CONNECTING TRADITIONAL Fashion TO THE FUTURE

While at Munich Fabric Start, I heard a common theme in conversations about the lack of communication between traditional fashion houses and wearable technology innovators. Long standing fashion houses have yet to embrace technology implementation into their age old designs, typically claiming their heritage doesn’t support it. Maybe they feel adding technology to their collections would be too far outside their brand identity, and they’d lose their core clients.

Even if they do allow one or two devices within a collection, it’s not never new enough for the wearable tech space to care. Likewise, wearables innovators are so far ahead of the fashion houses of the 20th century, they aren’t looking back.

As sustainability, alternative materials, and technologies continue to merge, maybe mainstream fashion houses are beginning to feel guilty about the amount of environmental degradation brought on by their obsession with fast fashion, so they group these spaces together and cast them off collectively.

Yet I don’t want to point a finger at these mega brands for their lack of trust in the start ups creating new ways to dress people. For every successful start up there’s many more that lost their way. Any investment needs a great deal of return to be produced, and there must be some amount of proven results from the beginning of any partnership. So majority of European fashion investors are not looking for wearable tech designers. But the fact is, many luxury brands are graying, and losing touch with the reality of the state of fashion. In America, Ralph Lauren is trying to remain relevant by promoting sportswear, and their new iteration of the Ricky handbag featuring an LED light and USB cord for charging. It debuted in 2014, and we haven’t seen much in the way of technology from the retailer since. (In fact, they still want us to rave about it nearly 4 years later.)

In the U.S., we are now seeing a retail apocalypse, with 100s of retailers closing stores nationwide. The entire industry is changing course, and most brands don’t know what to do about it. Consumers are buying online, or right from their Instagram feeds, and no one seems to want to put effort into walking into an actual bricks and mortar store. New brands are finding it easier and cost effective to remain in e-commerce, and rarely need more than a pop up shop to reach their fans. Millennials actually care a lot less about materialism and much more about experiences. Many of us are much more willing to wear last seasons trends if it means we can spend Spring Break in the Bahamas.

Although, as China continues to hold their leadership in technology, as well as recently taking the spotlight away from the U.S. on efforts to “green” their industries, we are now seeing much more funding into fashion labels. (Any wearable tech designer looking for funding should be connecting with Chinese investors, instead of troubling themselves with the Europeans who have their noses in the air.) Maybe the Chinese are just so used to having the best technologies, with cutting edge innovations always exploding out of Shenzhen like popcorn kernels over an open fire, that they wouldn’t bat an eye at tracking your health with your bra or embedding a chip under your skin.

As it’s close to many of our hearts to see less waste and useless consumption, sustainable designers must take it upon themselves to bridge the gap between traditional fashion merchandisers and wearable technology. Wearables are more central between both schools of thought, and have a better chance at impacting the fashion industry as a whole. More channels of communication need to be implemented between these industries for sustainability to ever become mainstream. Less demonizing of fashion is necessary in order to do this. Of course, as a long-time promoter of sustainability and an environmentalist, it’s hard for me to write this perspective. Yet I believe it is partly the cause of the lack of connection between wearable start ups and the deep pockets of the fashion industry.

But when any industry is divided, it will never be as successful as it could be.

It’s up to everyone in the technology space to facilitate this communication for everyone’s success. Only with collaboration will we create lasting change, to impact generations to come.

 

Essential Wellness Routine

Life can be so busy in the Spring, health and wellness can get pushed to the end of our priorities. We can often get caught up in all of the new events, clubs, and activities. We forget to take care of ourselves! So I have made a simple guide to reducing stress by using essential oils to maintain wellness.

Essential oils are said to help balance your cortisol levels, which is the hormone released from stress. This is one of the reasons they can impact your mood and stress levels. Implementing some key essential oils into your daily routine can really go a long way for you and your family.

 

Which essential oils are best for stress?

