Tag Archives: rogan

The Web We Weave

Last night at the Loomstate party, I told someone I was a journalist.

“Who do you work for?” he asked.

“I’m independent,” I replied, which is funny, because in many ways, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, my stories are my own and I have no editor to answer to, but lately I get overwhelmed thinking about everyone pitching in to help me with the completion of a website about sustainable style, based on my recent trip to Sweden.

I’ll limit my example to yesterday alone. I’ve asked two of the Swedish designers I’m writing about for additional photographs for the site. One simply sent me a login to peruse her server as I pleased, and the other emailed me selected favorites, including the one below, of her colleague weaving wool in Scotland. I tend to have my Sweden emails in the morning, thanks to the time difference, and these were particularly lovely to wake up to.

But it was time to get down to business. One of my mounting challenges in writing about sustainability, as I’ve noted, is the tremendous task of defining the word. Recently, a Huffington Post reader called Denis Ethier alerted me on Twitter (I get it now!) that he had just left a comment under my article. Indeed, dear Denis had advised  me that in using the term “sustainable growth,” I had employed an oxymoron, and directed me to Dr. Albert Bartlett’s Laws of Sustainability.

Dr. Bartlett, who holds a PhD in Nuclear Physics from Harvard, has been writing and lecturing about sustainability for forty years, and I found his papers to be at once helpful and harrowing.

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race,” Dr. Bartlett once famously said, “is our inability to understand the exponential function.” (That’s the green one.) I was experiencing an inability to understand a great number of things, but I was able to perceive an exponentially increasing portion of panic. So I did what any perplexed fashion enthusiast would do, and directly contacted a nuclear physicist. Within moments Dr. Bartlett replied to my email, with his home telephone number and a warning he knew nothing “about fashions.” We had an enlightening chat, which you’ll be able to read about once the Sweden site is done.

New Source: Dr. Al Bartlett

By the time we said goodbye, Loomstate’s Earth Day party was about to begin. Commemorating Earth Day in a basement beneath midtown seemed a little counterintuitive until I walked into the sprawling room and saw Pemba Sherpa, one of my absolute favorite souls on this planet. Edun, my previous employer, was once housed in the same SoHo apartment as fashion brands Rogan and Loomstate. Things have since grown and separated a bit (exponentially? I’m not sure.), and Pemba remains the single employee all three labels share. This speaks to their intelligence, because any place blessed with Pemba’s presence on a daily basis will find their employees learning daily lessons about patient kindness from his example.

Old Friend: Pemba Sherpa (on my last day at Edun)

He used to be a guide in the Himalayas (now he treks between Edun, Rogan and Loomstate’s Tribeca offices, handling all things logistical), so Pemba’s appreciation for the planet comes from a uniquely elevated perspective. He knows I love stories from his native Nepal, and he recently returned, but this time his most exciting revelation was not about the mountains, but about an unplanned pregnancy in his community, which resulted in an unplanned adoption, and now Pemba is the proud papa of Arbin Tshering Dorjee Sherpa. I thought of Dr. Bartlett’s famous lecture on population growth, and how heartily he might approve of Pemba’s adoption strategy. It also occurred to me that if I’m ever reborn, Pemba’s family might be a good one to go for.

Just then, 40 drummers filed in, and took their seats at a mishmash of sets under a white pyramid in the center of the cavernous space. Cymbals began to shimmer. A pelican in slow-motion flight was projected onto the pyramid; and Pemba stood beside me, taking pictures. Before long, a strong reverberation took over the room, and it became nearly impossible to distinguish between the beats of the different drummers. Before they started playing Scott Hahn had introduced the program saying they intended to “shatter the illusion that we’re all separate.” Indeed.

When I got home, I checked my email, and found a message from a reader who had sent a question about organic concert tee shirts a few weeks ago. We’ve never met in person, but he asked if I had been at the Loomstate party, and then later on the L-train! He had recognized me from those seemingly gratuitous photos I post of myself, and even asked if I was free tonight, as he’s found himself with an extra ticket to the opera. I loved the idea of meeting up for the opera, but am previously engaged for a pow-wow with the Sweden site’s new designer/developer –a young lady called Grace, whose surname, incidentally, is derived from the German for one who weaves.

