By Dr. Marchette Lockette-Smith
Copa Style Magazine Events Correspondent
Wanting to add a few quality items to my wardrobe as the seasons change, I invested in sustainable attire. Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability was brought to my attention while completing business school. I would not have thought about buying green; if the university had not presented it in a case study format and instructed me to review it. It was just one of many case studies I analyzed before graduating. Now, the mother of a young child, my perspectives have shifted.
I completed my MBA while residing in New York City, the fashion capital. Forever a food lover, I would leave swanky restaurants on Astor Place and witness entire families dragging huge plastic bags from Kmart at midnight. Sunday mornings, I noticed uptown ladies dressed to the nines enjoying breakfast at Tiffany's and then splurging on high-end retail therapy. On weekends I spent time in SoHo, a neighborhood famous for its upscale boutiques and artists. I recall seeing buyers scattered throughout the fashion district and tourists rambling through Chinatown stores. Shoppers invest hundreds of thousands of dollars on merchandise annually.
Those memories motivated me to revisit the benefits of sustainable products. Though I am a model, who adores fashion, I also believe in saving money and preserving the environment. Sustainable brands use materials from natural or recycled fabrics. These materials require significantly less chemical treatment, little water, less energy, and no fertilizers or pesticides to grow. In addition, the brands work with factory partners that reduce and recycle the water used in production. Utilizing biodegradable components from natural or recycled fibers and eliminating pesticides or fertilizer minimizes the energy required during product development. These brands reduce their carbon footprint by reducing chemical usage when making items and by using recycled water. This process pays homage to our waterways, atmosphere, and terrain.
Some people, including myself, had difficulty embracing sustainable fashion as sexy and easy to wear. I had no idea how attractive, comfortable, and durable sustainable merchandise is. Individuals can look incredible in a dress, gown, or pair of slacks made from recycled cotton, silk, hemp, bamboo linen, cork, and recycled polyester. I tried on clothing in the District of Columbia and Maryland. I felt comfortable, presentable, fashionable, and attractive in each outfit. I was surprised by the vast array of colors the garments were available in. I looked at jewelry and discovered beautiful pieces. I also found cute handbags so alluring that I purchased one. Another great thing about sustainable clothing is that it last longer, reducing the need to replace items continuously.
I needed to catch up to board the sustainability train. Cate Blanchett, Olivia Wilde, Kerry Washington, Naomi Scott, and Chloe East arrived at various award shows, including the Oscars, donning fashion-forward sustainable attire. The 2023 Oscars marked the first year the awards ceremony came with a sustainable fashion guide for guests. Considering the number of celebrities supporting eco-friendly clothing selections, fashion brands must pick up the torch and run with it, the timing is perfect.
They can popularize environmentally friendly merchandise by making sustainable fashion more convenient and appealing to consumers. Brands must offer sustainable options in a broader range of styles and sizes. Brands need clear product information, noting sustainability. Brands need to increase the promotion of sustainable fashion through advertising and marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, the limited availability of sustainable options is an obstacle for consumers who want viable fashion choices. Consumers need guidance discovering sustainable options in their usual shopping locations.
A Google search led me to The Phoenix(https://www.thephoenixdc.com/), a thoughtfully curated boutique in Georgetown, D.C. The third-generation owner Samantha Hays Gushner's commitment to sustainability and close relationships with their designers and artisans ensures that their clothing, jewelry, and home goods come from responsible, eco-friendly sources. Promoting sustainable fashion through marketing and advertising campaigns is imperative. By making sustainable fashion more available and understandable, merchants can encourage consumers to make sustainable choices and help build a more responsible fashion industry. Another standout boutique is Outerknown (https://www.outerknown.com/).The brand educates consumers about the benefits of investing in sustainable products. They also ensure easy access to their merchandise with four brick-and-mortar locations (New York, NY; Boston, MA; Malibu, FA; and El Segundo, CA).
My last visit was to Bitter Grace DC (https://bittergracedc.com/), 526 8th St SE. They genuinely promote conscious shopping. Their motto is quality over quantity, looking to sell garments that can last a lifetime. Bitter Grace invites consumers for an elegant afternoon tea experience twice a month. Consumers can enjoy a beautiful setting and a delicious assortment of savory & sweet treats. They also offer monthly events. Sometimes events focus on networking, and other times guest speakers are invited to speak on topics such as recognizing your self-worth, business development, or stress relief modalities. Bitter Grace DC genuinely understands the need to build community. I have committed to two things: my daughter and I will enjoy tea next month and go shopping afterward. Get ready Bitter Grace; the Smith ladies will often be visiting.
(Editing & Layout by Rodney Wayne Branche)