Sustainable and Soft Closet Essentials from Alternative

Sustainable and Soft Closet Essentials from Alternative

Part of the appeal of fashion is how crazy creative some designers get. It’s an art form, after all, and oftentimes I like window shopping as much as adding pieces to my closet, just to enjoy the artistry. But no matter where the latest trends and looks might take you, there’s nothing better than timeless pieces that will go with anything and keep you comfortable. If they are sustainable, they’re even better, of course! Alternative has been a longtime favorite of mine and I honestly don’t know what took me so long to write a full post about them. I’ve worn items from them in various reviews! My absolute favorite is a lightweight black cardigan wrap with a long cowl neck in the back that can be put over the head, and long sleeves for a super cozy fit (you can see it featured in a post here). I love shopping closet essentials from Alternative because as stylish as I like to be most of the time, I still just have those days where all I want is to be comfy first. Don’t get me wrong though! This brand definitely has some super cute pieces! Sometimes, less is more.

Alternative’s mission is to provide “that soft, lived‑in look and feel of our favorite vintage tee,” and they’ve lived by that motto since 1995. The brand creates amazing, timeless everyday basics with a real, worn-in feel. Sometimes with everything there is out there, it can be tough to cut through the noise and find some wardrobe staples that are worth the money. You can definitely shop with confidence with this brand as everything is created with the finest fabrics for softness and durability. But the most important to me is that you can also shop guilt free, since over 80% of Alternative’s products are either organic or made from recycled materials, and everything is made with sustainable processes and fair labor. Apparel manufacturing is inherently dirty and wasteful. Using a G2 wash, Alternative uses 60% less water, and they also use non-toxic, low impact dies. Social responsibility has also always been important to the brand. They keep high standards of fair and safe workplace conditions for all their factories around the world, which are in accordance with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) Workplace Code of Conduct. Many are also certified by Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP).

I wish more companies were like Alternative! Here are just a few of the awesome products this company has to offer.

“More than a name, Alternative is who we are.”

“By purchasing from a fabric-first company, you aren’t just getting a finished product. You’re investing in every stage of its life cycle, including the materials and processes we use to make it. Our commitment to sustainability is defined by creating products responsibly. We make over 80% of our garments with sustainable materials and processes.”

“Innovating from thread to finish. We make timeless, authentically worn-in styles that people want to wear today and tomorrow.”

“Working on a global scale, we respect and value the rights of workers in all countries and believe in the right to fair and safe workplace conditions. Our factories…are in accordance with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) Workplace Code of Conduct. Additionally, many of the factories we work with are certified by Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), an independent, non-profit team of global social compliance experts.”

“Offering the best in everyday basics, Alternative creates wardrobe staples with modern silhouettes, balancing simplicity and style.”

“Our design is rooted in sustainable and eco-friendly practices. We source the finest fabrics for softness and durability, and incorporate organic and recycled materials wherever possible.”

Learn more about, and shop, Alternative here.

Chic and Casual Jumpsuits for Night or Day

When the weather warms up and the wine starts flowing, I love my maxi dresses. There’s something about that lightweight, breezy, flowy feel against your legs as the sun bears down on your shoulders that gets me dreaming of summer all year long. As someone who usually prefers wearing pants over skirts (because without a thigh gap, there’s always going to be some sort of chafing going on by the end of the day which is exacerbated by the stickiness of sweat), I’m surprised I never really considered the maxi dress alternative: the jumpsuit. Rompers, its shorter-leg cousins, are usually pretty prevalent in the California town where I live, which makes sense because we’re pretty warm thoughout most of the year, but I never could see myself in one. It’s not like I don’t wear shorty shorts or mini skirts when it’s hot enough either…I think it has to something with the fact that I have a fairly short torso as it is, and I fear rompers will only make me feel or look blocky. Jumpsuits, on the other hand, keep that elongated, svelte look (as long as the fit is right), and seem like something I would have work at some point by now. I guess I just hadn’t seen one I liked.

