Is swapping a trend or here to stay?

Have you heard of “swapping?”  Swapping has become really popular around the country in the past couple years with the recession, primarily around swapping clothes, but also extending out to furniture and even motorcycles!  The logistics of each swap meet event varies, but for a small entrance fee or sometimes no fee at all, you bring clothes that are in good condition but that you don’t want anymore.  Other people do the same, and you get to swap the clothes people brought in by “shopping” and taking them home with you!  The Swapaholics, founded here in Boston by two friends who love fashion, have been very busy the past couple years hosting events now all around the country.  You can watch some great interviews with them here about what happens at a clothes swap.

Swap events are the ultimate in sustainable fashion.  So it’s clear how swap meets made a lot of sense when the recession hit and people needed to cut back.  These events have been a great way to still get that “retail therapy” fix we all need, but for little to no cost.  It’s become more accepted over these penny-pinching years to shop at consignment stores, repeat wearing your clothes more often, and attend these swap events.  But, as the economy starts to pick-up again and people’s discretionary income comes back, will people go back to the mall and skip over wearing other people’s clothes?  Or have these events introduced a brand new way of responsible shopping that is here to stay?

I think even if the recession is going away, people are still struggling to get by and it will take years to get back to where we were before it all went downhill.  With gas prices going up now due to the protests in North Africa, the cost of clothes and food are the next things to rise, so cutting back on the excesses of shopping will be here for awhile.  I do think for those people who are not so passionate about the consignment store way of shopping, they will be the first to go back to the traditional way of buying new clothes as soon as they have the money to spend.  But for people who have always been interested in sustainability, but just found out about responsible clothes shopping, swap events will be here despite the economy.

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sustainable fashion helps Haiti – Project Reconstruction

this year, indie magazine, VivaLaModa, shared the results of a great contest in sustainable fashion, called Project Reconstruction. for the project, 12 independent designers created a piece of clothing constructed from a men’s shirt.  the results were everything from a dress to pants.  the winning design was this super-cute romper:

the remaining designs are now available on eBay for auction for a really great purpose.  all proceeds will be donated to CARE – Emergency in Haiti, an organization that plans to stay in Haiti until 2015 to help rebuild homes, hospitals, etc.

so to purchase a one-of-a-kind design and help support a great cause in Haiti, bid for one of these items here now!

why buy from an independent designer?

last year, i asked some fellow bloggers and designers why they buy indie.  this year, i decided to ask a very similar question to people who know first-hand what it’s like to support independent artists.  i asked the designers in the clothing menu boutique, “why buy from an independent designer over a mass-market store?” and here’s what they had to say:

a.g. ambroult - “We are living in a crazy consumption-obsessed country and so much is suffering from it. These days, families spend their ‘quality’ time chasing sales, and resources are being depleted in the name of our throw-away culture. Conversely, independent designers do their tiny part by creating quality-made items that are built to last. Many small business owners do their part to use earth-friendly practices, and they help keep the money local, too.”

Fischer Clothing – “To promote innovation, localization (Fischer Clothing is made here in NYC in a small factory that pays fair wages and has high quality standards) and personal style.  People are beginning to re-understand the value of ‘investment dressing,’ which basically means carefully choosing well-crafted pieces which are menat to last for decades.”

Truth – “Independent designers usually put a lot of work and heart into what they create! Plus, you get an exclusive piece, instead of thousands of others with your same piece.”

Pattern Recognitions - “You pay for uniqueness while supporting the artists.”

cuttlefish – “Because there is an opportunity to express your individuality more when your clothing and accessories are not mass-produced and on every third person you walk by.  There is a certain pride that can be taken in wearing something that you worked hard to find, select, and wear in a way only you can wear it.  And a certain pleasure in knowing that not everyone can have it.”

why do you buy from an independent designer?

what do you think of this new recycled clothing line, dollparts?

i recently found out about a brand new clothing line, dollparts, based in chicago.  the concept behind the line is really cool.  the designer, michelle, takes vintage/thrifted clothes and leftover/unused fabric to create new clothes!  she is very focused on ensuring that the clothing line is eco-friendly by minimizing the amount of fabric that is used and by recycling fabric and details, like buttons and zippers, wherever possible. since dollparts is a new clothing line, there are 2 things you can do to make sure it’s a success:

- buy dollpart’s original clothes and vintage finds from the online store that just opened this week

- help fund the clothing line through kickstarter.  there are only 12 more days left – ends October 27!

what do you think of dollparts?

thank you reiter8 for the recycled sail bag!

about a month ago, i contacted katherine at reiter8 about purchasing a custom recycled sail bag. she was very responsive and accommodating – getting back to my questions quickly and giving me choices on color and layout. reiter8 takes sails that are no longer being used and recycles them into unique bags, pillows, wallets, luggage tags and more.

the bag she created for me had a blue number 30 on it with green organic cotton lining. this week is my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary. when they first met, they went sailing a lot and they recently started picking it up again. so my sister and i gave the custom sail bag to them this weekend for their anniversary and they loved it! i was thinking they can use it as a beach bag or for when they go sailing, but my mom loved it so much that she brought it out to dinner that night.

so thank you very much katherine! if you are looking for a unique gift, i recommend you check out reiter8!

what i read: fellow indie blogger Miss Malaprop

Mallory from Miss Malaprop is a fellow blogger who is a big supporter of indie designers.  she even recently opened an online shop selling a variety of handmade and eco-friendly items!  since she’s always writing about new designers on her blog, i asked her to share some of her favorite independent designers with the clothing menu.  here are her words:

