Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

Category: Eco Friendly

Remyxx kicks around new idea: 100% recyclable sneakers

Remyxx_1Millions of shoes are trashed in the U.S. each year. That's a lot of Nikes and Converse that are languishing in landfills, never to be seen again. But a new shoe company hopes to change that. Remyxx, in Charlotte, N.C., announced Monday that it would go into production with a 100% recyclable sneaker made from a blend of plastic, polyresin fabric and rubber.

Remyxx was featured on the season finale of the hit ABC TV show "Shark Tank" in May, after which Remyxx founder Gary Gagnon was tasked with proving consumer interest in the concept through the online fundraising site On Monday, Remyxx reached its $40,000 fundraising goal, preselling more than 450 pairs of shoes, which will now go into production. Five styles will be manufactured in sizes ranging from a youth 4 to a men's 12. Deliveries are expected in October.

"I'm your everyday consumer who lives in the suburbs, but I've always been a diligent recycler," said Gagnon, who was inspired to create the shoes in 2009, when he noticed his kids' beaten-up sneakers piled near the trash can. "I thought, 'Wouldn't it be nice to recycle sneakers?' "

It would, indeed. While some shoe companies use recycled content in their products, most shoes still end up in landfills due to their use of mixed materials. And while Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program has recycled an astounding 25 million pairs of athletic shoes into things like running tracks since 1990, it's still just a drop in the bucket.

Gagnon, 43, had never worked in fashion or had ever thought to go into the footwear business, but he set to work on discovering whether a 100% recyclable shoe was possible. He hired a chemist and consulted with various recycling entities. He investigated what makes most shoes nonrecyclable and learned that some sneakers contain more than 100 different materials.

No5plasticsymbolGagnon says Remyxx shoes are constructed from a mix of polyresin materials. The top part looks like canvas, the sole like rubber. The entire thing is classified as, and labeled with, the No. 5 recycling symbol and can be recycled curbside in many cities that accept No. 5 plastics -- presuming the recycling agencies recognize the shoes as recyclable.

"It's still a sneaker to the collection agency," acknowledged Gagnon, who advocates "true and honest recyclability." To reduce the likelihood of Remyxx shoes being thrown in the recycling bin but still winding up in a landfilll, Remyxx plans to run a take-back program called Reduce, Reuse, Remyxx. Consumers who mail their used sneakers back to the company will get a $5 credit toward another pair, Gagnon said. While Remyxx shoes will be made in China, they'll be recycled in the U.S., he added.

As for the involvement of "Shark Tank" advisor, Daymond John, Gagnon said he was offered $50,000 for an 80% stake in the company on the show -- a deal Gagnon took but hasn't played out. John does not own a majority stake in Remyxx but is, instead, consulting with Gagnon.


Yes, even clothes can be recycled

Lost sunglasses? Dizm's will biodegrade

Fashion reboot: An eco-friendly wardrobe makeover

Can I Recycle: The series

-- Susan Carpenter

Photos: Remyxx 100% recyclable sneakers; No. 5 plastic recycling symbol. Credit: Remyxx

Pledge to reboot your wardrobe on Earth Day

Recycled clothes
It's Earth Day, which means you might be planting a tree, promising to start composting or breaking your disposable water bottle habit.

Writer Susan Carpenter has been doing those kinds of things and more for quite awhile now. She even threw an environmentally friendly birthday party for her 9-year-old son awhile back.

So when she recently decided she needed a wardrobe update, she stuck to her principles. But where to start? She called in a fashion consultant to help her find recycled, thrifted and "upcycled" (refurbished) clothing that's actually stylish. That's one of the outfits she put together, pictured here. She wrote about the experience for this Sunday's Image section.

Besides changing your clothing shopping habits, you  might consider checking out natural beauty products in honor of Earth Day, as writer Janet Kinosian did. She profiles several brands that rely on flowers, herbs, fruits or honey. And consider ditching the liquid shampoo. Shampoo in the form of a bar soap might be kinder to the environment -- and to your hair, too.


Shopping: Gilt Groupe warehouse sale coming to L.A.

Ralph Lauren unveils U.S. Olympic team closing ceremony garb

Between Coachellas, Snoop Dogg livens up the Levi's Haus

--Susan Denley

Photo: One of Susan Carpenter's environmentally friendly outfits. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times 

Target says it will stop selling sandblasted denim by year's end [Updated]

Distressed denimMost people who wear distressed denim didn't do the distressing themselves. They bought it that way off the shelf. It's an effect often created with sandblasting, a technique that blasts crystalline silica onto blue jeans using high-pressure machines.

