Fashion with a Conscience

Guest post written by Maria Fyodorova of Righteous (re)Style.

Treasury--fab vintage and second-hand finds
Kristen Swenson at Treasury

Kristen Swenson is not your average sewing lass. She’s an aspiring fashion designer committed to embracing sustainability.

As the in-house seamstress at Treasury, a 14th Street boutique that offers a tightly-edited collection of vintage finds, Swensen can help you turn that almost-perfect vintage dress into your best-fitting outfit ever.

Originally from a small town in Minnesota, Kristen recently moved to DC and hopes to launch her clothing line soon. Here’s what she had to say about her eco-friendly approach to fashion.

Can you tell us a bit about your approach to sustainable fashion design?

I prefer to pair design and recycling whenever possible. It’s the only way I can be in the fashion field with a clean conscience. Typically I will take damaged or second-hand items and completely revamp them so they can have another life before they find the landfills.

Why did you choose to work at Treasury? What do you like about vintage clothing?

The shop is beautifully organized–more like a boutique–which really showcases the items. One of the owners, Cathy, was so nice and welcoming to me, it was hard not to fall in love with Treasury. In addition, they would eventually like to sell my designs [there]. As for why I love vintage so much, simply put, it is the most glamorous form of recycling.

I know you plan to start selling your designs soon, can you give a bit of preview of what kind of designs we’ll see (i.e., materials, fabrics, silhouettes)?

It’s hard to give an official preview because what I will be making will depend on what second-hand items I find. In general, I aim to showcase the beauty of the female figure, and show an appreciation for curves. One can definitely expect to find well-tailored garments with a lot of details, made from beautiful and unique fabrics.

You’re wearing a bustier that you designed — can you tell me a bit about it? Where did it come from?

The outside is made from second-hand men’s suiting fabric, the lining out of an old bed sheet, and the underlining out of jeans I outgrew. Because the jean material is so sturdy, it reduced the amount of boning that was necessary for the garment. In addition, the cotton lining and cotton underlining allow the skin to breathe, even if the garment is tight.

More about Treasury

Treasury is co-owned by Cathy Chung and Katerina Herodotou. Their carefully handpicked vintage clothing is displayed artfully on salvaged fixtures from Community Forklift and Rough and Ready. Check out this lovely shop located at 1843 14th St., 2nd floor.  

Photograph courtesy of Mark Silva Photography

5 tips for being more sustainable

You’ve likely heard the term “sustainable” about a million times in the past few years, but what in the heck does it mean? The most widely accepted definition is that “sustainability is the concept of meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

The good news is that it’s easy to take steps that will turn you from a resource-guzzling biped to an informed, conscientious, and planet-friendly creature.

As this article points out, for many people, sustainability starts with food. Paying attention to where your food comes from, eating more locally, and eschewing fast food chains in favor of independent restaurants are all ways that you can start to be more sustainable.

Here are a few simple changes—from how you commute to what you eat for dinner—that can make a big difference.

  • Get a better buzz. When you need that caffeine fix, choose fair trade and locally grown coffee and tea. And, free yourself from the shackles of disposable cups by bringing your own cup or stainless steel thermal mug.
  • Dress for less. Consider consignment or gently-used clothing and furniture instead of buying brand new stuff. Our blog pal over at Righteous [re[]Style has oodles of great ideas from buying on eBay to decking yourself out in vintage duds from Eastern Market.
  • Buy local. Did you know that most food travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your table? That’s a long haul that uses up tons of energy and contributes to pollution. Plus, local food generally uses less packaging, is fresher and tastier, and comes in more varieties. You can find locally grown food at area farmer’s markets or through community supported agriculture (CSA) in your area.
  • See the light. Talk about a bright idea. Replace all the bulbs in your home with energy-saving compact florescent lightbulbs. The bulbs, which can replace incandescent, halogen and other electric lights around your house, use between 60% and 80% less energy than their incandescent counterparts. Plus, they typically last between 6,000 and 15,000 hours, compared to 1,000 hours or so for incandescent bulbs.
  • Get trashed. You know you’re supposed to recycle plastic and paper, but sometimes even with the best of intentions, those items find their way into the regular trash bin, don’t they? Make it a no-brainer to do the right thing by outfitting your kitchen and office with a stylish and functional recycling trash masher.