Sustainability In Fashion: Interview with Erin Wetzel From Orleans + Winder
by Samantha Schmuck of Revived Living
As a Health Coach, sustainability is a topic I am constantly exploring and one that is relevant in any area of our life. From a habits perspective and practicing negative habits that aren’t sustainable for vibrant health to negative self-talk that leads us into a black hole to our food systems and sustainable farming practices.
When I first started studying to be a coach in college, it was hard for my mind not to spin out about how commonplace toxic chemicals are in our food, products, and environment. This captured my focus for a few years until I moved to San Diego and had two roommates who introduced me to the concept of slow fashion vs fast fashion.
When I lived in Georgia I had interviewed farmers and was enthralled with the slow movement of food, but hadn’t yet considered how it also showed up in the fashion industry.
What exactly is slow fashion?
Slow Fashion is the movement of designing, creating, and buying garments for quality and longevity. It encourages slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and (ideally) zero waste.
If the fashion industry continues at its current pace, “The fashion industry’s CO2 emissions are projected to increase to nearly 2.8 billion tons per year by 2030— equivalent to the emissions of 230 million passenger vehicles driven for a year.” (Global Fashion Agenda 2017)
Our environment needs us to make big changes and fast, but what if those changes began with each of us taking responsibility for our own consumerism? Every time you shop you have the ability to vote for the type of products you would like to see more of.
A great example of this with food is the number of conventional grocery stores who carry more and more organic, gluten-free, or dairy-free food options and the increase in farmer’s markets or CSA (community-supported agriculture) options. If the demand is there, businesses will begin to pivot.
When I left the midwest 8 years ago, healthy and preventative living was not a conversation I could have easily with many people. I just moved back to Detroit last year, so it was so wonderful getting to meet Erin from Orleans & Winder and geek out on so many shared interests! Let’s dive in to hear her perspective about wellness and what sparked her interest in being part of the slow fashion movement.
How would you describe Orleans + Winder, and what inspired you to pursue this path in the fashion industry?
Orleans + Winder is a store that embodies slow fashion and a patient lifestyle. We curate our collection of fashion, accessories and home objects via designers and artisans from all over the globe who create beautiful pieces using small batch production. I hold a deep admiration for those using patience and old world techniques. I lived in France for a time when I was younger and was so inspired by the pace and overall thoughtfulness of life. Quality over quantity is much more important than mass production. It informed how I shopped and curated my own closet and I began to explore designers who worked this way and honed in on a few favorites. Before I knew it, Orleans + Winder went from concept to brick and mortar.
What do you enjoy most about being in the shop and interacting with your clients?
My clients make everything I do special. I love talking with them and learning from them, many have become good friends. I enjoy owning a boutique where I can set the tone. The ambience is serene and more like a gallery than your typical shop. I invite people to take their time and I even serve tea if they would like. I love to create a haven that is atypical of the usual shopping experience.
If your personal style were asking a question or making a statement, what would it say?
If my personal style were asking a question it would be “who made your clothes?”. It’s become so important to me to buy consciously and more sustainably. Fashion is the 2nd most polluting industry in the world and it is imperative that we begin to do something about it. When I know the person, not the brand, who made the clothes I know it was done with intention and high-quality in mind.
What lessons can we apply from the slow fashion movement to our everyday lives or health?
Consider the holistic life cycle of the things around you, buy with intention, and move through life with patience and intention in everything you do.
For someone just beginning to live more sustainably regarding fashion, what are 1-2 tips they can begin with?
I think the top 2 things to focus on when incorporating a sustainable mindset in fashion (beside shopping from small boutiques and independent designers) are:
1. Edit your wardrobe: Clean out your closet and minimize your collection. Recycle what you no longer wear. Orleans & Winder is currently collecting garments to be repurposed in a really fun way so send us an email or reach out through Instagram to coordinate a drop off. You can also go to local consignment shops, goodwill, st. vincent, salvation army, etc.
2. Hone in on your personal style: This will make it easier to shop with sustainability in mind and get rid of mindless purchases. Really get to know what you love wearing. Fashion should be a way to elevate and express who you are!
What does health or wellness mean to you?
I find myself more times than not exploring blogs, books and podcasts related to wellness. I love learning about things such as adaptogens, raw foods, alternative therapies. The older I get, the more important it has been to mitigate the debauchery of my youth!
When you are traveling abroad or off on a road trip, what are your must-have essentials that allow you to feel your best on the go?
My black cashmere wrap is the foundation piece for all of my outfits and is my cozy blanket on the plane. Earbuds are essential. My journal. Hand sanitizer and Aesop hand cream, plus lots of Vitamin C and water!
What has been a challenge you were faced with, and how did find your way through?
Wow, so many! Whenever I am faced with a challenge I have forced myself to connect with my friends to bounce it off of them. I tend to be pretty internal with issues or problems that come up in my life, but I find having an outside perspective is so helpful. I also remind myself to take it one day at a time, to breath and know that I’ll come out on the other side having learned something valuable.
If you had one wish for everyone on this earth to experience in their lives, what would it be and why?
Gratitude. It puts everything into perspective. It’s grounding and sets the tone for how we treat both ourselves and others.
Running a business requires many hats, but that does not include being a mama or partner or any of the other fun things you like to do. What is your favorite way to recharge your batteries throughout the week?
I find that I am a much better human if I get out into nature every week to recharge. Whether it’s a run on Belle Isle or a hike north of the city, my family always carves out time for it!
What ways do you practice sustainability in your life? Can’t wait to hear!
Always rooting for you,