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Performance Wear for City Life by Diesel X

Performance Wear for City Life by Diesel X

Image: Diesel

I think I’ve finally, officially, fallen for the athleisure trend. I’m a very active person as it is, so I have my decent little collection of gym clothing, but I really wasn’t ever into activewear as every day wear, per se. Over the years, as “athleisure” has taken a front seat in the style world, I’ve discovered several brands (like Zobha), that have made me drool. I like darker, edgier, more creative street-style elements, and there has been plenty of that on the market sold as activewear lately. I prefer outerwear rather than leggings and tops when it comes to everyday wear (as I still prefer saving those for the gym) but there have been a lot of awesome pieces out that are starting to pull me in that direction. Now, I just found the popular and trend-breaking denim brand Diesel has solidified their stake in the athleisure industry with Diesel X, and these pieces are hitting all of my tastes.

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12 Stylish Alternatives to the Classic Fanny Pack

Love it or hate it, the ’90s (and even a few more decades past) are back. Thanks in part to music festivals, now we’ve once again got bright colors, high waisted shorts and jeans, overalls, embroidery, culottes and more. I find it interesting watching fashion evolve; it seems to have gotten more minimal over the current modern years, with clean embellishmenet-free designs, toned down neutral shades and timeless pieces that probably won’t ever go out of style. That still exists, but styles that once were “out” always revolve around and come back “in,” and in they’ve come. I’ve heard many people verbally roll their eyes at this new trend, but I welcome it with open arms. The ’70s, ’80s and ’90s were about having a great time, and with the growth of music festivals combined again with a bit of political turmoil, these modern years seem to have taken that turn once again as more and more people just wanna have fun.

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Flirty Black and White Gingham Looks from REVOLVE

Flirty Black and White Gingham Looks from REVOLVE

Image: Revolve

I gotta say, when I first saw this new collection from Revolve, I wasn’t too keen. I don’t really like gingham all that much due to, you know, that “farmer’s daughter” look. Usually pieces with this popular print are frilly and a bit too girly for me, but once I gave a closer look, I spotted a few things I might actually wear. I do like checkered type patterns, especially with flannel tops, and as you probably know by now, I feel if it’s black it’s always better. So, I figured hey, maybe I’ll make a post that’s about something I don’t normally like, and explore its possibilities. That’s part of the reason why I thought starting a blog would be a fun idea to begin with, way back when!

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Review of the Ethical Burning Man Inspired Jeans from Sonas Denim

Review of the Ethical Burning Man Inspired Jeans from Sonas Denim - Front

Top: Maddie Moon. Vest: Maddie Moon. Jeans: Sonas Denim. Booties: American Eagle Outfitters. Necklace: Third Eye Pinecones.

Ok. I’ll warn you ahead of time, this is going to be a long post, but I’m quite excited to share this subject brand with you guys! There’s really never any time when I receive a pair of jeans to review that I don’t like, as it’s always cool to try out and report on a variety of different styles. There’s usually something about brands that I work with that I completely respect and jive with that makes me add them to my ever growing list of favorites and makes me excited to share them with all of you! However, rarely is there a time when I discover a brand that truly hits home to me from every angle. This is a review of the ethical Burning Man inspired jeans from Sonas Denim, and I have to say I am totally in love with this brand! I can’t even remember how I stumbled across them…probably because I was so immediately impressed that I forgot how it all came to be.

Review of the Ethical Burning Man Inspired Jeans from Sonas Denim - Side Angle

Sonas Denim is stationed in San Francisco (where all the manufacturing magic happens), with a story beginning in 2001 at a vintage store on Haight Street. It was then that Dublin-born Gerry, the brand’s founder, found himself after a few years of traveling and discovered a totally unique pair of patchwork jeans. He was on his way to the most famous party in the desert, Burning Man, and the jeans were a match made in heaven. After nine trips to Burning Man, he was determined to replace his beloved (and now worn out) jeans, which proved unsuccessful. The idea to create his own sprouted a project between him and his wife Christine, and wearing these homemade jeans while out on the town gathered a lot of attention and accolades. The two created several more pairs and sold them at flea markets in and around San Francisco. One hundred more were made and were taken down to a trade show in Los Angeles. This resulted in a short article in the California Apparel News, which caught the attention of legendary fashion veteran Allen Chevalier. Allen loved what he saw and helped take Gerry and Christine’s vision to the next level, which led to the creation of Sonas Denim in 2011. These patchwork jeans are still available, and are made to order! Sonas is the Irish word for “happiness,” which goes into everything the brand creates. Their mission is simple: “To create happiness and share it with others—a happiness not limited to human beings, but for our animals friends as well!” Solid.

