Smart Fashion Week

When I was a kid reading Teen Vogue in a small Midwestern suburb, I dreamed of Fashion Week. I stole my mom's blush and painted it from the apples of my cheeks to my ears, trying to look like Diana Vreeland. I took toile upholstery remnants and tied them around my waist with an old curtain cord, my version of Comme des Garçons style. I think I was the only member of the Hint Magazine boards under 40, soaking up everything I could about Paris, the Palace days, and 90s supermodels. Then I went to Fashion Week and actually got to meet the people I read about- Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Lasry, and Sarah from Colette, who told me I was a "Prada type." Cara Delevingne and Derek Blasberg were just as nice as everyone says, and we danced until dawn in big sweaters and leggings at Le Baron, where Lionel comped our drinks and invited us to join him at a privatized Palais de Tokyo. All my dreams were coming true, but it made me feel dirty, morally, ethically, and environmentally speaking. "How are you a sustainability student?" one girl asked me. "Is it economic sustainability- propping up world economies through tourism?" I was dreaming of the wrong things. I wasn't living my values, and the excess I saw- and participated in- was only partly the problem.

To me, ethical and sustainable designers must conform to these seven standards:
  1. Ensures safe, healthy working conditions and fair wages for employees and can verify all aspects of the supply and manufacturing chain 
  2. Cruelty free 
  3. Goes above and beyond regulations to ensure all dyes, materials, and processes have limited impact on the environment; i.e. implements renewable energy or energy and water efficient processes; natural or AZO free dyeing techniques; ensures wastewater treatment so as not to endanger people, plants, and wildlife; captures waste from the manufacturing process for reuse (closed loop system); avoids VOCs, formaldehyde, petrochemical derivatives, etc.
  4. Complies with a comprehensive set of labor and environmental regulations 
  5. Designs well made clothing that’s long-lasting, does not need to be replaced often, and will not look outdated in six months 
  6. Empowers disenfranchised communities or gives back to charitable organizations, communities, and groups 
  7. Sources reused, local, biodegradable / natural, upcycled, or deadstock material for textiles AND tags, labels, packaging, etc.

With these values in mind, now Paris is home to a new, improved fashion week- Smart Fashion Week, in honor of Fashion Revolution Day. Founded by two smart, driven young women, Sophie of Shopethik and 24-year-old Judith of Aynés and Smart Fashion, the aim is to change the way we view fashion and consumption to be more inclusive, compassionate, and morally / environmentally responsible. Instead of focusing on what's wrong with the industry, Smart Fashion Week highlights new ethical talent and innovative solutions, lessening our impact while connecting us with the people who make our clothes. The fun, diverse selection of activities, screenings, and ateliers are scattered throughout Paris and mostly free, so everyone can participate. This is my second chance at doing fashion week right, so here are some of the events I'll be at.

Before a screening of Les Damnées du Low Cost at l'Archipel. Photo, Becoming a Parisian

All week

  • Super Green Heroes: Visit Atelier Meraki to see the best new creations by ethical design collective Ethipop, including upcycled fashion brand Les Recuperables, a partnership with one of my favorite resourceries, La Petite Rockette.
  • The Green Shop: From April 19-24, Shopethik is transforming Espace Beaurepaire into a unique, original 100% ethical marketplace. At the end of the week, twenty designers will be awarded for their ethical values and collection quality. I still believe in wearing what you have or sourcing secondhand, but if you don't have time to sift through endless merchandise at Paris depot-ventes, this is one-stop shopping where you get to support the future of sustainable fashion firsthand.
  • Bring your faded, mismatched, or hole-ridden socks in to the Green Shop to recycle for new thread, from which designer Marcia de Carvalho knits upcycled socks and accessories, 100% made in France. You'll also receive a 10% discount on Green Shop purchases.

Monday, April 18

  • Responsible Consumption in France: Stéphane Petitjean of Greenflex presents 10 years of consumption trends in France and how they affect your wardrobe. If you've ever questioned the individual impact of eco-friendly buying decisions, this event is for you.

Tuesday, April 19

  • Les Damnées du Low-Cost: Anne Gintzburger's documentary (screened in one of my favorite places, L'Archipel) investigates the working conditions of textile manufacturers in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse- which housed workshops for brands like Auchan and Zara. After the screening, experts discuss the state of clothing manufacturing today and how to affect change by reforming the way we shop.

