RETHINKING FASHION // Newsletter No. 2

I’ve been an avid thrifter since the seventh grade. It began with my Godmother, who took me to a local thrift store when I was 14 to try and find a Ralph Lauren polo. (Trust me, those were all the rage for seventh graders in New Orleans at the time). We didn’t find one of the popular solid blue or white polos I coveted, but instead, found an unsightly navy and pink striped version I treasured not for its looks but because I knew no one else had one like it. Not to mention, it only cost $10 instead of $90 and still donned the proper horse logo — all that mattered to me at the end of the day.

Though my polo-wearing days were short lived, I developed a love for finding something unique and giving new life to a clothing item someone had likely outgrown. Fast forward to today, and I still get most of my clothes secondhand whether is vintage, thrifted, or online. (See below for a list of my favorite places to shop).

It wasn’t until recently with the rise of the Fashion Revolution movement, and in developing my brand, I began to realize how important it is to consume less and invest in/create quality pieces. My love for thrifting was a good start but much more needed to be done to effect real change.

Obviously, it would be ideal if everyone became a minimalist, but with dress as an integral part of self-expression in our society, focusing on our consumption habits is a more realistic and attainable place to start. With greater awareness around the environmental and humanitarian impacts of the fashion industry at large, it couldn’t be a better time to rethink your shopping habits and contribute to this new age in fashion.

Here are some suggestions on where to start:

 

Love what you have

 

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Because of the low prices driven by fast-fashion, clothing (and accessories) have basically become disposable. Most clothing items now only get 1 or 2 wears before being donated or thrown out, with only 10% reselling in secondhand stores and the rest ending up in landfills.

The first step to a sustainable wardrobe is to love the clothes you already have. You can extend the life of your clothes by taking the time to mend holes, replace lost buttons, remove stains, etc. If you don’t have the patience, that’s fine too — just send them to your local tailor or eco-friendly cleaner.

 

Create a capsule wardrobe

 

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The idea behind the capsule wardrobe is to reduce your clothing and accessories to quality pieces and outfits that define your style and can be endlessly mixed and matched. This can take some time, but it makes getting dressed a lot easier and helps prevent you from buying things you don’t need. For those items that don’t fit into your capsule wardrobe, try selling them on resell apps like Depop and Poshmark.

I’ve started creating my capsule wardrobe and found that it involves loads of thrift finds, well-crafted goods from friends/artisans, and a whole lotta denim.

 

 

 

Shop consciously

 

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When you are ready to bring something new into your wardrobe, consider these options:

 

Support artisans and ethical brands

We know our stuff ain’t cheap. Fast fashion has made the world lose touch with the true cost of quality items. We aren’t asking you to exclusively buy handmade pieces with high price tags. We just ask that you buy less, buy better quality, and support artisans and ethical businesses if you have the means to do so.

There are so many brands I've discovered over my time here in California, so I'll just highlight a few that I personally own and love:

OZMA

Mohinders

Cosa Buena

Mira Blackman

Reformation

Clay.LA

For a curated directory of USA made ethical brands, check out These Native Goods.

 

Buy secondhand

From someone who has frequented her local Goodwill, Buffalo Exchange, and consignment shops for the last ten years, I can tell you, you really can find anything you need or want secondhand. It takes a little more patience, but if you take the time to dig, you are bound to find what you are looking for. If those stores aren’t your thing, I’m also a huge fan of these online thrifting options:

  • Poshmark
  • Depop
  • Tradesy
  • Ebay
  • Etsy
  • **Instagram- there are so many women-owned stores selling vintage and secondhand finds either directly on Instagram or through their own sites.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Bohemian Harvest

For Love of the Moon

Shopstressed

Shopboheme

Noihsaf Bazaar

Studio Totto

Barnaby jack

AVILLA (yes, you read that right. I’ll be adding a new section to my site soon with thrift finds and a hoard of beautiful goods hand-selected from the Tucson Gem Show, so be on the lookout for that :). Don’t worry — the jewelry isn’t going anywhere.

 

Educate yourself

The best thing you can do is educate yourself to change your mindset on consumerism and inspire others to do the same. I suggest starting with the documentary The True Cost (currently on Netflix).

https://truecostmovie.com

www.Fashionrevolution.com

https://www.racked.com/2017/8/22/16179784/sustainable-shopping-how-to

 

“We need to break our addiction to the need for speed and volume. We need to realize the true cost of our cheap bargains. Ultimately, we need to buy less, buy better and keep asking questions about the realities behind what we’re purchasing. We need to love the clothes we already own more and work harder to make them last.”