Review of the Ethical Burning Man Inspired Jeans from Sonas Denim - Back 2

Everything out of Sonas Denim is one hundred percent cruelty-free, and made almost exclusively from recycled or re-purposed materials. Christine spent seventeen years in a law career defending animal rights, and Sonas’s entire line is ethical and completely vegan. This definitely warms my heart, but what hit me even harder is that a portion of all profits from Sonas Denim will be used to create an animal sanctuary for rescued animals so people can “experience their unconditional love and purity of spirit” as well as learn how we can help keep animals from a life of exploitation and suffering. I actually have a dream of one day opening an animal sanctuary (lets hope I win the lottery), so I was super excited that this brand basically aligns with so many things I love! Not only are they inspired by Burning Man (and similar festivals) and believe in the importance of sustainable materials, but they also believe in the ethical treatment of animals and have a dream like me to one day open a sanctuary for them. Amazing.

Review of the Ethical Burning Man Inspired Jeans from Sonas Denim - Arms Out

OK, on with the actual jeans!

Sonas Denim implements this awesome patchwork design within their denim collection, beyond the famous design that got them started, with beautiful frayed details throughout each section. Every jean is made from fifty individual pieces! The jeans almost seem to be constructed in part like bricks are laid, with each vertical seam in line with the center of the adjacent piece. Gerry sent me a beautiful pair of black and white low rise skinny tie dye jeans and I couldn’t be more impressed! I went with my usual size of 26, which were a bit snug at first but stretched out to fit me perfectly. The fabric content is 98% cotton and 2% lycra, so they are super soft and just a little bit stretchy to hug in all the right places, but they feel very durable. They are pretty low rise, but stay put…although this is the first pair I have enjoyed wearing a belt with because it just looked so cool with them! I’d say they have an inseam of 30”, as they hit just below my ankle. They look so cute cuffed up a little with booties though!

Review of the Ethical Burning Man Inspired Jeans from Sonas Denim - Back Angle 2

The detailing on these skinnies is just gorgeous. There’s no brand insignia anywhere other than a little button on the hip-side edge of the right front pocket (and also on the fly button), so the pure artistry of these jeans do all the talking. Each of the patchwork pieces have an alternating vertical edge that’s frayed out but reinforced so it lies down flat and does not fray any further (see the closeup shots at the bottom of this post). By alternating I mean, one piece has one that frays to the left, and the piece above or below it has one that frays to the right, and so on. It almost gives an inside-out effect, but much cooler. I seriously want to wear these jeans everywhere, and everywhere I have worn them has garnered a ton of compliments and questions! That’s how I like it…to bring something different out into the world of mainstream copycats and predictable trends. For those who like a jean that can take the attention off the slimming effect on the body for once (although they do look and feel totally flattering on) with a unique look and feel, Sonas is your brand. I have to say these jeans definitely have made me happy, from the original design to the strong values in the realm of sustainability, animal rights and ethical practices that the brand shares with me! Mission accomplished.

Just look at those details!

Review of the Ethical Burning Man Inspired Jeans from Sonas Denim - Detail Side

Review of the Ethical Burning Man Inspired Jeans from Sonas Denim - Detail Back

These particular jeans were a design from the past, but check back as I will update this if and when they are available again! Shop the entire available Sonas Denim line here, and sign up to their newsletter for 20% off your first order. Shop the original patchwork flare jean from Haight Street here!

Shape Up for Summer with Eye Catching Leggings

Shape Up for Summer with Eye Catching Leggings

Image: Shopbop

As obsessed as I am with denim, I’ve grown a huge soft spot for leggings. Just like jeans, they come in so many different fabrics, fits and designs, so it’s easy to want to start a huge collection! I usually wear leggings to the gym rather than all over the place, but once I find a pair with insane eye popping graphics, I am always, for some reason, too afraid to sweat in them! Typically those are reserved for music festivals, DJ gigs or other fun musical events for me. However, considering the quality and attention to detail that goes into these higher end leggings, they really are great for whatever you want to use them for. The battle between jeans or leggings seems to be ongoing, and I’ve never seen so many gorgeous, eye popping designs on performance leggings before! Just like most premium jeans, you pretty much have to expect to pay a little more for quality, 360 degree movement, comfort, fit and longevity, as long as you don’t mind taking a little extra care (avoid tumble drying)!

