The Scientific Benefits of Yoga and Breathing

This Mother's Day, we probably could all use a deep breath.  Whether it's spending time with your mom, being a mom, or remembering your mother, try to destress for the occasion. New  research has found that wellness and breathing go hand in hand.

What researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine have found is that there are a handful of nerve cells deep in the brainstem that connect breathing to states of mind. This tiny cluster of neurons link respiration to relaxing, attention, excitement and anxiety.  Think of this area as a sort of pacemaker.   What's fascinating is that scientists were able to identify subtypes of breathing in the neuron subpopulation - such as for anxiety, chilling, or alertness.  These neurons in term activate the brain to its state of current arousal and emotion. 

There is more research to be done in this area, but it's clear that breathing plays a role in how we feel and in deep states of meditation.  It's an effective way of calming ourselves down when we need to, a type of tool for us to be aware that we have at our disposal.  For those of you yogis out there, you can feel good about your practice of pranayama, the control of your breathing to shift your consciousness...keep up your practice, and focus on your breathing next time you go to class.  And for those of you who aren't yogis, it's worth trying it out.  The mind-body benefits are clear. 

Mom did us a favor when she told us to calm down and breath....Thanks Mom!  If you can, for Mother's Day, think about returning the favor and having her share in a yoga class with you! 

 Depicts the pathway from the neural cluster or "pacemaker" for breathing to the rest of the brain. 

Depicts the pathway from the neural cluster or "pacemaker" for breathing to the rest of the brain. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Brand: Smart is Beautiful with 4 All Humanity

Behind the Brand: Smart is Beautiful with 4 All Humanity

On the Million Woman March we celebrate the empowered women, the strong women, the independent women and the men and women around the country who know that Smart is Beautiful!

2017 Is the Perfect Time to Switch to Clean Organic Beauty Products

2017 Is the Perfect Time to Switch to Clean Organic Beauty Products

5 reasons that you need to clean out your cosmetic cabinet and switch to organic beauty in 2017

A few Ways to Sustainably ring in 2017

The New Year is always a chance for a reset. A chance for a fresh start and a chance to reflect on what we all want to improve on over the months ahead. Here are 5 easy ways to commit to being more sustainable in 2017. 

1. Buy clothing that adds value not stuff to your life. 

We all have closets that are jammed with our clothes. How many of those pieces do you wear each week? Worse how often do you have to get rid of (hopefully you're using Modacycle) your new favorite top or sweater, because it wasn't made to last. Buying sustainable, well made clothing that you can proudly wear again and again is so much more rewarding than only wearing something once. Even that thrill of buying something new wears off if you don't really love it. Treat yourself to fewer, better made clothes that you know are not only special to you but good for your health, the environment and others as well. Modavanti's badge system allows you to search by what matters to you most. 

2. Switch to a non-toxic beauty routine

Like our food, conventional beauty brands in every price range- from top-of-the-line to the eye-liner in your local CVS are full of toxic chemicals. Everything from shampoos and conditioners, lotions, face washes to wrinkle serums, deodorants, sunscreens and perfumes are loaded with chemicals that get absorbed through the skin. The average person uses 10 different kinds of products daily, which amounts to absorbing almost 130 different chemicals in your body. To make matters worse, there isn't enough research that shows us just how much these chemicals, some which are carcinogens, affect our health. That's why it's equally important to switch to non-toxic, organic beauty products. If you are unsure what ingredients are in your products or are looking for an easy source to find safe products, you can shop Modavanti and visit Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database to use their toxicity rating system (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/).  

3. Give up meat a few times a week and make sure your fruits and veggies are organic

According to Emmy Award winning documentarian Shawn Heinrichs, giving up meat once a week is the shocking equivalent of saving the equivalent carbon emissions of 3.2M cars driving daily. If you are a big environmentalist or animal rights activist, it's one of best acts you can take to lower our carbon output. However, if you still love your steak, make sure to accompany it with organic vegetables from the farmers market. Non-organic fruits and vegetables are sprayed with as many as 60 types of harmful pesticides that their thin skins, and ours, easily absorb.

