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In Reply to Andy Selsberg's Question: "Where are the Michael Pollans for Clothing?"

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"Where are the Michael Pollans for clothing?" Andy Selsberg asked, in an article entitled "Conscientious Clothing" published in this month's Believer. He is, of course, referring to the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, who helped mainstream America's food movement.

To Mr. Selsberg I reply, with all due respect: What am I? Chopped liver?

I'm afraid he missed my video and multimedia story, which identifies my food-inspired approach, and pieces like this one that follows fashion back to the farm, or this one that likens H&M clothing to candy, or this one in which a designer suggests I eat my jeans. (I'm even more afraid he didn't miss them, and that he might not have deemed my work worth a mention or an email, but let's be believers...)

January 2011

"They must be out there, writing book proposals," Selsberg wrote of my species of fashion journalist. Gasp!

Indeed, while he was calling for "a centrist buying guide" to shirt-buying in the pages of the Believer, I was hammering out a piece entitled, "The Fashionista's Dilemma," for this February's issue of Marie Claire. My article sets forth the sort of guidelines Mr. Selsberg requests, although it seems in researching his own story -- an insightful and informative piece which poses questions like, "Should your underwear be made by an artisan? I'm really asking." -- we came to many common conclusions. I gasped (again) when I read his application of the "price-per-wear" principle to men's denim, and he also referred to players like Julie Gilhart, Brazilian brand Melissa, Patagonia, Edun (my former employer), and its former sister companies Rogan and Loomstate. I won't give away all of our bullet points (neither magazine published these articles in full for free), but suffice to say we both suggested spending more money on fewer items, working with what we've got and generally dressing in accordance with our values.

For the last year, my work has been foundation-funded, which is why all those links up there send you to my independent sites, rather than to a large media outlet. It may also have to do why Mr. Selsberg didn't find me in his research -- at least not that I'm aware of. (This may also speak to my limited relationship with social media and search engine-optimization.) I've been putting off a post about where to find my work now that the grant is gone, but I see it's necessary. In addition to the story in this month's Marie Claire, I'm also contributing to NBC's fashion site, ThreadNY, where I've already published posts about fashion production in Africa and Garment District-based dressmakers. My editor at Thread is hungry (forgive) for stories about New York's fashion supply chain, and an editor Marie Claire said she couldn't believe they hadn't published a piece like mine already.

"There's a nascent conscientious-clothing movement, but it's several years behind the one for food, "Andy Selsberg stated in the Believer.

Where are the Michael Pollans for clothing? It seems, Mr. Selsberg, you have become one.

We are here.

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