There's a growing trend in the fashion industry, a push for sustainability, environmental consciousness and social responsibility in the way that products are manufactured and sold. New Orleans is no exception. Pay a visit to these local businesses that use everything from cork to coffee sacks in their products.
The Artistic Home
Located on retail-packed Magazine Street, The Artistic Home features locally sourced objects for sustainable living. You'll find Ball jars made into lamps, doors turned into coffee tables, and cypress furniture by Don Hostetler among many other antique and reclaimed objects.
Kyle Berner is building a better flip-flop—and a better world—with his Feelgoodz line, which was founded in New Orleans in 2008. Now available at Whole Foods Markets nationwide (including its Magazine Street location), the sandals are made from all-natural rubber sourced from Thai and Vietnamese farmers at fair-trade prices. The soft, pliable rubber molds to your foot and is what makes “Feelgoodz feel so good.” You'll also find Berner's flip-flops at Feet First.
Ripped boat sails, rice bags with typos and repurposed seat belts get a new lease on life thanks to veteran baggage designer Patti Dunn, founder of Tchoup Industries. Built to last a lifetime (with a warranty to match), the locally made product line includes backpacks, messenger bags, key chains and clutches. Central to Tchoup’s products is waxed canvas, a natural material selected for its durability and water resistance. You can dress up a canvas backpack with panels of wool, hand-woven fabric or alligator hide—or go full-on swamp chic with nutria fur, from which a portion of proceeds goes to the Gulf Restoration Network. Bag one at SöPö, Defend New Orleans, or Tchoup's three-in-one storefront with partners DVRA and Disko Obscura (1113B St. Mary St.).
Restrung Jewelry takes advantage of a resource New Orleans has more than enough of—broken guitar strings. Combining music and art, snapped strings are reworked into bracelets, earrings, necklaces and bangles, along with recycled pieces of vintage jewelry and precious stones. Materials not sourced locally are fair-trade compliant, and a portion of sales goes to the New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation. You'll spot Restrung items at the Shops at 2011.
Handbags, dog collars, iPhone cases, aprons, umbrellas; Queork offers all these and more made out of all-natural cork. Because cork oak trees regenerate their bark after being harvested, cork production is considered sustainable. Impregnated with beeswax, the cork fabric feels like supple suede with the benefit of being waterproof, durable and vegan-friendly. Check out the limited-run cork bow ties and footballs.