Cool as that makes the blue jeans look, it has decidedly negative consequences for the garment workers who make them. Breathing the air in close proximity to sandblasting can cause the incurable lung disease silicosis, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign, a Netherlands-based advocacy group dedicated to improving working conditions in the global garment industry.

Even with strict safety standards and protective gear, garment workers are still at risk from sandblasting, according to Patty Reber, director of raw materials development for product design and development with Minneapolis-based Target Corp.

On Tuesday, Target announced that by late 2012 it would stop carrying any products that have been sandblasted during the manufacturing process. Target, which operates 1,762 stores, has teamed with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition to investigate responsible sourcing solutions. [Updated Feb. 29, 2012, 7:51 a.m.: The original version of this post said Target and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition were investigating sandblasting alternatives. The two organizations have partnered to identify sustainable and responsible sourcing solutions, generally, but not specific to sandblasting.]

Target's announcement follows Levi Strauss & Co. of San Francisco and Swedish-based retailer H&M which, in September 2010, collaborated to implement a global ban on sandblasting in all of their future product lines. The International Textile Garment and Leather Worker's Federation found that 7,000 garment workers in Turkey had been exposed to crystalline silica and 40 of them died between 2005 and 2009; the Turkish government banned the use of crystalline silica in 2009.


Redefining glamour on the red carpet

Levi's makes 'green' jeans using 28% less water

Target commits to 100% sustainable, traceable fish by 2015

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: Distressed denim blue jeans. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Oscars 2012: 'The Artist' actress goes green

Missi Pyle, James Cameron, Penelope Ann Miller
Missi Pyle, who plays silent film performer Constance in "The Artist," has worn some lovely gowns on red carpets this awards season, like the strapless chartreuse gown she wore to the Golden Globes.

But the one she plans to wear to the Academy Awards on Sunday will be extra special. It will look as stunning as any other on the red carpet. But it is made from sustainable materials in an eco-friendly way.

It's the third year a dress created via Suzy Amis Cameron's Red Carpet Green Dress challenge will appear on the red carpet. Writer Susan Carpenter explains the competition in this week's Image section.

Who knew green could look so good?


Brad Goreski's mad new world

For red carpet perfection, it takes a team

Stargazing, chili-dog eating, scarf buying this Oscars weekend

--Susan Denley

Photo: Missi Pyle, left, James Cromwell and Penelope Ann Miller at this year's Golden Globe Awards.  Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press

Holiday shopping in an 'Eco-Wonderland' with Future:Standard

Online boutique Future:Standard is teaming with blogs Style Section L.A. and Champagne and Heels to host "Eco-Wonderland," a holiday shopping event featuring items from the online purveyor of "ethical" women's clothing and accessories. By ethical, Future: Standard means "eco-friendly, fair trade, locally made, anything made with respect to the planet and those who are making it," according to its website. Not a bad pedigree for gifts given at this time of year.

TweedI'm not sure which items will be available in the pop-up but I'm thinking this dress, available on Future:Standard's website, would look pretty sassy at a New Year's Eve party.

The event will take place from 7-10 p.m. Friday in a pop-up shop at Urbanic Paper Boutique, 1644 Abbot Kinney Blvd., in Venice. Holiday champagne cocktails will be provided by Champagne & Heels, and all merchandise will be 10 % off.



Alternative Apparel collecting gently used T-shirts for charity

Independent L.A. boutiques for holiday shopping

Jenni Kayne launches lifestyle blog

--Susan Denley

Photo: Mongolian tweed cocktail dress by Yana K is made in Los Angeles of sustainable fibers; $250. Courtesy of Fashion:Standard

California Baby does double duty for celebs and their little ones

Rzoejohnshearergetty Products from Culver City-based California Baby may have packaging emblazoned with smiley faced suns and crayon-style drawings, but the stuff inside is apparently a big hit with not just the children of eco-conscious parents -- in a pinch, moms and dads are slathering on the company's sunscreen and creams instead of their own high-end products.       

Created in 1995 by Jessica Iclisoy when she  couldn't find a chemical-free and all-natural shampoo for her children, the line of hair-care products, sun lotions and face and body creams does 2_9oz_spf30Everyday[1] double duty, as a choice for kids and/or anyone with sensitive skin.

