Monday, September 9, 2013

Five New York-based Designers {brought to you by Ecocult}

Alden Wicker is the voice behind EcoCult, a blog devoted to all things sustainable in New York City. I invited her to guest post here on My Fair Vanity so that she could share a few of her favorite New York-based brands. Enjoy!

When did it become remarkable to find a purse, dress or shoe made in the United States?

In the mid-twentieth century, almost all clothing was made here, and made well. The Garment District in New York City was a sparkling hub for designers, who could get their fabric, zippers, buttons and other notions at a shop, walk it right up the street to a factory employing skilled artisans, and pop in periodically to check on the quality or tweak the design.

But starting in the sixties and seventies, production started to move overseas as large companies realized they could cut costs by employing cheaper labor. Production of clothing in the U.S. has shrunk to an estimated 5% of all clothing sold. New York City factories, facing rising rents and declining sales, have shuttered their operations. The shrinking district employs just 9,000 people in total, and has less than 270 small factories left. Keep in mind, when I say factory, you might imagine a large building, but many of these places take up just part of one floor.

Tax breaks and incentives, re-zoning and other measures have been considered by the city to stop the bleeding. But what really might save the city is a bottom up approach from consumers demanding clothing and accessories made in the U.S.A from brands and designers, who in turn seek out American factories.

And there has been a groundswell lately of support for well-made, beautiful clothing from American artisans, especially given the tragic factory collapse in Bangladesh. I know you’re here because you are one of those conscious consumers, so here are some of my favorite brands and designers manufacturing less than two miles away from my apartment in NYC:

allison parris, made in new york, eco-friendly party dressses

Allison Parris
Parris’ designs are the opposite of crunchy! She makes sparkly, feathery and all-around adorable cocktail dresses and skirts for the girly girl. For a long time, she kept it to herself that many of her dresses uses recycled PET for the netting, because she wanted girls to buy them just because they’re pretty. Of course, she has everything made right in the Garment District.

carrie parry, silk shirts made in the USA

With ladylike polka blouses, sunny yellow shirt dresses and classic skirts, CARRIE PARRY’s fashions will stay in your closet for years. She took top honors in The Green Fashion Competition during Amsterdam Fashion Week and the Ethical Fashion Forum's 2011 Innovation U.S.A. Award. CARRIE PARRY is produced in the New York garment district, sourcing environmentally conscious materials and textiles which support artisanal communities worldwide.

4a Cala Ossidiana
These va-va-voom bathing suits are designed and created in New York, and they are some of the most creative swimwear designs I’ve ever seen. Intricately woven straps, mess cutouts and even layering (who knew you could layer) bathing suits come together in sophisticated patterns that would at as home in the south of Italy as in Miami.

feral childe, made in New York, made in the USA

Feral Childe
Imagined by a duo of designers working out of California and Brooklyn, Feral Childe’s designs are imaginative and at the same time refined. They choose fabrics that are natural, sustainable, organic, upcycled or surplus, and use low-impact dying processes. They proudly manufacture in the New York Garment District.

h. fredriksson, made in the USA, made in the New York garment district
The Swedish designer Helen Fredriksson lives and works in Brooklyn, where she comes up with her dark and sophisticated Nordic designs. She makes mindful fabric choices, choosing natural textiles. I’m especially smitten with her high-waisted, silk trousers.

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