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Fair Trade Bags for Summer by Tribe Azure

Just about everyone loves a nice, brand name handbag. I have a couple that I love (that I found cheaper and second hand on eBay of course), and I enjoy using them for special occasions or simply when the mood strikes. However, as much as I can appreciate nice things, I can’t help but always think of the little guys, the artisans, the ones with huge, blooming visions but smaller global reach or fewer resources. I love writing about the latter more than the former, and am always digging around for new ones to feature here to at least help make them a little better known. Fair trade goods are extremely important to me, and I regularly shop them as well! I believe i’s all about balance in life; enjoy the fruits of your labor…splurge here and there if you can, but don’t forget to support those who really need it.

As part of the music festival circuit, I’m always enamored by all the cute handmade hippie (I refuse to use the word “boho”) bags being carried around by some of the most creative people I’ve ever seen. I was just perusing around Amazon and discovered a whole slew of these, from a company called Tribe Azure. The company is basically a “global artisan movement,” which was born over 45 years ago by Bombdon Ngodup of India. She started her social entrepreneurship in the early 1960s in Northern India, which is a more rural area of the country. Ngodup came from an aristocratic Tibetan family that worked as day laborers in India, so she had a lot of experience working as a street vendor as a young girl. This all inspired her to work hard to create sustainable economic opportunities for artisans in developing countries of South and South East Asia. Tribe Azure is now a “global network of socially conscious entrepreneurs” which strive to create those opportunities. Tribe Azure connects people from communities and markets in developing countries where representation could be improved, and introduces it into the larger global retail markets. The brand would prefer to be seen as a way of empowerment rather than a charity, to help community transformation and eradicate poverty.

Summer is almost here, and these bags totally scream BEACH or POOL DAY, right? The best part is that these bags are not expensive at all, and affordable for just about everyone. The entire line ranges from $15 to $35 on Amazon, and I’m already eyeing a few! It’s so exciting to me to see such talent amongst all of the big names around the world…grab one of these beauties for yourself and help empower an artisan and their community.

Fair Trade Bags for Summer by Tribe Azure - Bags 5

Image: Tribe Azure. Shop | Bag 1 | Bag 2

“Tribe Azure seeks to change the world through creating person to person commerce from communities and markets where there is little to no representation and bringing it into the larger retail ecosystem.”

Fair Trade Bags for Summer by Tribe Azure - Bags 1

Image: Tribe Azure. Shop | Bag 1 | Bag 2

“Our vision is not to solicit charity, but one of empowering community transformation. Our goal is to eradicate poverty and transform communities through our unique innovative market based solution.”

Fair Trade Bags for Summer by Tribe Azure - Bags 2

Image: Tribe Azure. Shop | Bag 1 | Bag 2

“One artisan at a time. We aspire to create a vibrant ecosystem of unfiltered and authentic products from cultures around the world. Every product has a beautiful story to share.”

Fair Trade Bags for Summer by Tribe Azure - Bags 3

Image: Tribe Azure. Shop | Bag 1 | Bag 2

“Our long term vision is to connect artisans directly to consumers. We want to create a community where artisans from around the world can engage in open dialogue and communication with socially conscious consumers all over the world.”

Fair Trade Bags for Summer by Tribe Azure - Bags 4

Image: Tribe Azure. Shop | Bag 1 | Bag 2

“As of now, Tribe Azure is working on establishing a sustainable market for handmade products in North America through its retail partners and online web, and building long term buying relationships in places where skilled artisan partners lack opportunities for stable income. Product sales help pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed.”

Fair Trade Bags for Summer by Tribe Azure - Bags 6

Image: Tribe Azure. Shop | Bag 1 | Bag 2

Shop more Tribe Azure items at Amazon here, or read more about this wonderful brand at their website, here.

