Closing Up Shop

Dear Local Buttons friends and family,

In joyful sorrow we bring you the news that Local Buttons is closing shop as of December 2014. The decision lived in our hearts long enough for us to be sure that we made the right final choice. We are eternally grateful for the extraordinary journey our “pepe passport” took us on. Unlike so many great ideas, ours lived for 4 years and breathed inspiration into us, and the community at large.

We humbly realize the action heroes we made ourselves out to be as two twenty-something overambitious and underprepared ladies, intending to change the face of fashion…all at once! We have led VERY exciting lives! We set out to change the system that drives the fashion industry to be socially and environmentally destructive. In all seriousness, despite our lack of preparedness, we are humbled by our incredible successes. Through friendships, trust, and skillful work we manifested an ethical clothing company.

We are so proud to say that we partnered with the Handal family, local to Haiti, to create our Design Lab that saw 10 full time tailors come to work in a facility that was safe, collaborative and offered a hot lunch program. We pride ourselves on having paid two times the national minimum wage, therefore pushing from the inside for reform within an industry that typically disregards those that produce the goods. We are delighted to have dressed people all over the world in tailored, up-cycled, fashion that respects people and the earth.

At Local Buttons we believe that the fashion industry MUST and will change.

We discovered the creativity, beauty and challenges that Haiti presents. We worked internationally with some of the most passionate, creative, compassionate and dedicated artists, social advocates, entrepreneurs, business owners, academics, and diplomats. We saw every side of the fashion industry. We were given an inside view into traditional manufacturing solidifying our belief that this form of manufacturing must shift. We were inspired by others pioneering with us in the movement for a more equitable industry and greater consumer consciousness.

So! How do we lay our dream to rest? Do we fold it up and tuck it away in a little corner in the back of our brain, never to be thought of again?

No! We put our dream to rest with a PARTY to celebrate the beauty that was and will continue to be Local Buttons. We invite you to party with us this December and we will release the grand details as soon as we have them! We are offering the last of our exclusive line to you. You can walk away with a UNIQUE piece, never to be made again. Come toast to an epic four years with us.

We would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who supported us along the way. There have been so many that have been integral to making Local Buttons what it was. Over the past 4 years we made some amazing friends and created some of the best memories in Haiti, Canada and the US.

We could not have done any of this without the immense support of our families and roommates, who believed in our vision. We are both fortunate enough to say that our families and roommates stood by us the entire way, provided valuable insight, an endless ear for our stories, shoulders to cry on and promotion that only a proud mother and father can offer.

Our Haitian friends offered endless support. Hans Garoute openly welcomed us to Haiti back in 2010 and has been our biggest supporter in Haiti to this date. He plugged us as the experts in pepe and we will forever be indebted to his generosity. Geoffrey and Tony Handal opened up their space and allowed us to expand our facility. Geoffrey, Olivier, and “Madam” welcomed us in to their home while we stayed in Haiti. It never ceased to baffle us when we stood back in Haiti and looked at the project that took shape. Gaelle Coicou, our production manager in Haiti, was integral to making our facility run smoothly. Perez Fertil and Jean-Manuel saw to it that we could safely walk in to the Pepe markets in Port-au-Prince and leave with treasures in hand. We worked with AVSI, an Italian NGO that brought us to Cite Soleil so that we could work with talented and artistic metal workers to make our jewellery line. And none of it would have been possible without the 10 extraordinary tailors we worked with.

We began to compile a list of our helpers in Toronto and you guessed it…it went on forever! We are overcome with gratitude. Expect enormous shout outs and hugs at our PARTY to feel just how HUGE your impact has been in our lives and the life of Local Buttons.

Thank you, all, from the bottom of our hearts.

See you in December!

Love and light!

Anne & Consuelo

We would like to thank the following individuals for their support throughout the life of Local Buttons

Dr. Tasha Lewis, Dr. Luann Lafranz, Jim Beqaj, Dr. Anil Netravali, Dr. Huiju Park, Nick Parker, Helen Trejo, Vanessa Sanchez, Sarah Jurgens, Jianan Su, Sarah Portway, Nathan Monk, Marcelo Canario, Edmilson Rocha Lima, Brad Karjama, Trish Nixon, Dr. Webb, Navin Khanna, Lucie Dipronio, Vicki Saunders, Abigail Slater, Jenn Bannon, Danilo Ursini, Faderr Black, Kaela Bree, Dana Kandalaft, Kelly Drennan, Sarah Kear, Jane Wu, Joanna Kviring, Randi Bergman

 

Spring Pop Up @ Senisi’s

We’ll be popping up at Senisi Fine Foods this Friday to help you jump into spring looking your best! We promise the snow will fade away just in time…

Come by for NEW spring fashion fresh from Haiti and Joe’s deliciously inspired treats of sandwiches and coffee! 

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The LB/Cornell Dream Team

Last year we were fortunate enough to commence a partnership with Cornell University (funded by the EPA) and the ‘dream team’ of professors and students to help us work on creating zero waste pattern design at our design lab in Port-au-Prince. Our team consists of fashion and design officiandos, fibre scientists, fashion historians and a whole lot of creativity.  After a few months of product development we welcomed  Dr Tasha Lewis, the chef of our  Cornell team, to visit us in PAP to see the progress. With her arrival we began to manufacture 4 new beautiful pieces designed by yours truly with patterns and technicals made by the Cornell dream team.