4. Get involved with an environmental organization 

There are so many great groups that are doing critical work to defend our environment and wildlife. Getting involved with an environmental organization like Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund or Greenpeace is a great way to learn about environmental problems and be part of the solution. You can find local organization by state here: http://www.greenpeople.org/EnvironmentalOrganization.cfm
 

5. Yoga and Meditation 

Yoga and meditation are great outlets to find peace and quiet that have huge health benefits. Whether it's relieving stress and anxiety, decreasing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, increasing production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA, increasing your flexibility or improving sleep, yoga and meditation are excellent natural ways to set yourself up for a healthy, happier 2017.  You might be a beginner at yoga, but you can look like a seasoned pro with Modavanti's athletic wear collection: http://modavanti.com/women-activewear/

Radically Transparent Everlane Is Suspiciously Secretive

A little more than five years ago, a new challenger to J. Crew emerged promising radical transparency. A San Francisco startup, Everlane burst onto the scene with it's direct-to-consumer prices and promises of being able to trace your products. Such claims garnered a spot on Fast Co.’s 20146 “50 Most Innovative Companies” and the coveted exponential growth (Everlane earned $12M in 2013 and doubled that in 2014). 

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The marketing was brilliant. Buzzy slogans such as the aforementioned "Radical Transparency" and "ethical fashion," its clever infographics that showed the cost of everything and its effortless Cali cool style, made it the go-to brand for millennials. So much so that mainstay brands watched with grave concern.

But something seems amiss. For a company that promises such openness in an industry long know for its opaqueness, Everlane is rather secretive. Everlane won its adoring fan base through promises it had 'disrupted' the dark side of the fashion industry by shortened simplified supply chains and the ability to show exactly how and why each piece was priced as it was. Everlane's two main claims were its "world-class factories" and the fact it had cut out the middlemen. 

It is the first point however which is increasingly under scrutiny. According to the brand, the "world-class factories" are “the very same ones that produce your favorite designer labels.”

Yet somehow, as retail-focused website Racked noted in an article last year, “For all its talk of transparency, Everlane is extremely tightlipped about internal goings-on. Preysman was the only Everlane employee offered up for this story, and no one from the design or creative teams was made available to be interviewed. Repeated requests to visit the brand’s New York office were declined.”

What gives?

As eco-fashion pioneer, author and founder of the website Magnifeco points out, "A closer look at Everlane’s website and marketing materials – complete with enormously vague language in place of definitive facts to support its claims of transparency and ethical production – reveals that there is almost certainly more at play in the Everlane model than meets the eye."

Which is to say, Everlane lists all the locations of the factories and what cities they are in, but doesn't list the name of the factories because of "trade secrets." Send up the red flag. 

As a distraction, Everlane lists the weather in the cities as well as smiling employees at each factory. Instead of listing the factories by name they tell you what each factory produces such as "The Specialty Knits Factory" or "The Casual Wovens Factory." It's hard to believe a brand that proclaims radical transparency when they hide the most important piece. That's like 

Somehow H&M is more transparent than Everlane. It identifies 98.5% of its first tier factories/suppliers by name and address, and even lists some of these factories’ suppliers. Freaking H&M! The largest fast fashion conglomerate in the world...! 

According to Everlane's founder Michael Preysman, Everlane has a relatively straightforward reason why the company can't release it's factories telling the Wall Street Journal in 2013 that the company withholds their names in order to prevent competitors from utilizing the factories that he and his team have “spent months finding.” Preysman says he simply “doesn’t want competitors moving in on his turf.” We're not sure if we are buying it. It didn't work out so well for the most recent SF CEO to promise radical disruption while still maintaining company secrets. 

Ultimately, we are huge fans of the concept and the idea. The fashion industry needs disrupting. Supply chains need to be simplified and we all have a right to know where our clothing came from. But to promise radical transparency, something no one insisted Everlane do, and yet be so evasive and opaque about where things are actually produced isn't right and goes against the company ethos of “Know your factories. Know your costs. Always ask why.” Which is what we intend to do. We've reached out to Everlane to learn more and will update this article when we hear back.

