Hello green urbanites and welcome to Tanja’s Eco Chic!
We are very excited to introduce this new column on UrbanMeisters – where we introduce you to personally handpicked eco fashion brands that are every bit up-to-date with the latest fashion trends, but are green, sustainable & responsible. So be it denims, evening wear, minimal sneakers, jewelry or off-shoulder tops, discover the go-to eco fashion brands under this new feature column!
The Backdrop: Why we need to switch to sustainable & sustainable needn’t mean 3 seasons old
The modern fashion industry loves to tell us what to do: buy these jeans, wear that blouse and to top it off – combine the outfit with this trendy clutch. Oh, and don’t forget those fashionable boots! But when it comes to sustainability, a lot of brands immediately lower their voices. It’s no secret that today’s fashion industry leaves a huge footprint on the environment, being the second largest polluting sector after the oil trade business. From pesticides used in growing cotton, the chemicals from toxic dyes, the landfill impact of clothes that are no longer fashionable to the energy required for the production of new outfits – the list of ecological consequences is endless.
In the recent years however, an increasing amount of people acknowledged the need of unveiling the truth about the fast fashion industry, choosing quality over quantity. Particularly after the terrible incident at Rana Plaza in 2013, upon which a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed as a result of unsafe working conditions, the world has become more wary about sustainable fashion. This approach to design, sourcing and manufacture aims to maximize the benefits of people and communities while minimizing the impact on the environment.
A lot is happening on this front – New exciting eco fashion brands are emerging, completely democratising the traditional clothing and textile technology. This new way of conscious consuming also demands stricter control on production and manufacturing practices – In other words, it is now in our hands to tell the fashion industry what they should do.
Nevertheless, the stereotypes that cling to eco fashion brands still prevail. UrbanMeisters aims to break this conventional thinking that eco clothes are about unfitted hemp ponchos, which are only available in boring earth tones. There is a whole new world out there filled with trendy eco brands, waiting to be explored! So from now on, Tanja’s Eco Chic on UrbanMeisters will take you to this new world on every 1st Monday of the month by talking about a specific eco fashion topic and / or brand.
Say Hello to Tanja – Our Green Fashion Brand UrbanMeister
Tanja is a travel enthusiast and hobby photographer from Hamburg (Germany) with Hong Kong Chinese roots. She currently lives in Paris (France) where she is always on the go – whether at work, meeting up with friends, learning languages or searching for vintage shops, Tanja really enjoys her fast-paced and buzzing lifestyle.
Being very passionate about fashion, art and positive change, Tanja is a true eco-fashionista, who is always out on the look for sustainable fashion brands. Tanja learned the importance of sustainability very early on, as she grew up in a family that recognises the significance of responsible brands, pushing forward ethical fashion. As her parents worked in the textile manufacturing industry, she had the opportunity to visit clothing factories around Asia (mostly in India and Indonesia) and saw how vital fair working conditions really are.
Tanja spent her childhood in Hong Kong and Singapore, but moved to Europe when she started University at Oxford Brookes in England. She recently finished her M.A. degree in Global Communications at the American University of Paris.
Meet TREEZ – Chic modern jewelry that brings alive outfits & our planet!
So, let’s get started – We will kick off this month’s eco fashion trend with the chic jewelry brand TREEZ – Fashion for trees!
During the Fashion Revolution Week 2016 (18th – 24th April), I discovered the sustainable fashion brand TREEZ at the Green Heroes event in Paris. The Atelier Meraki hosted this sustainable fashion initiative, showcasing a myriad of ethical fashion designers. (For the language enthusiasts: Meraki is Greek and means to do something with soul, creativity and love).
Whether you’re an eco-fashionista, a tech lover, an activist for fair human working conditions, or simply out on the look for artisanal jewellery, TREEZ is your go-to address.
The company offers beautiful necklaces and bracelets that are 100% Made In France, as their jewellery is composed by ethically handled French beech wood from the Jura region, waxed cotton and engraved with local laser techniques.
The idea is to mix and match different eco-friendly TREEZ pendants to create your very own and personalized jewellery item. The TREEZ jewellery collection will not only spice up your outfit, but truly supports the mantra “What you wear is what you believe in”.
But, there’s more! TREEZ is far from being a usual jewellery brand.
The unique trait behind this brand is that each TREEZ accessory represents – as the name already indicates – an actual tree! That is, each pendant will guarantee to plant a tree in a reforestation community that the buyer chooses to support.
Sounds fun, doesn’t it? But how does it work?
- Pick your favourite TREEZ pendant(s) on their e-shop at treez.org
- Each purchase comes with a code that buyers add to their personal space on the website
- With the help of geolocalisation, you can pinpoint your plant(s) in the community of choice along with a tree planting certificate and information about the supported projects
- Join the community by posting your tree with #TreezMovement on Instagram and discover the trees planted by other eco-fashionistas
TREEZ truly figured out how to connect the local with the global. Despite the fact that the jewellery brand has many international reforestation partners, the actual production of their jewellery items takes place in France. In fact, all creations are produced by the ESAT (établissement et services d’aide par le travail) – an organization that supports individuals with a disability to find their place in the working world. In following the #WhoMadeMyClothes trend within the ethical fashion community, TREEZ has made a video to show the faces behind the TREEZ jewellery:
Quite impressive, don’t you think? But, that’s not all! Have a look at the map of all the reforestation initiatives that TREEZ collaborates with:
- By choosing France, you will help Pur Hexagone to plant trees and promote agroforestry within the French production system. The organization supports optimal productivity that is respectful of its environment in the Bernay-Vilbert region, which is not far from Paris.
- If you pick Morocco, you will aid the Femmes du Rif (Women of the Rif region, Northern Morocco) to support female entrepreneurship and empowerment. The aim is to help female producers to plant olive trees that will eventually lead to an actual economic activity.
- Selecting Brazil will assist Nordesta that aims to plant trees along the São Francisco River area. This association also advances beekeeping that increases the diversity of agricultural products and financial income for local farmers. As the bee is UrbanMeister’s mascot, we have a personal affinity for this particular project.
- Peru stands for the San Martin region, which suffered heavily from deforestation practices in the 1980’s, as it became an attractive place for the production of coca. The organization Alto Huayabamba is determined to support San Martin to switch from coca to cacao cultivation. The goal is to develop an agroforestry system that will ensure the sustainability of the cacao production model.
- If Transylvania is your choice, then the Mihai Eminescu Trust will ensure that your tree will be planted in the rural landscapes of central Romania that has undergone heavy soil erosion in the past.
- Should Ghana be your preference, then you will encourage Kuapa Kokoo – an organisation that plants cacao trees and creates a trade value for cacao farmers.
- If you wish to contribute to the Thai community, Dhamma Rakhsa will promote agroforestry models on your behalf. This involves tree plantations and the cultivation of rice fields.
- Philippines represents Alter Trade’s objective to improve the lives of villagers in the Visayan islands by following forestry models that embrace the cultivation of banana trees and sugar cane.
- Indonesia is tied to the Baburrayan organisation, which is strongly concerned with the maintenance of the Gayo Highlands coffee plantations of Takengon in Northern Sumatra.
- And last but not least, choosing China will assist Liming in its preservation efforts of the savoir-faire of plants used for ancient Chinese medicine in the Linguang and Meile villages. These villages are home to the Lissu people, an ethnic minority.
Are you also as convinced as we are? Let us know! We would also love to know what your favourite eco jewellery brands are!
By Tanja Lok-Yi Fleischer
All images (with exception of the world map) courtesy of TREEZ.