Wednesday, April 20

  • L'Ecoconception dans le textile: What is ecodesign, and what does that mean for the textile industry? Does it cost more than conventional production? Sustainability experts answer questions about the economics of responsible manufacturing and why this matters for your closet.
  • Make your own clutch workshop: An atelier with Nasonga designer Sonja Goggelmann educates participants in the true cost and process involved in working with leather, before learning to cut and assemble a high quality envelope clutch.
  • Eco-shopping tour of Paris: Eloise of EcoFashion Paris organizes the first of several 100% green shopping tours in the fashion capital of the world. Peek into the workshops of sustainable designers and gain access to secret concept stores with special discounts and surprises for participants. Starting in Montmartre and ending at Republique, bring good shoes and one Métro ticket for the four tours, also held on April 22 with two tours scheduled for April 23.

Thursday, April 21

  • Short made by you: This DIY workshop by Clarissa Acario of Wylde will leave you with a pair or customized, reconstructed jean shorts worthy of RE/DONE. Get a jumpstart on next year's festival season with upcycled cutoffs for Coachella.

Friday, April 22

Saturday, April 23

  • Atelier Enfant: Teach kids about sustainability with creative upcycling workshops by Boite a Bouille. They'll make toys, bracelets, and blankets with things like old t-shirts and toilet paper rolls. Recently my friend's son asked me to make him a bracelet with rubber bands and I didn't know how so that's the only reason I'm considering this one.
  • DIY Rouge à levres bio: Make your own zero waste organic lipstick with Nathalie of Ateliers Soa using simple ingredients. You'll leave with a detailed recipe and expertise, so you can refill your containers at home.

Sunday, April 24

  • Up ton pull: Upcycle your old, unloved sweaters at this workshop, transforming them into a brand new, eco-friendly pillow or cushion.
  • The True Cost: End the week with a screening of The True Cost (which I still haven't seen) from 6-9PM at another one of my favorite spots, Comptoir Général. Then head to Le Perchoir for drinks, DIY upcycling activities, and a #whomademyclothes photobooth, along with special Fashion Revolution Day hairstyles and temporary tattoos. 

Paris to Go


  1. Your posts are always educational and interlaced with interesting stories. Upcycled materials, energy used to power the facilities, waste management, etc are things I overlooked so far. Thank you for this post.

    1. Thank you so much Archana! You inspired it!

  2. Hi Ariana,

    wonderful coverage of the wide-ranging issues involved in choosing ethical fashion.

    I have just started knitting a scarf for work in the very lovely double moss stitch. I drove to a neighboring town to buy the wool (actually two towns, the first town didn't have what I was after). I thought I had read the label carefully - the front stated the two types of wool used,it wasn't made in a Chinese sweat shop etc... - but when I arrived home I looked at the fine print on the back and discovered there was some acrylic content - arghhhhh! I was then in a dilemma about whether or not I should return the wool. In the end I decided not to as that would mean an awful lot of carbon miles if I included my first two trips to make the purchase.

    So I took a deep breath, realised we often can't do 'perfect', and that I had done 'good enough' in my quest to make more of my clothing myself.


    PS it is thrilling to watch this beautiful yarn turn into a garment that will no doubt keep me warm for many years.

    1. You are so thoughtful Madeleine, I always enjoy your comments and learn so much from them. I hope you will share the scarf you knit!

  3. omg smart fashion week sounds amazing. thank you for all these pointers, will dive into reading the links with delight (and try to be part of SFW next year for sure!)

    1. I can't wait to see Studio Habeas Corpus here next year!!

  4. Hope you're having fun and that you share experiences and any insights. Just a general philosophical musing: when I saw your list pf requirements, I couldn't help noticing that we (society?) have just two words that clarify how to treat animals the right way: cruelty free. So they can live happy lives. Whereas with humans we need to define the minimum conditions. Isn't cruelty free self-expanatory enough when it comes to human life?

    1. That is a good point Anne! The documentary they screened, Les Damnées du Low Cost, highlights how people will take advantage of the slightest technicality or leeway in contracts and use that as an excuse to exploit other humans. So maybe this means we really need to spell everything out and have standards in place or people will make excuses. Sometimes I see people who are so loving and sweet to animals but nasty to other people, too. Maybe we feel a responsibility to animals that we don't to other human beings?

  5. I miss the good old teen vogue days :)
    Super interesting article, as usual!

    1. You are so sweet Bojana thank you! I hope you are well :) I miss them too, we were so young and innocent then <3