The Conveyor Belt, NYFW and the Conscious Designer


I have really been enjoying following Terri Potratz, Kris Krug and Shallom Johnson via The Conveyor Belt share their experience at New York Fashion Week. They are down there representing Vancouver fashion well.

Potratz is also the mastermind behind Larry. and Kris Krug is the founder of Static Photography.

You can check out Shallom Johnson at Stylefinds, and Van Fashion Week (just to name a couple)

New York Fashion Week will run until the 20th of February. On the 21st, NOW takes over to showcase eco-friendly styles from conscious minded designers:

“NOW is a forum of the newest in progressive, conscious-minded, independent, locally produced fashion design. THE AUTUMN ’09 NOW showcase features a well appointed & intoxicating collective assortment of what is sensational in accessories, womenswear, menswear and eco lingerie. Spring/Summer09 immediate collections also on display.”

Good to know there will be some ethical representation.

Source: Eco Fashion World “Now is the Time”

Here comes the ethical bride…

Vera Wang, Ball Gown; Zea-Ivory


The current issue of Ethical Style has dedicated itself to brides to be: “Big day, big decisions — how to turn your white wedding green”


It offers simple suggestions toward some ethical options on your big day.

The greatest thing about the guide however is the wide range of resources it provides; including the 3D’s: diamonds, dresses and destinations.

A perfect illustration that an ethical choice doesn’t have to be


a) ugly


b) expensive (actually, in some circles the jury may still be out…)


You brides probably have enough on your mind, but you may be surprised at what you find inside this issue….so follow the link.


Source: Ethical Style

Photo: Vera Wang at Pre Owned Wedding Dresses

Vivienne Westwood: PVC Debate


Lady Dragon
Vivienne Westwood: Lady Dragon

Vivienne Westwood recently teamed up with Melissa to create a new shoe collection. “The Fashion Audit: 02/02/09” in The Independent claims that these shoes are made from recycled rubber. The shoe company offers limited information on the details of the environmental factors associated with the plastic. One thing for sure, the shoes, like all Melissa shoes, are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Now, I am no expert on PVC, that’s for sure, but I seem to recall the material being associated with some pretty serious safety and environmental risks. What’s changed? Apparently, at least one PVC manufacturer (Grendene), has been producing sustainable PVC since 1996?

Vancouver based Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) takes a clear stand against the use of PVC in its products. According to MEC,

“Polyvinyl chloride, known as “PVC” or simply as “vinyl”, is a common compound used in thousands of products. But for us and the planet, it’s bad stuff. During manufacture it produces potent carcinogens and toxins including dioxins, chlorine residue, and heavy-metal pollutants. Over their lifespan, PVC products can off-gas and leak some of their dangerous additives. PVC is difficult to recycle; most of it ends up in landfills. When burned, it releases further dioxins and gases such as hydrogen chloride.”


According to Melissa,


“Plastic is the chosen medium to communicate technology and renewal”

“Because our products are created from mono-materials they can be easily disassembled and recycled. Solid, liquid and gas residues, left over from our production process, are recycled and dealt with in-house. Nothing leaves the factory without being treated, resulting in practically zero waste.”


The company sources its PVC from Grendene, whose site offers no real information on the material. You can read the company’s Code of Conduct here, and a statement on PVC here


I have sent in an email to the people at Melissa, Vivienne Westwood, and Grendene requesting more information on PVC and will hopefully hear back and write more on the subject at a later date.


You can find “The Fashion Audit: 02/02/09” by Harriet Walker here

You can read more on Melissa’s sustainable plastic dreams, and the designers working with the company here


FEI Conference


Clean Clothes Campaign via FEI
A home worker's work bench in Belgrade, Credit: Clean Clothes Campaign via FEI

Fashioning an Ethical Industry: Putting Ethics into Practice March 11th, 2009


This is a one day conference that will bring together experts in ethical fashion, as well as students and tutors, to discuss the current state of the ethical fashion industry, and ways to put ethics into practice. There is no question this will be an excellent conference.


You can read more about this year’s conference and speakers here.

To read a report on last year’s event click here, or to listen to a podcast, click here.

Source: FEI

re: manufacturing TOMS


Unsatisfied with the available information on manufacturing on TOMS site, I send the company some questions via email on Dec. 4th. Sean Scott, Chief Shoe Maker, responded today with some answers. Attached to the email was the company’s Code of Conduct. This information is not available online. If you are interested in reading the Code of Conduct, I suggest you send a request to, or send me a message and I will forward it over to you.


MH: How does TOMS define fair labor standards?


SS: Fair labor standards are defined largely by the local government but mostly by TOMS collective conscience.  We easily exceed worldwide legal standards.  “Fair labor standards” covers a broad spectrum of issues.  Please refer to attached TOMS Code of Conduct required of all our manufacturers.


MH: How does TOMS define fair labor wages? 


SS:  Please refer to attached TOMS Code of Conduct required of all our manufacturers.

MH: How often are your factories monitored? Your site simply states ‘routinely.’


SS:  TOMS employees are in our China and Argentina factories virtually every day.  So we can be sure there are no egregious human, social, safety, or environmental violations.  That said, we are not experts in these fields.  Therefore we contract factory audits by well-established, independent firms 1 or 2 times per year to enlighten us of any important issues.  

MH: What are “TOMS strict standards”?


SS:  Again, Please refer to attached TOMS Code of Conduct required of all our manufacturers.


MH: Who is the third party monitor used by TOMS responsible for factory audits?


SS:  Intertek (ITS)


MH: Congratulations on the success your company has had with your “one for one” campaign. My concern here is with transparency with respect to manufacturing.


SS:  Good questions all.  The above and attached info is available to anyone: Grad student, street musician, competitor, whomever…

Take care,




The obvious question now is why this information is not available on the company site?

goodprint vs. badprint


I had recently done a post on ebay and World of Good, Inc. After taking a closer look, I was surprised to find TOMS shoes categorized under “Economic Empowerment,” for shoppers interested in supporting “People Positive” consumption practices. For those of you who haven’t heard of TOMS, they are a California based shoe company that has received lots of buzz over their “one for one” campaign. According to company policy, for every shoe sold, one will be donated to a child in need. The shoe drop-offs are well documented through photos and video, available on the site. Unfortunately, the company has not been as transparent with respect to how their shoes are manufactured. Listed under FAQ’s you will find some information, however this information has in no way separated TOMS shoes from any other shoe company, and is hardly enough to qualify the shoes as sustainable/ethical. Despite this fact, World of Good and ebay have categorized TOMS shoes as an option for shoppers to promote economic value and empowerment.