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90/10 Conscious Style Commitment: Update 1

FashionablyEmployed.com | Curating a Socially Conscious Closet | Update #1 on the 90/10 Challenge | Information to help make you a more socially responsible shopper with limited time and money

So how’s that 90/10 Socially Conscious Style Commitment going, you wonder? Do you even remember it? I’ve had so many other topics to cover around here, it’s taken me a while to get back to an update. I have, however, been generally following the rules with respect to my shopping habits.

You can check out the original post for more details. For a quick summary, I committed to myself to buy 90% of my clothes through some socially conscious avenue. I recognize ‘socially conscious’ can have varied definitions. I’ve shared below why I thought each item fit into this category or not. At the very least, a little bit conscious is better than not at all. Every little bit helps.

Here’s a quick round up of what I’ve purchased in March, April and May. I’ve worn most of the items, though not all of them. Some I’ve previously shared on the blog and others I included photos of below. Some, like my new Under Armour pants, I wore only in my house during an exercise session. No photos of that.

Items I Purchased / Received

  1. Wrap Dress ~ Maggy London ($8.99)
  2. Shift Dress ~ Emerson Fry ($6.99)
  3. Blazer ~ Barney’s New York ($30.99)
  4. Sundress ~ Tommy Bahama ($6.99)
  5. Jeans ~ Nine West ($5.99)
  6. Jeans ~ Calvin Klein ($5.99)
  7. Jeans ~ Joe’s ($35.99)
  8. Workout Pants ~ Rebel Affair ($85.95)
  9. Workout Pants ~ Under Armour ($50.00)
  10. Shoes ~ Adidas ($135.00)
  11. Workout Pants ~ RBX ($0)
  12. Boots ~ Cole Haan ($116.86)
  13. Jeans  ~ CAbi ($117.45)
  14. Shirt ~ Everlane ($25.00)
  15. Shirt ~ Everlane ($25.00)
  16. Shirt ~ Everlane ($25.00)
  17. Cropped Sweatpants – American Giant ($49.00)

Socially Conscious Pieces ~ 15 of 17 (88.2%)

Total Spent = $751.19

Thrifted Items

Items 1 – 7 are thrifted from either Goodwill or The Salvation Army. I bought all the items over the course of two shopping trips, each of which lasted about 1 – 2 hours.

I know we don’t all have extra hours lying around to go shopping, but it’s a nice “me time” break. I sift through racks by myself and enjoy a little peace and quiet. For me, it’s not a chore. I like the process. This certainly makes the commitment of getting to and through the racks of a thrift store far more enjoyable for me than for some others who don’t have the interest or the patience.

If you’re not into thrift stores but are intrigued by secondhand, a host of online options have popped up over the last several years. Check out my Complete Guide to Secondhand Style for more information about it. You can specifically head to the Secondhand Shopping section if that’s your jam.

Because I bought these items secondhand, I didn’t necessarily consider how they were constructed or the values of the companies when deeming them “socially conscious” for my challenge. Buy purchasing secondhand, I’m keeping these items out of landfills for just a bit longer and reducing the addition of one item I might otherwise have purchased from ever entering the fashion cycle (true at least in theory, and certainly on a grander scale if everyone followed suit).

Workout Gear

I’ve had a bit of trouble finding socially conscious and high-quality exercise gear. Brands abound for those interested in low impact, organic cotton yoga apparel. I wanted something more appropriate for mildly intense cardio activity. I landed on the three following options so far.

Rebel Affair ~ I discovered this brand through Instagram and fell in love with their patterns and bright colors. Willing to pay a bit more for a product made in the United States, I accepted the price tag (which is still less than some other high-end yoga brands).

The quality of the product at this price point left something to be desired. The thin fabric doesn’t flatter in the same way other brands do. The bottoms of the pant legs near the ankle are unfinished (which I don’t love). The waist is fine. I really like the bold colors, but for nearly $90, I won’t be buying this brand again.

Under Armour ~ A larger and more mainstream option, Under Armour has made commitments to uphold fair labor laws, improve environmental impacts of their production, and actively prohibit corruption not only within their company but also from their suppliers and subcontractors. I’ll take it.

Adidas ~ Also more mainstream, Adidas staffs a team of personnel to work with their factories and supply managers to ensure production is up to snuff and meeting local labor laws. This team performs audits of the factories on occasion to ensure they are meeting requirements. Similar to Under Armour, they’ve made commitments to reduce their carbon footprint substantially in the coming years.