Essential oils have been becoming more and more popular lately. So you must make sure to find which brands work best for you, but keep in mind it is important to look for quality oils. They must be chemical, pesticide, and herbicide free. Look for their purity to ensure no solvents have been used. When it comes to dealing with stress, usually we need to focus on the tasks at hand. Plant Therapy offers a Clarity blend, which is very grounding. You may also want to try rosemary or sandalwood to help you focus. To relax after a long day, lavender and ylang ylang calms the senses. Lavender can be used as a sleep aid, and works especially well for small children. (Which in turn helps YOU sleep!) I have found it best to use in a diffuser, which can be used around the house, or in the bedroom at night.

It can be hard to remember to be calm when suddenly there is a new dance class or football practice to throw into the week. However, keeping up your health and wellness is crucial for maintaining your new schedule and not falling behind. After all, this is no time to be sick! Relaxing your mind is just as important for your kids as it is for your own body. Essential oils can build a more relaxing home-life within your entire family!

My Favorite Vitamins

A solid health regime can also be strengthened with some worthy vitamins as well. I’m a big fan of Gardens of Life, which is sold in most stores. I loved their Prenatal vitamins, which I continued throughout nursing. (Pro Tip: Prenatals are covered my most insurance!) There are a wide range of natural remedies that can build up our immune systems, found at Whole Foods Market or Sprouts. Sprouts has a large section for homeopathic remedies, which I’ve found useful over the years.

From Knitwear Technology to Lighting up Embroidery

I was very excited to see the sustainability section of Keyhouse, being that my first love has always been the Earth. On the first day of Munich Fabric Start, I had the privilege to meet Yevheniia “Jane” Luchko, a knitwear designer studying with HTW in Berlin. I had seen her designs during our preparations, and I had been waiting to see the human behind them.

Jane’s obvious passion for her knitwear dresses inspired me in less than a second, as I watched her quietly weaving on a knitting machine. I could see she was in her “flow”, as positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would say.

HTW is one of the largest universities in Berlin, with a well-attended fashion program offering bachelors and masters degrees. I reached out to Thu Thao Nguyen, a professor at the school, to learn more about what HTW offers their design students. She told me, “The combination of traditional craftsmanship and innovative technology in an interdisciplinary way is a huge benefit which our students value a lot. Further, we provide them regularly with newsletters about job offers, fashion events and fashion competitions.”

From Knitwear Tech to Embroidery

Jane’s interpretation of Marco Polo 2067: Model: Lucie Plaumann Photography: MS Designer: Yevheniia Luchko

Jane’s embroideries are an exploration of color, with her Ukrainian heritage spilling out from the details. I asked her about her design process, and what inspires her to create her knitwear by hand. Jane said she takes the approach of late designer Alexander McQueen, who famously once said, “I never look at other people’s work. My mind has to be completely focused on my own illusions.” Jane takes inspiration from within herself, and within the Earth around her. She goes hiking often and illustrates a wide range of flowers and plants in intricate detail. She then replicates the drawings into her embroidery, mimicking nature as she knits and sews.

Next, she’s looking for embroidery thread that glows. The Munich Fabric Start Keyhouse gave her the perfect place to talk with contacts from the recent collaboration between StatexMadeira, and Zsk. She plans to dabble in conductive yarns, to give light to the delicate details of her embroidered flowers and leaves.

We also spoke about the creativity found in university collaborations such as HTW and Marco Polo’s 2067, which was being displayed at Munich Fabric Start. I was captivated by the light in her eyes as she spoke about this opportunity. There is something to be said about the passion students feel when they’re surrounded by innovation and pushed to problem solve. There’s a feeling of having the world literally at your fingertips, and you feel as if your brain could open up at any moment and the entire universe could pour in.

Nguyen weighed in on this too by saying, “Young designers, although still students or already alumni, will always benefit from their very versatile education at HTW Berlin where they got the chance to gain practical and creative skills, always up-to-date. That prepares them for the fashion industry and highly increases their chances to get a job as a young designer. The positive feedback from cooperation partners and employers of the fashion industry prove that. Networking is essential to us.”

