Hi friends! A long time ago when I first started doing Wear it Wednesday, I used to interview folks that inspired me. Well, I met someone who inspires me and knew I needed to share her with all y’all!
Her name is Carmen and she is a blogger & textile scientist that lives here in Colorado Springs, we met at our local Tuesdays Together back in April or May. I’m inspired by her in depth knowledge of textiles, wish I’d paid a bit more attention back in college, and her dedication to thrifting & second hand fashion.
Tell us a little bit about you and your new blog/brand Solely Co.
I’m a California native pit stopping in Colorado while my husband is in the Air Force. I love to learn about everything as much as I can and live to make homemade ice cream as my hobby.
Solely Co is a lifestyle blog catered to the modern gal who is seeking to live a sustainable lifestyle practically and effectively. It’s the blog that I want to read, one that is informative and light-hearted. I’m excited to keep writing about textile-related topics but also dabble into other chemistry-related subjects such as skincare as well as a few personal posts here and there.
How did you become interested in textile science?
I know that no one wants to hear that it just happened, but in a way it did. I took Intro to Textile Science in my first quarter of college and fell in love. I already loved clothes as it was and considered going to fashion school, but I didn’t know that there was more to the fashion industry apart from designing, marketing and buying. People think of fashion and clothing as always being artistic or not requiring much technical knowledge, but I can assure you that I’ve taken just as many chemistry and physical science classes as my pre-med and chemical engineering classmates. Every industry needs innovation and for clothing, it starts with textile science.
As a textile scientist, what are the best textiles/fabrications for fall weather?
You honestly can wear anything; it all depends on what your needs are. If you’re in a place with warmer autumns then breathable fabrics such as cotton, linen, and Lyocell are the way to go. For cooler almost winter-like weather, warm items such as any type of wool and synthetic are bound to keep you warm and well insulated. People also forget that they can wear silk in cool weather. Silk is a great heat retainer making it the perfect base layer— I recommend layering silk under a cozy sweater.
What do you look for when buying sweaters second hand?
I look for a few things, which also generally apply to second-hand shopping. I first check the fiber content by examining the care tag since that is essentially that clothing item’s ID. I then examine the quality of the garment per its fiber content. If it’s a wool sweater I inspect the softness, signs of pilling, or shrinkage. I also check how big the knit is…larger holes allow more cold air to seep through therefore not keeping me as warm as I could be. Lastly, I ask myself, “How many wears can I get from this item?” If a sweater looks stretched out or if it the knit looks in pretty bad shape, that tells me that this sweater may be at the end of its lifetime and we were just not meant to be.
What is one area of living sustainably that you struggle with?
Buying package-free food. My refrigerator is the least sustainable area in my house and it honestly breaks my heart. It’s difficult to find adequate farmers markets in our area, and it’s difficult to buy things such as grapes or spinach without packaging. I really hope to see a food co-op with locally sourced produce and products with package-free options in the near future.
We have the power to make our products last. – Carmen of Soley CoTweet
3 things you wish folks understood about textiles, fabrication, clothes, or caring for our clothes?
It’s very hard to narrow it down!
1) According to the Business of Social Responsibility, 39% of a garment’s environmental impact comes from consumer care. Therefore, before we start to demand manufacturers to create more sustainable products, we should evaluate how we are treating and maintaining our clothes. We have the power to make our products last.
2) Polyester is plastic. I don’t know where the misconception started that synthetic fibers derive from the same place as natural fibers, but all synthetics are polymers. That means that they’re different types of plastic.
3) All clothing is machine washable but not all clothing is machine dryable. In this day and age, we have washing machines that can hand wash better than we can by being gentler and by being more water-efficient. When water and heat meet, that’s when problems happen such as shrinkable or extreme damage. If you love something, don’t put it in the dryer and don’t expose it to hot water.
Do you think that sustainable and ethical fashion has more traction here or there?
California, hands down. Californians are open to new and alternative ways of living and it feels like they’re bound to partake in new movements. The most important reason why I think there’s more traction is the high volume of sustainable fashion businesses compared to that of Colorado. California receives fashion imports via its SoCal ports, it houses headquarters to sustainable brands such as Patagonia, Amour Vert, and Reformation to name a few. California still has full functioning apparel factories and US laws require to provide clean and healthy environments alongside ethical treatment. With the move of VF Corporation, voted one of the most sustainable and ethical companies in 2019, to Denver I’m hoping we will see a shift within the state birthed out of outdoor apparel industry.