by Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff,.EcoStiletto
Last month’s assertment that Los Angeles was the epicenter of North American eco-fashion ruffled a few feathers—from New York to Canada. (“The Emerald City? Puhleeze!”) Our eco fashion part deux:
There’s eco-jewelry and then there’s fine eco-jewelry, the kind of serious pieces think about for a long time before you buy them—and wear them for a long time to come. New York-based jewelry designer Sandy Leong’s gorgeous, angular cocktail rings—crafted exclusively in recycled gold with fair trade gems like the one pictured above—are just those kinds of pieces, and have made fans of celebs like Zoe Saldana, Kristen Stewart, and Fergie. Not bad company to keep.
We’ve loved Lina Rennell and Ashley Watson separately for a while now—Lina for her swimsuits and Ashley for her upcycled leather jacket purses—but their new collaboration on a series of bags crafted from hand-printed organic cotton with recycled leather accents is a dream come true. With Ashley in New York, Lina in NorCal and the bags made in Canada, this is truly a multi-city offering.
There’s nothing basic about LABEL’s Tony tee. Crafted from the thinnest possible, tissue-weight lyocell, it’s equally at home at the beach as it is on the dance floor. Since 2007, LABEL has utilized all natural, organic, renewable or reclaimed fibers to make their sporty-meets-sexy designs. Can we get one in every color?
The genius behind eco-fashion mecca TEICH, Allison is a super-green geek—we say that ever-so-lovingly—who retrofitted her East Village location with vintage fixtures, low-VOC paints and energy-efficient lighting before opening in 2009. She offers a wide range of sustainable jewelry and accessories, mostly made locally in New York City, but our favorite is her eponymous line of TEICH handbags like this vegan ultrasuede, organic-cotton lined Nolita shoulder bag with the detachable vintage chain strap.
Vancouver-based Flora and Fauna specializes in sustainable separates, like this back-to-the-beach hoodie shrug crafted from organic bamboo and cotton and accented with coconut buttons. Plus, $2 of each sale goes to local animal rescue associations. (Cute dog not included.)
Brooklyn design house Feral Childe is known for their hand-drawn textile prints and construction details—a peplum here, a plume there—crafted from sustainable materials. Find them—and other cutting-edge eco-designs—at eco boutique body politic, which adheres to its sustainable ethics with recycled shipping boxes and an emphasis on low-carbon-footprint online catering to customers with emailed size recommendations and style tips.
Wear your inspiration on your sleeve? Try moving it up to your shoulder with Boston-based Pansy Maiden’s new Lady Day bag, inspired by Billie Holiday’s signature gardenia and crafted in all-vegan-all-the-time materials like organic twill and hemp. Sweet and rugged, dainty and durable—just like all our favorite heroines.
The steel canyons of Pittsburgh are crawling with green start-ups, despite the dirty reputation the industrial age has left with the city. Local designer Jonano pioneered the cultivation of eColorgrown cotton at a Brazilian artisan cooperative, where organic cotton grows in a rainbow of gorgeous colors without dyes, but we’re partial to their new line of water color dresses made from organic bamboo and cotton that look to us like a gorgeous cloudy sky—the perfect counterpoint to a sunny summer day.
We may love peace silk evening gowns, but even a green girl’s gotta work. We love Seattle-based Plaid Doctrine’s new line of vaguely preppy work bags crafted from vintage-inspired fabrics made from recycled bottles, accented by veggie-tanned leather. We’re snapping it all up, from briefcases to laptop totes to accessories like this smart—yes, we said it—purse organizer, which could very well double as a clutch.
Winner of the first-ever eco-fashion “Designer of the Year” award from Fashion Takes Action, Canadian designer Nicole Bridger is an original innovator of the Vancouver sustainable fashion movement. Nicole learned about sculpting fabric while working with Vivienne Westwood, then applied the knowledge to fabrics such as naturally pest-resistant—and therefore truly organic—linen, like the beautiful Presence top, pictured below.
With its clean lines and innovative designs, Thieves spearheaded the Canadian eco-fashion movement when it was launched by designer Sonja den Elzen in 2006. Four years later, Thieves is still setting milestones—summer’s five-in-one tencel dress, which can be worn a myriad of ways, is a definite case in point. We can’t wait for next season, when the label introduces pieces crafted in beeswax organic cotton, like the wrap belt we’re sneak peeking here. Shhh.
There’s a reason Vancouver-based Nixxi has such a cult following: The line infuses refined classics with edgy, contemporary styles crafted in sustainable materials like hemp, soy and linen. Eco-dyed and sewn in fair-trade Canadian factories, this is a line with its ethics intact. Oh, and did we mention that each and every piece is ridiculously cute?
Leanne McElroy’s eponymous label hits sustainable fashion on every level. Not only do her clothes rock, but she manufactures through fair-trade cooperatives in Indonesia, where she also sources her certified organic or sustainable fabrics, including the buttery soft chambray tencel denim featured in these adorable slouchy trousers.
Soft buttery fabrics like micromodal and tencel—created from beech and eucalyptus trees using a “closed loop” process that isolates and recycles chemicals before wastewater is released—flatter most body types, while carefully-placed details such as gathers, pleats and ruffles make Vancouver-based Lav and Kush a staple of any ecoista’s closet.
So stop with the bickering, city girls! There’s definitely enough eco fashion to go around!
A small woman with a giant smile, Makini cooked for a ridiculously star-studded Earth Day party hosted by Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix and planned by Simone Le Blanc, at the home of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner in Pacific Palisades. EcoStiletto’s Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff joined the party to nab an exclusive interview with the chef, who might just do for vegan food what Alice Waters did for organic.
Guests ranged from hard-core vegans like Mike White—wearing a “vegan mafia” shirt made especially for the occasion—to admitted carnivores. All were curious about Makini’s innovative cuisine—what she calls “bridging the gap between carnivores and plant eaters”—which brought fans Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix on board as investors to launch Plum Bistro LA this fall in Los Feliz.
A lifelong vegan, Makini represents the third generation of a nearly 40-year-old family business. “I don’t believe animals are made for food,” she said. “Violence begets violence…veganism feeds a vision of peace.” She and her family own four vegan restaurants in Seattle, all of which serve certified organic food and are operated with environmental consciousness in mind. Plum Bistro LA boasts a partner in Graham Baba Architects, who specialize in sustainably rehabbing and reusing existing building materials to create spaces that are at once vintage and modern.
For Makini, veganism is a natural progression of environmentalism. “You have to see the big picture of veganism and sustainability and how it affects the planet,” she said. “By the mere act of being vegan you reduce your carbon footprint.” Her stance is backed up by facts: Livestock production is now responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions—that’s more than all modes of transportation combined. And last year, the U.N. went on record to recommend that people cut down on meat consumption in order to combat global warming.
Veganism is also about health: As the federal government exposes slaughterhouse practices that result in salmonella in chicken and feces in beef scandals, data on vegetarianism finds lowered cancer rates and rates of obesity.
But back to the food: This is not your mother’s tempeh. Makini served up mouth-watering dishes like her signature “mac and yease,” cornmeal-encrusted seitan sliders and ricotta tofu served with pears as examples of what she calls “rustic, vegan, American food.” After introducing the finale—a coconut-lime cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust—Makini concluded, “We want to make sure you don’t miss the meat.”
With Makini in town, not likely. For more of EcoStiletto’s exclusive interview with Makini Howell, please visit the EcoCelebrity section.