I’m excited to see what Jane’s imagination creates next using glowing or conductive yarns, with the knitwear knowledge she’s gained from HTW’s program and resources. As the space for conductive clothing grows, I’m confident her designs will continue to inspire others with the passion she’s knitting into each piece.

Connecting Innovators and Industries at Munich Fabric Start

While at Munich Fabric Start, I had the opportunity to talk with a lot of people and I noticed a common theme, the lack of communication between traditional fashion industries, and wearable technology innovators. The thing is long-standing fashion houses have yet to embrace technology implementation into their age-old designs. They typically claim that their heritage doesn’t support it. Maybe they feel adding technology to their collections would be too far outside their brand identity, and they’d lose their core clients.

Even if they do allow one or two devices within a collection, it’s never new enough for the wearable tech space to care. Likewise, wearables innovators are so far ahead of the fashion houses of the 20th century; they aren’t looking back. Doris Hofmann, a freelance designer under her brand Design Mob who I met at the Keyhouse, on her frustration with these big brands, said it best when she said, “Communication between innovators and these brands are stuck in a Snow White slumber.”

A Better Cycle for Connections

Unaffected, the sustainability, alternative materials, and technology spaces have continued to merge. Maybe mainstream fashion houses are beginning to feel guilty about the amount of environmental degradation brought on by their obsession with fast fashion, so they group these spaces and cast them off collectively. I see alternative material innovators, like MycoTex, actually being the closest replacement for fast fashion brands. The idea behind MycoTex is to replace our traditional fabrics with mycelium-based textiles, which of course do not last forever. Opposite of the slow fashion movement, the idea is to integrate more sustainable materials with fast fashion consumer behaviour, whereas most other sustainable brands are trying to change consumer behaviour. The concept of using mycelium will most likely seem absurd to many large corporations, but the actual return on investment would be very high if they could wrap their brains around the idea.

“IF A COMPANY DOESN’T HAVE A DEPARTMENT FOR INNOVATION, WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THIS TOPIC? CHANCES ARE, NOBODY!”

I don’t want to point the finger at these mega brands for their lack of trust in the startups creating new ways to think about fashion. For every successful startup, there are a thousand more that have lost their way. Investors need a great deal of return to be enticed. There must be some amount of proven results from the beginning of any partnership. So the majority of European fashion investors are not looking for wearable tech designers. But the fact is, many luxury brands are greying, and losing touch with the reality of the state of fashion.

In America, Ralph Lauren is trying to remain relevant by promoting sportswear, and relaunching their “preppy chic” look, which hasn’t changed since women started wearing pants. Their new iteration of the Ricky handbag featuring an LED light and USB cord for charging debuted in 2014. We haven’t seen much in the way of technology on the retail level since. (In fact, they still want us to rave about it nearly four years later.) However, they do supply USA’s Olympic team with some pretty cool tech-infused, overly patriotic gear, but sadly they never provide an iteration at the retail level. Hofmann also noted this point by adding, “If a company doesn’t have a department for innovation, who is in charge of this topic? Chances are, nobody!”

How to Make Change

We as innovators must take it upon ourselves to bridge the gap between the traditional fashion mindsets and alternative materials researchers. Wearables are more central between both schools of thought and have a better chance at impacting the fashion industry as a whole. More channels of communication need to be implemented between these industries for sustainability ever to become mainstream. Only through cooperation, will we be able to shift fast fashion to use alternative materials that are better for the environment. Less demonizing of fashion is necessary to do this. Of course, as a long-time promoter of sustainability and an environmentalist, it’s hard for me to write this perspective. Yet I believe it is partly the cause of the lack of connection between wearable startups and the deep pockets of the fashion industry.

When any industry is divided, it will never be as successful as it could be. For the sake of the Earth, we just don’t have the time to get stuck in the politics of these industries. Our days here are numbered. It’s up to everyone in the technology space to facilitate this communication for everyone’s success. Only with collaboration will we create lasting change, to impact generations to come.

What If We Could Trace Fibers From Roots To Retail?

