If you really know me, you know that I loathe giving up some (note the word some) clothing items, no matter how ratty tat tatty they become. I kept an infamous pair of sweat pants that were such a pain to the eyes my friends wanted to kidnap them and burn them to ashes (because throwing them away just wouldn't be enough). I used to think "Man, if these tweety bird sweat pants could talk, they would yell at me for spilling bleach on them, cry about the hole I let stretch wide across their leg, and pout about the paint stain splashed all over their arse."
Now cyber friend, don't act like you don't have one clothing item in your closet that has seen some better years and should rest in peace. Think about that comfortable wardrobe piece that has never done you wrong time and time again, no matter how much you disrespected it with stains and wear and tear. If that item could tell you it's whole life story, what do you think it would say? As I have said before, clothes shouldn't talk unless they are in cartoons, but I have come today dear reader to shed light on those silent stories, to tell the untold tale of a c. marchuska dress, and why it's journey is starkly different from less eco friendly wares:
Introducing the C. Marchuska Monika Dress
Monika's journey first began as the brainchild of Christine Marchuska. Frustrated with the lack of clothing options available to wear both to work and outside of the professional office, she was motivated to design classic pieces that held a dual role. The Monika dress, inspired by Christine's ex-finance colleague, Monika Krauze Metzger, was one of those pieces. What set The Monika dress apart from other wares was Monika's entire life cycle from "birth" to finish was an eco-friendly roller coaster ride. I know we keep throwing the words eco friendly and eco fashion around, but let's break down exactly why The Monika Dress epitomizes what eco friendly clothing is all about:
Step 1: The materials matter
Fashion isn't just about the look and style, it's also about the feel. Remember those Hanes commercials, where whole families were frolicking through fields overly ecstatic over the touch and feel of their cotton undies? Those toothy-grinned- sound bites had some grains of truth in them! We are all want great feeling and functional fabric in our lives, but many of the common fabrics used in our clothes require massive amounts of resources, cause immense pollution, and are extremely hard to recycle. Let's take a comparison:
The Monika Dress materials>>
- Uses micro modal material, a fabric made from
reconstituted cellulose from Beech trees
- PROS: 100% bio degradable (won't have to worry about micro modal clothes chilling in landfills for centuries on end), is 50% more water-absorbent than cotton, holds color fast, and is resistant to fading. It seemingly can do no wrong.
- CONS: can be more costly than alternative fabrics.
A dress made from the most commonly used fabrics (like cotton, nylon, and polyester)>>
- PROS: Natural crops like cotton are breathable, wear resistant, and relatively cheap to make. Man made fibers like nylon and polyester are cheap and can resist the wear of many wash cycles, maintaining their color and resilience.
- CONS: cotton is the most pesticide intensive crop in the world, which is not only harmful due to the fumes let off from dousing the crops in chemicals, but pesticides can remain in the fabric and be released during the lifetime of the garments. Cotton crops also take up a lot of land (much of which is needed by locals to grow their food). Nylon and polyester are the evil step sisters of biodegradable fabrics, and will live in a landfill for many years past their wearable dates. They also use massive amounts of water to produce, and emit dangerous green house gases.
Don't let cheesy grins of popular commercials fool you, there are some other materials out there that are far better for the environment and your own health than those popularized in the retail industry. The Monika Dress is one example of great style with even better materials
Step 2: Production Practices
All the design sketches and clothing swatches in the world would only be ideas without the labor of stitching those ideas into reality. As I noted in previous posts (check out Sweatshop til you drop for a refresher;) The retail industry has some of the most controversial labor practices, as a majority of clothes are produced in exploitative sweat shop environments.
