Going Green: A Fashion Blogger's Journey
We first met The Style Line's Rachel Schwartzmann late last summer, around the time she was rebranding her website and we were unveiling our own first-anniversary site makeover. Beyond some shared technology woes, we found commonalities in our respective missions: TSL was born in early 2011 as a Tumblr-based, interview-centric street style blog, and the revamped online publication doubles down on that mission with a stated goal of "bringing storytelling with style back to the web"–much in the vein of what Ethica aims to accomplish within the context of a shopping site. Instead of products or trends, Rachel's focus is on places and, most of all, people.
As much as we've always loved our regular visits to The Style Line, the offerings lately have been particularly suited to our sensibilities. Recent stories include profiles on Ethica pals Rachel Kibbe of Helpsy and Wear No Evil author Greta Eagan, as well as features on sustainable jewelry designers Melissa Joy Manning and Nettie Kent. And there have been collaborations of our own, as well: Last December, we enlisted Rachel to share holiday gift ideas with the Ethica community, and she recently shared the story behind our gorgeous Hart jackets–which she's wearing in the photo above–with her audience.
Given the historical links between the rise of style blogs and fast fashion, we were curious about what it was that drew Rachel–for whom "selfies" are an occupational hazard–toward sustainable fashion instead. She shares what inspired her to hop aboard the eco-fashion train, and what the journey has been like to date.
What sparked your interest in sustainable fashion? Sustainability has become more present on my personal radar since relaunching The Style Line in August 2013. I've made it a goal to take a concrete position in terms of our content and the stories we share, which is why it is primarily people-focused and story-driven. Speaking more to this, we've very organically started talking to individuals and brands who either incorporate sustainable practices in their businesses or focus on creating products with value. It's become a recurrent theme in our stories, and coupled with our growing platforms that are so people-driven, I've started to understand that it is our responsibility to begin having what some may consider "difficult" conversations and at least getting the word out on what the eco-fashion community is bringing to the forefront.
For me, it's not so much about shouting, "Go Green!" to the world, but sharing these very real issues with our community and encouraging them to at least find some middle ground in their shopping and living habits. The more I personally become aware and knowledgeable of these issues, the more compelled I am to integrate it into The Style Line's brand DNA. It's a story in itself.
As I've gotten older, I've really learned the value behind less is more.
Was there one specific moment or piece of information that drove home why these issue are important? Hearing that the fashion/textile industry is the second largest world polluter next to oil is mind-boggling. [Ed. note: We made this very point in our November 2013 interview with TSL!] Literally, I think my immediate response upon hearing this was, "How?" That's when I became interested in speaking with people who could help shed some light on ways to change this.
What are some of your favorite eco-fashion brands? There are a ton, but a few that come to mind immediately include Melissa Joy Manning, Valentine Gauthier, Popinjay and Ivana Helsinki.
What steps are you taking to green your own wardrobe? As I've gotten older, I've really learned the value behind less is more. I'm actually doing a huge closet clean-out this season and have made a decision to no longer shop at a lot of major fast-fashion retailers. While I can't promise to go entirely green (at least at this point), I am taking steps to become much more well-informed prior to purchasing anything that may have come from questionable conditions. If I can look good and feel good all based on my purchasing power, then that's a change I'm definitely willing to make.
Inset portrait by Jinna Yang; courtesy of Rachel Schwartzmann