An Inside Look Into Groceries Apparel

After being introduced to Groceries Apparel by a fellow model, I was immidiately drawn to their simple, stylish staples that were clearly made well with the environment in mind. I had been thinking about creating my own basic white tees at the time and while modeling was taking over much of my time, I found it difficult to balance both worlds. I created a sample tee, here in New York and after I wasn't completely content with the first mock-up, I reached out to Groceries to see if I could do an ODM/ODC edit on a tee they were already producing perfectly. I was exceptionally impressed by their openness to work with a smaller company like myself. They were flexible with their minimums and completely open about where they sourced their fabrics, where everything was made and everything in between! They're a dream to work with, and after a recent visit to L.A. I was even more impressed with how open they were on a tour of their factory. Robert Lohman, founder of the Groceries took the time to answer some in-depth questions so you can get to know a bit more about where our Sustainable Is Sexy tees come from! Check out his answers below!

1) Tell me a bit about how Groceries Apparel came about? Where did everyone in the company come from and how did you all transition into the sustainable/ethical world?

Groceries started on the Venice boardwalk with American Apparel organic blanks dyed with grass, orange juice, rust, soil, tomatoes, blood, and milk, and basically anything in my backyard.  I was set on creating a non-toxic t-shirt.  When I was trying to expand, it dawned on me that there were no volume blank providers that were 100% committed to chemical-free and made in USA.  I had randomly met Dov Charney at a fabric store called Ragfinders and he ended up inviting me to take a tour of his American Apparel factory.  Dov showed me how to sew in teams and digitize patterns.  The next day I rented three Kansai Special’s and a Tukatech license.  I’m not really a fashion guy, I’m an environmentalist that loves manufacturing.

2) What is your take on organic, recycled and regular cotton? Is there one the company is partial to?

From day one we’ve sourced only organic or recycled ingredients.  I’m not a fan at all of regular cotton, one of the reasons we exist is to shift demand away from it.  The future is in hemp, post-consumer recycled textiles, and bio-based textiles, these are some of the only fabrics that fit into a larger circular economy.  Lenzing has been working on some really soft closed-loop textiles made from recycled eucalyptus fiber, like Refibra.  We have some new spandex blends made from recycled ocean fishnets.  There are a lot of textile innovations on the horizon made from food waste, orange peels, fish skins, coffee, etc.  We also dye garments with flowers, roots, bark, leaves, and onion skins.

3) All of your clothing is made in America, which is awesome!! While I don’t think made outside the U.S. has to necessarily mean it’s a bad thing, why did you guys choose to stay local?

Locally-made is central to our business model.  Being local means being closer to our garments as they are made, which helps us command the fit and quality.  It also allows us to cut out middle men, trim redundancy, and lower the carbon footprint impact and costs.  Being local enables us to respond and fulfill orders faster, which helps our boutique partners.  Stores are able to hold their budget and analyze sales trends later into the season before purchasing.  Brands that stay local don’t need to speculate their production orders, they can cut-to-order and limit waste.  There are a ton of advantages to manufacturing local, made in China is great if you sell to China.

4) Tell me a bit about the factory you use and how you chose it. What’s the best way you guys ensure workers are treated well?

We are the factory.  We operate our own factory to ensure our standards and values are fully executed, especially when it comes to treating our employees well.  We have 80 yards of cutting space and 43 sewing machines, producing 40,000 units per month on average. 

5) What’s something difficult Groceries has been able to overcome in terms of becoming more sustainable?

Early on we were passing on a lot of sales opportunities due to our higher price point and our unwillingness to manufacture non-organic garments.  Groceries’ first business model relied on economies of scale in order to compete, which was hard to execute out of my garage.  It was kind of a paradox in the fact that we needed more orders to feed our factory, but we were also turning down orders because we were unwilling to make a cheaper non-organic option.  I was unwilling to compromise my values in order to stay in business, which sounds great but was actually a huge problem for the company.  My business model stated we had to generate about 4 million dollars a year in order to feed our factory and become profitable.  Groceries’ was more of a young, big business than a small business.  It took me a while to convince banks and investors that my business model wasn’t insane.

6) In your opinion, what is the most unsustainable part of the fashion industry? What is GROCERIES doing to combat this?

The industry is the 2nd most toxic in the world behind oil, so I would say the toxicity.  We’ve purchased 3 million yards of organic and recycled textiles to help push the demand for chemical-free and gmo-free.  We’re also moving toward non-toxic, vegetable-based dyes. 

a)What about ethically? 

