Thursday, May 5, 2011

Accessories Anonymous: Moop and Environmental Fashion

If you're environmentally conscious, you might have a problem when searching for a new handbag. Whether you want a basic cotton tote, or a "vegan" leather handbag, you're often forced into choosing the lesser of two evils. For example, with most "vegan" items, the leather may be faux, which means it wasn't obtained in a cruel manner, but that doesn't insure that it wasn't produced in an environmentally destructive way. The same goes for cotton- are you aware that cotton accounts for about one quarter of the pesticides used in the United States? "What about organic?" you ask. Well, the cotton itself may have been organically grown, but what about the dye and manufacturing process? Most cotton is shipped overseas to China to be milled, woven and dyed before being cut and sewn into garments. The fashion industry is unfortunately one of the most environmentally destructive industries there is and while we may not be able to change that overnight, there are steps we can take to have less of a fashion "footprint."

One such way is to purchase items that are not only created in an environmentally sustainable way, but to also make sure those items will stand the test of time both in terms of fashion and wear. In a time when "fast fashion" is all the rage, consider buying something classic and durable. A white button-front shirt, a black pencil skirt, a basic cardigan- these are all items that will always be in style. If you invest in classic pieces that are also well-made, they will survive many uses. If you purchase inexpensive, poorly-made versions, you'll just end up replacing them in a couple of months when they fall apart. That classic piece will have gone from wardrobe staple to disposable fashion.

I admit, it's not always easy to find these classic, durable pieces, so when you do, share the wealth! Let your friends and family know where you got it and why it's so great. I recently found what I think is a company worth mentioning for their manufacturing practices and textile choices and of course for their classic style: Moop.

Moop is a small handbag company based in Pittsburgh, PA and not only are their bags stylish and beautifully crafted, but they source their cotton and waxed canvas from within the U.S. and make all their bags by hand in their studio in Pittsburgh. I asked owner and designer Wendy a few questions about the cotton and waxed canvas they use and here is what she had to say:

Me: First, can you tell me a little bit more about the materials you use- I'm curious about the environmental impact of the materials. It seems you use a lot of organic cotton, but can you tell me more about the waxed canvas? What are its benefits in terms of use and durability? Also, is it organic like the cotton you use? I also saw that it is neither washable nor dry-clean-able. Do you consider that a drawback with that particular textile? 

Wendy: We use a 100% cotton canvas (some of which is organic, grown, milled and dyed in the US) and nylon cordura (also made in the US).  The waxed canvas we use is produced by a 7th generation family business operating in the United States.  The material is very durable and highly water repellant due to the wax finish that is applied to the canvas.  This makes it unable to be put through the washing machine, but it does not need it as it does an amazing job of repelling dirt and grime as well as water.  It's our favorite material and we love how well it works with our designs!

Ultimately, I think this is a brand I could get behind, partly for their manufacturing practices, but also because of how GORGEOUS these bags are! A few of my favorites:

(I like it in Gunmetal Grey, but it's also available in Black, Brown and Rosewood)

This bag makes me smile. Provincial Blue is definitely my favorite color, but there are several to choose from.

I'm also a huge fan of the Porter, the Very Useful Tote and the Letter Clutch. For more information about Moop and their products, visit their website and blog

If you know of any companies and/or products that are sustainable, or who try to minimize their environmental footprint, please leave a comment below- I always want to know about more great companies and products!  


Maria said...

Excellent post! Those bags are gorg.

Beth said...

Thank you for addressing environmental issues and fashion. You've done so in a couple of posts in the past, and you do such a great job of presenting practical, informed ways of being an environmentally conscientious fashionista.

Renée T. Bouchard said...

Beth- thank you! You leave such great comments that are true pieces of feedback, which is exactly what I love!

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