After Christine had her ideas sketched by a freelance designer, she sought out a local sewing contractor in NY's garment district, negotiating a feasible cost for each item crafted. The Monika Dress was made in this form, hand crafted by a skilled contracted worker. Although there are many debates about labor laws and what can be done with limited resources in an ever changing economy, knowing where your clothes come from is a step towards better quality overall. And aren't you tired of buying something that dissolves and tears after one sweat-it-out session during a night on the town? Yeah, I thought so!:D
Step 3: Dye it up
Dyeing clothes is no small feat, as it also has large environmental implications. Imagine knowing what color is in season this year by the color of your local river (crazy right? and you thought colored rivers were only willy wonka inspired fantasies). For some folks located near garment production centers, that is reality. I love bright vibrant colors in my wardrobe like anyone else, but at what cost will we pay to have those new hot-double-bubble-pink tights? To minimize the impacts of chemical and dyes, The Monika Dress is hand dyed. This labor of love conserves energy, limits waste, and also protects the integrity of that awesome micro modal fabric.
In a nutshell Monika is a stylish piece that has plenty environmentally friendly clout. The journey of this dress doesn't just end at a hand dipped dyeing session, pick up your own Monika Dress online asap http://store.marchuska.com/monikadress.aspx, because I know you want to get a little touchy feeling with some micro modal fabric!!
That's a wrap eco lovers!
Til we meet again, as always,
Well eco fashion lovers, September has about come and gone, another Fashion Week has blitzed through our lives with glamour and panache, and it's time for another weekly eco fashion wrap up. Let's recap this glorious week of eco fashion>>>
Green Fashion Shows: Designers outdid themselves this year, from minimalistic black and white frocks by rocker inspired designer Ashton Micheals, to Luis Valenzuela's elaborate gowns crafted from waste materials, these designers proved eco conscious clothing is anything but boring
Who knows how these and other eco designers will top this with fall collections come February? I'm already excited!
That concludes this weekly recap, until next time stay fly:D
As we get one step closer to the weekend which will encompass scantily dressed females on hot summer nights, especially here in Manhattan, I have a question to pose to our fabulous readers and community: Can eco-fashion be considered sexy??
When we think of the connotations that come to mind when hearing eco, most people would say it is anything, but sexy. Most people think about an organic lifestyle, farming, compost piles, hemp fabrics, etc. Not to say these things can't be sexy....I mean a 5'10" blonde model in overalls farming probably would equal sexy to most of the male population. However, I think this is a common stigma that many eco-fashion designers battle with everyday. If you are a young, talented, but strapped for cash designer, you are limited by what fabrics you can use in the eco space. You need to make careful decisions on a cost basis, but still have a competitive edge with fit and style.
So not only are we overcoming stigmas attached to eco-friendly lifestyles and the green space, but we also are working with limited capital and options. Well, my personal opinion is you have to step outside the box and really get creative, especially when it comes to your marketing. Last year I had the pleasure of working with the ever talented Danny Brothers. Danny and I believed in several of the same mantras of life....we also subscribed to intriguing marketing and beautiful talented clothing and people. The result is the following 3-part short film/web spot series featuring c. marchuska clothing and two hot young things coming home after a long night out on the town.
After you watch one, two or all three videos....let us know what you think....can eco-fashion be considered sexy?
The life of a mining analyst is rarely dull, especially on mine visits. I travel to exotic places, usually in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from the nearest Starbucks and the rest of civilization. These trips have taken me from the Mexican drug country to the Brazilian rain forest. They tend to be thrilling adventures, especially in Brazil where I battled malaria bearing mosquitoes, other disease ridden insects, not to mention all the treacherous jungle paths. I did have the good fortune of not encountering any pythons or boas, or packs of wild boars that would certainly have gored me to death. All this I did dressed like a typical New Yorker (button down, jeans, and loafers), which ultimately led to the CEO of the company to high-five me for getting out of the jungle alive.
Working with c. marchuska isn’t any less adventurous, or challenging. For one, keeping up with Christine is no small feat. In fact, I have become increasingly convinced that the Energizer Bunny is in fact a part of her Lithuanian clan. Fueled by Liquid Lightning and gummy bears, we venture across the concrete jungle that is New York in search for Capital One branches, manufacturers, and boxes of fabric dye. I guess instead of dodging bullets in the deserts of Mexico and predators in the Amazonian rain forest, I now dodge unpleasantly rude store owners in the Garment District and speeding cars on 7th ave. Instead of looking at ore samples and trying to spot the tiny gold veins, I am now picking out 8x9 rib trims in grey and white for the Roli Hoodie (pronounced Row-lee).
