Saturday, May 7, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Le Coil & the African Hair Industry

Le Coil is a Tumblr blog that has photos of people having fun with natural textured 'African' hair. It's not the type of hair that you see in the media very often and the people featured do SUCH a great job of making funky styles and original hair-dos out of something that is often seen as uninspiring or in need of 'taming'!

You may not be able to fully appreciate the re-branding that this website is helping to do so I'll try to explain without referring you to a viewing of Chris Rock's "Good Hair" documentary - even though you should watch it!

Just as hair dyes, perms and even some shampoos and conditioners become water pollutants when manufactured carelessly, so are the straighteners that people of African descent use on their hair. These chemicals are not only dangerous to the heads they go on, but also harmful to the water systems that wash them out. Furthermore, it is not necessary - it is a matter of vanity, as with all fashion. Vain is used in the least judgemental way here - 'vain', here, only means that it is mainly for the sake of looking good. Everyone wants to feel beautiful and when your hair is tangled and difficult to work through, you may have a harder time achieving your look each morning than if you had straight hair. So, many go for the easy instead of the creative. Sound familiar?

It is therefore vain and unnecessary, and though something does not have to be necessary for us to indulge in it as all culture is essentially 'unnecessary' if we think about it, these chemicals are still painful, dangerous, and shouldn't be anywhere near your head or your workplace without the proper protection (like a gas mask in my opinion).

Aside from that, there is also the mess of extensions and weaves. These products are being mass-produced to cover up hair that people already have. It is a wasteful practice that though functional in a cultural sense, is completely dysfunctional for our planet. Just because it is a small part of the problem of fashion alone, much less the environment, does not make it any less of a problem. This is a huge industry worth $9 billion according the aforementioned documentary. So we can be grateful when a great website comes along and shows us beautiful alternatives like a certain other website tries to do (wink, wink; nudge, nudge).

All photos from Le Coil Tumblr blog Check it out! It's awesome.

Know of other sites like this who are helping to fix the damages of the media and fashion? Also, we want to interview you! Send it in to:

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lists: Secondhand in Ghent

This is a continuously growing list of secondhand and vintage shops in the Belgian city of Ghent.

House of Vintage 

Dampoortstraat 27, 9000 Gent
House of Vintage is a well-stocked secondhand location - especially if you're after shoes and handbags - you will find an abundance of these here. The man working at the desk was so informative that it would be a shame to let the effort go to waste, so here is a list of the prices:

Boots: €30 | Shoes: €12 | Ankle boots: €15 | Blouses and shirts: €6 upward | Men's vests and tops: €15-€20 | Cocktail dresses: €25-€50 | Bridal: €70 upward | Handbags: €15-€40

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Interview: The Eco-Hairstylist in Ghent, Belgium

Hervé Lauwaerts
Hervé Lauwaerts was a hairstylist who had had cancer. Unable to work around chemicals any more, he was at a loss of how to get back to his profession until his father, a chemist, suggested working with all natural products. 20 years later and the 'Biokapper' salon in Ghent, Belgium serves a clientèle-base of 9000. How's that for success?!

The hair-colouring products are all ecofriendly and produced in Houston, Texas by CHI Ionic; the powders are Green, herbal and even edible if one so chooses. Smelling some of them you would think it was candy, and the staff are very eager to let you take a whiff! Furthermore, even pregnant women can colour their hair with these products and there is very little danger of damage to the hair with this all natural system.

Hairstylists @ the Biokapper
Hervé states that all of the people working in the salon do the work with love. Bardha, a colleague, insisted that though it is a fast-paced environment, the results are what matter for them and there is a freedom to be oneself in the salon. Are the clients happy? Did they get what they came for? Once satisfied of this, they know that they have done well.

Massage, anyone?
Another distinction for Hervé is the fact that he really wanted his salon to feel natural and relaxed. For Hervé, a lot of women who come into a salon to dye their grey hairs are put in uncomfortable situations: they are already on edge because they are dying their grey hairs and this may stir up unpleasant feelings. However they are offered coffee, which might put them even more on edge, and then sat in front of a mirror, watching the entire process, while reading a magazine filled with young girls. No matter how much of a feminist you might be or how comfortable you are with yourself, this situation might still make you feel insecure. So the 'Biokapper' instead provides clients with tea, a massage chair or a session in the massage room with music or, during the summer, a session outside in the garden. It is all about comfort, Greenness and making people better. Showing that "Beauty can also be Green" according to Hervé, is what they are all about.

An average session with: shampoo, conditioning, cutting/colouring costs about €75-€85 depending on your hair length. Biokapper: Zuidstationstraat 16, 9000 Gent Phone: 09 233 10 32 Biological products also on sale in the salon.