In recent years, it has become more apparent how damaging the fashion industry is to the environment. Therefore discussions about textile standards, in terms of sustainable fashion, and the exploration of new technologies like the blockchain all sound very promising, but what if we could simplify the process of finding out the footprint of our garments.

Sustainable Fashion and Accountability

Some consumers may be satisfied with reading the label on their clothes. Others may look to standards organizations like GOTS or ISO, to learn more about the supply chains of their favorite brands. But we still don’t have scientific evidence to show exactly where a garment has come from. We can track its footprint from a seed to the shelf with various stages of reporting, but we do not have hard science to show for our tracking. If a technology was developed to do this, it would quickly impact the level of sustainability within the fashion industry. It could probably spread to other industries as well.
 

Imagine a Fiber Testing Kit, that any consumer could purchase, bring home to their closet, and run a quick analysis on their favourite t-shirt. Anyone with the ability to test the fiber, theoretically, could hold companies accountable for their sourcing practices. An invention like this could be highly disruptive to the fashion industry, especially pertaining to the ongoing battle between ethical apparel and fast-fashion. Having the ability to know where a piece of clothing has been throughout its lifetime could be fascinating. Where were the fibers grown? Where was the product manufactured? Whose hands created the stitches? What if we could track the DNA of fabric?

ALSO READ: 5 Sustainable Fabric Innovators to Watch Out For 

Over 40 years ago, DNA profiling was developed by British-born Sir Alec Jeffreys, a geneticist and professor at the University of Leicester. Across the pond in California, biochemist Dr Kary Mullis, learned how to link and repeat DNA (polymerase chain reaction or PCR), while trying to find the point of genetic mutations for hereditary diseases. Both extraordinary minds made incredible breakthroughs for our knowledge and understanding of the human genome. DNA testing was implemented into law enforcement’s forensic teams within two years of the discoveries and has since been used worldwide to prove criminal acts, as well as exonerate innocent suspects.Molecular Tagging

Since 1983, millions of people have benefitted from the ability to profile our DNA. Our knowledge of genetic linkages has led to countless family members being reunited, even posthumously. Millions more have been able to learn about their ethnicities, histories, and heritages through ancestry tracking. Yet often, we still think of DNA profiling most closely linked to evidence in criminal proceedings.
 
In fact, many fibers are traceable through the forensic analysis as well. Analysts determine if the thread is natural, manufactured, or mixed. They can usually identify the product it came from–A rug? A sweater? This is again often used by law enforcement and prosecutors to seek justice for crimes. Fiber forensic analysis is usually debated in court due to the mass of products created. 
 
The amount of production of a particular manufactured fiber and its end use, influence the degree of rarity of a given fiber. Unlike a fingerprint, there is no way to tell two fibers of the same origin apart. Fiber forensics can only be used as evidentiary support to corroborate other facts. Yet, why has this technology not expanded to track fibers for sustainability and ethics?
Molecular tagging of genes can identify and verify products creating a forensic proof of origin for more sustainable fashion.
What if we could trace fibers back to their origins? What if we could geographically pinpoint precisely where a thread was grown, what animals were involved, or what fertilisers were used? We could deduct which workers had a hand in the production or manufacturing process based on what specific area in the world our fibers were from. In a world of ever-growing technological advancements, this could be a logical next step in ensuring more sustainable supply chains.

Molecular Tagging to Reveal the Footprint 

Sustainable Fashion
Image Credits: Adrien Ledoux
Applied DNA Sciences has come the closest to creating this process for identifying fibers called “molecular 
tagging”. They tag fibers by matching batches to origins already known. Once a supplier is tested and proven to be sustainable, SigNature(™)T technology can then continue to tag future batches.
 

Although this gene tagging method may not be able to track individual fibers from anywhere in the world yet, many sustainable fashion organizations have mapped out the production process for consumers. MADE-BY, a non-profit organization dedicated to the fashion industry’s environmental and social conditions, has laid out a seed-to-shelf roadmap. MADE-BY works with sustainable brands to standardize the production process, highlight industry leaders, and mainstream sustainability advancements. Over 50 industry experts consulted on the typical methods, and six large fashion brands have now joined, including G-Star and Ted Baker.

