Saturday, November 2, 2019

Sustainable Halloween: How to Play Dress Up Thoughtfully & Links a la Mode

Halloween is a much anticipated holiday in our house (my son has been declaring his love for Halloween all week). This year, he's dressing up as Jack Skellington and we've DIYed a bow tie. 

Any day devoted to playing dress up is a win in my book and I love that my family looks forward to it like I do. Over the years, we've pushed our creativity to it's limits, too. It's easy to just go and buy a costume, but where would be the fun in that?

It helps to have a large selection of vintage and secondhand clothing in my wardrobe to work with. Vintage clothing is arguably quite costume-y already. In fact, there are many days that I'm sure my colleagues wonder what my "theme" is supposed to be. 

Some have even asked, "what day is today?" (I work at school and we have spirit dress up days).  But usually, I'm asked this question when it's not spirit week.

I even hold an unofficial role as costume coordinator for our department's dress up days. I love it because it really pushes my creative side and over the years, my colleagues really have opened up creatively, too. This year it was someone else's suggestion and we went as Cards against Humanities (I work in the Humanities department by the way).

So here's the thing I was thinking about as we were getting ready for this year's celebrations and dress ups. Halloween costumes, like prom dresses and wedding dresses, etc are clothing items that are worn once for a specific purpose.

My girl Abby of Clothes and Pizza shared a statistic on her story which I found alarming. According to @packagefreeshop, 85% of Halloween costumes get buried in landfill.

Let your brain wrap around that for a moment. For ONE day of the year. All that textile waste. Add to that the fact that in Hong Kong alone, 370 tonnes of textiles are thrown away EVERY DAY (Source: Redress HK). The statistics are staggering. And embarrassing.

 Did you know that 95% of textiles that enter landfill can be reused, repaired or recycled? (Redress HK) Yet in our modern world of convenience and over consumption, even something like a simple button fix on a shirt is too tedious. Its faster, and in many cases where people don't know how to sew anymore, easier to just buy new. Likewise with costumes, people just head to any store around Halloween to buy a costume ready made.

Dressing up doesn't have to be hard, though. It just takes a little creative thinking. I tell my kiddos all the time, a costume is a suggestion. It doesn't have to be precise. It just has to give the idea of the character. So, in these pictures (and many I didn't share), we've done just that. I'll leave it to you to see if you can figure out who we are.

So, how do you have a sustainable Halloween? Pull clothes from your own closet. Make do with what you have.  Consider a little DIY when needed. And even when you DIY, don't render the item of clothing unwearable. For example, my son wanted to be Jack Skellington this year so I thrifted his black blazer for 20 HKD ($2.50 USD) but I didn't want to ruin it when I added stripes. Instead of painting or drawing them on, I used white duc tape. Easy and effective.

One last thing...always, always borrow before you buy. Ask around and see who may have a piece of clothing that would help you complete your costume. You'll need to plan ahead, but it's so worth it. In this year's Beastie Boys costume, I borrowed a blazer from my friend Aaron who borrowed aviators from me. We nailed our Sabotage look, don't you think?
This post was featured on Links à la Mode fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers.
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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Green Week & Rinse Collection from The R Collective

In preparation for World Oceans Day this Saturday, I'm taking part in a weeklong set of activities both at work and with events this week. Each day, our sustainability club at school has invited our community to take part in awareness activities to remind ourselves that little changes can have a big impact. From cutting down on making copies to save paper to turning off some of the lights and remembering to bring our own containers for coffee, we're hoping to help people develop new greener habits. Our school caterer has also jumped on board by offering only vegetarian options this week and going plastic free entirely on Monday, while limiting the plastic bottled drinks on other days of the week.

Outside of this, I was excited to attend the opening of Redress's Spring Pop Up Shop to see a couple of short films they've made in conjunction with Green is the New Black on Tuesday evening. I was thrilled to be a part of this project and I cannot wait for you to see this video. Let me know what you think and share about some of the conscious pieces in your wardrobe.