We pay well above minimum wage to our employees and offer a safe and happy workplace.

7) What are the next steps for Groceries? How do you see yourselves evolving in the next five to ten years?

I see non-toxic and ethically-made clothing becoming the standard for our industry.  Every step we take will be working towards this.

Festival Season

Festival season is here, which means you may be compelled to fill your closet with new outfits worn by your favorite celebs and models... some of which will only be worn once and then forgotten about or tossed away. SO our solution is the sustainable festival season edit with pieces that will help you stand out in that crowd but are made with integrity, will last way more than a few washes and can be worn year round whether you're parading across the fields of Coachella or spicing up your look for brunch with friends. Check out our favorites below! 

Getting Comfortable with Discomfort

    Ever get that anxious feeling inside your stomach, the top part just under your ribs that feels like you’re going to explode from the pressures within? The one that keeps your palms sweating endlessly even though it may be cold and the feeling of your heart beating in your ears, eyes, fingers and toes? I’ve felt this many times and it often comes moments before I’m about to jump out of my comfort zone. 

By nature, humans as we know are “creatures of comfort”. Most of us are attracted to life’s predictable moments that make us feel content and satisfied. Some evolutionary reasons being with comfort we are saving mental time and energy when going about our daily lives. [http://bigthink.com/think-tank/creatures-of-habit] Stepping out of that comfort zone, whether it be something as miniscule as changing your route to work or, on a grander scale, deciding to quit your job, can result in success or in discomfort and failure. And by nature the latter seems much less appealing.

While comfort can be, well, comforting, what follows may result in laziness and boredom. Think about how many routines you already follow in your daily lives. Personally, I wake up check Instagram, eat my oatmeal, go for a coffee, go to the gym, watch the same series every night with my same snack… Although it’s nice to be able to do these things, on a personal growth level what am I gaining by checking my Instagram feed over and over again simply because it has become a (bad) habit? What I’m currently striving for is foregoing the endless Instagram scroll, waking up with a meditation, stretching out my muscles and reading a few good articles before I jumpstart my day. The benefits of tuning into my mind and body at the start of my day will far outweigh the minor satisfaction I get from seeing what’s new on social media.    

On a grander scale, far bigger than breaking bad habits such as watching T.V before bed is the ability to get out of your comfort zones for personal growth. With respect to this topic, generally speaking there are two types of people and different ways in which they deal with the stresses of discomfort. Those who are resilient and open to change and those who are change resistant and stuck in their ways. [https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-main-reasons-that-people-stay-in-their-comfort-zones] Those who are resilient are striving for bigger better things and are on the path of constant self-realization. While I definitely fall somewhat in the middle, someone who seeks change but often holds back because of fear, I am aware that these bigger better things will never come from remaining comfortable. The goals that I have set and continue to set in life aren’t achievable by being lazy. 

With regards to starting my own company, a sustainable one at that, I knew that if I didn’t launch this past January of 2017, I would be waiting years in order to perfect myself and my vision (which is near impossible), and by that time those goals would be much harder to achieve. I chose to start a sustainable company without any prior studies in ethical or sustainable fashion, and found I was giving advice to my peers on something that I could barely understand one year prior. With trembling fingers and an Instagram picture ready to be shared, I declared my new venture to the world in order to hold myself 100% accountable. My friends, co-workers, and peers found out about my newfound obsession with sustainability in fashion and it was up to me, and my ability to step out of my comfort zone, to make that post a reality. 

In addition to the gratification of sharing my project with the world, I was also able to rediscover myself and instead became a leader not a follower. The power to learn new things and figure out how you handle difficult situations are not going to be learned inherently. [http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/6-reasons-why-your-comfort-zone-holding-you-back-life.html] Now, when I set out to accomplish bigger better things, with that same pit in my stomach, sweaty hands and accelerated heartbeat, I know the potential for achieving my goals is there. Whether I ‘get it’ the first time or not, I know it will be better than having not tried. It’s by no means as easy as sticking to what you know and you have to be okay with facing failure and rejection. Those who are truly resilient are able to let said negativities glide off with the rest of them and continue on their own path (not anyone else’s), to success.  

    

 

The No-Make Up Make Up Look, Here's How!

It took me a while to learn how to properly do my makeup, you know the kind that looks natural enough it seems like you’re not wearing any, but just enough that you can leave the house with confidence.  I don’t know about you but in high school I did my make up as if I was going out to a club, every day. After a few years of my mother pleading with me to wear less or at least blend better, in addition to getting my makeup done daily by professionals, I like to think I’ve learned enough that  I can help you achieve the off-duty make-up look.