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Spring in Full Swing

It’s going to be a really busy week here at Closettour.

“Where, at Closettour?” You might ask, and you would not be wrong, since the office travels where I do, whether the San Juan Mountains, San Clemente or Sweden. But for the moment, when I’m not wondering what to wear from my closet in Williamsburg, I’ll most likely be here: the newly minted Center for Journalistic Innovation at CUNY.

This is where a few of us working with grants from Jeff Jarvis Entrepreneurial Journalism class will be working. As you can see, it’s still a place in progress (more computers to come), and I’ve been told I’ll be responsible for the layout, as the aesthetically inclined chick in this incubator.

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This is a very different role from my one at Edun, where I simply packed boxes and got out of the way when we moved our offices from SoHo to Tribeca. But here, it’s a wholly different crowd of co-workers. For the last several months, I’ve worked back-to-back with Joe Filippazzo and Tom Clark, who founded Knotebooks, an open-source site for physics lessons.

Yesterday Tom asked me whether I felt pressure to always dress the part of a person covering fashion. And yet, I could have asked him the very same question–see his tee-shirt below, which reads, “No, I will not fix your computer.” Incidentally, that was what I had just asked him to do. Who’s dressing the part now?

Actually we both are.

I happened to be wearing this little Loomstate vest, a favorite layering piece this time of year. On the subway a few days ago, I ran into Berrin Noorata, who I used to share that SoHo office with when Loomstate, Rogan and Edun were all under one roof. Berrin organizes the brand’s parties, and she told me not to miss the one to celebrate Earth Day tomorrow night. I will not, and you shouldn’t either. They even have a school bus for downtowners.

And speaking of Earth Day, it will be interesting to see what comes of the CEO Water Mandate Meeting, also happening this week, over at the United Nations. Henrik Lampa, H&M’s Environmental Supply Chain Manager, who I met in Stockholm, told me one of H&M’s main issues when it comes to water conservation is denim washing, and he’ll be looking at how the clever application of chemistry might reduce the water footprint of a pair of jeans. H&M has had their fair share of environmental missteps over the last few months, but there’s no denying that they apply some serious manpower (and money) to investigating how the fashion industry might leave a lighter footprint on the planet.

jeans H&M Shop Online

It’s a complicated relationship, and one I’ll explore further on a site I’m developing about sustainable style, based on material from Sweden. So, that’s what I’m working on between the lines of the blog here, and I’m looking forward to sharing more of it soon. Assuming I sustain until the end of the week, I’ll be styling pre-loved prom dresses for their new owners on Saturday morning–email operationfairydustnyc@yahoo.com if you’re interested in joining me–or you can always find me right here, wondering what to wear.

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The Denim Diaries: Part 2

Well, it seems I’m not alone in my endless fascination with denim, and the industry is certainly providing plenty of material (forgive) to work with. And I’m not the only one. Today, one half of a seemingly life-sized denim-dressed backside, is gracing the front of The New York Times’ style section.

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The story touches on the often arbitrary nature of pricing jeans, which sounds like it has more to do with what the market will bear than with the actual cost of production. Maybe that’s why I’m wearing leggings today, rather than my J Brand jeans (pictured above) which The New York Tailor Shop is patching up for me–yet again.

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Jesus, who works at the Tailor Shop, along with his brother and his dad, said they get jeans with holes at the nexus (read: crotch), like mine everyday.

I loved J Brands when they emerged–they filled a hole (again, forgive) in the market for a clean, dark, straight jean with a bit of stretch. I bought one pair, and then a second. They became my everyday jeans. When I wore them to work my first week for Rogan, another denim designer, he gave me a once over and called me a “sucker.” At the time I thought he was bruised that I wasn’t wearing his jeans (flattered that he cared), but I’m beginning to wonder if he was right.

