In my research into the sudden popularity of bamboo bags, I was surprised to learn that the term "It Bag" is such a recent one. Its coinage is as fresh as the 90s, when it was first being used to describe high-priced designer bags like those signature bags by Chanel or Fendi or Gucci. The concept of branded bags came about even earlier, though, back in the 1940s when the designer Roberta di Camerino created the first instantly recognizable bag, using artisan-made hardware and distinctive textiles. However, the It Bag didn't explode until the 90s for whatever reason. Maybe it was, as Wikipedia drily claims, because there was suddenly, simply this huge market for handbags.
That explanation leaves me with more questions than answers, personally.
Think about it: the market still exists. The fashion industry is a 1.2 trillion dollar annual industry, but by 2011 the concept of the It Bag was in decline.
Did the It Bag disappear because bargains became fashionable or because fashion is changing too quickly to make a huge investment in one expensive, transitory piece worthwhile? (Also, here is a great piece by Celia Walden on why she's glad the It Bag is over.) Or are It Bags over because It People are in now? Never mind It Bags. What does the "It Bag" mean now in an era where it's not only handbags that are branded but people themselves through their very own social media pages?
That's probably too deep a question for a slow fashion diary blog to address in 300-500 words. However, it did delight me to spot a different kind of "it bag" on many, many Instagram feeds. That same site that encourages people to brand themselves like fancy handbags. Now, it's not a humble bamboo bag you might suddenly notice every fashionably minded person sporting. Baskets in general are suddenly as ubiquitous as the Coachella wheel-- the sight of which, like fringe paired with cowboy boots, western belts, and a joyous grin, now signals spring as surely as cherry blossoms.
But let's put my seething envy for all the people who got to see Beyoncé live at Coachella aside and get back to bamboo.
Bamboo is potentially the most renewable resource for fabrics, even more so than hemp. What does put hemp ahead in the race for title to the future's most sustainable fabric is that rendering bamboo into cloth is still often requires the use of lots and lots of chemicals. Again, though, that means the news about bamboo "it bags" is good!
1. Bamboo bags are made with the Earth's most easily renewable, least-water consuming crop.
2. And, even better, unlike bamboo cloth, bamboo bags take no (or at least) very few chemicals to transform into a chic piece of arm candy.
I've linked to a few, beautiful bamboo and other fair trade, 70s-inspired options on my Pinterest page (see below).
Do you own a bamboo bag or a cute basket that can be used for shopping or paired as an accessory? When you think about it, straw baskets and bamboo bags and patched, cloth textile bags are actually the original Birkin bags! What do you think of this 70s-era trend? Do you think you'll buy one for summer?
My sandals are (old) BCBG ones. Similar here.
My wrap skirt is available here.
My Free People sweater is sold out but a similar one is available here.
My bamboo bag is a reproduction of a classic Japanese picnic basket! It's available here.
FYI Cult Gaia, who originally made the bamboo bags such desirable Eco It Objects just made their first (stupendously gorgeous) clothing collection out of deadstock! AND they're committed to treating workers fairly! Check them out!
Every spring, from the same mysterious source through which the green fuse drives the flower maybe , I feel the need to refresh my wardrobe with a simple white blouse. I know I've probably been brainwashed!! However, I no longer feel guilty indulging the urge, as there are endless beautiful pre-owned or vintage options like my thrifted Ulla Johnson blouse in the pic above.
Another item that makes me think of spring is a trench coat. I don't feel a similar urge to refresh my closet, though, because I found The One a few years back at Think Closet. A boutique in New York City stocked with independent Korean designers. My oxfords are thrifted from Monk's Thrift on 1st Avenue. I'm thrilled I held onto them. One of my best, tried and true cleaning-out-your-closet rules is this: if something is really good quality and still fits, NEVER get rid of it. Fashion is cyclical but slow. Eventually, patience pays off! I wore these oxfords all the time about eight years ago, and now they feel relevant again.
The only truly new item in this picture are my Levi's. Suckered by marketing, I bought them at a low moment this winter. I had to stay home, snowed in with a sick baby most of the winter and could rarely make it out to the gym. These "wedgie icon" jeans promised to deliver a perky tush at a time when I was feeling less than perky in general.
My take: I looked around online, and I feel like other women in the big butt tribe also felt as if these particular Levi's pushed their behinds more flat than up. However I did like the similar, flattening support in the front. I still have a bad tendency to stand like I'm pregnant with my tummy out. These exert a gentle pressure on my tummy and remind me to stand tall. I like them a lot. I'll wear them a lot, but they're not my favorite jeans.
