6.18.2012

Field Trip: Who's the Fairest of Them All @ The Seed

Yesterday I posted about the Bust Craftacular vendors at The Seed, a vegan experience fest-like event, and today I’ll be telling you about the apparel, shoe and accessory vendors in the main event space. A cookie for anyone who can keep the names straight. I’ll be walking you through Vaute Couture, Compassion Couture, Compassion Company…Vaute Company is apparently still up for grabs if you’re starting a business. The more the merrier, right?

This is a long, long post.  My hope is that you'll use it as a reference point when thinking about buying from these folks so I'll put it up on my right sidebar.  I tried to do a brief overview of each, featuring their strongest efforts regarding labor standards or ecological sustainability in addition to selling a vegan product.  I was so proud that people really gave a crap about labor and sustainability on top of veganism since vegan products are so often called out on not meeting the trifecta of responsible manufacturing (animals, people, environment) just because they're vegan first.

Mooshoes 

What they sell: shoes, bags, belts, wallets, books

Why they are good stuff: their house brand, Novacas, is made without PVC in Portugal, complies with EU labor standards and uses water based glues as per the EU solvency regulations; they carry Matt & Nat, who use recycled plastic water bottles in their bag lining; they carry (online only) Mel Shoes – a lower cost Melissa brand – shoes which are made in a low waste facility in Brazil with good labor standards

I  have probably spent $4,897 at Mooshoes already but for those of you who haven’t heard me mention them a bunch…Mooshoes opened a storefront years ago in NYC and filled it with vegan shoes and rescued cats and have an online shop for those of you not lucky enough to try on shoes and pet cats in person.

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Vaute Couture

What they sell: warm-ass vegan coats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, knit goods, jewelry

Why they are good stuff: many of their coats have recycled content; they are made in the US and pay a fair wage; the apparel descriptions list any benefits - what's fair trade, sustainable printing, etc.

You might remember that my winters start and end with my FW09 Vaute Coat. At that time, Vaute Couture was mainly doing coats but she’s since expanded to t-shirts, dresses, knit accessories and has opened a storefront in Brooklyn. Coats are usually a pain to shop for since everything is sheep hair and bird feathers so VC has really fulfilled a need. Are their coats expensive? Sure, but just as expensive as pretty much everything else made within the US and she does a lot of the sustainability legwork on top of decent labor practices so if I do have the money, this is something I'm okay spending it on.  You know, this and cats.

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Compassion Co.

What they sell: really beautifully illustrated message t-shirts

Why they are good stuff: t-shirts printed on As Tees, made in North Carolina; shirts are treated with low-impact fiber reactive dye (approved by the Global Organic Texile Standard), use water-based inks for low environmental impact

Let me get this out of the way: I’m not really a message t-shirt kind of vegan. In my 16 years of veganism, I’ve actually avoided it since vegans are often seen as militant, pushy and aggressively advertising veganism with every breath they breathe. But these designs were really sweet and made me feel less “In your face, omni loser!” than a really kind representation of what vegan means to me. It means awesome animals chillaxing, given the Five Freedoms we all deserve. And, in my crotchety vegan old-age I’ve learned that sometimes message-wear is a nice conversation starter…if you actually have social skills, are compassionate and have something meaningful and respectful to say.  I ended up with the pig shirt being modeled, in black.  And it will be practical!  I can wear it to Christmas dinner with my family since my grandfather can't remember I'm vegan and offers me ham.  Every year.  For 16 years.

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Compassion Couture 

What they sell: shoes, bags, accessories

Why they are good stuff: they sell a number of brands with good labor standards and efforts towards sustainability; Mink uses recycled materials and is made in Italy under EU labor standards; Beyond Skin is made in Italy under EU labor standards; Matt & Nat uses recycled plastic content in their bag interiors; Cri de Coeur bags and shoes are made in various places with decent labor standards (Portugal, NYC, Los Angeles) and Hearts of Darkness (a Cri brand) are made in an ethical sweatshop-free factory in China

I love that when I asked each vendor about the overlap between vegan, environmental sustainability and labor standards, most were eager to talk about their brand. The ladies at the Compassion Couture table were able to rattle off the positive traits of a half dozen brands. They know their stuff.