Another of their worthy goals is to entice consumers to learn more about the manufacturing side of where their garments come from. This is an incredible endeavor on behalf of all the hard-working individuals who have created and advanced MADE-BY. However, the system still hinges on individuals throughout the production and manufacturing process to record a variety of their activities. It would be an incredible advancement if we could back up these activities with concrete evidence. The fiber testing system could back up these organization’s endeavors by proving their process is safe, environmental, and sustainable. The movement to create transparent supply chains would suddenly be so much easier to for companies to subscribe to.

Insights into Your Closet

Imagine walking into your closet, picking a tiny thread from your favorite shirt, and learning exactly where in the world it came from. Maybe the test shows what dye was used and geographically defines where the color came from too. Perhaps it shows specifics of which animals contributed to the process, like silkworms, sheep, goats, etc. Maybe it shows you what types of fertilizers were used in the growth process of cotton fibers. Maybe it shows that the water used in the dying process is from an entirely different part of the world than what’s found on the label.

This process could show us much more of our supply chains than we see today. Maybe we could know where all our products were originally grown or developed. The real question is, would we want to know? What if your favorite sustainable fashion brands are advertising their garments that were made in the last country the manufacturing took place in. All without accounting for the multiple countries that garment went through before reaching the final stage of the manufacturing process. If you could test the fibers at home, would you buy from this brand again? Suddenly, the power would be pushed back into the consumers’ hands, to make accurate decisions based on evidence and not just on marketing or advertising.

Sustainable Fashion: From Fiber To Fashion

For quite some time the sustainable fashion community has understood the importance of reducing cotton products and recreating fabrics in a new way. For hundreds of years, the cotton industry has become a lifeline for most nations worldwide. Like any major industry, it has produced positive and negative growth. Unfortunately, it has degraded our cultures and environments in certain areas of the world. For centuries, the cotton industry has been used as a tool to build countries, as well as destroy them. Current evidence of this destruction can be found in Uzbekistan, near the disappearing Aral Sea. Uzbekistan is one of the largest producers of cotton in the world. It has been speculated, over a million people are forced into the industry. Eventually, the crop will make its way into the manufacturers of the fast fashion industry, ending up on the racks of your local shopping mall. The good news is that there are innovators, collaborators, and sustainable fashion inventors creating new materials that make it possible for creatives to design incredible things.
Fashion Industry
Elpis Design Studio Eco Leather Tote Bag

Elpis Design Studio

A Thailand based sustainable fashion house,Elpis Design Studio, creates their own version of vegan leather, which is actually made from leaves. Their focus is creating products from biodegradable material. Not only are their products good for the environment, but healthy for you as well. Their core values hinge on facilitating “less is more” consumerism, reducing the negative impacts of the fast-paced fashion industry. Elpis Studio’s creations are simple, elegant, and ethical. And I might add, they have some of the cutest new clutch and handbag designs I’ve seen for quite some time.

Bionic Yarn

Bionic Yarn, a sustainable start-up turning ocean plastic into fabric, creates some incredible high profile fashion apparel. In recent years, we’ve learned that the amount of plastic in the ocean is seemingly insurmountable. Yet, it’s start-ups just like Bionic Yarn, that give us hope. Almost all plastic is reusable, but rarely is. In the past few years, Bionic Yarn, led by musician Pharrell Williams, has repurposed over 7 million plastic bottles from the ocean. The raw material company has created fabric for all kinds of products, from sail boat covers to back packs. Next time you’re in the market for a windbreaker, check them out!