Case in point: Rachel Zoe said in an interview that she applied the calendula cream to her newborn baby Skyler's face when he broke out in a rash on his face. She said she was floored when the rash cleared up by the next day. She added that she and her husband, Rodger Berman, now use the cream themselves, making that one less bottle to tote around in his (Missoni?) baby bag or her (Hermes?) mama bag. 4oz_CalendulaCream

19ozSSenitive_SBW[2] Another celeb mom, Jessica Alba, said she applies the SPF 18 cream to her own body after drenching her little daughter Honor in the stuff. The lack of fragrance, chemicals, parabens, gluten, dyes or soy makes sense for kids, but also for adults who eschew the fillers found in other beauty products.

Upon trying the SPF 18 cream on my own adult arms before setting out on a hike, the formula soaked in easily, and the lack of smell seems like a smart choice for these super-hot days, when perfumed products start to permeate in the heat. If it's good enough for some Hollywood babies, I figure it's worth a try.  Now when it comes to the wrinkle creams and firming serums these tots have nothing to do with, I'll stick to the potions for grown-ups. But for getting back to basics, there might be something to this baby stuff.


Beauty Buzz: Stellar products landing in stores now

Your Stylist: Makeup that won't suffer a hot summer meltdown

Hot Product: Kiss My Face's biodegradable Peace Soap

-- Melissa Magsaysay

Upper left photo: Rachel Zoe with her son, Skyler Morrison, and husband, Rodger Berman. Credit: John Shearer / Getty Images

Upper right and lower photos: California Baby SPF 30 cream, California Baby Calendula Cream, California Baby Supersensitive shampoo and body wash. Credit: California Baby

Essential elements


Every year, we spend billions on blue jeans, coats, prom dresses, sport shirts and other garments that clothe us, comfort us, warm us and define us. Do we ask about the source of these materials? Not so much.

But there's a burgeoning movement among consumers and producers to consider sustainability and -- dare we say it? -- localism.

So in the Image section, meet the sheep and goats of Namaste Farms in Temecula, read about artists who transform castaway material into jewelry, debate the pros and cons of cotton and alternative fabrics and ponder the possibilities of buying closer to home.  

--Alice Short


Eco-fashion has gone in and out of style

Skepticism grows over products touted as eco-friendly

Alexx Jae & Milk launch eco-friendly clothing line

Photo: Thread, a showcase for mostly local designers, brought shoppers and buyers to the L.A. Garment District last weekend. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times.

Your Morning Fashion and Beauty Report: Ivanka Trump launches eco-friendly wedding jewelry

There's more to the Venice International Art Biennale than, well, art. Think fashion, for instance. Prada, Missoni and Hogan are among the brands hosting cocktail parties and other events for the festival, which runs until Nov. 27. [Telegraph]

Flowy dresses and summer hats abounded at last weekend's Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic on Governors Island in New York City. Celebs including Naomi Watts, Isla Fisher and Nicky Hilton dressed the part, while the fashion world was represented by luminaries including Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan. International polo star Nacho Figueras -- the "face" of Ralph Lauren's World of Polo fragrances -- was there too, of course. That's Nacho above tipping his hat at a previous match. [FabSugar]   

A former employee has filed suit in federal court in Manhattan against Gucci seeking $5 million in damages and contending that she was fired after complaining of racism in the workplace. Josephine Robinson, who describes herself as a "dark-skinned, West Indian Latina," had worked as a tax attorney for Gucci and says in the lawsuit that she faced "an unrelenting barrage of racist comments and jokes at her expense."  Robinson also says that she was instructed to "tax the hell out of" Rihanna when she was working on the company's contract with the pop star, who appeared in Gucci's Tattoo Heart ad campaign. A company spokesman calls the lawsuit "baseless."  [New York Post]

A flash sale site for the environmentally conscious debuted Monday, making it just that much easier to be green and stylish at the same time. The members' only site, LovingEco, carries established  brands such as Stewart and Brown, Cri de Couer and Clary Sage Organics, as well as fair-trade items from countries like Kenya. The e-tailer plans to donate 3% of net proceeds to various charities. [FabSugar]  

Cacharel has named Ling Liu and Dawei Sun, the designers behind the Belle Ninon label, as artistic directors. [WWD] (Subscription required.)

For brides who want to be eco-friendly, Ivanka Trump has a new line of rings that will help. Her just-launched green bridal line is made entirely from sustainable diamonds and recycled platinum and gold. Prices range from $7,000 to $130,000 -- the latter for a whopping nine-carat diamond. [FabSugar] 

Bored with the same-old-same-old at the beach? Consider accessorizing that bikini or coverup with jewelry. Jewelry that's hardy enough to withstand sand, sun and sea, of course. Like plastic bangles, for instance. For tips on wearing jewelry at the beach, check out Vogue. 


At the Venice Biennale, national artists know no boundaries.