These brands are finally utilizing the fashion industry's waste

It's amazing that fast fashion brands can sell clothing for so cheap given how much fabric they waste. Right now fast fashion retailers mainly rely on opaque supply chains that mask cheap labor practices to keep churning out $20 jeans. But such conditions have been receiving increased scrutiny ever since Rana Plaza. 

Reaping the rewards of fast fashion at such a high moral cost, no longer works for many consumers, especially when they learn that next to oil corporations, the fashion industry is the second largest polluting business in the world and one of the most abusive. 

Perhaps necessity does breed innovation after all. To help solve this environmental problem, brands, such as Beru, Reformation, and Christy Dawn are combatting the issue of waste by reusing what most brands regularly throw away. By making use of surplus materials from the large fashion houses, such as 7 For All Mankind, these designers use deadstock materials, fabric remnants leftover from other brands and garment factories.

Sofia Melograno, founder of Beru, a zero waste children’s clothing line creates her entire collection from unused textiles.

“I think there’s a misconception that eco-fashion is “crunchy granola” and not aesthetically appealing. That is far from the truth,” says Melograno.  “I like the elevated level of innovation that comes with being a zero waste designer.”

Large scale brands like H&M, Nike and others are adopting similar practices of using the materials that are right in front of them, that they've already paid for and that are the exact same quality. 

It's an obvious no-brainer. Perhaps it can be a win for consumers and the environment too. Imagine buying cheaper fashion that was made fairly. Sounds pretty good to us too.

 

Sarah Jessica Parker and her Little Black Dress

Actress, activist and entrepreneur, Sarah Jessica Parker is at it again. After forays into the fashion world with the launch of a shoe collection and fragrance, the style icon is taking on the most iconic fashion statement with her new Little Black Dress collection. Better yet, the LBDs will be proudly made right here in America. According to SJP, first "surprise" silhouette will debut next month at Bloomingdales with a larger release for the holiday season. Sarah is the latest celebrity to enter the sustainable fashion space following Olivia Wilde, Rosario Dawson, Amber Valletta, Stella McCartney, Pharrell and Anne Hathaway to name a few.

If only Carrie Bradshaw had a chance to wear one of these dresses. We can imagine how delighted she'd have been.

 

 

Fashion Faux Pas: How is The World’s 2nd Dirtiest Industry not a Topic at Climate Week?

Imagine going to an Italian restaurant and not seeing pasta on the menu. Or going to a parent-teacher conference to learn that math and science aren’t part of your child’s curriculum. Or signing up for a healthcare plan and discovering that none of your prescriptions are covered.

Welcome to Climate Week. With over 90 different sanctioned events throughout New York City, there is a gaping hole in the critical discussions taking place. Climate Week has failed to address the world’s second dirtiest industry: fashion.

Over the past 8 years since Climate Week was set in motion, fashion has barely registered, taking a back seat to finance, food, even faith.

It’s as if the whole industry is still recovering from fashion week. Important conversations on the future of green tech, impact investing, and smart cities are all ongoing while fashion sleeps off its hangover and silence emanates on the role it can play in igniting its potential to help solve climate changes.

Given its size and scope, environmental transformation of the fashion industry is the most under-reported and under-valued piece in achieving the UN’s climate change objectives. While fashion is currently the world’s second dirtiest industry as measured by the effects of its pesticide usage, toxic dye runoff into waterways, the sheer volume of waste (both manufacturing waste and post-consumer waste), and destructive water and land usage among other factors, accelerating the potential of fashion as a force for good could solve many of the environmental challenges being discussed this week while at the same time make the importance of climate change relatable to millions of consumers.

Fashion is uniquely positioned to unleash enormous social and environmental good. It is the only global industry that could affect change for almost all of the UN Millenial Development Goals including reducing waste and pollution, protecting lands and cultures, empowering women, ending slavery, promoting fair labor, and restoring biodiversity in our fields and waterways.

