Three Brands to Invest In | The Fight Against Fast Fashion

Fast fashion has taken over the industry. Companies such as Uniqlo, H&M*, Zara, and Forever 21 produce mass amounts of cheaply made, low-quality clothing that won’t last more than a few months, perhaps a little over a year if you’re really lucky and take good care of your clothes. What’s more, these companies produce clothing that’s considered “in” for the time being but “out” in a few weeks, so they’re always updating their collection with more and more clothes.

This is not sustainable and is awful for our planet, for a few reasons. One, the production methods to create these mass-produced clothes cause tons of pollution and excess waste that harms the environment. Two, these companies create excessive amounts of clothing that do not get sold, and they send the clothes to landfills instead of keeping them for next season. (This applies to some but not all fast fashion companies. But, still.) Three, the fast fashion industry encourages people to update their wardrobe constantly so that they keep up with the latest trends or fads, which leads to overconsumption. While some people do the right thing and donate/give away/sell their old clothing, others throw them away without a second thought. The latter is not the way to go.

But, enough about what fast fashion companies do wrong and what’s wrong with the fast fashion industry. This post is about sustainable, environmentally friendly fashion companies that do it right. This post is meant to encourage people to deviate from the former and invest in the latter. I will admit, I was someone who loved, shopped at, and advocated for places like H&M. But, the more I learned about the fast fashion industry, as well as sustainable fashion companies, I stopped shopping at the fast fashion places. I learned to practice what I preached: choose quality over quantity. I now invest in every piece of clothing I buy, opting for higher-quality, sustainable garments that happen to come at a higher price point. However, these garments will last 10x as long, which gives me a higher return on my investment. I’m 100% okay and happy with that. Here are three companies I believe in and am investing in as I overhaul my wardrobe.

 

ASKET

For those who know me, I’ve spoken about ASKET before. For those who read my blog but don’t know me personally or very well, I’ve written about them when I wrote a product review on their “The Sweatshirt.” Either way, I love ASKET and have advocated for them for a while.

ASKET, a Swedish-based company committed to slowing down the fashion industry, create men’s wardrobe essentials that are high-quality (think: Egyptian cotton and Japenese raw denim) and meant to last, all while keeping the price tag reasonable. They put time and care into their permanent clothing collection to ensure every article won’t fail their customers and will embody their company’s mission.

They also do this amazing thing called “Full Traceability,” in which they trace every component of their garments, from where the raw materials come from to every factory involved in their creation. They are not at 100% Full Traceability yet, but they work toward this goal continuously, and I know they’ll reach it someday. And, finally, on top of every fantastic thing that ASKET does to achieve sustainability, they have a shipping option called “RePack” — a 100% recyclable package that reduces CO2 emissions and produces less trash — that can be returned and reused up to 20 times!

ASKET is more than a minimalistic clothing company focused on a core clothing line meant to combat fast fashion. They are quickly becoming a leader in sustainable fashion, and I plan to stand behind them for years.

 

Patagonia

Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear company based in California, deserves 1,000 damn awards for their commitment to sustainability and saving our world. It’s simply too much to include in one blog without writing a book, so I will mention a few things about them. To start, they produce their clothing from recycled materials, organic cotton, and other environmentally friendly materials to cut down on waste and reduce landfill.

They also are committed to restoring their customers’ damaged clothing, offering unparalleled services to either repair the clothing or offer different solutions, so their customers continue to wear their “old” Patagonia clothing instead of throwing them away and buying more. Also, similar to ASKET, they have “Footprint Chronicles” to offer transparency into their supply chain, showing customers what textile mills, factories, and farms they use.

Oh, and as I am sure some of you know, they donated their 10-million-dollar tax cut to groups fighting climate change. Talk about an amazing donation and way to help save our world. This is on top of their commitment to donate “at least 1 percent of our sales to help hundreds of grassroots organizations,” states their “Company Info” page.

Again, I could go on and on about Patagonia. But, I cannot write forever, right? So, explore their website and read all about the great things they do! I’ve come to love them the more I research them, and their mission “to save our home planet” inspires me to help any way I can.

 

Bread & Boxers

Bread & Boxer sells essential basics — underwear, socks, shirts, lounge pants — that are a viable option for everyday basics. While their products may seem simple, the work they put into their products for sustainable reasons is far from it.

They create their clothing from organic cotton and cold-dye their products. The former produces long-lasting clothing that you won’t toss out after a few months, while the latter “reduces the water consumption by half and minimizes energy consumption,” according to their website. I’ve owned their underwear for a few months now, but they show no signs of wear even after dozens of wears and washes.