Less is more, as I’m sure you’ve heard before. When starting with my face, if I find I need a full coverage I’ll apply a thin layer of tinted moisturizer all over. The tinted moisturizer takes away some redness but also helps keep my face hydrated so it won’t look too cakey or dry like a full foundation would.  RMS Un Cover-Up is made with coconut oil, thus hydrating the skin while providing a thin layer of coverage. Sometimes I’ll even add a little of my own moisturizer into the mix, (Pai is great and smells devine) so I can have a little extra glow. If my face is relatively clear of redness and spots, instead of adding full coverage I’ll simply add a little concealer to each spot and let the rest of my skin breath. I just tried out Nu Evolution and love their camouflage cream. It has a bit more coverage than RMS but is still hydrating and leaves the skin looking fresh and clean. 

 

After my face is taken care of, I’ll move onto my cheeks. If it’s summer I’ll add some bronzer to the high bone of my cheeks, extending all the way to my hairline, up around my brows and even the top of my forehead. I want it all to blend in and think adding a light layer all over my face ends up looking best, rather than just on my cheeks. Instead of spending hours under the sun, I recommend getting a spray-on tan or applying a light layer of bronzer if you're after that glow. It's important to put on sunscreen everyday before you add anything to your skin. You can find ones that are light enough for your face and similar to the amount of water you drink, sunscreen will help you look youthful as you age. 

 In winter I prefer using blush as I find it goes better with pale skin to have a light flushed look. RMS has a great product called "Lip 2 Cheek" where you can blend in their cream on your cheeks for a flushed look or add some to your lips for a little more color. I find it looks more natural if you end up using the same color for both. Oftentimes, make up companies use the same formulas for eyeshadows, blushes, bronzers, etc. They market it differently so you end up buying more. To save money, buy one color you love that you can use on your eyes, cheeks and lips. Click the images below for some of my favorite colors. 

I’ll then move onto my eyebrows, something I consider to be the focal point of many people’s faces when done right. I love using a brow brush and very lightly filling in the missing areas. EcoBrow has a great defining wax that is tinted and helps keep them in place because of the wax. I may extend the end of my brows a bit and then brush them out so they look full and healthy. After filling in the missing spots, I love using a toothbrush with hair spray! It holds all day and brushes them out nicely, sometimes better than a lot of eyebrow brushes. 

I tend to not do too much to the eyes. I may curl my lashes a bit and leave it at that or add a bit of mascara if I find I need some definition. 

If you literally want to shine you can add a little sparkle to your high cheek bone and high-brow area with a little shine stick. This gives you a little more glow and helps add definition to your face so your make up doesn’t look too flat. If my skin looks dehydrated, I'll use Weleda Skin Food as a highlighter. It provides the perfect amount of shine and moisture to the face. Tata Harper and Ilia also have great illuminators. Try putting them on the high of your cheekbone and extending near the hairline, the bridge of your nose, the high bone of your eyebrow right above your eyelid and right at the top of your mouth where your lip dips. 

For my lips, chapstick is my go-to. It’s the one thing I would bring with me if I was stranded on an island. To look more dressed up I’ll use one that has a little tint to it. Otherwise I’m all set with my Mongo Kiss Eco Lips that has a sheer shine to it. 

After the eyes and lips are taken care of, I may touch up some of the spots with concealer that got smudged and finish off with a little matte powder from RMS in my T-zone. Et voila! A natural off-duty model look ready for a casual outing with friends but nice enough if you happen to run into a colleague or client you don’t have to worry about your brows being out of place. 

We’re putting this stuff on our skin, our body's largest organ so why wouldn’t we consider using the best, organic ingredients? All the products I've shared with you heal and nourish our skin so we don’t have to think twice about leaving it on for too long. The key is to drink lots of water, keep your face as hydrated as possible, moisturize and exfoliate when you're at home and let your skin breath with these light products that are yes, even good enough to eat!  

By Taea Thale for Self Magazine 

By Taea Thale for Self Magazine 

Long Weekend Style

Here are some looks to get you through the long weekend in style, with sustainability at heart. Whether you plan on hitting up the beach or chilling at home with a beach-scented candle in your comfy sweats, we've got you covered;)  

Shop Sustainable Spring

Here's a collection of some of our favorite products; all tailored to the warm weather, looking good and feeling better.

Enjoy! 

Source: http://www.shopstyle.com/collective/ODMODC...