I'm also hosting the Pre Loved Sale III with Hand Me Down Collective this week.  My girl Akiko and I cannot wait to see how it all goes. We love encouraging this community of secondhand clothes wearing people here in Hong Kong.  If you're in Hong Kong this weekend, we hope to see you on Saturday (details below).

Last but NOT least, is the exciting launch of another capsule collection from The R Collective. These beautiful pieces were designed and created with excess luxury materials source from luxury brands. Twenty five percent of the proceeds will go back to support Redress's efforts to reduce textile waste and drive sustainability in the fashion industry. Wen Pan is an alumni of the Redress Design Award, finishing as a finalist in the 2016/17 cycle. Her designs are influenced by a spirit of freedom and indepedence and each piece named for an East London borrough.

Her pieces each reflect the beauty in imperfection and she hopes that when women wear them, they feel strong pride and inner confidence as they make their small effort to make the Earth better.

I know that when I get bogged down in the negativity of the news about our environment, it helps to be surrounded by like minded individuals who share the same passion to make our world better. I hope you can also be inspired by some of the efforts of those around you.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Zero Waste. Period.

This is not a sponsored post, but I do hope to persuade you to take the path that I have with my periods. Yes, I'm going to be talking about menstruation in this post, so if that makes you uncomfortable then perhaps give this post a miss -- though I hope you won't. I'm not shy when it comes to talking about this stuff, so please stick around. I think we all need to be able to talk about this topic more openly.

On my family's journey to become more sustainable at home, it became glaringly obvious that one of the greatest waste producers was coming from my periods. I'd made the switch years ago to cardboard applicators for tampons. And, where I could, I tried to make sure my maxi pads and pantyliners were made from organic cotton as well. But before long, those changes didn't feel like enough to me. OrganiCup even put together a blog post outlining all the environmental impacts.
Read it here.

In a home dominated by females, I knew I wanted to find a more sustainable alternative. I want to start my girls' periods out sustainably from the beginning, so they won't know anything else. I made the switch from tampons to a menstral cup nearly three years ago (in my case I use OrganiCup because it was the first I'd heard about). I was nervous at first, almost like I was when I first got my period at 15 years old. Would it work? Would there be leaks? I was keen to try because I'd heard about more women making the switch. I am very grateful for the internet in times like these because there are always blog posts or tutorials and tips available for people who are willing to take time to do the research.

Needless to say, the switch was easier than I anticipated. At first it felt uncomfortable because I had to get used to placing the cup into the right position, but before long it felt even better than wearing a tampon. And, that's what surprised me most. I expected I would feel good because of the environmental impact of creating less waste, but I didn't expect that it would actually feel better. It's hard to explain, but where a tampon changed the balance of things down there, the cup didn't interfere. Does that make sense? The other bonus was the fact that I didn't every have to worry about forgetting I was wearing it. Women, you feel me, right (mums especially)? We've all either done it or heard about someone who has left a tampon in. I remember I landed myself in the ER one summer for this very reason. Mum brain.

I felt very good about this switch until about a year ago, when I knew I could do more. I'd been seeing more and more of the Facebook ads showing period underwear and I was sure this was the way. I asked girlfriends if any had experiences with them and was surprised to find that quite a few did. I've purchased some for myself, and then after summer, I bought some for my teenage daughter as well. We've had varying success with the different brands we've tried.

I use Thinx and she started with Knixteen. Shortly after using them, she decided that Knixteen weren't as good as the Thinx I use, so I bought her some of the teenage versions of those. I'm not overly thrilled with my Thinx at the moment having used them for nearly a year, so currently, we're both looking to try a different brand. The absorbency tech is important, so you have to make sure to follow washing guidelines. Even doing that, I have found that Thinx has leaked more than I'm comfortable with so I've been researching other brands. I've found one with many more years of successful operation, but also offering additional inserts women can use with their period underwear. That brand is Lunapads. We have high hopes for these. For the next week (till Saturday, June 1), you can get 25% off your order of reusable pads or liners by using the code CLASSIC25.

