Produced in small-batch quantities in Brooklyn, N.Y., Hi Wildflower Botanica is a candle, perfume and skincare line that’s the creation of author Tanwi Nandini Islam. Islam believes that scent tells a story (we agree!), and she uses botanicals that have been sourced from all over the world in her products. These are the types of scents that will truly transport you to another world–at least temporarily. Even better: Islam has just released her first novel, Bright Lines, which, like Hi Wildflower, revisits her Bangladeshi roots.
Inside the Hi Wildflower Botanica studio. Photo courtesy of HWB.
Why Hi Wildflower Botanica was started:
“I started the line in August of 2014, just as I finished the last touches of my novel, Bright Lines. The book, being my first, required a lot of research, travel–and I wanted to connect to this after finishing a project that had taken so many years. I've always been into collecting scents, since so many of my memories from childhood are laced with a specific scent. So, I crafted a line of perfumes devoted to the scents I've collected from the places I've traveled. Each candle is inscribed with an original poem, to add to the ritual aspect of lighting candles.”
Favorite products from the current collection:
“That's a hard one! My favorite perfume is Lovers Rock, although I've been wearing Night Blossom, too.”
One thing every new customer should know about Hi Wildflower:
“Hi Wildflower is a complete labor of love. From the small Brooklyn-based team we have making the products, to my creative direction for new products–everything is thoughtfully crafted to let our customers into the world of Hi Wildflower.”
Hi Wildflower in three words:
“Free-spirited, adventurous, colorful.”
Hey, there. I’m Liora, and I’m Ethica’s campus ambassador at Barnard College, infiltrating the student community with my sustainable fashion agenda.
What have I been up to, you ask? Well, to start, I’ve spent most of my recent Fridays on my laptop in the Ethica office, configuring web content for the Stories section of our website, learning from co-founders Melissa and Carolina, and petting the team mascot, Jack. If I’m not formatting pieces written by our contributors, I’m probably writing the content myself. More specifically, I recapped NYFW with an ethical shoe slant, wrote a navigable ethical leather guide for the shoppers who don’t have time to translate the typical ethical fashion jargon (that’s our job), and interviewed designer sibling duo Delikate Rayne.
In my quest to better educate myself and others, I found myself at ethical fashion events around campus and New York City over the past few months. I attended an Everlane Room Service event to check out their display of shoes–as well as to explore how they define transparency. What I learned is that their commitments are different than the philosophy at Ethica. While the company discloses a great deal relative to its pricing, there is room for far greater transparency regarding the wages of their workers and sourcing of materials. That said, I do applaud them for using vegetable-tanned leathers, and I’d be thrilled to see them move toward upcycled and sustainable vegan options as well.
Is Everlane ethical fashion? I went to ask the question. One thing's for sure, though: they make beautiful shoes!
Thanks to my efforts, sustainable styles from Ethica will also be making an appearance in Hoot magazine, the Barnard and Columbia fashion magazine. Their most recent issue focused on “origins”–and what better way to speak to that theme than knowing exactly where your clothes came from? The clothes I pulled for the shoot are from Pima Doll. I got an all-access pass to the photo shoot, traipsing around the Lower East Side with the Hoot editorial and creative teams to see how they’d incorporate their Pima Doll picks.
A behind-the-scenes look at the Hoot magazine shoot.
When I’m not actively promoting Ethica and sustainable fashion, I’m probably sleeping. Just kidding. I do other things. But it’s not an exaggeration to say that I’m almost always wearing something from Ethica (Litke is my second skin, Angela · Roi carries all my belongings, and I like to cozy up in a Carleen sweatshirt), or that I am constantly talking about sustainable fashion to my friends–those who care about it and, more importantly, the ones who don’t. The latter are my targets, in a sense–the people I’d like to convert to ethical fashion believers. Because once you know the damage the fast fashion industry does to the environment, and once you’re clued in on the harrowingly real conditions in most factories, you can’t go back. Fast fashion becomes illogical and unsettling. There’s no easy way to turn a blind-eye to the environmental and social impact of this industry. If I can plant a seed in the back of someone’s mind that encourages him or her to, at the very least, think about the power he or she has as a consumer and the choices he or she makes, I consider it a success.