Bread & Boxers also opt for sea shipping instead of air or ground to minimize their carbon footprint, which is something I’ve never heard of as a primary shipping method or even thought about, really. It makes sense, but I always thought air shipping was more environmentally friendly on the grander scale.

This company makes a great effort to be sustainable, from the materials they use to the shipping method they prefer, and their efforts earned them a spot in this post.

 

The fast fashion industry had its glory, but now it’s time for the sustainable fashion industry to take over. However, that’s not saying fast fashion companies should vanish completely. They should evolve, taking a page from sustainable fashion companies to use organic or recycled materials; develop a core collection of clothing to focus on, instead of changing what they sell constantly; and choose production methods that do not harm the environment. By turning all fashion companies sustainable, maybe we can get one step closer to saving the planet.

 

*H&M recognized the damage they do to the world as a fast fashion company, and they’re actively working to become more sustainable.
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Apartment Update!

I’m a firm believer that we should invest in our living space until it’s an extension of ourselves and inspires us to pursue our passions. I took a long look around my apartment last month, and while I do love my place, I knew it needed some upgrades to truly resemble and inspire me. I needed to invest more in it.

Bedroom

The investment began when I went to IKEA to improve my bedroom. I still have plans for it, but I like where it’s going. As you all may remember from my previous blog post, I rearranged my bedroom a little and added a large mirror, a kerosene-inspired lamp, wooden hangers, a new hamper, and a wooden figure to liven the room up.

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Bathroom and Kitchen

The bathroom hasn’t changed at all, and I only have smaller additions to my kitchen, specifically a gooseneck kettle, Bodum coffee maker, Pur water filter, and drying rack for my clothes. I love these two rooms as they are, so I don’t plan to make any significant upgrades to them.

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Living Room

The final room is the living room, which I want to upgrade in phases to spread out the costs. A few not-so-recent additions are my tripod floor lamp and my plant, Vincent. I love these two pieces, and I believe they improve my living space significantly. 

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Over Christmas weekend, I received an outstanding picture of Benton, my hometown, from Bridgett, who said it best: “It fits your aesthetic perfectly.” The picture also helps me remember my roots and never forget the small town that raised me. I did plan to hang it up, but I found I’m not too fond of hanging things. So, I leaned it on my fireplace mantle. I LOVE this photo and its aesthetic.

I also purchased a Mid-Century Modern tv stand from Modway on Christmas Day. I’m fascinated and in love with the Mid-Century Modern aesthetic, and I plan to decorate my entire apartment in this home decor style. Surprisingly, I built the tv stand within 45 minutes and didn’t want to snap it in half from anger. Go, me! I think it’s a huge upgrade from the one I started with — a simple, black tv stand.

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Up next for the living room is a new coffee table and to improve the alcove. I want a circular, marble coffee table to satisfy the former desire, but the latter will take some time. I mean, I don’t mind the desk and corner stands, but I don’t love them. I want to love every section of my apartment, and I think the alcove is the final part. I’m not sure how to improve it, to be honest, so any ideas are helpful!

I treat my apartment as a sanctuary, if you will, to seclude myself from the outside world and focus on my life. I utilize the quietness to develop and plan the “what’s next?” Not only that, but I also use my apartment as inspiration to pursue my passions — fashion, lifestyle, writing, and photography. I love this apartment. I’ve said it since the first day I looked at it, and I’ll say it long after I move on to greater things. I hope you like what I’m doing with the place because I know I love it.

IKEA Shopping Haul

Do you know the phrase, “Like a kid in a candy store”? That’s how I would describe me during my first trip to IKEA, a furniture company that focuses on contemporary and minimalist home decor. I’ve heard great things about IKEA from Instagram influencers, Vloggers (video bloggers), and the internet, but I never had the chance to visit because the closest location is in Schaumburg, Illinois. However, I had the opportunity to visit this past weekend. My girlfriend, Bridgett, and I set aside a day to visit the mall and IKEA, but we should’ve dedicated the full day to just IKEA.

All I can say is, “wow.” IKEA is the furniture store of my dreams. Everything the store sells is simple in aesthetic, high in quality, and reasonable in price. Even the food court was outstanding and cheap. You can get pieces of furniture for half the price that companies like Target, Amazon, Walmart, Shopko, etc. would run you. But, just because IKEA is cheaper, that doesn’t mean the quality is poor. Quite the contrary, all their items are rather high-quality and will stand the test of time.