-https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/why-do-we-need-a-fashion-revolution/

 

AVILLA isn’t your traditional modern jewelry brand. We don’t have sales, we are made-to-order, and everything is made in-house in the US (currently, just by me) with the environment in mind.

We made these decisions to encourage conscious purchases and promote the slow-fashion movement. It means we are growing at a slower rate, but we are fine with that. We know change is on the horizon and that great things take time. We can’t wait to see where this intentional, organic growth takes us.

Thank you as always for the support (and for giving a shit).

xx,

Michelle



 

SOUL SPEAK // Newseltter No. 1

S O U L  S P E A K 

 I recently started a monthly email newsletter where subscribers receive a first look at new products, as well as insights into the inspirations and evolution of AVILLA. Here are some of the hIghlights from the February Newsletter. If you'd like to subscribe click CONNECT on the homepage! 

I recently started a monthly email newsletter where subscribers receive a first look at new products, as well as insights into the inspirations and evolution of AVILLA. Here are some of the hIghlights from the February Newsletter. If you'd like to subscribe click CONNECT on the homepage! 


A Word on Me

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I’m Michelle, the designer and artist behind AVILLA. I'm originally from New Orleans but currently call the magical lands of California home. I live in Los Angeles with my other-half, Chris, and our cat (but let's be real--our child) Rou. When I'm not in my studio, I'm usually traveling, practicing yoga, thrifting, or getting my nature fix in the mountains or at the beach. 

I began making and selling jewelry back in New Orleans in 2012 (shoutout to those who remember “Michelle’s Market” on Etsy), but AVILLA really began to take hold when I took my first metalsmithing course in 2015. Diving into the alchemy of metalwork left me with an insatiable hunger to create. It was then that I decided to make the decision to forgo pursuing my career in medicine, something that wasn't right for me at the time, and pursue a life in art instead. (I bet a lot of your are wondering my sign. I'm learning from my astrologically-inclined friends I am a pretty stereotypical Gemini). Shortly after completing the course, I packed up my belongings and headed for the uncharted lands of the west coast, craving to explore a new land and dedicate my days to this new art form.


A Word on Growth:

If you look at the AVILLA Instagram feed over the last year, I’m sure you’ll notice the steady evolution of my work. Instagram allows you to witness my growth on an almost daily basis. If you've followed along since the beginning, you know I did not start as a clearly defined brand. Instead, it has been a thoughtful, organic cultivation of my art followed by the formation of a brand I identify with. From my collections Alchemy and Celestial to my current work, I realize there is a lot of variation. The last few years have been transformative, allowing me to hone in on my and aesthetic and inspirations. So, thank you for following along no matter what direction I go in. 

As for my latest collection, it unfolded after a lengthy creative block. I realized I was designing for wholesale, only making pieces that were marketable and easily reproducible. It left me feeling restricted and uninspired. Needing to reconnect, I took some time to reflect on the materials that excited me. I found myself drawn to what originally inspired me--the natural materials, intricate beadwork, and organic textures of ancient adornments. Combining elements of metal fringe and linear motifs with natural beads of horn, shell, and bone, each piece embodies a marriage of modern and ancient form that speaks to my soul and hopefully to yours too.

Not only do the ancients inspire my jewelry, they inspire my production. They are the ultimate model of sustainability, only using what materials were available to them, working with natural elements, and creating as an act of thoughtful devotion. With this in mind, I constantly look for new ways to reduce my ecological footprint, promote sustainability, and embody conscious small-scale production. I believe in local production of quality goods. I believe in my art as a form of prayer, a sacred offering to Spirit. Currently, all packaging is earth friendly, and all materials used in my studio are recycled when possible. I use reusable rags over paper towels and choose natural chemicals when available.


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Currently:

READINGThe House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

LISTENING: Oprah's Super Soul Conversation with Elizabeth Gilbert

LIVING: "I don't have to succeed. Succeeding means answering the question--following the quest wherever it ends." ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

NOURISHING: Golden Milk (morning latte of unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk turmeric, coconut oil, and dash of finely ground black pepper)
 
LOVING: My Mojave Mug from @urthenware


With exciting change on the horizon, I’m grateful to you all for joining me on this ever-evolving journey. I hope these newsletters and blogs help you connect more to the story behind AVILLA.

After all, to me, this is about more than just art. It’s about the connection art inspires.

With love,

Michelle