Suzanne Lee

Focused on changing how the world works through design, Suzanne Lee is the Chief Creative Officer of Modern Meadow, a biotech start-up based in New York. Modern Meadow is pioneering animal free animal materials by combining design, engineering and biology.
They biofabricate leather materials by synthesizing collagen, the protein found in skin, and tanning the material like traditional leather.
A self-defined “bio-dressmaker”, Lee has not only grown apparel from bacteria, she has also created her own kombucha-based fabric for her unique designs. She coined the term Biocouture, after experimenting with microbial cellulose to invent new materials for fashion designers. While some of the material does look a little too much like human skin to wear comfortably at a dinner party, the idea of growing your own fabric is fascinating.
If you’re curious to see their first leather material, check it out at MoMA’s “Items: Is Fashion Modern”.

 

Neri Oxman

Neri Oxmansustaina, a designer and professor at MIT’s Media Lab, has suggested a new type of clothing we should all keep in mind. Oxman’s focus is on the future of interplanetary travel, and designing a biomorphic spacesuit. In Neri’s Wanderer’s project, she collaborates with 3D printers, computational designers, and Mediated Matter design students. While spacesuits may seem far off from our everyday loungewear, space tourism is not that far ahead. Which brings me to a very everyday question–what on Earth would we wear? Imagine dealing with no oxygen, light, or gravity. To travel in space, we may need to wear biosynthetic clothing, which intersects biological material and technological innovations.

Hemp

Hemp, along with lyocell, bamboo, and flax, are all more sustainable alternatives to cotton. The fashion industry has known of these alternative materials for years. Yet we just cannot get enough of our cotton addiction. However, a lesser known plant, Stinging Nettle, is possibly the MOST sustainable around. Stinging Nettle produces a soft fibre, which is naturally fire resistant. Camira Fabrics has produced several interesting textiles featuring the fibre. As more sustainable fashion brands catch on to the idea, I’m curious to see what will grow out of these alternative fibres we already have.

In the last 10 years, we’ve seen an influx of fabric alternatives being researched and explored. Lauren Bowker, the fabric scientists behind The Unseen Emporium, has created color changing garments responsive to wind and heat. Emel + Aris has brought heat to our jackets for the coldest climates. Neemic has given us the ability to download our own outfits. Aside from the rapidly growing 3D printed space, there are many natural materials also being developed. Ecology may truly be at the heart of fashion innovation. The fusion of biology and technology has done incredible things for fashion, yet I’m convinced, the best is yet to come.

Seen first on FashNerd.com!

Our Little Piece of Phoenix

The Neighborhood

Our home is located in the East Camelback area of Phoenix. Before our neighborhood was built in the mid-1950s, it was an orange grove. Some trees still remain around the homes, and often you’ll find signs saying “Free Citrus” for anyone who feels like picking the sweet fruit. We themed our new designs with Mid-Century Modern charm. We wanted to keep our renovation within the neighborhood atmosphere. After all, the Beverly Park neighborhood is a historic part of Phoenix’s heritage. A few minutes walk down our street you’ll find the Biltmore Resort, a hub of Arizona political figures and socialites. We’re close to the canal as well, which is nice for walking the dogs in the cool mornings or late nights.

The Style

I would have loved to see the home when it was first built. However, we think it was partially renovated in the mid-1980s. By the time we bought it, the colors in the home did not complement each other. For months we talked about renovating, and sharing Mid-Century Modern inspiration on Houzz. My husband, as always, far exceeded my expectations, by planning an entire home renovation. There were necessary improvements we needed to make, like rewiring all the electrical. The roof needed to be redone on both the house and the detached garage.  However, I was most excited about the cosmetic changes.  We wanted to repaint the walls, install new countertops, and completely revamp the floors throughout the whole house.

We were prompted to start our big project on the night of Christmas, because our house flooded. This is what spurred on our renovation reverie. We had to have the baseboards torn out, and holes drilled into the walls to air it out. Large fans kicked up dust, which eventually covered the house. For those who have lived in a house during a renovation, you understand. The dust. The mess. The constant wondering where your things are. The searching for average household items. In time, it proved to all be worth it for this charming little home. 