Working at Ethica hasn’t been much of a work process at all–it’s transcended that by a long shot. It’s changed the way I shop, the way I think, and the ways in which I use my money. My dreams of shopping sprees have been replaced by that of capsule closets and artisan-made heels (more specifically, the peep-toe Alden booties by Bhava).
My ambassadorship and internship have come to a close, but Ethica isn’t the kind of place that’s going to be “out of sight, out of mind.” Consumerism is ever present, so ethical fashion is ever relevant. Don’t worry, ethical fashion friends (and those I’ve yet to convert)–you’ll be hearing from me.
With the surge of interest in eco-friendly and ethical fashion options over the last few years, many athleisure, yoga and loungewear brands have become popular. But when it comes to performance-level athleticwear, mainstream names still rule.
It’s difficult to find ethically-produced and eco-friendly sportswear labels–even small ones. And in my journey to create such a brand, I’ve found myself puzzled as to why this might be.
Here’s my theory: Performance-level gear has to be top notch. You can’t run a marathon in shorts that ride up or fall apart after the first wear, so most runners find what works and stick to it. And I don’t blame them! Plenty of surprises can pop up on race day without worrying about whether your gear will hold up. Technical and wicking fabrics are simply necessary for some activities where sweat is involved (and chafing risk is high). If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Right. Except that I believe runners and athletes deserve sustainable and ethical options, and that more of them would buy this type of product if they knew that a) it existed and b) it was the same quality as their usual brands. Athletes tend to be a pretty altruistic bunch–a personal observation that’s supported by the increasing number of running events with a charitable giving component within the last decade.
So, as an athlete, what should you look for if you’re interested in finding sustainable workout gear? Here’s my abbreviated guide to sustainable materials that are suitable for serious workouts.
If you’re a runner, you probably run in a synthetic material like polyester or nylon, spandex or some combination of the two. Spandex on its own is not a sustainable fabric, but it’s incredibly useful as a performance material. Luckily, many blended fabrics contain small amounts spandex, typically 12 percent or less, with the rest made up of the recycled synthetic. Some fabrics that fall into this category include:
Repreve: Recycled polyester has boomed in the last decade with the development and success of Repreve, a high-quality material made out of recycled water bottles. Some bigger brands are starting to use Repreve in a few of their products.
RPET: A generic version of Repreve commonly referred to as either PET or RPET, this material offers a similar fabric content without the brand name.
Vita: Made by Carvico, Vita is a blended fabric partially made from recycled fishing nets. While innovative, it’s mostly suitable for water sports right now–triathletes and swimmers, you’re in luck!
Natural fibers like bamboo, hemp and soy can also be friendlier to the earth and to those producing the material than their traditional counterparts.
Bamboo is a soft, abundantly available fabric that does not require the use of harmful pesticides. Hemp is a durable fabric that doesn’t require a lot of water to produce–and while it’s being grown, it absorbs carbon dioxide. Soy fabric has a “closed-loop” process, so that any waste produced is reused in the next production cycle.
In order to make bamboo, hemp or soy fit for performance-level, spandex is again added. Most of these blends result in lightweight, slightly stretchy and smooth fabrics. I personally use this type of blend for workouts where I know there will be a lot of humidity, because they’re highly absorbent (great for wiping away sweat)!
These are just some of the features of some of the options, and it’s important to note that there is no “perfect” fabric or material that exists yet for sportswear. Information on how to find sustainable activewear is sparse, but retailers are required to list fabric content on product labels–so now you at least have an idea of what to look for. I encourage all eco-conscious athletes to join me in learning about the best way forward for a more sustainable activewear industry.
Update (4.26.16): Cause I Run’s Kickstarter campaign is live. Support it here.