Because IKEA is the furniture store of my dreams, I was “like a kid in a candy store” the whole time we were there. With my eyes wide and mouth gaping, I sped from area to area, touched everything I could, and almost ran my cart into everything because I wasn’t paying attention. Luckily, I contained myself to act like the 22-year-old male I am. I also restrained myself from purchasing the whole damn store, and instead just a few items, which are listed below.

NISSEDAL Mirror

I’ve always wanted a large, body-length mirror, and I’ve had my eyes on this NISSEDAL Mirror for some time — I think for two years — but I wasn’t going to buy it online because I didn’t want to pay for shipping or risk it getting damaged. This mirror is exactly what I thought it’d be, and it looks amazing next to my clothing rack.

Mirror and clothes

BUMERANG Wooden Hangers

Nothing improves your wardrobe space like wooden hangers. They add a layer of sophistication and elegance to something as simple as hanging clothing. They also work great for sweaters and chinos that you’d normally fold and put in your dresser drawers because the hangers are thicker and don’t damage the clothing’s shape.

JÄLL Laundry Bag

I had to upgrade from the plastic, chipped laundry basket I used for three years in college, so when I saw this laundry basket for $5.99, I wasn’t going to pass it up. I also like the plastic bag and simplicity of it.

Clothing basket

GESTALTA Artist Figure

I got this figure for decorative reasons. It’s unique and fun to play with. My high school art teacher used to have one, and I thought it was really cool, so I had to snag for $7.99.

Wooden figure

TÄRNABY Table Lamp

I’ve been in the market for a table lamp to sit beside my bed. I’ve been using an LED lightswitch nightlight that just wasn’t providing the amount or quality of light I wanted. What I mean by “quality of light” is I like warm light over cool light, in which the former produces a yellow hue while the latter generates a white hue. Warm light provides a greater sense of comfort and hominess, which I love. When I saw this table lamp from TÄRNABY, I knew my search was over. It replicates a lit kerosene lamp, which you can adjust the brightness to your liking.

Lamp

I spent $108 on these five things, which is truly a steal. At any other furniture store, you’d be charged well over $150-$200. Even though I couldn’t get the tv stand I wanted because it’s out of my budget (which is okay because I’ve had my eye on this one and plan to buy it soon), I’d say this was an amazing first experience, and I’m extremely happy with this shopping haul. I know this may be the first IKEA visit, but it sure won’t be the last. There’re two more pieces of furniture I’ve had my eye on, which you can see here and here, but I want to think about getting them before I actually do. Either way, I’m obligated to visit IKEA again to check them out, right?

Living Slowly.

We live in an incredibly fast-paced world. One where everyone’s in a constant rush to get errands done, survive the workday/week, hurry to where they need to be, etc. Everyone looks ahead to the next thing they must do and forgets to appreciate the now. Heck, do you know how often we hear, or even say, “I cannot wait for the weekend. I just need to get through this week.” I would say several times a day, every single day. And, I’ll admit, I make this statement a few times a week. My question is: Why? Why do we want to rush through five days to enjoy two? Why do we want to wish our lives away?

I think we need to enjoy all seven days, living slowly and making every moment count. What I mean by living slowly, is I want to slow down my lifestyle and enjoy every moment, including the 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. job, working out, sitting at my favorite coffee shop with a delicious coffee. I’m striving to get the most out of my time, going from checking off a task to gaining valuable experiences. I’m learning to stop at various moments of the day to collect myself and appreciate my surroundings. This living slowly is a perspective I learned from the minimalist lifestyle.

There’re many misconceptions surrounding minimalism. Many people believe it’s living with the absolute bare minimum, like one pair of shoes, pants, shirt, towel, etcetera. Some people even go to the extreme and say minimalists can only own one spoon, fork, and knife. I’m not kidding. I’ve genuinely seen comments or heard remarks about it.

Minimalism isn’t about “living with the absolute bare minimum.” Yes, minimalists live with what they need (which may be a step above the bare necessities because why own more than you need?), but it’s about much more than that. It’s about appreciating what you have but not being bogged down or owned by your possessions. It’s about slowing down and making the most out of every moment.

I’ll also confess that I did not have this slow living mentality until recently. Rather, I was in this rushed lifestyle all through college. I made a checklist of everything I had to do in a day — class, study, lunch, class, work, workout, dinner, sleep — and I went through the day checking my tasks off as fast as I could so that I could move on to the next thing. I forgot to appreciate each moment of every day. That needed to change, and that is something I’ve been working on for a few weeks. (And, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to write about it. I allude to this living slowly concept in my last blog post about the journey versus the destination.)

