Thursday, 26 April 2018

Penny Loafers: A Love Story

The most important thing about supporting slow fashion is to take care and love the clothes you already own. That way, we won't feel the need to shop for new items as often as humanly possible. To inspire that, I'd love to share an item that I truly love from my own wardrobe—or, more like, my shoe rack. It is my most treasured possession and one I haven't had the pleasure of showing love of in my remix posts, so here it is. If you have some stories of your own, don't hesitate to share along with us!


WHERE WE MET

It was June 2013 when I entered a secondhand store and spotted this pair of shoes. It was love at first sight. By pure chance or fate, I was quite obsessed with penny loafers at the time, having watched Emma Roberts rock them nicely as Nancy Drew, so seeing them in the store felt like serendipity. These were the most perfect pair of penny loafers I have ever seen—before or since. They were clearly made out of real leather and they were quite possibly vintage. They costed 25€, which is definitely a lot less than they would be worth brand new, but still quite a lot for me at the time. I hesitated for no time at all—it took me probably 5 minutes before I decided to snatch them up. And rest is history, as they say.

As soon as I got home, you best believe that the first thing I did was look up the name of the brand. Honestly, I don't remember what I found out but this is what I got recently: the brand is Paul Green, starting out in Munich. It is a local brand, making shoes since 1988 entirely in Europe—Austria, Croatia and Bosnia, to be exact—and claiming to have fair working conditions. One of their commitments is to make shoes for life, not for the moment. And, you know what, from the look and feel of the loafers in my possession, I'm sure it was manufactured maybe over 10 years ago—and it's still in incredible condition.


WHY I LOVE THEM

Although at first I quickly fell in love with their appearance only, I soon discovered so many good intrinsic qualities to these loafers that I find I simply can't live without. First of all, they are incredibly comfortable. Because the material is real leather, it's quite sturdy but manages to expand and shrink depending on temperature—I really notice the difference during winter and summer. I could wear them anywhere and there wouldn't even be a scratch on them by the end. They're very easy to wear, as I can just slip my feet into them in 2 seconds and can fit perfectly to my feet—which doesn't happen with a lot of shoes, especially preppy ones.

Secondly, the colour being quite tawny and neutral really allows me to match them with all sorts of clothing items—dresses, skirts, shorts, pants, anything, you name it! They don't steal the show too much, but offer a great character to an outfit. Thanks to their material, colour and style, these shoes are also perfect for any season—I'd wear 'em spring, summer, autumn, winter, dry and rain. It's unbelievable how versatile they are. Lastly, they are crazy resilient and low maintenance. I can get them soaked in the rain or have dirty from the snow, I need only to leave them out to dry and they'll look good as new. They don't require polishing—in fact, trying to dab them with water or other liquid would only ruin them—and always keep their original colour. And I've taken them for really long walks on gravelly roads and rocky surfaces before, and they're still intact. What not to love?


THE ROUGH PATCH

Every love story has its hard times—and so does this one. In August 2017—and it's actually quite impressive how this hasn't happened sooner—the sole of these shoes fell off when I was about to have a family dinner at a restaurant. I was completely mortified, both because they were the only shoes I brought as I was out of town and because they are my most treasured possession in terms of footwear. The shoe sole became the one thing taking over my mind until such time as I could have them repaired. Fortunately, the shoe technician—what are these people called exactly?—told me that it could easily be fixed and he would do it for both shoes, just in case the other one was ready to drop too. Unfortunately, it did cost quite a lot—the cost of one new pair of shoes. However, it was definitely a non-negotiable decision for me: I decided to have it fixed.

It was hard for me, but I'm just really happy to have my shoes back again. When my Stepmom heard how much it cost to get fixed, though, she chided me and asked why I didn't just buy a new pair. Here are a few reasons: 1.) a new pair will most likely not be as resilient and long-lasting as this one. I can honestly say I've never had a pair of footwear that still looks and feels as amazing after so many wears and so many years. Screw new shoes! 2.) these shoes have held too many of my memories—sometimes my blood—and there is just no way I can replace it that easily. Plus, it's quite a peculiar style that I have tried to find elsewhere but failed miserably. I'd rather have it fixed, thank you very much!

OUR LOVE TODAY

I can today say, without a doubt, that I do not regret buying these shoes 5 years ago. It was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life. They were a major bargain—only a fourth of what could be its original price—and are still in perfect condition. They're crazy resilient and versatile that they ended up being one out of 4 pairs I brought back from Germany. And—guess what?—they are the one pair of shoes that I wear almost everyday presently. I love how they can encompass my style very well in a subtle, timeless manner. They've been in my life for so long—and a very crucial part of my early adulthood too—that I can't imagine not owning them anymore. My hope is that this relationship will keep on going for decades to come—who knows, maybe one day my own daughter would want them handed down to her. They'll be part of more of my stories and important events of my life.