BLANKNYC Bumps Up Their Embroidered Jacket Game

BLANKNYC has been kicking butt in their usual edgy creativity lately! When they first came out years and years ago, they aimed at providing a means to acquire an alternative to the usual premium denim at prices under $100, with their Skinny Classique being the instant favorite piece. Since then, they’ve succeeded in so many other ways, including bringing vegan leather to the forefront of the market. Some of these items have been incredibly competitive, such as the super successful Embroidered Jacket in As You Wish seen on bloggers (including me, below) everywhere. Most stores have had trouble keeping it on the racks! There’s even an exclusive Bloomingdales version with black studs. It first came out late last year and is still being restocked over and over again through all the major retailers. Since then, BLANKNYC has come out with several more beautiful embroidered jackets, which fits in well with the current booming embroidery trend!

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Custom Artisan Leather Footwear by Soul Path Shoes

I just love perusing through Etsy sometimes, and looking at the favorite shops and items of my favorite sellers…you never know what new awesomeness you might find! It just blows my mind how some of these amazing brands don’t get the recognition they deserve, but that, as I’m sure you know, is one main point of my blog. Every year after feeling fresh and inspired by the open and limitless creativity behind Lucidity Festival (and the vendors, especially), I’m always digging even deeper into the nooks and crannies of the internet to find even more independent artists to feature here or inspire me into any possible future creative ventures. There is some ridiculously impressive stuff out there!

One of my most recent finds is Soul Path Shoes, a Canadian brand run by artisan Nathan deBridge Bowes, who specializes in custom moccasins and sandals. I mean, these pieces speak for themselves…just look at the detailing! Long ago, Nathan was inspired by searching far and wide for the perfect handmade artisan footwear that was unique, comfortable and natural, to no avail. So, he was inspired to venture on his own path into creating his own, and mirrors genuine ancient practices and pours a ton of love, patience and skill into his work. From sharpening and maintaining his his tools (like tuning an instrument, as he says) to taking the risk of tedious custom fitting, Nathan stays true to his strong beliefs on the real value of old fashioned hard work, quality and customer satisfaction which is becoming more of a rarity these days.

Nathan uses supersoft 8-9 ounce buffalo leather for the main body and trim of his footwear which is 2-3 times thicker than regular leather. He also implements a traditional moccasin full leather outer sole with a Vibram rubber sole as an option, and a removable insole of wool felt and orthotic cushioning on a leather base. Every item comes with your choice of buttons (with several beautiful metal pieces to choose from) and main color, trim and heel cap colors. Other options include additional arch support, extra trim layers, added piping, leather or Arbutus wood buttons, cuffs, other custom artwork, and so much more! How gorgeous are these?! For the amount of work and custom options put into these, I’d say they are also priced incredibly well, at around $300-$600 before any custom options are included. Honestly, I’d just buy what I see right off the virtual racks.

Here are some of the moccasins and boots that catch my eyes the most from Soul Path Shoes! As usual with most of these talented artisans I discover, it was tough to narrow it down.

“For years I searched for real artisan footwear. I knew what I was looking for: A handmade leather sandal, shoe, boot or moccasin that was unique, natural, and comfortable; classic leather footwear with timeless beauty and functional elegance. Where did I find it? I found the heart of the craft in the pride of craftsmen of days gone by, I found ideas in the functional designs of ancient civilizations… But no one I could find was making what I longed to find. Or at least not yet… It was then I knew I was on the right path, a path of discovery and creation, and a path with Soul.”

“I love the work I have chosen to do… It is a pleasure for me to work with beautiful, soft leather, and to feel a good tool in my hands as I connect with an ancient tradition of sandal, boot, and moccasin making. I love old, quality tools, and handmade tools and knives the most, as they ring with quality and carry the energy of the maker.”

“It is a skill to learn to sharpen a blade for the task at hand; akin to tuning an instrument – it cultivates patience and presence of mind, and good work may be produced only once the tool is finely honed, as good music will only be produced once the instrument is finely tuned.”

“Making good footwear is difficult, and a custom fitting is more demanding still. One need not wonder for long why this trade and these skills have nearly disappeared – it is hard work, and risky in this day and age. So I am taking the risk of doing what I believe in because I know the value of real quality, and in this modern desert where people are beginning to feel the thirst for quality, some of us are creating an oasis.”

Take a look into the beautiful artistry that makes up Soul Path Shoes.

Shop Soul Path Shoes on Etsy here or the official website, here (where you can also read up a lot more about them).