When I get asked the question, “Who are some of your favorite independent designers and why?,” it’s a pretty tough choice, as tons of potential picks come to mind. (I have, after all, been blogging about indie designers for 4 years now, so I’ve accumulated a lot of favorites and wishlists!) However, to narrow it down a bit, I just need to turn to my closet. I may covet A LOT of designers and their work, but I try to limit the amount of purchases I actually make. Those who have moved me to buy multiple times? See below:


Emily and Amanda of Ureshii are two super talented ladies based near Vancouver who make the best array of brightly colored basics ever. They use comfy fabrics like jersey made from rayon, cotton or bamboo, and they make just about everything to order, so it’s created just for you, to fit your measurements and color and style preferences. The first picks that I ordered from them were a Drapey Top and a Soft Tunic, which I absolutely love, so after Christmas this past year, I treated myself to a Horizontality Dress. Totally different than anything I owned before, perfectly amazing.

Trashy Diva

I had the pleasure of working here for a couple of years, around 2006-2008, but my love for Trashy Diva goes all the way back to the beginning (1996-ish!), when they just sold vintage clothing out of a little shop in the French Quarter. Since then, Trashy Diva has grown into 4 boutiques in the New Orleans area, plus their clothing line is carried at 30+ other stores all over the world. My former boss, Candice Gwinn, designs all of the clothes you’ll find in the current Trashy Diva collections, and she draws her inspriation from vintage patterns and fabrics from the 1920s-1960s.

John Fluevog

While Fluevog isn’t quite as indie as the previous designers, this company is still a small independent brand compared to many. Fluevog produces AMAZING shoes and accessories, and they’ve definitely got a cult following. I found out about Fluevogs through a couple fanatical friends, and since I bought my first pair, I’ve been hooked. Their shoes are pricey, but they’re worth it. The quality is totally top-notch, their heels are the most comfortable I’ve ever owned, and I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve created a special savings account in the past to save up for a pair of Fluevogs that I really wanted.

all types of denim

lucky for us, denim is big this summer.  bigger than jeans and jean skirts, denim is showing up in all forms – dresses, bags, denim on denim, colored denim, and the list goes on.  for more on how to wear denim, please read denim: the trend of the season and if you want to add some denim to your wardrobe, buy one of these pieces from some great independent designers:

100% vegan denim bag by Pansy Maiden

cotton denim dress by Dainty June

one shoulder woven twill denim shirt by daal

chambray denim romper by Dear Creatures

san francisco independent designers

this week i’ll be out on the west coast for work, where i’ll hopefully be able to enjoy some sun and napa valley wine! there are a lot of talented san francisco independent designers that i’ve read about online, which makes me excited to see the style and maybe bring some of it back to the east coast.  here are 3 unique san francisco designers to give you a taste of the creativity from the city:

Christopher Collins started out in the luxury fashion industry making evening wear.  in 2008, he launched his own line of ready-to-wear designs inspired by his background of luxury, high-quality and femininity.

there aren’t many independent shoe designers, so i was excited to find Form & Fauna.  what makes these stylish shoes so great is that they are sturdy for everyday life and they are made of sustainable materials.

for a completely girly outfit, browse through Alyssa Nicole‘s spring collection.  it is very pretty in pink!

for more on san francisco fashion, check out

independent ethical clothing line: Nixxi

Nixxi is an independent ethical clothing line that carefully picks fabrics that are from fibers not treated from pesticides and works with a local production company to make sure the work environment is fair for employees.  on top of all that, the clothes from Nixxi work for any woman’s wardrobe.  they are versatile, comfortable, and work great as part of a layered outfit.  find out more from Jada-Lee, the designer behind Nixxi in this interview with the clothing menu.

How did you get started creating your clothing line?

I’ve always had an attraction to details and lines, both artistically and practically.  Combined with my love for fashion, designing clothing was a natural fit for me. I started by taking existing pieces and revamping them and then from there, I began designing original styles to sell at the local market. I co-created a previous line for three years and then started Nixxi independently in 2007.

What three words would you use to describe your current collection?

edgy, organic, flirty

What do you think makes your designs different?

Nixxi’s aesthetic is mixing contrasts: draped silhouettes with structured lines; soft knits with textured wovens; taking contemporary shapes and refining them into versatile classic designs.

What do you see in the future for your collection?

Textile prints, accessories, and artist collaborations.

Why should people buy clothes from an independent designer over a mass-market store?

Mass-produced styles can sometimes lack a certain essence and quality. When I buy something from an independent designer, I treasure it so much more knowing that it is unique and that their heart was put into creating it.

clothes from independent designers – all under $50!

one rumor about clothes made by independent designers is that they are expensive.  however, just like clothes available at the mall, indie clothes come in a range of prices.  some are expensive because a lot of time and artistry was put into the clothes and/or the fabrics and materials are of a high-quality.  but most of the clothes from independent designers are very reasonable priced, along with being of good quality and unique.  here is a sampling of clothes all under $50 from some of my favorite indie designers:

every little counts makes tees and sweatshirts inspired by romance and love.

zelaya is a family business from el salvador that makes everinomentally sustainable clothes.

andwhatelseisthere handmakes and tailors fashion-forward clothes from bangkok.

lamixx makes wardrobe staples that are comfortable and made to fit well on a woman’s body.