Not-So-Fast Fashion: My Three Shopping Rules

I like thinking of a closet like a wine cellar: you carefully choose everything to suit your taste, you think of your selections as investments, you educate yourself on the makers, and you expect what you have to last a very long time.

When I cleaned and reorganized my closet recently, I surveyed the items and found most of my collection is made up of vintage (either discovered from vintage or thrift shops or purchased new 20 or more years ago) or second-hand items (found at thrift stores, yard sales, or on Etsy and eBay). Up-to-the-minute fashions? Not really. I have plenty of timeless styles and some on-trend pieces, but very little of it is brand-new — and that’s how I want it. A few years ago, I made a commitment to buy second-hand whenever possible, as part of an effort to make more environmentally friendly lifestyle choices. Since then, I have become even more discerning about what I buy. Sure, liking it and fitting into it are big factors. It used to be enough to feel good in it — now I want to feel good about it too. That’s why I follow these three personal rules for shopping:

Consider the source.
Reject fast fashion brands and support companies with ethical and sustainable business practices. Who makes the clothing? How? Where? (If that shirt is only $3, you have to know the workers who made it weren’t paid fair wages.) Look at labels and look into company practices. Find out about how your favorite brands operate and choose to support those companies that care about people and the planet, with production standards that are fair trade, sweatshop-free, and environmentally friendly.

Start with seconds.
When you buy second-hand items already in circulation — from vintage shops, thrift shops, consignment shops, yard sales, or sites like eBay and Etsy — you’re saving clothes from crowded landfills and also doing your part to minimize demand for production of newer items. Even better: Many worthy nonprofits are supported by thrift store sales. (Some of my favorites: Housing Works, Council Thrift Shops.)

Stay close to home.
When you shop locally, you support your local economy. Cutting down on travel and shipping means you’re also reducing your carbon footprint. Then there’s the feel-good factor: Buying from local shops and designers helps your neighbors and makes you feel like a valued part of the community.

Q&A: Linda Loudermilk

The full portion of this interview was originally published on Greenopia.com

My interview with L.A.-based Linda Loudermilk, a trailblazing designer on the eco-friendly fashion scene whose line of clothing—from red-carpet-worthy dresses to jeans—is made with fabrics that are sustainable and organic.

How did you start your business?

I started with a couture line that was not at all green but I knew it was not all I was supposed to do. In one of my shows I had pieces that showed my connection to nature—one showed a human body fused to a tree with a heart in it that was very goth. I realized after that show that it was the story of what I needed to do with my life: share with people ways to connect with nature, how to respect their bodies and respect nature at the same time—to really connect all the pieces and to make this life of consumerism make sense. Then I did research on sustainable fabrics. Back then, it was only organic cotton so it was very limited. I started talking to fabric and fiber manufacturers and asked to start developing new fibers and new weaves.

Best part of your job?

Constantly creating. I recreate everything I see. I can look at something and be inspired by it. I also have the opportunity to create a new business in a new market and that is a blast.

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

A Yew tree. The Yew is the oldest known tree and they have planted it historically to celebrate burial grounds, so it’s a place where the spirit resides.

Describe your path to green: how and when you became eco-conscious.

I had an experience with nature that healed me from a disease and that literal exchange told me that I needed to respect the earth. That was really a spiritual experience with nature.