Do you guys have items like this? If you do, share the story!

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Wednesday, 25 April 2018

5 Major Companies Working Towards Sustainability

Aside from this one, all the photos on this post belong to the respective companies

One of the aims of creating a fashion revolution is to make ethical fashion the norm in the industry, not just a niche like it seems to be at the start. With that, obviously, it would be such great news, when we see major brands that may not have had an ethical manufacturing process or fair code of conduct before start to turn over a new leaf and work their way towards sustainability and human working conditions. Fortunately, such changes are already starting to appear in a lot of the worldwide-renown major brands. They may not be perfect just yet, but it's good to know that they're working towards a better future for the fashion industry.

Marks & Spencer

Under the umbrella of their Plan A, M&S has vowed to improve communities, wellbeing and planet by 2025. To this day, they are the first and only carbon-neutral major retailer, with 100% of their wood and paper coming from more sustainable sources. Some of their commitments include becoming a zero-waste business, helping transform 1000 communities and help 10 million people enjoy happier, healthier lives. So far, they have worked together with Oxfam to reuse or recycle clothes, used sustainable manufacturing methods and reduced their food waste. Read about their collaboration with WWF's Emma Keller to source more sustainable cottons here.

Adidas Group

consists of Adidas and Reebok

Taking human rights and the environment as its main focus, the Adidas Group has established several goals they want to reach by 2020, including saving water, reducing waste and conserving energy across all sectors of their business, as well as empowering people, improving health and inspiring actions. You can read here for more details. They are also very transparent about their supply chain, with over 800 factories in 55 countries, including Indonesia. Their website states various aspects related to this topic, including supply chain structure, the way they work together and monitoring in great detail—feel free to read here. It is their believe that, in order for sport to keep on being viable in the future, we need to sustain the earth as it is.

Gap Inc.

consists of GAP, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta and Intermix

To be honest, this one is a bit difficult for me to admit, as Gap was named as one of the major brands to have a hand at the polluting of Citarum River—now named as the dirtiest river in the world. However, it seems that they have made the environment a priority as well, aiming to have 100% of their cottons coming from more sustainable sources by 2021, reducing gas emissions to 50% by 2020 and working to help women everywhere gain access to clean water. Their collaboration with NRDC's Clean by Design program, which ended last year, managed to save 620 million litres of water per year—although it still falls short to their goal of 1 billion. Read all about their ecological commitments here

H&M Group

consists of H&M, H&M Home, Weekday, Cheap Monday, COS, & Other Stories and Arket

Honestly, one of my absolute favourite major brands in the world. Last year, when I used the hashtag #whomademyclothes addressed to them, H&M also responded very well. They have a very broad understanding on sustainable fashion—from setting the goal of having all cottons on their range sourced from sustainable sources by 2020 to advising ways to care for our clothes to prolong wear. At the moment, they have also launched slow fashion collections, such as H&M Conscious Collection—higher-end collection made of more sustainable materials—and Weekday's Remains—a capsule collection made out of leftover materials. They also offer dropboxes, in which people can donate their old clothes for a chance to be recycled. Check out the rest of their sustainability commitments here.

PUMA Group

consists of PUMA, Cobra Golf and Dobotex

As a company, PUMA uses the Environmental Profit & Loss Account, which is basically the monetary value to be paid for their environmental impact, to measure how good or bad they are at being ecologically responsible. PUMA's main goals are to reduce their GHG emissions and become a Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals. They work with partners, such as Leather Working Group, Better Cotton Initiative, bluesign® and the Forest Stewardship Council, to ensure the sustainability of their sourcing targets. They have what is called a 10FOR20 Sustainability Target, in which they state their goal of using alternatives for their key materials, such as cotton, polyester, leather, polyurethane and cardboard, and increasing the bluesign® certified polyester in their products to 50% by 2020. Read all about their commitments here.

None of these brands are perfect yet in their practice, but their efforts should be applauded.

Of course, this is not an encouragement to splurge in any of their shops.

Please only buy accordingly.