Even when work gets a bit overwhelming, I make it a point to appreciate that I even work there because it’s an amazing opportunity for me and digital marketing is remarkable. When I struggle through a workout, I look around and am thankful I have the ambition and ability to exercise. When I’m laying in bed and the sunlight shines through and illuminates the room, I just have to stop and acknowledge this moment. And, of course, when I go to a coffee shop (like I do every week…), I relish in the savory coffee and coffee shop aesthetic.

Just because we live in a fast-paced society and work in a face-paced environment, that doesn’t mean we can’t stop to recognize a great moment and reflect on our lives. Yes, it’s okay to drive in the fast lane, but we also should take the slow lane every once in a while. You may not get where you’re going as fast, but you’ll enjoy the ride a lot longer and get more out of the journey we call life.

It’s about the Journey, not a Destination​

“I wish…”

“I cannot wait for…”

“Someday, I’ll…”

I consistently catch myself wishing it was years down the road to a time I’m well-established in my career, living where and how I want to live, and knowing how my life plays out. I watch older people with envy, wishing I’ve already “paid my dues” to get to their position. The problem with this is I see a destination, and in doing so, overlook the journey.

At a work gathering this past week, I was told: “You’re going to do great things, just don’t wish your life away to be where I am. You’ll get there.” Even though I’ve heard this before, it truly stuck with me this time. I was able to step back and recognize that I WILL do great things in life, even if I’m not there yet, which is okay. I succeed day in and day out, constantly learning and becoming better, and I’m happy with that. I’m happy to have a whole lifetime for personal, as well as professional, growth. I’m happy the one life I get is not even close to over.

I’m learning to acknowledge and appreciate what I have now — my outstanding first marketing job, in which I’m learning everything I can about digital marketing (social media, content creation, email marketing, search engine optimization, website management, and more); a beautiful apartment that exemplifies my personality and lifestyle; new and current friendships; my family; and the enthusiasm to discover who I am. I’m loving this part of my journey, but when it’s no longer right for me and the time to move on, then I will.

Life isn’t about a destination; it’s about the journey. It’s not about getting somewhere and stopping; rather, it’s about enjoying where you are, every moment of every day, and constantly becoming better. I will become well-established in my career, as well as live where and how I want to live, but that’s not the destination… that’s only another part in the journey. I have a long journey ahead of me (as we all do), and I’m ready for the long-haul. I want to look back later in life — when I’m at another part of the journey — and be proud I never settled for anything less than I knew I wanted or deserved.

Timeless Wardrobe​ | Socks

The next article in this series is socks. Yes, you might be taken aback that I’m actually writing about socks, but I think they’re an over-looked clothing article. Even though they’re usually covered by your pants and shoes — except when you “flood” — that quick flash of your socks throughout the day can add or take away from your outfit. The devil’s in the detail. You’ll look even more put together if you can nail every detail of your outfit. That is why I’m writing about socks. They’re an important component of your wardrobe, and if you coordinate your socks with your outfit, then you’ll look very put together.

Like I discuss in the shoes blog post, I believe socks have an overwhelming amount to chose from because there are various types and colors, especially with the “crazy sock” trend. I used to wear them myself; I had floral print, USA, Harry Potter, etc. I gathered a pretty impressive crazy sock collection, totaling over 30 pairs. But, then I started to draw away from this trend. I started to get tired of trying to pair these wacky socks with my outfits (if that was even possible). Instead, I shifted to neutral color socks so that I wouldn’t have to think too much about it in the morning.

I didn’t go back to plain, simple socks to fit the “minimalist” persona; rather, I switched merely for convenience. Whether the socks were black, dark gray, light gray, white, or whatever color I reached for, I knew they’d work with my outfit. As I stated in my previous blog post about chinos, I wear black, gray, navy, khaki, or green chinos every day of the week, so by owning black, gray, and white socks, I can grab any pair from the drawer and not worry about color clashing.

Unlike the last few blog posts in this “Timeless Wardrobe” series, I am not listing out three or four brands you can purchase socks from. I do not think it matters with socks. I think they’re all the same quality and comfort. I do not think you should purchase socks over $10, especially when it is only one pair. Literally, Walmart and Target socks work GREAT because they’re very comfortable, last a long time, and come with four to five pairs per pack for a respectable price. I advise you to get gray, black, and white crew socks. They’ll pair well with 99.99% of the clothes you own and work for any occasion. I also suggest wool socks for the colder months because they keep you warm and are super comfortable. The pairs I got are from Walmart for like $5, and they’ve lasted me two years now.