Before I wrote the review (above), though, I looked into Levis' sustainable practices and I was very pleasantly surprised. I rarely buy jeans new. Like pretty, white blouses, there are infinite options available pre-owned and vintage. Plus, growing the cotton to craft one pair of jeans can require TEN YEARS of drinking water. (Three for tees!) Good on You, which is both a website and an app, rated Levis as overall "good", noting:
Levi’s have made strong commitments to sustainable denim production, including significantly reducing their water use. By 2020, the Levi’s brand aims to make 80 percent of its products using Water<Less™ technique. Levi’s have set a 25% reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 for its direct emissions and consumed electricity. They are also pioneer members of the Better Cotton Initiative.
Levi's are making continued headway in many areas, including reducing hazardous chemical use and encouraging customers to think about their own water use in caring for their Levi's as well as thinking of their Levi's as a longterm investment. These are my first pair of jeans, but I know I've had my Levi's cutoffs for ten years plus, and they're still just as cute now as they were ten years ago! (It probably helps that I couldn't fit into them due to two pregnancies for four of these ten years, but still!) I felt really optimistic after learning such a big company is making such a big effort to change their manufacturing and distributing practices!
Do you own any Levi's? Which number works for you? I know the 501s are pretty iconic... I'd love to find a vintage pair next!
Wedgie Icon Jeans are available here.
Another secondhand Ulla Johnson blouse is available here.
For some reason, (read: the election), I've been on a poetry fast for about a year now. Knowing April is National Poetry Month, I had to read some poetry, but I felt unable to crack a book of poems just like that after a whole year away. A whole year without touching my heart in the places poetry touches it. It's like when you've been sitting on your foot. You've got to shake your foot out first before you try to run.
So I grabbed The Poetry Lesson by Andrei Codrescu, a Romanian born poet who writes more beautifully in English than 99.99% of native-born speakers. The Poetry Lesson is ostensibly about an older poet teaching an introduction to poetry class to some young, naive things, but it's really a windy, fun ride. A sort of syllabus of the poet's own experience of being a poet in a world that doesn't just put aside poetry for a year but sometimes seems to have put it aside entirely.
"Intro to Poetry Writing is always like this: a long labor, a breech birth, or, obversely, mining in the dark. You take healthy young Americans used to sunshine (aided sometimes by Xanax and Adderall), you blindfold them and lead them by the hand into a labyrinth made from bones. Then you tell them their assignment: 'Find the Grail. You have a New York minute to get it.'"
So I settled into my pink, foamy bath made from an adorable cupcake bath bomb by Sky Organics. A person needs a warm, cozy place to delve into the terrifying depths of the soul. The book is only 117 pages, but by the time I'd finished it, so was my list of poets I wanted to read or re-read.
My favorite conceit from the book is that we can each pick a poet, dead or alive, as our ghost companion-- or G-C as Andrei calls them. For the sake of simplicity, he assigns a poet to each student based on the letter of their last name. My list cum Andrei's vision would look something like this: Emily Dickinson, Rita Dove, John Dryden, Bob Dylan, Camille Dungy, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Guillaume du Salluste du Bartas, Annette von Drust Hölshoff, H.D., or, maybe best of all, Jane Draycott-- because she's 1. living, 2. a woman, and 3. British.
(I'm an anglophile, because I'm half-French, and we're perverse that way. (The English famously loathe-- "Your mother smells of huckleberry!"-- but also love the French and vice versa.) Also now, thanks to my husband's last name, I'm Irish, so the English have become even more forbidden fruit to me.) Or maybe I will simply choose Andrei... at least for this bath. I feel like he would get a kick out of his book being put to such pink, frothy uses by a languid woman immersed in a tub.
Do you have a writer who's like a soul mate or an imaginary friend or who seems like they could be a friend? I used to feel that way about so many writers when I was younger, including, of course, J.K. Rowling, the whole world's imaginary, magical writing pal. I especially feel that way about her now, because she's even more amazing on epigrammatic Twitter than she might even be in novel form. Do you follow her?
Also, P.S. I linked a bunch of green beauty treats I like to indulge in on Saturdays or Sundays when I treat myself to a (quarter-full) bath. P.P.S. This K. Bunni Cosmetics mask that I adore is only $10 and works so well! You can use my code "greenbeauty" to get an additional 10% off.
On our way to the flea market last year! We seem to have skipped right over spring this year and gone from the bitterest cold straight to 70 degree weather, so I thought it would be nice to ruminate on the perfect spring (last year's!), the perfect (thrifted!) spring outfit, and the Clover Flea Market-- one of my favorite spring events in Philadelphia.
It was already held in Chestnut Hill this spring, but here are some upcoming dates in and around the city:
Spring 2018 Schedule:
A Slow Fashion Diary