 Photo credit: Levis Strauss

Currently, cotton, chiefly grown for fashion, uses 22.5% of the world’s insecticides and 10% of all pesticides, while only accounting for 2.5% of agricultural land. The majority of these pesticides are laced with harmful toxins and cancer causing carcinogens. Within 20 years, the biodiversity of the sprayed fields are wiped out. Rivers and water sources surrounding cotton fields are often too toxic to drink from. Humans too, are affected. Between 25 to 77 million agricultural workers worldwide suffer from acute pesticide poisoning.

Organic cotton only accounts for less than 2% of global cotton production. Increasing that number even 5x would go a long way toward saving the earth and its people by protecting huge swaths of land and water biodiversity.

So too would decreasing the amount of toxic dyes in our clothing. As many as 8000 synthetic dyes, hundreds that are toxichttps://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/dyeing-textile-sector-water-risks-adidas, are known to be used in fashion production resulting in 17 to 20% of industrial water pollution worldwide. According to the UN, water pollution and water scarity are the two biggest impediments towards defeating extreme global poverty. Facts like that make the 1,800 gallons of water used to make a pair of jeans seem almost criminal.

Fortunately, companies have taken significant steps to address pollution and water usage. Levi’s has developed “water-less” demin production (a process that has been adopted by other denim brands) saving tens of millions of gallons of water per year. Companies like Color Zen are developing new ways to dye fabrics with minimum to no environmental footprint. Vegetable dyestuffs are now increasingly gaining market share.

Nevertheless, progress will be limited unless we tackle fast fashion and its insatiable marketing of consumerism that fuels the 1.2 trillion dollar a year clothing industry.

In 1950, 98% of Americans clothing was made in the U.S.A. Today, that number has been flipped. Only 2% is made here. Meanwhile, adjusted for inflation, the price of your average t-shirt and jeans has dropped almost 8x in that same time frame. It’s no wonder that when the shirt at an H&M in Soho is the same price as a burger down the street, we as a society no longer value the integrity of our clothes. This has led to a throw-away culture that acquiesced to Americans tossing 10.5 million tons of clothing a year into landfills (which accounts for 8% of all landfill waste).

Photo Credit: Bionic.is

Companies like Bionic yarn, which has created a stronger thread made from plastic water bottles, and Recover, which is able to recycle cotton, offer hope. So too does the rise of the slow fashion movement.

As long as fashion is not included in climate discussions, change can not fully occur. Until the industry and climate activists alike demand action, fashion’s potential as a force for good will be spun as a tale of regret.

Famous Fjällräven Bags Is Making Major Sustainable Moves with their New Backpacks!

Famous Fjällräven Bags Is Making Major Sustainable Moves with their New Backpacks!

Re-introducing the re-Kanken bag. Fjällräven's first foray into sustainable fashion.

5 Killer Jeans Companies That are Made in America

Donald Trump talks a lot about "making America great again,"  yet that famous hat, with that very slogan on it, isn't made here on our shores. When asked why not, his reply was that "it's very hard to have apparel made in this country," and nobody is willing to make stuff here.

Well, what Donald Trump says turns out not to be true. Here are 5 incredibly authentic, high-quality denim brands that are proudly making America great again. 

1. Baldwin Denim

A relatively new brand that's not even a decade old, Baldwin Denim has already made its mark with high praise and top marks from GQ and Vogue. Worn by the likes of JZ and Jason Sudeikis, Baldwin Denim is proudly made in factories in Kansas City and Los Angeles. You can find pairs for both men and women on their site starting for about $200

Baldwin Denim: http://baldwin.co/

 

2. BLuer Denim

A favorite of Row+Rue, Bluer is not only made in America, every piece of the jean is sourced here. From the cotton, to the recycled buttons to the zippers, everything is designed, handcrafted and constructed here in the USA. With offices in Portland and factories in L.A. Bluer is certainly making America great again. What's even better is that for a starting price of $90 these jeans are downright affordable. Grab your pair here:  http://www.bluerdenim.com/

 

 

3.  Buck Mason

Buck Mason was founded with the ideals of Americana at its heart. Their selvage denim is sourced from mills in North Carolina while their style eschews fashion trends for timeless design and durability. What makes Buck Mason’s so special is the simplicity with which they design their jeans. Constructed in L.A. Buck Mason is quickly solidifying its reputation as one of the best American Made denim choices on the market. Head over to Buck Mason's site to try a pair on: https://www.buckmason.com/

