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Why open a watch factory in Detroit?

September 13, 2015


Made in Detroit

Made in Detroit.

I just stumbled on this lovely site today- via an ad in the New York Times. is based in Detroit, with a mission to make an investment in “skill, at scale.” Making American luxury goods great again, while reinvigorating a city that needs it.

“Why not accept that manufacturing is gone from America? Why not let the rust and weeds finish what they started? Why not just embrace the era of disposability? And why didn’t we buy a warmer coat before we moved here?”

Launched in 2013, Shinola’s founders were driven by the mission of building a factory in the economically depressed city of Detroit. In an interview with Forbes magazine (Ariel Adams, 2013), Shinola tells the story (you can see it here). Shinola partnered with the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and the College for Creative Studies, who ultimately became their landlord.

The brand started with watches, and now sells leather goods, bikes, journals, and more. Each product group has a story- centering around where it’s made, how it’s made, and with sustainability, community and authenticity in mind.

Shinola handmade watches

Recycling in fashion: it’s not just ebay anymore

September 12, 2015


Love getting designer fashion at bargain prices? If you really want to save, there are a number of great options online where you can shop for gently used, even unworn fashion at thrift shop prices.

The behemoth, of course, is ebay, with infinite options if you know what you want and have a lot of patience, but the experience isn’t pretty. Now, there are a number of delightful online boutiques where you can shop online for gently used, or new fashion at thrift shop prices.

It’s not just about bargains, it’s a great movement towards sustainability and re-use. Not wasting. Getting rid of things you don’t love, so someone else can enjoy them. And making it easy to do so.

Thredup threduphas “like new clothes from designers you love”. You can shop and buy, sell, or donate your unwanted clothing. The beauty of it is how easy they make sending your clothing in. Thred up will send you a bag, which you fill and send in. You can opt to sell your clothing outright, or on consignment. They’ll evaluate your clothing for salability, and you can have the unaccepted clothing sent back to you or donated. 5% of all purchases go to charity- you can even choose a school for the $ to be donated to.

A few excerpts from Thredup’s DO GOOD page:

It takes an average of 700 gallons of water to make a piece of clothing, so we’ve collectively helped save over 3.5 billion gallons of water—about the same amount of water the city of Los Angeles uses over ten days! We’ve helped families put nearly $10 million back in their pockets and saved shoppers more than $40 million compared to what they would spend buying new.

We’re committed to supporting organizations that make our communities stronger. Every year, we donate 10% of our Clean Out proceeds to Teach for America. We’ve also made it possible for customers to donate their Clean Out earnings to nonprofit partners, and to use Clean Out to fundraise for the causes you care about

It’s a great concept- and it’s based on doing good, conservation, and helping others. What’s not to love? You can see more about how thredup works, here:

The RealReal

The RealReal is an upscale designer consignment shop where you can “shop designer brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and more at up to 90% off retail prices.

The RealRealYou’ll find everything from a $70 bag to a $2000 handbag on the site. Neiman Marcus has partnered with RealReal, and is offering a $100 gift card if you consign 10+ items with RealReal. If you want to consign, RealReal offers free shipping & pickup for your items. This isn’t particularly “thrifty” thrift shopping, but if you’re coveting a Gucci or Prada bag, you’ll get a deal.

Eileen Fisher’s Green Eileen

Green EileenWhile Green Eileen is not available online- it’s the beginning of a worthy trend in fashion, one in which the brand itself is taking a stand on sustainability and recycling. Green Eileen accepts gently used donations of Eileen Fisher clothing, which it will sell in flagship stores at a great discount, with all proceeds going to “support programs that improve the lives of women and girls in our local, national and global communities.” For more information about Green Eileen and Eileen Fisher’s sustainability program, see Green Eileen.

While recycling and re-use hit a tipping point with ebay years ago, mass retailers haven’t found the right way to make this work yet. Lots of brands have experimented with it- Gap, Banana Republic and J.Crew have all run programs encouraging customers to bring in gently used clothing in exchange for a discount, as one-off events. Thredup makes it easy to donate, and easy to shop great brands inexpensively. It’s a better experience than a thrift shop, with a great way to build a wardrobe on a budget. RealReal takes your gently used designer fashion, handbags and more on consignment- with a quick turnaround, and a 70% cut on the sale.

It’s good to see more brands doing this online. The more we can avoid living in a throw-away world, the better. For all of us.

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