Gift Guide for the Fashion Conscious

“Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity.” —Vivienne Westwood

It’s usually not too tough to find a gift for the fashion forward person during holidays, but what if you want to gift something that doesn’t contribute to the “fast-fashion” industry that has taken over so much of the world economy? Today just 3% of clothing is made in the US (pre-1960 it was 90%), meaning that clothes are now produced faster with lower costs. Sounds like a good thing, buying more clothes with less money. But the fact is that this has actually resulted in companies making their clothing in countries with very lax labor laws (if any), often paying workers far below minimum wage and employing them in unsafe environments. Couple this with the fact that 85% of garment workers are women who have no other employment options in their countries than to work in underpaid jobs in unsafe factories. And this is even before factoring in environmental impacts. Thankfully there are some amazing companies that are aiming to break the chain of cheap fashion, instead championing “slow fashion” and turning the industry back to its roots while also solving huge cultural and economic problems at the same time. And the best part is that these companies are making some drop dead gorgeous products that any fashionista would love to add to their wardrobe. And just like in previous guides, it is noted when the suggested item is both owned and/or produced by American-owned and women-owned companies.

  1. R.Riveter Naomi Zipper Clutch | Military spouse under- and unemployment is a large problem in our country. In 2017 approximately 48% of military spouses were unemployed, primarily due to frequency of moves and lack of available jobs matching education levels. R.Riveter is a handbag and accessory company created in 2013 to help combat this problem: allowing spouses to have a job no matter where they live or when they move. Spouses take raw materials - leather, canvas, or cloth - refine them into a handbag part, and send them to R.Riveter’s North Carolina fabshop where each handbag is assembled by hand. While most of R.Riveter’s collection are combinations of canvas and leather, the Zipper Clutch is all leather, durable, and gorgeous. The leather is upholstery quality, meaning it is incredibly soft, and the attention to detail is remarkable. Each R.Riveter piece is stamped or marked with the number of the spouse who created the piece, which can then be tracked via the R.Riveter website and up to 12 spouses will have worked to create one bag. American-, Women-, and Military Spouse-owned company located in Southern Pines, North Carolina | Made in locations across the US | Assembled in West End, North Carolina | $65 |

  2. Nisolo Chelsea Boot | Chelsea boots are everywhere now, but rarely can you find ones made to last and made in an ethical manner. Nisolo is unique in that they make incredibly high end leather products, but strive to make them in as ethically responsible as possible at an affordable price. Every year the company publishes an Impact Report and their public mission is “To push the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction--where success is based on more than just offering the cheapest price--a direction that not only values exceptional design, but the producer and the planet just as much as the end consumer.” Now thats a mantra we can all get behind. And the company actually practices what it preaches: the average Nisolo worker makes 33% above fair-trade wage. Made in a small Peruvian factory owned by Nisolo (you can read the whole story of how Nisolo started here), these boots are gorgeous and durable, but if you are wary of purchasing the wrong size, the company covers shipping on exchanges. If that still worries you, then a gift card should do the trick! Women- and American-owned company located in Nashville, Tennessee | Crafted in Trujillo, Peru | $228 |

  3. Consider the Wldflwrs Letter Necklace | This necklace is simple and really lovely. Personalized without being loud, this is the perfect gift for someone who wants something subtle but meaningful. All of Consider the Wldflwrs’ items are designed by jeweler Emily Eggebrecht and range from this lovely keepsake necklace to engagement and wedding rings made with conflict-free diamonds. Women- and American-owned company located in East Nashville, Tennessee | $45 |

  4. Faribault Woolen Mills Ashby Twill Wool Scarf | You would think that it would be tough to find high quality wool items that are meant to last, affordable, made in America, AND beautiful looking. But Faribault has been making affordable and well-designed wool items in Minnesota since 1865, and their scarves are simple, lovely, and useful. This scarf, like all of Faribault’s products, is made in Faribault’s 150 year old mill and features a subtle and timeless twill pattern that will last for years and goes with pretty much everything. American-owned company located in Faribault, Minnesota | Manufactured in Faribault, Minnesota | $80 |

  5. ABLE Selam Tote | Simple, practical, and timeless: three words that are so important to those in the design world. This bag has the practicality of pockets (the more the better, am I right?) but for an all-leather bag it’s incredibly affordable. Thankfully that affordability on our end doesn’t come at the expense of those who craft it. ABLE is working to give then opportunity to women working in fashion a safe and healthy environment. They publish their wages and partner with ethical factories, specifically working to end poverty by employing women with a fair wage. American-owned company located in Nashville, Tenessee | Handmade in Ethiopia | $188 |

  6. Krewe Press Sunlasses in Blue Matte Steele | Sadly we moved from New Orleans before this eyewear company was established there in 2013. But I have been watching them ever since their founding and have loved their classic frames and beautiful materials. All of Krewe’s eyewear is handmade and inspired by the company’s home city, with frame names like Marigny, Jackson, and Lafitte. The Press style is a classic, but coupled with Krewe’s Blue Matte Steele acetate makes for a completely unique pair of glasses that you won’t find anywhere else. The company doesn’t just create beautiful eyewear, as Krewe is completely independently owned which is a rarity in the optics world (fun fact: 60% of eyewear companies are owned by one large company). And the pricetag is reflective of their warranty: these glasses are guaranteed for life and if they break, then they will replace or repair them for no additional cost, no questions asked. American-owned company located in New Orleans, Louisiana | $255 |

  7. Charliemadison Originals Live Simply Bracelet | This company was established by a Navy veteran wife, who designs and handcrafts every single bracelet at her studio in Maryland. Each bracelet is intentionally made to honor a purpose or a cause, whether it be military service, a mantra, or a life event. The Live Simply bracelet is made with sennawood and hoplite - which is apparently a stone that helps reduce anxiety, tensions and stress. The bracelet can also be used to diffuse essential oils. And 5% of the proceeds from each sale go to charities such as Holbrook Farms Retreat, National Military Family Association, and the Duskin and Stephens foundation (note: I did the rebranding for this company this past year, so I may be a bit biased on how much I love their products) American-, Women-, and Military Spouse-owned company located in Frederick, Maryland | $37 |

*note: all of the comments above are my own opinion - and they feature no affiliate links

(aka I make no money if you do order from the above companies.)