4. Taylor and Stitch  

Much like Bluer Denim, Taylor Stitch can proudly boast of a completely American Made supply chain. Each design is hand sewn in California with fabric sourced from Greensboro, North Carolina, hardware from Lawrenceburg Kentucky and leather from Curwnesville, Pennsylvania. This handmade approach means that Taylor Stitch brings an almost nostalgic personal touch to its designs. If you want to really feel throwback, you can go to one of its "workshops" to get an even more personalized denim experience. Another similarity to Bluer Denim is their matching killer price points. A pair of Taylor and Stitch will only set you back $100 further proving that American manufacturing can still compete! 

Taylor and Stich: https://www.taylorstitch.com/

 

5. Tellason Unlike almost every U.S. made jean company where the denim is made in L.A., Tellason is made in San Fransisco and the brand seems to capture the mix of bold innovation and imagination that defines the region. For founders Tony and Pete launched attention to detail and quality were indispensable. Eight years since launching Tellason, it looks like they are on to something. Unlike the others on this list, Tellason jeans are more of an investment with most pairs well above $200. However, if you can afford the luxury, you won't regret it and you'll keep these bad boys for years. 

Tellason: https://www.tellason.com/

Maven Women Launches at Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Make room. There is a new sustainable fashion line on the market and we're excited. Started by social entrepreneur and designer Rebecca Ballard, Maven Women is about comfortable, flattering work dresses produced fairly and transparently. 

Think of this new line as not dresses, but "flattering investment pieces with just the right cut created in the spirit of slow fashion."

Maven Women styles are "timeless wardrobe staples with interesting, modern twists that are easily dressed up or down for an elegant day-to-evening look." The brand promises to "think of all the little details around a wearable fit inside and out so you don’t have to."

Not only does Maven Women seek to produce timeless elegance, they also ensure that their dresses are made in a way that you can feel proud of. That includes ensuring transparent supply chains so that they Maven Women pays a living wage to all the various workers who make these dresses as well as being thoughtful about their environmental footprint.

As the brand states "our environmentally conscious materials are more comfortable, breathable, and better for your health than the toxic synthetics we’ve all gotten used to. We keep our price point as low as possible, and we’re transparent around how our clothing is produced and why it is different."

Maven Women is the manifestation of decade-long conversations with savvy women who demand better in terms of both sustainability and style in their wardrobe.

The final product is a dress line that embodies their values of dignity for all people and environmental stewardship, shares resources to help you make informed decisions, and thoughtfully engages in industry-wide and cross-sector endeavors.

Maven Women officially launched last week on the eve of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit and engaged dozens of changemakers in the fashion industry including designers, advocates, and industry leaders.

 

Unlike most brands, Maven Women launched with a bit of a twist. Instead of just putting out a collection, Maven Women will be unveiling designs allowing you the potential (ahem, lifetime) customer to vote. You will then get a chance to buy the dresses presale at a discount for your vote. 

Visit their website for more information on our brand, values, and how you can help us develop our styles. If you like what you see we ask that you spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and invite more Maven Women to join in co-creating something truly beautiful inside and out.

Graphic, Eco-Friendly Totes We're Going Crazy Over

Graphic, Eco-Friendly Totes We're Going Crazy Over

Summer graphic totes come in so many forms from repeating patterns to cityscapes to digital printed photography - all telling their own story...

On Trend: Bold Bucket Bags for Summer

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Bold prints. Big Bags. The bucket bag trend has both form and function AND is on point right now. They are literally everywhere with trendsetters...

Made in the United States of Hillary

Made in the United States of Hillary

Former First Lady, turned senator, turned Twitteratti, turned presidential candidate, turned Secretary of State, turned presidential candidate again is now turned into an online fashion retailer? 

Fair Trade is Now Fashionable

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We're seeing that blue and green label that indicates fair trade more and more. First it was on food, now it's extending to clothes and home goods...