The Floors

Before the flood, we had tan tiling and a sandy colored carpeting. There were quite a few stains across the house, and we knew we’d have to eventually replace the old carpeting anyway. When the flood occurred, it flooded most of the house. The living room, shown here, and two of the bedrooms were completely drenched. After multiple trips to Floor & Decor, we chose a dark Pergo. It’s tile, but looks like dark wood. It is more durable, and even cheaper! We decided to continue it throughout the house, running it down the length of the hallway to make the house look more open. The dark floors contrast the white walls for a classic atmosphere, enabling any accent color.

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The Kitchen

About three months later, we finished our kitchen designs. We bought all new appliances in stainless steel-including the sink, painted the cabinets, retiled the floor, installed new granite countertops, and added a backsplash. In the kitchen the original backsplash was actually just oddly painted vertical lines in a ‘dark mocha’ shade. We opted to repaint all the walls in Swiss Coffee, the most popular white that still remains classic. It took a bit of wheeling and dealing, but we finally got a good deal on replacing the appliances. A few nights before the flood our dryer had died, which prompted us to include the new stainless steel look in the kitchen and laundry room.

Even the sink and faucet are new! We were super excited about our water. We installed a water purifier, a purified water spout by the sink, and additionally our new fridge has cold water from the door. In Phoenix, we have very calcified water, which many people filter with forever-empty Britas. No more Brita duty in this house! Instead of replacing the cabinets, we decided to save our budget by repainting them instead. It ended up a fraction of the cost. We added new crown moldings and new hardware to finish the look. I must say, they turned out beautifully.

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The Bathroom

Last Spring, I joked with my fiancé that I wouldn’t move in with him until he repainted our bathroom. The original owners had painted our adjacent bathrooms, ketchup red and mustard yellow. I was hellbent on changing it. I loathe Ketch-up, I just can’t help it. In America, our sauces are far from elite. After a few months of going back and forth between living spaces and I joined him at his condiment-styled home.

The Pergo in the bathroom contrasted the white swirled granite well. We retiled the shower, but kept the original porcelain bath. We had it resealed, because it was much cheaper and still authentic. The shower door was installed. We added a round mirror, to match our round sink. We had the counter top replaced, and the cabinet re-stained. At first, our cabinet guy was skeptical the stain would hold. After a few coats, it actually created a pretty cool texture. Originally, it was a light maple wood, but after the staining it looks more like a dark cherrywood.

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Dig It! Gardens

Dig it Gardens is the cutest gardening shop in Phoenix. They host a wide array of indoor and outdoor plants for sale. As well as gardening classes, which are sometimes offered on the weekends. Recently, I attending a class to learn about raising indoor plants. It was a lot of fun, and only $10! Certainly a great way to spend a hot Summer Saturday in Phoenix. The owners give a very humanized touch to the place, complete with an urban mural on the entire exterior of the building. It’s hard to miss as you drive down the street, and I had always wanted to stop by. I am glad I did because I learned a few tips on keeping my indoor plants alive, as well as realizing some errors I was making. My pothos plant is probably just as happy as I am, that I stopped by.

Check them out on Insta: @dig_it_phx

 

Desert Botanicals

The Desert Botanical Gardens also offers gardening classes. However, they are a bit more pricy. During the holiday season, I like to visit DBG, because of the vast outdoor space. It’s more enjoyable when it’s cool. My favorite event is LAS NOCHES DE LAS LUMINARIAS, usually hosted in the late Fall. Millions of little lights fill the gardens and grounds. Live music fills the air. It’s one of the most peaceful events in Phoenix to get you into the holiday vibe.

Fig Jam Love

Fig Jam Experiment

We have a fig tree in our backyard. This summer I finally decided to use our beautiful figs. Our tree produces thousands of figs every summer, which has always overwhelmed me. However, this year I decided I would try an experiment. Although, our tree produces thousands, I picked close to 700 figs! I made several batches of fig jam, to give out to my family and friends. I had a lot of fun with it. If you’re up for making a sticky mess, check out this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 pounds green or purple figs, stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • about 120-130 figs
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups water

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  1. In a large, nonreactive saucepan, toss the fig pieces with the sugar and let stand, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the sugar is mostly dissolved and the figs are juicy.
  2. Add the lemon juice and water and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Simmer the fig jam over moderate heat. Occasionally, stir until the fruit is soft and the liquid runs off the side of a spoon in thick, heavy drops, about 45 minutes.
  3. Once it’s boiling, I filtered out the seeds on top to remove the majority. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to remove them all.
  4. Spoon the jam into three 1/2-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top. Close the jars and let cool to room temperature. Store the jam in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

 

Variation: Substitute 1/2 cup of white port for the water and add one 4-inch sprig of rosemary with the lemon juice; discard the rosemary before jarring.

