GIFT GUIDE Wear Your Values: Socially- and Eco-Conscious Fashion

December 15, 2013

In time this season of gift-giving (to others, and of course, to yourself), check out these fashion startups for holiday gift ideas that make it possible to wear your values year-round.

25th Street Collective 

Hiroko Kurihara started the 25th Street Collective (25C), an Oakland-based work space for slow-fashion artisans, because it was the kind of community that she, as a textile designer, had always hoped to work in.

“Slow fashion” is a thoughtful and responsible approach to fashion, the antithesis of the throwaway, disposable industry we’ve come to know. By practicing local, ethical manufacturing and resourcefulness, 25C’s seven resident designers (from jewelers to seamstresses) focus on creating pieces that will last, often working directly with an individual to design and make a unique piece of clothing or accessory.

In addition to her role as 25C’s founder, Kurihara makes high quality boiled wool home goods and apparel like the branch scarf pictured below. With every item sold, another is donated (one for one) to a local non-profit that works with the homeless.

25C also offers creative studios, a storefront gallery, a wine bar, workshops and events. For Bay Area Hyphen readers looking to get creative and make handmade gifts this year, Kurihara invites you to check out their Third Annual Holiday Affair on Thursday, December 19 at 25th Street Collective (477 25th Street, Oakland, CA). Hosted by 25C’s visiting artisans, the event will have all the fabric and tools you need to make thoughtful gifts for your loved ones, and something extra for families of the Oakland Elizabeth House, a transitional program for women and children who have experienced homelessness, violence, addiction, or poverty. 

Kurihara makes high quality boiled wool home goods and apparel like this branch scarf. With every item sold another is donated (one for one) to a local non-profit that works with the homeless.

 

7AGE 

Coffee can keep you warm in more than one way this winter. 7AGE brings apparel innovation from Taiwan to the U.S. with a line of clothing made from recycled coffee grounds sourced from cafes that would otherwise throw them out.

The coffee grounds are made into a yarn-like thread, and then fed into a weaving machine capable of making light summer tops and snug sweaters that are soft to touch, odor-absorbing, and fast-drying.

7AGE founder Harris Liu says his goal is to get as many people excited about the sustainable fashion movement, and move the industry towards fashion that doesn’t sacrifice affordability or style.

His top picks this season are knit sweaters to keep you warm, all made 100% from recycled coffee grounds. Hyphen readers can enter the discount code ‘HYPHEN20’ at check out to receive 20% off the entire purchase.

Liu’s top picks this season include these pictured knit sweaters guaranteed to keep you warm, all made 100% from recycled coffee grounds. Hyphen readers can enter discount code ‘HYPHEN20’ at check out to receive 20% off the entire purchase.

 

Ilano 

In its first year, Ilano has found the sweet spot between indigenous craft and modern chic by collaborating with artisans in indigenous villages to make handbags and home accessories informed by current trends.

Blending her passion for social justice with her love of fashion, founder Roseli Ilano works closely with the artisans, paying them fair wages to create exclusive designs that honor the environment; all goods are made from organic and naturally dyed materials.

“The hope,” Ilano says, “is that these are products you will love and own forever.”

Ilano’s winter collection features colorful goods crafted by two families and a cooperative of expert weavers in Oaxaca, Mexico. Ilanos’s favorites are a whimsical, but functional bird laptop case (which can double as a clutch), and two pillows that will brighten any room.

Ilano’s winter collection features colorful goods crafted by two families and a cooperative of expert weavers in Oaxaca, Mexico. Roseli Ilano’s favorites are a whimsical, but functional bird laptop case (which can double as a clutch), and two pillows that will brighten any room.

 

Retrofit Republic 

Social activists Jenny Ton and Julia Rhee founded Retrofit Republic with a big mission: to change the belief that fashion and eco-sustainability are mutually exclusive.

Their vehicle for that change is sustainable fashion styling, that is, working with individuals, changemakers, and brands to create a look that is uniquely true to the client, a need that often comes up for people transitioning into a new life stage -- like a new career, or parenthood. It’s also a handy service for special occasions like a milestone birthday or wedding.

“We want every individual to feel like they can be the best version of themselves. [We want them] to walk out the door, wearing their values, and really be owning it,” Rhee says.

To inspire, Retrofit creates seasonal lookbooks of styled models of all sizes and backgrounds. This winter, they’ve put forth their boldest and most personal creative endeavor yet -- the Immigration Dreams lookbook that features models and personal stories of immigration (including Rhee’s and Ton’s), based on submissions from the community.

“We wanted to contribute to the national conversation on how a policy bill can and will affect countless American families -- including our own,” Rhee says.

To request a styling session with these gals (or a gift certificate for a friend), e-mail team [at]retrofitrepulic[dot]com. For inspiration, check out their Immigrant Dreams Lookbook.

 Above, Rhee is pictured with her father (L) and below, Ton is pictured with her mother (R).

Justine Lee is a storyteller at IDEO, a global design consultancy, passionate about telling the stories behind innovation. She previously spent 1.5 years in Taipei, where she learned Mandarin and led a mobile app project from concept to launch. Before that, she drove media relations and crafted messages for tech companies and startups at Edelman. She is a proud Bay Area native.

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