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When I asked one of the guys working the floor at Barney’s Co-op whether he got a lot of returns on J Brands for these holes at the crotch, he said “tons,” but he thinks they’re getting better. I actually fear they’ve gotten worse. The pair pictured above is my second one, and it’s getting a little overwhelming in the patch department. They’re starting to look like padded bike shorts. Not sexy. (For $158, they can’t last a year?)

It’s funny, in that New York Times story today, Jeff Rudes, a J Brand founder, says that $200 jeans were “just a fad,” and goes on to say that “the floors at most of the major stores were so overassorted that they almost looked like Loehmann’s.” Yet, on J Brand’s website, there are no less than 178 permutations to choose from–some of which appear dark, clean, sexy, and straight, just the way I like them. (Yes, we’re still talking about jeans.)

If I had any indication the price tag had some bearing on quality and durability, I just might consider purchasing a pair. But between my hole-patching fund and that story in The Times I may have to continue the hunt–just so I don’t feel like a sucker.

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The Sartorialist's Dilemma

In yesterday’s introduction, I mentioned Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a book that poses a simple question, one I spend a good deal of time, energy, and money in efforts to correctly answer: What should we have for dinner?

Here, I’m posing a dilemma even dearer to my heart (rather than my stomach), that also has a bit to do with value, as well as values.

What should I wear?

I spend even more time, energy, and money thinking about what to put on my body than I do thinking about what to put in my body. Both of these “dilemmas,” the omnivore’s and the sartorialist’s, are problems of privilege. It’s because we’re blessed with so many choices, and presumably, a little bit of time, energy, and money, that we can question these matters at all. Combine that with an affinity for fashion, and ever-increasing information, and you’ve got the makings for a great deal of debate.

What on earth am I going to wear?


Sometimes it’s a question of fit, others it’s a question of cost, sometimes it’s about instinct, history, or dare I say, love.

Here’s an idea…I’ll deconstruct what I’ve got on in that snapshot (taken last fall,not for the purpose of this exercise) to give an example.

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Okay, the necklace was my mom’s. It’s a tiny butterfly on a gold chain that my dad gave her a long time ago, and is unquestionably my favorite accessory. An identical necklace would probably twinkle at me from a jewelry store’s display case, but what makes it irreplaceable is its sentimental value.

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The white top came from a little vintage shop in Rio I wrote about for Nylon. You can read a few of the reasons that I loved their store in that little article, and they sort of apply to the top too: it took a little bit of looking to find it, it’s one-of-a-kind, and both delicate and durable. Although the straps are a little fragile, it has worn beautifully. The fabric is a woven cotton, kind of like a thin sheet, so it hasn’t gotten stretched out or pilled. I have no idea how old it is, but I do know that to buy something similar (handmade and well-designed) new, rather than vintage, would be very expensive, and without the joy of discovering a little gem in a special shop at the top of a hill.

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The cardigan is a sample from Edun, the fashion company I went to work for in 2006. I have lots of stories to tell about that, but let’s stick to the sweater. It’s a sample, which is sort of like a rough draft for the fashion industry. It was made at a small factory in Lima, Peru, where the boss lady was a fantastic creative problem-solver, which is pretty important when you’re trying to make a quality product at a specific price. That particular style didn’t make it into the collection, which means the stores didn’t purchase enough to warrant manufacturing, so it was cancelled. At Edun we used to dream about a collection called cancelled to incorporate all the lovely styles that never made it to the market. In the meantime I have my own little collection of cancelled samples–some from various jobs in fashion, others from sample sales. I’ve since updated this one by switching the buttons from metal to old-fashioned black leather knots.

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Topping it off is a wool hat I bought in a market in Arequipa, Peru–a souvenir from a visit to Edun’s yarn manufacturers in the Andes.

So…as you can see, everything has a story. And I’m only scratching the surface here. My hope is that I’m going to be able to use my closet as a case study, to begin asking, on various levels–whether economic or ethical, scientific or sartorial…what to wear?

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