Saturday, February 23, 2013

Spotlight on: Clothing Matters

A couple Saturdays ago I had the privilege of interviewing Marta Swain, owner of a local boutique that specializes in eco-friendly and fair-trade clothing, for my monthly magazine column. Sadly, my column couldn't afford me nearly enough space to share all of the fascinating stories and awesome pictures I left with. But here on my blog, I've got unlimited space! Sustainability isn't a topic I bring up too often on this blog, but I think it's far too important not to bring it up every once in a while.

Marta's shop is called Clothing Matters, and as anyone who has visited will tell you, it really does matter. How many of us get dressed without even really thinking about it? I've got to raise my hand as one of the guilty ones here. I think about colors, patterns, proportions, textures...but I rarely stop to consider where my clothing comes from. The answer often isn't pretty. As Marta shared with me, conventionally-grown cotton is one of the worst environmental offenders: it's the crop most heavily treated with carcinogenic chemicals and pesticides, and it's incredibly water intensive. Not exactly sustainable! But even beyond the myriad environmental issues, fast fashion is responsible for a great deal of economic and social injustice. Workers around the globe are paid next to nothing and have to work in unsafe conditions. (I'm generalizing, but it all too often holds true.)

So what's an eco-conscious girl to wear? Luckily, there are plenty of options - and before you dismiss it as "not your thing," take note that this isn't just for hippies. Yes, there's clothing made out of hemp and bamboo and soy (all wonderful fabrics), but there are also divinely soft shirts made of organic cotton - and, though you'd never know it by looking, some are also made of recycled bottles. And then there's downright luxurious "peace silk," which is made through a process that, unlike regular silk, doesn't kill the silkworms and is made without harmful dyes. I seriously don't think I've ever felt anything more wonderful on my can count on that teal dress making its way to my closet soon! (top photo)

As a consumer that's increasingly aware of the impact of my purchases, to me, Clothing Matters is a breath of fresh air. We may never be able to make the footprint of our clothing completely disappear, but buying eco-friendly clothing is at least taking that footprint in the right direction.

So, if you ever visit Grand Rapids, I encourage you to pop in to Clothing Matters to see, as Marta says, "just how good clothing can be." I look forward to returning and sharing some new finds with you! But first: What are your thoughts on the issue of eco-conscious clothing? Do you own any yourself, and do you have any favorite environmentally-friendly shops?

Note: This was not a sponsored post - I just loved the shop so much that I wanted to share it with you! :)


  1. I'm all about being green! I think it's also ecological to shop at thrift stores instead of buying new things. Some of those wedges you pictured are super cute!

    The Occasional Indulgence

  2. I'm an avid supporter of the green movement myself and I'm really glad you made this post! I think it will be very eye opening to a lot of people! xx

  3. Wow, thanks for this great post. I am definitely one of the guilty that don't really consider the story behind the clothes we wear. And yea, I'm an avid fast fashion shopper. But, I have been more aware of sustainability. The only thing is don't know where to go to find such clothing.
    Either way, this post is great as it discusses important things that many people don't know about clothing.
    The store looks so cute, by the way. Lovely pictures!


  4. very interesting, and important stuff! thanks for sharing:)

  5. What a great post! And clothing does matter. I purchase most of my clothing used. And I do make some of my new purchases from eco sound clothing if I can find it. That's not always an easy task in a Midwest city.

  6. this is a lesson i'm very glad to have learned today Laura, thanks for sharing your piece on Marta's shop. being mindful of what i wear isn't something i do on a regular basis but being reminded to ramp up my awareness is something i'm grateful for. we luckily have quite a few eco-conscious peeps designing in Vancouver; i've purchased a few items in the past and there really seems to be a calmer vibe i get when i wear them. may sound odd but it's true. thanks again for your story, cute pics along with it too!! ♥

  7. Thanks for the post Laura! It is so wonderful that people continue to raise awareness for such a worthy cause. And the dress looks fantastic on you!