I don’t necessarily find one job to be more challenging than the other, nor do I find myself making a compelling distinction between which one I like more. But I do find the work with c. marchuska to be more enjoyable and satisfying. I can readily see the fruits of my labor (perfectly dyed summer scarves) as opposed to putting out a research report that may ultimately end up in someone’s trash. Of course, with c. marchuska, there is also the added benefit that I will be alive at the end of the day nine out of ten times. Hmmm…that definitely tips the scale in Christine’s favor.
Happy Monday everyone! As I glance through my closet for the perfect outfit to start the work week, I find myself picking up the newest addition to the c. marchuska collection, the erin dress. If you didn't know, I name every piece of our line after a fashion icon in my personal life. Thus, the erin dress is named after one of my closest high school friends and fellow cheerleading buddy, Erin Vestal.
Erin always had a unique sense of style with a flair for anything bright and eye-catching. She still loves anything red and continues to represent style and sophistication as a lawyer in upstate New York. I named the dress after her because it is the perfect piece to wear to work whether your office is in suburbia or the chicest of cities. It also can be totally glammed up for a night out on the town or at Brasserie, my new fav midtown east powerbar in NYC. Miss NY USA, Davina Reeves, recently sported the erin dress in black with a white jacket for her PIX 11 Interview
The erin dress is made of a sustainable blend of bamboo viscose which is super sexy soft, and machine washable which every girl on the go wants Like all c. marchuska pieces, the erin dress is manufactured in NYC's Garment District. Buy yours online here: erin dress Or pick one up at Kaight (New York, NY), A Stone's Throw (Madison, WI), A Green Wardrobe (Sausalito, CA) or Branch Out (New Orleans, LA). Happy Shopping and have a great week!
Greetings from rainy upstate New York! After two days of complete mayhem with losing my laptop and wallet while still maintaining a composed outward appearance, I thought it would be fitting to share something that I have found prominent in business, especially fashion, perception.
In my finance days you would often hear people on the trading floor say "perception is reality" or if you have seen the popular film, "Boiler Room" you will remember Ben Affleck saying, "Act as If". Well, when I left finance I knew I wanted to escape this whole way of life and focus on strong real relationships. However, how does one achieve this in the true land of perception - fashion.
I guess this all ties back to Brookie's post on the House of CMar. We really want to focus on working with talented individuals who come together with us to help us all achieve our goals and dreams. We want to create sustainable, high-quality clothing for our business, but more importantly foster strong, sustainable relationships with our colleagues, contractors, fans, customers and loyal followers.
I will never be satisfied with a friendship or relationship if I am not giving it 110% and helping that person in whatever way possible. It's funny because I think I caused quite a stir at my last day job. I came in there with the complete intent to just do my job everyday and then leave so I could focus on c. marchuska. However, I instead built strong relationships with my colleagues and discovered most of them were also entrepreneurial. I knew their true potential went way beyond their current roles at the corporation. Thus, I couldn't resist telling them that they needed to continue their day jobs, but ultimately focus on their dreams.
I am SO excited to see where we all will be in the next year, five years and ten years. I am extremely proud to know such amazing people and friends. On that note, I leave you with a video that encompasses perception, fashion and sustainability. The whole video is perception as it was an artistic and fun display of a day of work and creative minds flowing. Fashion is always a strong theme especially with all of us sporting CMar in some way, shape or form. Lastly, sustainability is ever present in this film on two levels: the obvious one is the sustainable wardrobe, but my favorite is that the cast is composed of the House of CMar which came on board through interactions at my last day job, friends of friends or supporters of c. marchuska.
Videography by Jonathan Monina, Sean Cunningham & Tony Segreto. Wardrobe by c. marchuska.