In any case, we're not going back to using disposable pads or tampons, ever. We'll keep looking till we find the right product for us.

There are two other things I want to share here. First is the trailer for this Netflix documentary which aims to bring light to women's health in poorer countries.

Period. End of Sentence. Official Trailer from Rayka Zehtabchi on Vimeo.

The other is a super cool event taking place in Hong Kong on Tuesday, May 28th.

This Menstrual Awareness Day event aims to raise self awareness and body knowledge. to empower women and help them understand more about their cycles (from how to get pregnant or avoid it, how to manage period pain and how to feel powerful through their cycles. Women will learn to go with their natural flow of energy and learn how their body and brain change through their cycle. Tickets can be bought here. If I hadn't already bought concert tickets, I'd be there. We need more events to empower women this way.

I'm always happy to share more about my experiences, so please message if you have specific questions. I've already chatted with friends and acquaintances about these things and I love being a helpful resource if I can be.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Inspiring Women: What Being a Feminist Means to Me & Links a la Mode, March 15th

In the last two years with the rise of the Women's March and the empowerment of women to step forward in the #MeToo movement as well, I feel like people have become quite polarized in their feelings towards feminism. Some view the rise of feminist movements as at attack on masculinity, often responding defensively or sarcastically. Others embrace the conversation that it opens about how we as a society can better promote gender equality and break away from old stereotypes for both men and women.

Beautiful Cristina from The Vibe Tribe.

As a mother of a son and daughters, I feel especially invested in this topic. I think it's as important to empower my daughters to be strong-willed and outspoken, to demand fairness in treatment but also in opportunity as it is to encourage my son to be the kind of man who is brave enough to be sensitive in his masculinity, and always to be a champion of women. And, if I can mum brag for a moment, I think my husband and I are doing a reasonably good job. They may not always make their beds or put their clothes away, but they do understand the importance of treating people fairly, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, etc. And even more than that, how important it is to speak up for those who need support to get that fair treatment and respect.

Lauren from Redress, Akiko, Hand Me Down Collective  collaborator (among other things) and journalist and friend Karen. 

I think the biggest misconception today is that being feminist means that you must be anti-men. This couldn't be further from the truth, at least for me and the women I know around me. We're a sisterhood who have long been each other's cheerleaders, but now finally we're starting to see that it's okay to push each other forward, to promote and celebrate our achievements. And we know that it's damn time women are taken more seriously in many realms (especially in politics and business).

Karen wears a Louella Odie bag (a mother-daughter brand).

In fact, nothing brings me more happiness than supporting causes I believe in, especially when they're lead by women. It's exciting to see how women are shaping our future, whether it be behind the scenes or right out in front. My girlfriend Abby from @clothesandpizza makes a point on her blog and Instagram to promote women owned businesses, and I love that. Again, some may see this as biased if you're not a women, but I disagree. It's not instead of men, it's as well as men.

An all women panel discussing the environmental issues the fashion industry creates (Lindsay, executive producer from The Mustard Collective, Denise, stylist for The R Collective, Cara, model and host of Frontline Fashion, and Christina, founder of Redress and key driver of the sustainable fashion movement)

I feel blessed to be surrounded by inspiring women, from my own family, to my girlfriends and around me in Hong Kong. This Redress event, for example, was to celebrate the launch of The R Collective's new collection by winner Tess Whitfort. Redress is an incredible Hong Kong based NGO working to raise awareness for the environmental issue of textile waste and the impact of fast fashion on our planet. It is carried by some incredible women who I have come to know over the years.

While there, I caught up with my friend Christina, the founder of Redress, and what we spoke about the perpetual struggle to balance motherhood with work. There again, I was reminded of the sisterhood of women supporting each other, pushing each other forward and lifting each other up. Recently, they've been supporting us with Hand Me Down Collective, yet another example of women supporting women. I am so grateful.

