people to share are now the biggest draw back of finding an apartment in New York; is there ever enough closet space? 

When I read Marie Kondo's "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" I began to realize the importance of loving absolutely everything you owned. When I looked at my closet I didn't see things that brought me joy, instead I saw an overwhelming amount of clothes that were bought on a whim, clothes that were bought because they were on sale and clothes that were bought because they were in style. The few things I had that brought me absolute happiness were things that made me feel good when I wore them, something a $5 shirt with no story attached could provide. 

With Marie Kondo's book as my new inspiration, I began going through my closet with the changing of each season and re-assessing what I had and what could get more love from another home. This year, instead of a solo spring clean I decided to pitch to my friends a sustainable Sunday where we could go through each of our closets and choose things we wanted to swap and things that would be put in a pile for donations. We decided to start at my place with coffees. What followed was thought-provoking conversations of sustainability in fashion, a good amount of laughs and a huge pile of clothes we no longer loved (or unfortunately never really loved) that we hoped would find more use in another home. 

I realized a lot of the things that were getting swapped out of my closet were bright colors that didn't match much else and had only been worn once at most, some things still had tags on them. Having that extra set of eyes helped when deciding if something would stay or go; if there was any hesitation and I had to ask Dani and Zoe if I should let something go, it had to go. What was left was a closet that could breath, things that provided me with absolute joy and most of which all matched. Success!

After my place we visited Dani's apartment in Bushwick. Another fun part of this afternoon was that we got to walk through neighborhoods we didn't usually frequent. Dani had some amazing staples, some fun things that she loved and continued to bring her joy and after trying on some pieces she was unsure of we added to the pile of donations. Zoe got a nice new crop top she felt she could give a bit more love to and we continued on to her place after.

After our walk to Zoe's apartment in Williamsburg, and some much needed refreshers, we sifted through Zoe's closet and added to our growing pile. What amazed us was how much stuff we had and how little use a lot of these items got. 

A key takeaway we all learned was the importance of differentiating between needs and wants. We so often get caught up with idea that because something is on sale we must buy it or that because something is in style we have to have it, whether we really love it or not (guilty!).  There is incredible power in removing yourself  from the instant gratification of a shopping experience and thinking about the thing you are about to purchase as something you will actually love and wear for many years  or another item you'll be bagging up for donations the following season. 

If you find yourself overwhelmed with a daunting closet and the urge is always present to buy more, try and avoid mindless shopping altogether. If you need something, do some research into sustainable companies that are transparent with their practices and how they make and sell their clothing. Invest in items you truly love and need and they will be worth the extra money, especially given how long these items will last compared to any fast-fashion version. Second-hand shopping is also an amazing option to find hidden gems that add a bit of pizzaz to your closet of stylish basics. These items definitely have a story to tell and it's fun thinking about the life they've lived. 

For a curated selection  of stylish staples made sustainably, check out our SHOP section.  You can trust that we've done the research. The looks we recommend are wardrobe staples that will have a long life and have come from a company whose values align with those of ours at ODMODC.

I hope someone else can find love and joy in the bag of items the three of us put together. The three of us are now much more cognizant of the amount of waste we were aimlessly collecting and are going to be much more thoughtful about our investments with our clothing in the future. 

 

A successful sustainable Sunday with the ladies!

Here are a few of the easiest ways to donate clothes in NYC:

  • Beacons Closet
    • They pay 35% cash or 55% store credit of the price tags that they apply to your items
    • All items not selected for resale can be donated to charity as a service to our customers
    • The items that are collected are sold as not-profit items and the money is donated to a host of selected charities found here
  • Reformation
    • When you buy something from Reformation online, they’ll include a free RefRecycling shipping label in your box. You can put that label on the box your stuff came in (or any other box), fill it up with whatever you want to recycle, have the box picked up at your door, and theyll 'do the rest.
    • You can even track where your clothes ended up!
  • Greenmarket Clothing Collection
    • Textiles are collected by Wearable Collections and taken to a sorting facility where they are sorted into different grades, with an effort to recover as much usable clothing as possible for distribution to second-hand markets.  Material that is not suitable for reuse will go to recycling markets to be used as wiping rags or shredded for low grade fiber products such as insulation.
    • Check out grownyc.org for a list of all the places you can drop off your clothing in NYC
  • Salvation Army
    • At Salvation Army you can donate furniture, automobiles, household goods and appliances in addition to clothing
    • Everything you donate will be sold at their Family Stores and the proceeds are used to fund Adult Rehabilitation Centers.
    • Salvation Army accepts drop-off donations or will even pick your stuff up for free!