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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

5 Easy Ways to Support Fair Fashion

When people hear the term "ethical/fair fashion," I can see their eyes glazing over with the thought that it is an unnecessarily expensive genre of the fashion industry. I know, for a fact, that there are plenty of well-meaning, curious and intrigued people who would love to change the way they shop for clothes, but have been stopped by this stereotype of the niche—that is slowly growing to become the norm. While a lot of ethical fashion brands can be expensive—for good reason—there are various ways in which you can contribute to the cause without breaking the bank. As a tight-budgeted working class citizen myself, who also wants to advocate for ethical fashion, I've found several ways to do so. Here are at least five ways you can start with.


Buy Local

Or what I'd like to call "the lesser of two evils." While it is hard to trace where and how the materials for their products are harvested, local brands—that are, of course, also locally made—already contribute to fair fashion by eliminating sweatshops from their chain of manufacture. From a social standpoint, they also provide job opportunities to the middle-to-lower class citizens. It is even better if they cultivate local cultures, using traditional methods and styles in their products without butchering them into mainstream patterns or textures, devoid of its history and cultural meanings. It would have been, obviously, perfect if they happen to be environmentally conscious too, but, if these are out of our price range, it's okay to settle, for now, with at least the sweatshop-free ones. For Indonesians, here are some you might want to check out.




Find Out

Knowledge is power. The only way we can fight a problem is by researching more about it and really knowing what needs to change or how to solve it. What is even fast fashion? How can we move against it if we don't even know what it is or who support it or how they work? If you're a complete newbie, start somewhere you know. You can begin by finding out about your favourite clothing brands: where their materials come from, their manufacturing process, whether they have commitment to create a better future. This can be as simple as visiting their website and reading their "About" page, but sometimes it needs an enquiring email to acquire. If you've known a thing or two, always keep your knowledge updated, because the industry is turning and some brands may move towards a more positive future. You can always go to fashionrevolution.org and peruse their downloadable documents.


Choose Well

Although the manufacturing process may be a source of ecological damage and human rights violations, it is only half of the battle. How we see and purchase clothes also matter. There is no point in turning to ethical/fair fashion, if we see them as an ephemeral item, ready to throw them away after one wash, then the waste will only accumulate. Which is why it is very important for us to not only look at what we buy, but also how we buy them. If we see an item in a store that we simply must buy, we need to ask ourselves three questions: Will I wear this? How many times will I wear this? Do I want this because of me or because of trends/influence from others? If it seems like you won't keep them for long, maybe it's better to put it back on the rack. Quality also matters, of course. It would be better to buy a $50 pair of boots that would stand the test of time than a $15 plastic leather ones that would fall apart within the year, don't you think?


Do It Yo'self

Another way to cut the chain altogether is to not even be a part of it. Instead of going to store—online or otherwise—and getting an item you take fancy, you pick out your own materials, create your own patterns and put together a piece of clothing yourself. For the materials, there are a lot of secondhand stores that provide vintage fabrics for your perusal, which would obviously be better than buying new from IKEA. Otherwise, if you want to take it a step further—and really customise it—you can also print your own pattern on organic fabric. This way you can control the waste you produce from the process, the silhouette and cut that you may have never found elsewhere and, most importantly, you don't have to feel bad about all the labourers who might otherwise have made the item you purchase. Plus, there is a good chance you won't find anyone else wearing the same thing.


Make It Last

Back to the whole waste thing, the best way to contribute to fair fashion is actually to wear the hell out of what you already own. There is no point to do all of the above, if you're still stuck with the wear-and-toss mentality. The problem with fast fashion lies not only with the manufacturer, but also with us, the consumer. If there is no demand, there will be no supply. The best way to break the chain is not start it altogether. Instead of making it a priority to own everything that's on trend at the moment, set it as your goal to keep wearing your clothes for as many years as possible. Take pride in owning clothes that has been in the family for generations. Feel fulfilled by knowing that you love what you have and you'd like to keep it that way. There are so many ways to learn to fall in love with your clothes all over again—one of which is DIY. Here are some ideas you can transform your clothes into something entirely new, just in case.

I hope this has inspired you to start thinking about how you purchase and treat your clothes.

Let me know if you have other tips on this topic!

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Monday, 23 April 2018

It's Time for a Fashion Revolution!

Today marks the start of Fashion Revolution Week. In case you didn't know, it is a global movement set up by the Fashion Revolution organisation, in which we all do what we can to inspire brands and the greater public to be more ethically responsible about clothing, from producing, manufacturing, selling and, lastly, wearing. It is inspired greatly by the shocking and horrifying event on 24 April 2013 at the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, when it collapsed and killed around 1200 people in the process. This is the building where various clothing brands get their products manufactured, including Primark, GAP, Uniqlo, C&A and Walmart. It became the wake up call for a lot of people worldwide, jerking them away from the daydream, ephemeral way they've been looking at fashion and clothes in general, and forcing them to look at the bloody reality that has been going on for years. Last year, I posted content every single day for a week in regards to Fast Fashion. This year I hope to do the same. Check out the lineup down below!