There you have it. No high-brand, mid-brand, and low-brand options. Just simple, straight-forward options for socks. It should be simple and easy to buy socks rather than finding the best brand for the best price. After all, even though they’re an important component of your wardrobe, they are, well, just socks.

Timeless Wardrobe | Sneakers

“Momma always says there’s an awful lot you could tell about a person by their shoes. Where they’re going. Where they’ve been.” — Forrest Gump

I’ve recently noticed that my eyes wander to the shoes of every person I pass. I’m drawn to see what shoes they wear and cannot help but wonder why. Did they get their shoes for comfort, work, fashion? Are they a Walmart-brand or high-end name brand shoe? And, do the shoes work well with what they are wearing?

Normally if I see someone wearing dress shoes, I think they want to look more professional and sophisticated. Or, if someone is wearing heels, I immediately think they regret wearing them because they are uncomfortable and make your feet hurt so much. (I do not know this from experience, I just have many female friends who make these remarks when they wear them.) What really fascinates me is women who wear high heels in the city and walk for miles without their feet bleeding. I wear tennis shoes when I visit the city, and even MY feet are killing me after hours of walking. How do they do it in high heels?! It is just amazing. But, that is beside the point.

Shoes may have the most variety for people to choose from. There are dress shoes, sneakers, casual shoes, heels, boots, sandals, etc. And, they come in MANY colors and sizes. It is quite overwhelming when you think about the options we have to choose from. How can we decide the shoes right for us without buying hundreds of them? Well, three years ago I was lucky enough to find the perfect shoe for me: white sneakers.

There seem to be tons of mixed feelings about white sneakers because people think they look fashionable, but they do not seem practical because they are white and will get noticeably dirty real fast. While this is true, there are ways to counteract the dirt and grim your sneakers pick up. You can take 20 minutes a week and clean and polish them, or you can make a point to avoid situations in which your white sneakers will get dirty (like do not wear them to a day party — also known as a “darty” — or concert, you’re just asking for them to get demolished).

White sneakers make your footwear noticeable from the rest of your outfit because of the intense whiteness that people see when they look down. These sneakers go great with any look, such as an athletic or business casual look. A trend that started about two years ago is men wearing white sneakers with their suits. This makes them look both professional and fashionable, as well as give their outfit a contemporary vibe. This is a controversial trend in the fashion world, believe it or not, but I think if you have a slim-fitting suit and are in the right setting, then why not pull it off? Other people feel suits are meant to make you look professional, and wearing white sneakers prevents this. It’s up for debate.

The two white sneakers I want more than anything are from Common Projects and Maison Margiela. The former is made of Italian leather and the latter of calf-skin, which makes them durable and high-quality. Also, the materials make these sneakers easy to clean and restore to their beautiful, crisp white color. These sneakers are low-tops, so you won’t need to worry about your pants bunching up. Quite the contrary, your pants will either “flood” (when your pants do not reach the top of your shoe, and people can see your ankles or socks) or rest perfectly on the top of your shoe, known as “no break.” I do not own either Common Projects or Maison Margiela sneakers because they are too expensive for me. The former run for ~$415 while the latter cost $475…. Yeah, they are way out of my price range. But, I know many fashion influencers who own both pairs, and they love them because of their quality, comfort, look, and durability. I hope to own them someday, especially the Maison Margiela sneakers. (Donations welcome.)

Cheaper options are Adidas’s Stan Smiths in all white or Oliver Cabell’s Low 1 sneakers. The former are ~$75 while the latter are $175 (or four payments of $45). I own the Adidas’s Stan Smiths, and they have been a staple in my closet for over a year, but I am loving the Under Armor Command Indoor soccer shoes that someone gifted me this summer. They are the perfect mix of athletic and fashion. I have entertained getting Oliver Cabell’s Low 1 sneakers, but I can find slightly used Common Projects or Maison Margiela sneakers on Grailed for $200, so I would rather do that. But, I really do not want to buy someone’s used shoes.

As always, the most budget-friendly options are from fast fashion retailers. H&M and Old Navy make cheap white sneakers that you may buy, but I do not think they will stand the test of time. However, there is some advantage to this. You can purchase them to see if you like wearing white sneakers, and if you do, then go for the better quality ones once these sneakers are worn out. But, if you don’t, no harm, no foul, you only spent $30-40 on them.

While there are literally 100s of shoes to choose from because of style, brand, color, and size, white sneakers from any company are one of the best, most versatile footwear you can own. While they may be hard to keep perfectly white, there are ways to minimize how dirty they get. Moreover, they go well with ANY outfit (even suits, people) and give your look a clean finish. So, what are you waiting for? Get your own pair now and rock the heck out of them!