We are working to minimize our waste through the design process with the ultimate goal of zero waste pattern design. In the meantime we are looking for creative and innovative ways to use our scraps created from our design process. We are inspired to collaborate with other artists, designers and professionals in Haiti to create a network that allows us to share our resources and to find innovative ways to create sustainable business models in Haiti. This is merely the tip of the iceberg of where the dream team will go!

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Fall Fashion Pop-UP

Join us and celebrate fall in all of its glory with our Fall Fashion Pop-Up Thursday September 26th from 5-8pm.

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We have partnered with the Azadi Project and Nation Wares to bring you a fabulous Fall Fashion Pop-UP at the Fashion Takes Action Showroom in the Distillery District. These fantastic fashion companies create beautiful designs and promote ethical standards in the fashion industry. We are thrilled to partner once more with these two companies (we showed together at FAT this spring) to bring you all your fall fashion needs.

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NationWares:

One of my professors once told me that every garment we wear carries an element of the person who created it. Fast fashion and our culture of consumption has created oppressive systems of production. NationWares exists to provide an alternative to fast and cheap fashion while creating new systems of development and sustainability within the industry.
 
Taking the form of a social enterprise, NationWares is able to break the cycle of poverty for marginalized people around the world impacted by extreme poverty, disability, and HIV/AIDS. Fashion is our vehicle to drive sustainable change as we support artisans that create ethically made products that postively impact their society, economy, and the environment. Each hand-crafted item carries a story of hope and opportunity because the person who created it has made incredible strides to transform their life, family, and community at large. We are delighted to share their dreams, products, and stories with the world.  

The Azadi Project:

“When is comes to fast fashion, people are  increasingly recognizing that the status quo is not an ethical or sustainable option. More than ever before, consumers care about the global impact their purchasing power has and they’re making conscious decisions about their day-to-day choices.

Particularly in light of the horrific tragedy that killed over a thousand garment workers in Bangladesh, consumers want to support brands that respect worker’s rights, liveable wages and a sustainable means of production. The Azadi Project brand is all those things and more. We’re proud to be part of this growing consumer consciousness, as well as a broader movement that is providing ethical alternatives that respect people and the planet, first and foremost. “

LB Addresses Fashion Focused Voluntary Initiatives

Dressing is such an international affair. Our garments often travel throughout the world before finding home (if only for a short while) in our closets and draping our backs. The cotton may have been grown in Texas before being shipped off to Shanghai where it is dyed, then sent to Hong Kong where the garment was brought to life. The finished product may then be sent to a central hub in Miami before it makes its way across North America to a retail outlet where it is sold at a price much lower than the international treatment it received should allow. So how do we understand this international phenomenon that is our clothing? How do we know how our clothing is made? By whom and under what socio-economic conditions? Did children make the clothing?  What chemicals are used in both the production and processing phases? What are the conditions of the country where the garment is made?

Alternatively, do we each have time to ask these questions each time we buy something? How do you even go about retrieving the answers to these questions? In a perfect world the answers would be simple; garments are made using high quality, sustainable fabrics, by fairly paid, well trained tailors working under ethical conditions. If this is not yet the case, how does one navigate the retail scene? We believe a voluntary initiative that addresses all these issues is the answer. A label or certification that clearly states to the consumer that they are buying something both sustainable and ethical-a label that is trusted and well understood.

In order to address these issues, I have been doing my master’s at Ryerson University for a year now in the Environmental Applied Science and Management Program. And while the program has reaffirmed the more you learn the less you know, I do feel as though some progress has been made-at least in my personal understanding of the textiles industry.

In order to convince myself that going back to school for two years was a worthwhile endeavor I have linked what we are doing at LB with my studies; Sustainable Fashion. I am researching current voluntary initiatives (or voluntary codes of conduct) for the fashion industry to assess strengths and weaknesses to determine the best areas for reform. There exist many voluntary initiatives for the fashion industry, yet none seem to tackle the issues from all aspects. Basically a voluntary initiative is an industry standard or code that companies adhere to on a voluntary basis-FSC certification, Fair Trade, Responsible Care-these are all voluntary codes.

Through research with Ryerson and ongoing engagement with LB we are attempting to decipher a new and innovative way to address the problem of voluntary initiatives in a

holistic and comprehensive way. We have found that current initiatives like the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Greenpeace Detox Challenge, Responsible Care, Fair Trade (etc) address only one or two aspects of the garment industry rather than looking at the entire process. Each of these voluntary initiatives is important as they have helped inform the larger population and the garment industry of areas that need readdressing in the textile industry. They are great starting points-a place to launch forward.

So, what do we propose? We aim to develop an initiative with input from designers, retailers, manufacturers, fiber producers and NGOs. This way we address the entire chain. There needs to be communication all along the supply chain. Designers can have huge input, after all, it doesn’t matter how much tensel or sustainable bamboo is being produced if designers are not using it in their designs. Beyond this, a campaign to increase consumer awareness in order to generate a greater understanding of voluntary initiatives is needed-one that clearly and matter of factly shows how a garment was made-a label/certification that consumers can trust. In this respect we see retailers acting as the proxies for consumers, doing the research on behalf of the consumers.

We leave for Haiti in just over a month for the better part of August. While there we will work again with INDEPCO on new LB designs as well as engage with manufacturers and designers in Haiti to get their input on changes needed for the industry. We are excited to place LB in a broader aspect-to critically look at our production to see where we can improve. We are cognizant of the fact that our garments are part of the international garment sector-our vests would have quite the decorated passport were they people.