WHAT IS IT?

Fashion Revolution is an organisation formed by two fashion designers, following the tragedy at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. It has created a global movement, in which people raise the questions on the behind-the-scenes of every clothing brands. It has spread throughout social media. Every year the date that Rana Plaza collapsed has been deemed Fashion Revolution Day and now it has spread into a Fashion Revolution Week—the dates usually announced on their website. On such occasions, fashion revolutionaries worldwide take it to the streets and the cyber world to ask brands the story behind how their clothes are being made. It is a great way to help brands realise that the greater public demands environmental and social responsibilities of the brands they wish to support.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

There are various ways you can take part in the movement, be it online or offline. It is a movement open to everyone and can be done from the comforts of your own home, so don't feel intimidated. The easiest thing you can do is wear a clothing item inside out, show the label, take pictures of it and post it online mentioning the brand and using the hashtag #whomademyclothes. If we're lucky, they will reply with their code of ethics. You can take it a step further by showing off your haulternatives or sharing tips on various ways to support slow/ethical fashion. It is important to spread the word and help people become aware of the issues surrounding the fashion industry. There tend to be various offline activities and events too, relating to this. You can check out the list here, if you're interested in attending one.

WHAT WILL I BE DOING?

Last year on Fashion Revolution Week, I posted slow/ethical fashion-related posts every day of the week. You can still check them out here. This year I intend to do the same—and then some. But, unfortunately, it's my midterm exam period at the moment, so I can't really give you the lineup of posts to expect for the next 6 days. I've got a few already scheduled and ready to go, though, so I hope you'll look forward to those. On my social media, particularly instagram, my plan is to question brands on how ethical their clothes are, by showing the labels. Most importantly, I'll be showing my old items all the love they deserve.

Lastly, at the end of the week, Fashion Revolution always publishes their annual Transparency Index, which you can read to get a good scope of how the revolution is changing the fashion industry. Aside from that, feel free to go through their archives to read all about the life of a factory worker in various parts of the world—maybe even your own backyard! You can also check out other influencers who may join in on the movement too—Marzia, for instance, is an avid haulternative advocate. Or find out about various ethical brands that you may learn to love—even better if they happen to be local. If you're not a newbie on the movement, share along what you've been doing so far to contribute to the cause! It'll be a great source of inspiration.

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Saturday, 21 April 2018

Be Like Ramen

 Yoisho Ramen

Last week I had the pleasure of having a long-overdue sister date with, well, my sister, in which we tried this new-to-us ramen place in the heart of the city—a place I barely ever ventured to anymore—and visited a secondhand book event. Let me talk about the ramen place first, please! It is located at the start of a food district, right after a traffic light, so you could miss it if you're not careful. It's quite small, but very homey with adorable murals, cozy lighting and wonderfully arranged seating. We chose a sofa seat right by the window—for them good lightings, you dig?—and quickly looked through the menu. The menu design, by the way, looks so minimalistic yet adorable! They offer a fusion selection of ramen—soup and dry—as well as rice meals, appetisers and dessert. The waiters are very friendly, attentive and real helpful. We both fell in love with their Cheese Paitan Ramen. Some of the drinks are free flow—with self-service dispensers—and the desserts are really tasty—including raindrop cakes. Most importantly, it was really affordable, especially for Senopati. It definitely deserves more stars than it's getting on Zomato at the moment!

Hand-me-down dress + jacket + socks // old hat // MKS shoes // photos by my sis

After slurping off the last of our ramen, refilled our glasses once and had a long talk on various topics, we headed off to a bookish event by Book for Good. They are currently opening a space where you can donate/swap/adopt secondhand books at Kopi Kalyan. You can either donate your old books, swap them with books of the same genre and language or pay for a book as you wish—there is no minimum amount (but, you know, be considerate, please!). There's also a place where you can just hang out/play while reading books. Every Sunday they also hold fun activities for children, in case you want to visit there with one in tow. My sister and I went there to donate a few of our old books, turned our attention to the used-books section and purchased three for a price of one. I'm not sure what I'm doing, because I have too many in wait already—but it's still one from my TBR list, so that's okay, right? Plus, I'm always a huge fan of cycling things around, so that they needn't go to landfills. This event is still on until 9 May, so make sure you drop by for a visit!

P.S: This is one of the dresses my friend Divina handed down to me and it's quickly becoming my favourite!


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