Archive for fashion

Green Fashion Saturday: Payless Goes Green (ish) with Zoe & Zac Line

This week, Payless launched the first line of “democratized” green fashion: Zoe & Zac shoes for women and girls, made out of organic cotton, recycled rubber, and water-based glues. Every shoe is sold for $30 or less.

zoe and zac
(image captured from

The face of the line is Summer Rayne Oakes, model and TV host and one time winner of the Udall undergraduate scholarship.

I’m excited. It’s hard for me to find shoes I love anymore, especially at Payless. It’s not like I’m a hardcore vegan shopper, and I’m certainly not die hard enough to pay tons of money for Natalie Portman vegan shoes. But it does seem like every time I find a style I love, it’s in leather and I can’t bring myself to buy it. I remember the tannery in Fes, Morocco too well to want to buy leather ever again. You see one young man ankle deep in dye and acids, you too will desert the industry… how that place is a tourist attraction I’ll never understand. This line offers me a little hope. Next time I’m near a Payless, I’ll have to check these out. 

Like any product trumpeting its greenness, Zoe and Zac has been met with greenwashing criticism. NPR’s Morning Edition covered the launch of the line yesterday, interviewing Anna Griffin, editor in chief of green fashion magazine COCO ECOabout her concerns about the shoes being manufactured in China. “Who made the shoes, and under what conditions?” 

I, too, wonder about the emissions from shipping the shoes halfway across the globe. These shoes need to run extra large sizes to fit their carbon footprint. 

And of course, there is the perennial issue that plagues green products: consumerism isn’t green. Buying lots of new stuff isn’t green. In that sense, the fashion industry isn’t green (although parisienne style maven Garance Doré offers hope that fashion is tending towards mix & match from your own closet). 

So, Zoe and Zac – you are not a panacea, but a transitional product. As is the case in green food, green travel, green events, and green business, everything in green fashion is a compromise.

I applaud the idea of democratizing green. Like Van Jones bringing green out of Marin, Zoe and Zac is bringing a little slice of green to the nation. As one who spends her days trying to convince people to go green (and is often met with confusion), any kind of mass education through exposure, even flawed mass education, is a step in the right direction.

And hey, any increase in demand for recycled materials is a good thing – it has a ripple effect throughout the business community that incentivizes businesses who can sell their wastes as products and keep them out of the landfill.

And none of this answers the important, burning question: Who the heck are Zoe and Zac?!

Thanks to Regi for breaking this story to me early!


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Unique Thrift Store

You must go to the Unique Thrift Store in St. Paul’s North End. Soon.

Unique Thrift Store Haul, St. Paul, MN

Unique Thrift Store haul, St. Paul, MN

Unique Thrift Store
1657 Rice St. (Rice & Larpenteur)
St. Paul, MN
(its sister store in Columbia Heights was rated 2007 City Pages Best Thrift Store, but we all know how much to trust City Pages when it comes to rating businesses – so trust me instead!)

Let me start out with one caveat: there are no dressing rooms, and there are no returns allowed. This is no place to buy a pair of jeans. That said, it is a great place to buy pretty much anything else. Why?

You can get ten brand-name shirts for the price of one. It’s all in one place. You won’t see your neighbor in your shirt tomorrow. With a measuring tape, you can guess at what will fit and/or try it on over your clothes. It has a good selection for men, women, and kids (unlike TurnStyle, which carries a grand total of 5 men’s shirts). 

At Unique Thrift Store, style again becomes treasure hunting, not the art of spending money. Fashion experiments become possible. There are wetsuits. There are sweatsuits. There are unitards. Nobody will hassle you while you search. It’s mostly well organized, but occasionally you find XL and small shirts mingling on a rack like it’s high school prom. If your style trends towards the preppie, you will find Hollister and Abercrombie brands. If you like sequins, you will find beaded and sequined articles galore. Sundresses? Basketball jerseys? McCain/Palin shirts? Check, check, and check.

It’s a business model I can feel good supporting (for-profit, but buys from charitable orgs like ARC and isn’t funneling money to keep a sweatshop spinning… most importantly it keeps unwanted clothes out of the landfill). Did I mention it’s cheap?

I spent about two hours there yesterday and made off with the haul pictured above. I have clothes to wear to work and clothes to wear not at work. I have a raincoat. I have a laptop case. I spent under $70.

It’s mostly clean, and was very crowded on a Saturday. I did feel a bit grimy and overwhelmed when I left (I had to go wash a lot of black gunk from the hangers off my hands), but I’m still not feeling any buyer’s remorse.

Try Unique! I’m sure you’ll find something to take home – for $3.95 or less! For more opportunities for thrift store shopping, or other ideas for living greenly and cheaply, check out EcoCheapo Twin Cities.

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Second Runway

Before I forget – tomorrow night, all you Twin Cityites should go to Second Runway at Goodwill/Easter Seals (553 Fairview Ave N in St. Paul). Designers re-create items purchased at local Goodwill stores.

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Green is In Vogue

So there’s no denying that green is in vogue this year.

Maybe it’s the economy; going green really does make economic sense. The “green collar” sector looks to be a growing economic cluster, even as the United States faces job loss across sectors. Energy, gas, water and garbage costs are on the rise.

Maybe it’s our emerging generation, indoctrinated by elementary school garbage pickup and Nickelodeon Earth Day specials.

Maybe it’s Al Gore.

Regardless, green fashion is IN! highlights model Josie Maran, who gives green tips. (Aug. 2007)

Delia’s has a selection of eco-message tees.

Sephora has launched a natural and organic selection.

Writing for the The New York Observer, Steve Cohen began a green blog February 8.

And, my inexplicable but powerful undying crush on Tom Hanks has only been strengthened by the revelation that he drives a hybrid!

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