Happy International Women's Day to all you superwomen!

Photo credits: Alex Macro Photography
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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Slow Fashion: Introducing Hand Me Down Collective & Links a la Mode, March 1st

I've been working on a project which I'm really excited about and it debuts this weekend. Anyone who lives in Hong Kong and loves shopping secondhand, finding amazing pieces at a thrift shop or rummaging in vintage markets knows that these kinds of experiences are limited here. The ladies at Rug Lane had a good thing going and ran about six successful markets, but then they moved to other places and those amazing events went with them.

I was a seller at a couple of those markets, and a buyer at even more of them so I was particularly disappointed when that concept came to an end. I've been involved in a couple of one off Pre Loved Sales so I was keen to get something going to fill the void that Rug Lane left behind. I remember having a conversation with Billie Grace, one of the founders, before she left who'd asked if I'd be interested in keeping Rug Lane going. I was flattered, but felt a bit daunted by the prospect.

That said, I knew I'd be keen to take the idea and shape it in a way that felt more manageable and more me. So, my girl Akiko (@akik0sakai), co-conspirator and partner on many creative projects, and I decided to put our heads together again for something new. We've organized a number of different kinds of markets and events (Stanley Market Pop Up Shop, Stanley Night Market), worked on photo shoots together and have been swapping clothes with each other for years.

We had a trial run of our Hand Me Down Collective concept in October which gave us lots of inspiration to build on this concept. Basically, Hand Me Down Collective allows us to curate a second hand shopping experience while allowing people to clear out their wardrobes in a way that prevents textile waste and allows their garments to be loved in someone else's closet. 

We're excited to have the support of Redress, our Hong Kong based NGO working to reduce textile waste and promote environmental sustainability in fashion, who will not only have a clothing donation bin for people who have cleared their own wardrobes before coming to our event but will also have a rack of their own pieces from past Pop Up Shops for sale. The proceeds of these sales will go towards supporting the important work that they do in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

We also have Wine 'n Things bringing us tasty cocktails while we shop. We will have Australia's version of Aperol called Okar and Applewood Gin. Your first drink is included with the purchase of your ticket.

So there you have it. We're bursting with ideas for future Hand Me Down Collective events, and cannot wait to see you this weekend. Follow us on social media for more information: Facebook, Instagram or subscribe to our newsletter.

Here are all the details about the Hand Me Down Collective Pre Loved Sale II. . .

Date: Saturday, March 2 
Time: 1pm - 6 pm
Location: Print House HK 
Sing Teck Factory Building
44 Wong Chuk Hang Road

Many thanks to the Print House HK who has been a long standing supporter of all mine and Akiko's creative ventures. We'd not get very far without you cheerleading us on.

Links à la Mode: fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers
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Thursday, January 10, 2019

New Year Thoughts: Are Blogs Relevant Anymore? & Links a la Mode, January 25

I opened Blogger for the first time since November today and thought, wow, how did that happen? And then I had a second thought; I actually didn't miss it. The unintentional break from this blog didn't mean that I wasn't online. Oh, I spent plenty of time online -- reading other blogs, on social media, creating Instagram content, etc. What I wasn't doing was writing this blog.

And now here we are in the new year, which leaves me wondering . . . where is this blog going?

Actually, where is blogging going in general? I've been thinking about that for quite some time with the intent of musing about it here on my blog, but I couldn't really capture what I was thinking. The gist of it is do people even read blogs anymore? I hope they do, but if I had to ponder further based on my own observations and my behavior, they're not reading them in the same way as they used to.

I used to love reading blogs. I had my blogroll of favorites and would check them nearly daily for updates and new posts. I remember when I'd spend a fair bit of time writing comments and engaging in 'conversations' here with the bloggers who wrote posts I enjoyed. That was when the blogosphere felt small and connected. Some of those early bloggers whose blogs I was reading nearly ten years ago are now among big time fashion influencers with thousands and thousands of followers. Kind of funny to think about 'knowing them back then' when they were getting their start.

