Monday, January 28, 2013

A Boy Named Sue: Responsible Retail

Let's just begin by agreeing that sustainability and style are not mutually exclusive anymore. So while there are still eco-martyrs out there that choose to forge their own clothes from discarded leaves and drain hair, there's also a very mainstream branch of society that would like their clothes to be both fashionable and fashionably good for the world. Nothing trendier nowadays than saving the world, whether it's by sorting out your recycled paper at work, or simply by shopping responsibly.

There are no compost heaps at A Boy Named Sue, the online multi-brand retailer founded in Hong Kong a few months ago by a couple of bloggers, Tania and Sam. But there are plenty of "designers with stories," as they term it -- just in case the prefix of "eco" does turn customers away with grimaces and images of hemp handbags. As you will note, ABNS's wares are fashion forward with a tendency towards that kind of androgyny that's signature to Scandinavian design, and gels with the aesthetic implied in the site's name (which, incidentally, derives from the title of a Johnny Cash tune).

One of the more interesting brands you'll find on the site is Thu Thu, which uses fabrics reclaimed from vintage skirts and blankets in North Vietnam. The stitching is phenomenal on the pieces and call forth both nostalgia and contemporary style, thanks to that whole Aztec-chic thing that's going on these days.

This jumpsuit is by Isabell de Hillerin, whose garments are handmade by craftswomen in Moldova and Romania who learned their skills from their mothers and grandmothers, using all natural materials. Weaving and embroidery are strong motifs and techniques employed in the line, which employs loose cuts and boyish silhouettes.

Also really love Partimi, designed by a very pedigreed woman, Eleanor Dorrien-Smith, who's spent time at Mary Katrantzou and John Galliano. So no surprise that her prints are totally on point -- check out the beautiful tees evoking nature in a dream-like manner. You can almost feel the wind rustling through them, like watching the breeze float through a Hayao Miyazaki cartoon.

There are plenty of other brands to discover on the site, which will only grow as more designers jump on the storytelling bandwagon. Certainly, the price point is not cheap -- this isn't your average run-of-the-mill ASOS love-it-and-leave-it game. But long-lasting classics with a twist are something worth investing in, and A Boy Named Sue knows exactly what those are.

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