I think it can be hard to find sustainable or socially conscious athletic apparel. The thrift stores often have racks and racks available, but it’s not generally of the quality or style I like. Check out this article from Greatist highlighting Under Armour, Adidas and 12 other athletic apparel companies making headway to drive a more responsible cycle of fashion and apparel.

RBX Active ~ I received this product from RBX Active and shared about it previously. You can check out more about the pants as well as my article on Interval Training: Three 20-minute Workouts You Can Complete While Caring For Children (during which I wore those pants) if that strikes your fancy. As I mentioned in the article, I was very happy with the quality of the product. To boot, it’s very reasonably priced, making it a really great value in my opinion.

I didn’t count this as a socially conscious piece. I didn’t find information specifically stating it wasn’t (obviously) but I couldn’t find much to suggest it was. I’m going to assume lack of transparency likely means it’s not so high on their priority list.

Retail Purchases of Everyday Clothes

Cole Haan ~ On a day when they offered 40% off their clearance section, I made an investment in my shoe collection with these gray boots. Their supply chain policy as disclosed on their website doesn’t indicate any special considerations, so I’ll leave this in my “10% category” for lack of information to prove otherwise. If you are interested in a high-quality investment in your shoe collection that will last a while, they currently have 50% some of their sale items.

CAbi ~ Hosted by a co-worker, I attended a party and bought a pair of pink jeans. I haven’t worn them yet. I included this in my socially conscious purchases for their commitment to serving women entrepreneurs around the world through The Heart of CAbi Foundation.

Everlane ~ Passionate about transparency, Everlane shares all sorts of information about their supply chain, production process, financial margins, and more. Each item on the website includes details about the costs associated with it. You can also see photos of all their factories, some of which are in the United States and others around the world. They are all subject to the company’s strict compliance and integrity requirements.

Without a brick-and-mortar store they’re also less expensive than some of their retail counterparts, which doesn’t hurt. Although I haven’t worn them on the blog yet because I just bought them, I have the linen long sleeve tee, the linen tank and the cotton tank in my closet, guns blazing ready for action.

American Giant ~ This all-american made brand is blowing up. After owning a pair of American Giant cropped sweatpants, I totally understand why. They rock! The products are made with great fabrics and high quality details. The founder has gone to great lengths to keep production in the United States while still maintaining reasonable prices. M loves sweatpants and pair of these for him are on the potential gift list.

Their adventure started with the perfect hoodie (Slate magazine called it “the best hoodie ever made”) and have expanded into pants and other similar items. With the cropped pants I have, American Giant found the perfect combination of tailored fit for women in a relaxed, comfortable style. I definitely recommend these! (FYI: Use this link to get 15% off your first purchase!)

Shopping List Summary

Not all of the aforementioned companies fit the epitome of a “fair trade” or “socially responsible” vendor if thought of only in the context of something like an African mother hand-stitching a piece to be later sold in the United States. But in a global economy, I think we’d be foolish to think an entire market of exchange will survive on products solely being made on such an individualized scale.

That’s not to say I won’t support those vendors. In fact, that’s entirely not the case. When I want or need something they sell, I’m more than happy to send business in that direction. The world of responsible consumption, however, can be broader than just the do-good small businesses that make Instagram beautiful.

I hope this helps you identify some more socially responsible alternatives for your style needs. It doesn’t have to be a full-time job or a cost-prohibitive exercise to forego the fast fashion or irresponsible apparel makers in exchange for even slightly more conscious brands and choices.

I know there are unending lists of socially responsible brands. I’d love to hear more in the comments about brands that you love and trust. Also, I have a Socially Conscious Shopping Pinterest board where I share information about brands, articles, tips and tricks to find the best companies, and other resources to make the task of being a more responsible shopper a little bit easier. Join over 1,000 others following the board!

Follow Fashionably Employed’s board Socially Conscious Shopping on Pinterest.

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  1. I really admire your commitment to this, and will be checking to see if Everlane offers international shipping since all my t-shirts are ridiculously worn out. Responsible, not over-consumeristic shopping is a definite concern for me, but living in SE Asia, where thrift stores don’t exist and a lot of the clothing sold doesn’t have a recognizable brand or is a pirated version of a known brand, doesn’t make it easy. My strategy for the past year and a half has been simply not buying clothes unless really necessary…but that has left me with the extremely worn out T-shirts mentioned earlier. 🙂

    1. Hi Keisha,

      Thanks for the note. It’s not until recently that I started considering it either. It’s been interesting being more cognizant about it and it’s definitely resulted in me shopping less. If you do give it a try, let me know how it goes!

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