Finding new likeminded people and their blogs was easy then. Now, the blogosphere is saturated. Anyone with a half decent sense of style and a good camera or photographer (ie. Instagram husband) can start a blog and add their voices to the mix. Don't get me wrong, I like this. I like that blogging made the fashion industry more accessible for all of us. I love that there are so many places to turn to for inspo, but there's a lot of the same out there. Too much unoriginality in my opinion and not much discerning of good quality blog writing, actually. I suppose you'll never be able to get the English teacher out of me.

So, I've reevaluated what I intend my voice to be and how this space will be used. I toyed with the idea of not even continuing it, but I just can't quite pull the trigger on that one. I do really enjoy writing and keeping this space alive, even if no one reads it. And, I'm fully aware that my readership has dwindled. Maybe people are still reading blogs and maybe they're just not reading mine. Or leaving comments. And that's okay.

I'm going to be posting a little less frequently because I only want to write when I have something interesting to say. We don't need another blog saying the same thing as other ones...It's boring to only talk about my clothes. I've already become more editorial in my approach to posts on here and I intend for that to continue. I also intend to explore more lifestyle topics here too. For the last year, our family has been on a really intentional journey to do better in our lives for the environment, so I will be sharing snippets of that, too.

I hope you'll consider staying along for the ride.

Links à la Mode by Independent Fashion Bloggers Workwear Style: Bodysuit and Wide Leg Pants by Victoria Marie How To Create Goals For Your Personal Style by Autum Love 5 Must-have Styles for Petite Jeans by Petite Dressing New Year Thoughts: Are Blogs Relevant Anymore? by I'm a Norbyah
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Monday, November 26, 2018

Leopard: Learning to Love a Print

I should really learn to be flexible in my sartorial opinions. I've pretty much eaten my words on numerous occasions, especially when talking about trends (remember my post about the dad sneaker trend?) Yeah, well, I'm going to do it again.

Although, to be fair, this time it's not my opinion that's changed. I've always appreciated leopard print (animal prints, of all kinds, let's say). I'm a print lover. Print mixing, print smashing, call it whatever. I love to do it. I just always thought that for whatever reason, leopard was a bit too bold for me. Okay, okay. Maybe some of you who know what I wear are giggling. Perhaps bold is the wrong word. Maybe it's wild. Whatever it is, it's irrelevant now. I've fully embraced the print in every sense.

Where did it start? Well, about two years ago, I found a Cambridge Satchel with a faux leopard fur pocket secondhand for a steal on a Facebook group. It was the perfect mix of color which meant I could style the handbag with black or brown. And, I loved the pop of leopard to add something unique to the look (a little less preppy school girl). 

Shortly after that, a friend handed me some leopard print kitten heels to try. I wore those as much as I could before realising that they were way too small and gave them to another friend. After those two pieces entered my wardrobe, I was hooked. See?

I branched out, too. Thrifted a snake print skirt and found a leopard print belt two summers ago. I've found myself with little animal print or animal inspired embellishments sneaking in. This summer I thrifted a cool sweatshirt with a tiger on it.

Safe to say that by the time I found this gorgeous leopard print maxi online from South of the River Boutique in the UK, I knew it had to be mine. I love that it came from a small business and with that, some of the sweetest customer service as I tried to figure out the right size and return the dress I mistakenly ordered first. 

There are so many fun ways to style this dress, too. I've already worn it twice in a matter of two weeks. I combined two trends, leopard and dad sneakers for the first go (you can see it on Instagram). And here I am pairing it with a blazer vest for the second look. I'm already thinking of other ways as well. Definitely packing it for our Christmas holiday to Australia!

Here's a sneaky pic of my big girl who helps with photos these days. She's developing her eye and skill with photography and she's certainly got an opinion. This weekend she told me she wasn't a fan of my oversized blazer look. Funny girl. Love her to bits. Glad she feels comfortable sharing all kinds of things with me. Makes for a happy mumma, most days.

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