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Neuaura 

What they sell: shoes


Why they are good stuff: good labor standards (see below) and low-waste manufacturing; use of environmentally friendly materials like hemp

Neuaura's representative was a wealth of knowledge and I picked her brain bordering on harassment. The majority of their fall lines are made in Brazil, in a factory that recycles a majority of their waste and has excellent labor standards (they get time and a half for vacation to be encouraged to take it; nursing moms can bring their babies to work with them). Neuaura’s spring lines (like their current Reneu line) are made in small factories in China. I’ve since seen this info in relation to Elizabeth Cline’s new book, Overdressed, but apparently not every factory in China sucks. I’m told the smaller factories in China have better benefits and more leverage to get them. Neuaura is sold at Compassion Couture, Mooshoes and at DNA stores in NYC.  {The Vintage Traveler reviewed Overdressed and you can see the comments about manufacturing in China in this post's comments.}

neu




Sea Shepherd

What they sell: merchandise to support Sea Shepherd – a lot of nautical designs and Hemp Hoodlamb coats


Why they are good stuff: this is all merchandise supporting a direct-action non-profit protecting the ocean’s inhabitants and it’s actually cute; they have organic cotton shirts, recycled content in the sweatshirts and they also sell Hemp Hoodlamb (uses environmentally conscious materials) I mean, just look at this table. I don’t have to say anything more.

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Herbivore

What they sell: message t-shirts, various bag brands including Baggu, jewelry, belts, wallets, books, etc. (they also publish books)

Why they are good stuff: their t-shirts are sweatshop-free; they carry Splaff belts made of bike tubes and hemp; Baggu bags are made of 100% recycled cotton; varied brands that have different positive efforts

While I outed myself as a vegan with an aversion to message t-shirts above, I enjoy a lot of Herbivore’s designs. I’ve always had a soft spot for their “Bacon had a mom” design and it is way more poignant when it comes in toddler sizes. Ooof. Herbivore has a shop in Portland and it’s where I bought an embossed Couch belt. They have some demure vegan designs nowadays like the VGN anchor design and it’s very cool that they’ve come out with the anchor motif cardigans and necklaces.

herb

8 comments:

  1. Handy dandy! Thank you for all your scouting and reporting--- typing up posts can be tedious.

    I saw Compassionate Couture for this first time this morning (via White Apricot) and am really happy with the concept. Happy enough to throw down $145 for those Mink "Barnacle" sandals? We'll see...

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    1. I know, the pricing can be prohibitive. I usually try to get the most basic colors and styles so I'll be able to wear them with most things I own.

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    2. I don't mind paying for high quality, but there are no stores here where I can poke and prod the eco merch, and ordering sight unseen is a gamble.

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  2. Man, why do cute, eco friendly, cruelty free shoes have to be so out of my price range? I'm not saying they shouldn't be or that they are too expensive, but I can't afford to pay $150 on an eye exam, I definitely can't pay that for shoes. And on top of that, more than half of the shoes don't come in 11. Banished to Payless, yet again.

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    1. That is always an issue that comes up around smaller brands and pricing and it is really a conundrum. I was trying to take a lot of notes around labor and sustainability so I didn't scan prices as much as I could have if I were focused on it but I think the only moderately priced shoes were the Mel Shoes @ Mooshoes (appox $40) but if you're looking for something that can be resoled, these aren't it as their benefit is on their front-end low-waste/labor practice end.

      Both Mooshoes and Hearts of Darkness (Cri de Coeur) have sales on their sites but whether you could buy them would depend on sizing. If you were looking for more unisex shoes, some of the "men's" boots and oxfords are cute and you could probably get them in a 9? CDC/Hearts of Darkness definitely go up to 11 but are often still expensive when discounted - even so, sometimes I get lucky on pricing.

      Pure Citizen and Eco Loving sometimes have vegan shoes brands at discount if you're on those mailing lists.

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  3. Great and informative post! Too bad I don't live in NYC so I could check out these places myself, but I really do need to think about how my clothes came to be. Anyways, I want to thank you for your comment on my recent post :) GOMI is pretty entertainingly true!

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  4. All of these brands are new to me. Thank you for putting them on my radar.

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  5. Thank you so much for these posts! I have so many more resources now - I've had a hard time finding vegan shoes I like. I'm so glad to hear people paying attention to labor issues too - environment is the safe issue everyone seems to like, veganism is "controversial" and no one seems to give any attention to labor.

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