 

I found this recipe on Food and Wine! Check out their website for more amazing recipes!

Theories and Predictions

Theories on Culture

Every culture has differences, as shown in Human, a film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Each individual has their own needs, goals, and hardships. Proving we all have the ability to create, to preserve, and to evolve. However, vast economic inequality creates winners and losers. For the global South, the terms of the global market are not in the interests of preservation of humanity. Instead, as Emmanuel Wallerstein suggests, nations with lower gross domestic product are economically dependent on the top producing countries.

In many instances, Neocolonialism still holds a firm grasp on development efforts in poor countries. If we focused on localization and created trade networks through social media channels, societies could have the ability to focus on preserving their heritage through economic growth. There are various factors working against heritage preservation, but with the rise of the information age, one of the biggest factors is that heritage preservation efforts have almost no way of accumulating any capital. In terms of heritage arts, they simply cannot be produced without any demand.

Max Weber’s Theories

Max Weber spent his life analyzing capitalism. As he grew out of the industrial revolution, he had witnessed the aristocracies of his time, as he watched them be replaced by the bosses of the new capitalist economic system. He believed the spirit of capitalism was a direct result of Protestantism and Calvinism. He viewed followers of these religions as bearing an immense amount of shame, assuming anxious positions to please the judging eye of a silent monolith. Weber’s writings on the Protestant Work Ethic stated that Protestants value working hard as a way to please their god. This ideology translates into Protestants working continuously; earnest to prove their holiness.

Protestantism blend in Capitalism

Unlike Catholics, Protestants believed any profession could be holy. As long as it is done “in the name of God”, and with a lot of hard work. Weber viewed these ideologies, along with the Protestant belief that there are no miracles. The perfect concoction for capitalism to take root. Through hard work, and the absence of miracles, people began to rely more heavily on science. This led to breakthroughs in technology, which furthered industrialization and the ability to make more products faster. In time, this process created consumerism in humans. As well as climate degradation on the Earth. One can see an obvious path back to Weber’s analysis.

If Weber were alive today, he would undoubtedly argue against economic foreign aid. He would argue that economic capitalist intervention will never work in societies with traditionally different societal structures and religions. Could this be true? Research suggests societies without this inherent anxiousness, one may not adapt well to capitalism. In fact, societies dictated by any strict religious principles other than Protestantism, would probably not achieve capitalism with the same amount of economic “success”. However, in order to view the U.S. version of capitalism as successful, one must disregard the countless lives lost to the industrialization of peripheral countries.

Modern Take on Capitalism

In Thomas Piketty’s, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, he states, “Modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have made it possible to avoid the Marxist apocalypse but have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality—or in any case not as much as one might have imagined in the optimistic decades following World War II.”

I agree with this point about the diffusion of knowledge. In fact, without the internet completely changing the landscape of the global market, one could theorize that the downfall of capitalism would have already happened. Yet it will be our adaptability, and willingness to evolve, that will save or destroy nations on the brink of change.

What’s Next

Currently, our society can easily relate to the research and predictions of Marx and Weber. Marx offered a fair prediction of consumerism and it’s hold on society. Our proof he was right lies in the countless brawls of Black Friday sales, and the “fashion hauls” of white teenage girls on Youtube.com. However, the real question remains; how does this negatively effect our human qualities? Since it is proven that some people are so poor, all they have is money, is it too late to stop consuming?

 

 

“Frugality is founded on the principal that all riches have limits.”

-Edmund Burke