Production and sustainability of fashion often gets swept under the rug. When we discuss body positivity, we also have to realistically consider our impact on other bodies — the laborers — that produce our clothing. Kat Eves of the brilliant fashion blog Style Ethic does precisely that.
Equipped with industry knowledge, experience and razor-sharp wit (as well as equally sharply winged eyeliner), Eves highlights brands produced ethically and within the United States.
Wear Your Voice: How do you describe your style?
Kat Eves: My style is eclectic but bold — I don’t like to be hemmed into one style. I think more about shape, color, art and texture than what genre my look fits into. I do love Iris Apfel’s mantra “More is More,” though. She’s my eternal fashion icon, because you can just tell she delights in every stitch of clothing and chunky necklace she owns. I really admire people who turn getting dressed into the art of dress-up.
WYV: What inspired Style Ethic?
KE: I started Style Ethic because, while I see plus size fashion bloggers and icons cheering on new brands and even starting their own lines what seems like every day, I haven’t seen many talk about where their clothes actually come from. The fashion industry is rife with inhumane conditions for workers, deplorable pay, ties to human trafficking and generally shady business. To top that off, it’s the second most polluting industry in the world, just behind oil. It’s not a small problem as far as I’m concerned as a wardrobe stylist and fashion lover. It’s the problem.
Body-positive warriors are out there fighting against fat oppression, and we’re loud, and we’re effective — but I haven’t seen many in this space fight against the oppression of the people who make all of our cute new plus-size clothing. I’m tired of pretending like the people who make my clothes don’t matter just because I can’t see them and I know I’ll probably never meet them.
So I’m basically not going to shut up about it, now. But as a former publicist, I also know that nobody wants to read bad news every day, so I’m also on a mission to highlight the brands who are doing things ethically, with a special focus on plus-size and size-inclusive designers.
I know I’m not going to guilt you out of shopping from Forever21 and H&M because they’re cheap and easy. But I am going to try to sway your shopping habits towards buying fewer, better things from companies who take care of their people and the planet. I’ve also made it my mission to convince more ethical brands to expand their sizing. They can’t ignore us forever — we’re a loud, vocal bunch!
WYV: How does sustainable production, which Style Ethic highlights, intersect with body positivity?
KE: I see ethical shopping as a radical act of self-love. We’re so conscious of everything we put on and in our bodies these days – except where clothes are concerned. Fast fashion has conned us into believing that buying more, and buying often means you’ll be a more complete and better person. It’s not that different from what diet culture tries to tell us about losing weight. Our bank accounts are unhappy. Landfills are full of discarded clothing and charity orgs are over-burdened with last season’s cheaply made trends. We’ll question what’s in our hand soap, but we don’t even think about what’s used to make our clothes. And all the while, the people who made the cheap clothes in record time suffer. It’s a total con.
WYV:This isn’t your first venture in plus-size blogging. What other projects have you been behind?
KE: I also run a fun little fashion blog on Instagram called @FashionPenpals with my friend Nina. We started that blog two years ago after feeling crappy about our bodies and stuck in a style rut and needing a means for pulling ourselves out of it. And you know, it worked for me.
WYV: What can we look forward to in the future?
KE: You’ll see my writing on Wear Your Voice — and I have a few ideas up my sleeve that I’m not ready to divulge just yet, but I’m excited!
WYV: Who are your three top StyleCrushes?
KE: Iris Apfel, as mentioned before, is and always will be my favorite. You will never look at her and think, “wow, she put a lot of work into her appearance.” It’s always “Wow, that woman treats her body like a work of art.”
Michael Anthony-Spearman of the Big Fashion Guy is my Number 1 and he totally knows it. His shoe game — no, his entire style game is at 100 percent 24/7.
And of course, I have to mention Beth Ditto, whose proud fat girl voice belted into my heart when I was a fat sixteen year-old suburban hipster kid, and whose style and design prowess continues to slay me today. Her new namesake line is everything that’s right in plus size fashion, and guess what? It was ethically made right here in the USA!
WYV: Where do you shop? Which brands and designers are your favorites?
KE: I like shopping at used clothing stores like Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange because I think you come across the best surprises on a budget in these stores, but right now, I’m actively trying not to shop. My credit card and I need a break.
Here’s a fun little trick for ya, though. Did you know you can search “Fair Trade” on sites like ModCloth and Overstock.com and actually get results? You’re welcome.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Hey Gorgeous carries Beth Ditto’s entire collection, by the way. I truly love them.
And finally, Vivacity Sportswear makes the best, most buttery leggings on planet Earth and they’re made ethically in San Diego. Woo hoo!
WYV: Who would you most love to work with?
KE: I’d skip a thousand heartbeats to work with Christian Siriano. Are you surprised by this answer? Of course not. He’s a one-of-a-kind designer, he really is, and I could daydream about what he’d do with a bolt of sustainable, vegetable-dyed hemp or Bamboo jersey. Is it hot in here? I just got excited.
WYV: Which designers are you dying to see be more size inclusive?
KE: Ooh, I love this question. Reformation and Stella McCartney, hands down, final answers. The cuts of Reformation’s dresses and jumpsuits are sooo sexy, I’m just dying to wear their ethically and sustainably made frocks in my size. And well, Stella McCartney has been a pioneer in ethical and sustainable fashion by all accounts. That she leaves such a significant portion of the planet out of sizable reach is just a shame. I’d love to see her take her ethics to the next level by expanding her sizes.
WYV: How do you wear your voice?
KE: I wear my voice, literally, on my sleeve. Everything I wear says something about my state of mind day-to-day, how I feel about myself, how I feel about the world and the path I’m on within it.