Ralph Lauren model is all about polo, on and off the field.

Insider tips for online shopping.

-- Susan Denley

Photo: Nacho Figueras and teammate salute crowd of polo fans. Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

Your Morning Fashion and Beauty Report: At Cannes, Rachel McAdams does sultry while Tilda Swinton does subdued, and Kate Winslet is the new face of St. John


Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn, the stylists behind the super-revealing, firecracker-red lace dress that Rachel McAdams donned in Cannes, talk about dressing celebs for the red carpet and the impact J Lo (another one of their A-list clients) has on fashion. WWD

The dress code at the Cannes Film Festival may be "less is more," but it's nice to see a star sport something a little more subdued and still look amazing. Tilda Swinton might be one of few actresses that can wear a silky button-down blouse at the skin, I mean, film fest. She looked great in a billowy white blouse tucked into the waistband of a simple black pencil skirt. The ensemble echoed the Jil Sander look she wore to this year's Golden Globes. StyleList

New moms such as Miranda Kerr and Penelope Cruz have shed their baby weight in what seems like no time at all. Cruz, who was pregnant while filming "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," talks about how she lost her post-baby weight, and of course, it seems just way too easy. Us Weekly

Kate Winslet is joining the likes of Angelina Jolie and Karen Elson as the new face of Orange County-based brand St. John for its fall 2011 ad campaign. Winslet is on a roll: She is currently the face of Lancome and an "ambassador of elegance" to Swiss watch label Longine. Telegraph

Emma Watson, who like Winslet is a British beauty and face of Lancome (Watson for its scent Tresor Midnight Rose), wants to add an eco-friendly cosmetic component to the brand. Can this Ivy League-educated ingenue get the almost-80-year-old cosmetic label to go green? Fashionista

Burberry had a bash to celebrate its new Convent Garden store, which attracted beauties and brand loyals such as Lily Donaldson and Julia Restoin Roitfeld. WWD

-- Melissa Magsaysay

Photo: Rachel McAdams wearing a Marchesa gown at the Cannes Film Festival. Credit: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images


Project Alabama re-launches for Spring 2011

Project Alabama SS11a

The name Project Alabama may conjure up images of the brand started by Natalie Chanin in 2001. The homespun, handcrafted quality and locally made products garnered a lot of attention for the label, but the designer sold her company in 2006 and production ceased. It lay dormant for 5 years, until recently Project Alabama SS11d with a Spring 2011 relaunch and a new head designer named Charlotte Greenough -– (Chanin has since started another company called Alabama Chanin, unrelated to Project Alabama.)

We caught up with Greenough and she told us about her new post and balancing eco-conscious clothing while maintaining a stylish aesthetic.

What is your design process in creating clothing that’s environmentally conscious?
I really try and keep the eco and sustainability aspect separate from design. I think that might be the problem with so many eco brands, that the design is so married to it being an eco brand and the result can look a little dull or dowdy. It’s like when you’re eating something healthy and it tastes really good. I’m trying to keep it fresh and fun in terms of design.

Project Alabama is a “low impact” line. Break down for us what that means.
We use small certified factories and local fabrics, so there is no shipping to and from factories. There are all-natural fibers and sustainable fabrics in the clothing and all shipping materials are biodegradable.  Also we use organic, herbal dyes.

Project Alabama SS11e So was it intimidating to relaunch this brand? What was your inspiration and vision for the first season back?
It was fun because I really got to play with old Project Alabama techniques and add to them.  For spring I was inspired by an eco-artist named Patrick Dougherty who makes these amazing twig sculptures. Also, I went to visit a lifelong pen pal of mine who lives in Japan and whose family owns a rice cracker factory. I was there during the Cherry Blossom Festival and I designed the collection around wind, water and blowing blossoms. 

How does it look different from the Project Alabama of before?
It looks really different. It was more embellished before and it was mostly T-shirts and jersey. But one thing that’s the same that still really comes through is the emotive quality of the clothing. The shapes are different, but the emotion and narrative still comes through.

The term “eco-friendly” is so ubiquitous now, especially in fashion. What’s your advice to designers who want to actually execute and commit to being low-impact or eco-conscious?
Clothing is consumption and it’s a necessary consumption. Every step you can take is a good step. If you can take three steps, that’s fantastic. You can cut down on fuel and packaging. People need to be honest about how things are eco-conscious. Everything that we do is positive, a little bit is better than nothing.

Project Alabama is available at Em & Co and Picket Fences in Los Angeles.

-- Melissa Magsaysay

Photos: Project Alabama spring-summer 2011 collection


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