Thank you everyone and keep the comments coming!
As I sit here sifting through every expense related to my fashion house, C. Marchuska, I repeatedly wonder, why am I an entrepreneur? I decided to write this post tonight because so many emotions were stirred up when looking over the past year and remembering both the highs and lows. As part of our new found strategy, Brooke, my partner and I, are going to be sharing a lot more of our story with you here. We hope you enjoy these posts, and feel free to comment with any thoughts, criticisms or support.
I guess I should probably start at the beginning. I was born into an entrepreneurial family. My paternal grandparents came over to the US, specifically Binghamton, New York, from Lithuania. My grandfather held many odd jobs over the years, but never lost hope in the American dream. However, my grandmother always made him choose stability over risk. Similarly when my father approached high school graduation, his parents advised him to take the safe route and pursue college where he could study to be a teacher. Being the dutiful son, my father packed his bags for Buffalo State College– solidifying their dream, but not his.
After college graduation he moved back to the Binghamton area where he started a motorcycle shop while maintaining a full-time high school teaching job. Shortly after moving back to the area he met my mother, a country girl, as she would refer to herself, raised by her Slovenian immigrant parents on a farm in Northern Pennsylvania. My mom was immediately attracted to my father because he was a teacher and could play polkas on his accordion (oh how I tried to hide that story during my teenage years).
So it was a match made in teacher heaven…or so my mom thought. Growing up on a farm, my mother wanted to escape the 24/7 work hours. She was the only one of her siblings to graduate from college and move away from the family business. She thought marrying a teacher and moving to the “big city” of Binghamton would provide the stability she always longed for, but as I often tell friends, never underestimate the power of Marchuska’s.
Shortly after getting married, my parents began their double lives working as full-time teachers while purchasing real estate and various other businesses. It all seemed so innocent in the beginning. But, my father’s drive and motivation to fulfill his father’s dreams along with his own, was too strong. Thus, he kept taking bigger risks and getting involved in more businesses – all of which he had no previous background or knowledge in.
Now, imagine my two older brothers and me growing up in this environment. It was normal for us to see our father in the morning for breakfast before he took off to teach, followed by a quick break in the afternoon before he went to rebuild the apartment buildings he purchased. We might catch him again for a brief moment at dinner before he took off to play in his band that would provide him extra cash to fund his various business ventures. The man literally never slept.
One notable memory that stays with me even to this day is when I was probably around five or six years old. My brothers and I were helping my mom set the table and get ready for our father to come home for dinner. He finally arrived at the house forty-five minutes late. He ran into the kitchen and proclaimed to my mother that he just purchased a million dollar apartment complex in our area. My mother’s mouth dropped. In general, my father never consulted my mother about any of the businesses he purchased after seeing how it was a road block for his father in pursuing his dreams. In the upcoming weeks it would be revealed that the realtor had lied to my father about several parts of the transaction, including the most important fact, which was that less than half of the complex was rented.
Over the next few months my family pulled together to make my father’s purchase a success and most importantly, avoid bankruptcy. We prepared the vacant rentals while my mom unwittingly became a real estate broker. It was at this point in my life that I told my mother that I NEVER wanted to own my own business or be an entrepreneur. I wanted to work for IBM like the other kids’ parents in my first grade class. I mean those kids got to go on real vacations to Disney World for weeks at a time where they stayed in hotels, not like our once a year 3-day summer jaunt to the Jersey Shore, where we would be stayed at an Inn sharing a bathroom with other vacationers on our floor.
Obviously, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. In upcoming posts I will give you more details on my family’s entrepreneurial path, but more importantly how I started my own eco-fashion line while later joining forces with my business partner, best friend and sanity keeper, Brooke Bresnan. We also will be interviewing our mentors in the eco-fashion realm as well as fellow entrepreneurs who have inspired and helped us to continue on this exciting journey. Feel free to contact us if you are inspired or would like to share your thoughts on fashion, sustainability and the American dream.