Know of any other Green businesses that are great for the ecofashionista? Send suggestions to:

Monday, February 21, 2011

GOOD: Dirtball - All the Cool Kids Are Wearing It

Dirtball is marketed at the skaterboys and girls, BMXers, and all those cool people that I never got to hang out with at lunch. These shirts are made out of 65% recycled cotton and 5 water bottles - or in other words 35% recycled polyester. That's right kids. Recycled cotton! Oh, and water bottles too. Check out their store and 'Like' their Facebook, they're one of the good guys - and I bet if we had gone to school together I would have totally been allowed to sit parallel to them in the cafeteria!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lists: Secondhand in Brussels

Dear StyleMaché readers,
Here's a compilation of secondhand shops in Brussels. The list will continue to grow, as will all other cities that are added to the blog so send in any suggestions that you may have to:

Rue de la Violette 28 1000 Brussels

Started up in the Netherlands and now expanded to London, Paris and Brussels, this chain of second-hand vintage is the place to hit up for trendy secondhand:

Clothing prices are on average around €20, the cheapest item spotted was a bowtie for around €3.50.

Rue des Riches Claires 4, 1000 Brussels
or Rue des Renards 6, 1000 Brussels

Prices for shirts were around €20 and upward for everything else. Very stylish finds available.

T2 (Think Twice) 
Oude Graanmarkt 57, 1000 Brussels

We've covered this shop in another blog post. The prices are usually around €10-€15 for any regular item of clothing and upward but during their sales (every six weeks), items go from 30% off to 50%, then everything for €3 then €2 then €1 unless marked as being for less. These sales are covered in more detail in the T2 blog post, check it out!

The list continues to grow, send in suggestions and pictures if you have any!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

T2 - Think Twice Secondhand Chain

Oude Graanmarkt 57, Brussels, Belgium

This Friday I skipped over to Brussels to see the newly opened branch of one of my favourite shops: T2. The current branch in my city of Ghent, Belgium has regular sales and I recall a spree that rendered me both exuberant and ashamed - not because of the spending but because of the pile that I had to strap onto my bike and lug back home with me.

Our wonderful source of info: Natalie!
The Thursday night opening of the new branch in Brussels had been populated by around 50-60 customers, a DJ and the lovely
staff. Curious, I spoke to Natalie, the cashier, who was more than willing to offer information about the inner-workings of the chain. Having long-suspected that there was no way that they made any profit given the prices their sales boasted (everything for €3? Then €2 the next day? THEN €1?!), I ensured that I questioned Natalie about the store's business model and she did not disappoint. For anyone who loved T2 before, prepare to swoon deeper into that love; and as for those who don't have one nearby, hold tight - it might be coming near you soon!

Humana is an organization that deals with humanitarianism through clothing. By collecting clothes from 14 different countries, mostly Finland, Germany and France, they then ship all of the donated items to Lithuania. Here, it is all sorted into: Great quality, good quality and poor.
  • Great quality items: are sent to Think Twice branches and sold. Profits from these sales are then used to fund great humanitarian projects and efforts. More information on this later.
  • Good quality items: are donated to people in developing nations in Africa and other needy areas.
  • Poor quality items: are collected and labelled as scrap.

Of the shops receiving 'Great quality items', there are two sorts: Red T2 shops contain streetwear and vintage while the Green T2 'Family' shops contain more modern clothes.

Humanitarian projects include microfinancing set-ups. For example, a loan of around €3000 is given to a woman in India to buy a cow or a sewing machine in order to set up a business in selling milk or clothes and she pays back this loan slowly. In this case, the women are not being given fish but instead the dignity of a fishing rod along with a few helpful pointers. These projects are always a better option if the aim is to stimulate a healthy economy - because there has to be economic activity not just economic simulations in order to set a family or community back on its feet.

The next pressing question was how does it all work on a day to day basis in terms of getting stock - and HOW DO YOU GUYS MAKE ANY MONEY when you have SO MANY SALES??!!!

Natalie was very patient. Every six weeks, she explained, there is a new collection of clothes, a new batch so-to-speak. So after 4 weeks the sales begin. Here's the breakdown of how it goes:

  • Mon-Tue: 30% off
  • Wed-Thur: 50% off
  • Fri-Sat (and Sun in Ghent, woot!!): Absolutely Everything for €3 unless marked as being less
  • Mon-Tue 6th week: Absolutely Everything €2 unless marked as being less
  • Wed-Thur 6th week: Everything €1 unless marked as being less
Furthermore, declared Natalie, there are about 100 new items on the shelves each day, give or take, as sold items are replaced and 20% more items are added on top of what was sold.

Next stops for this amazing secondhand chain?
Breda, Netherlands and maybe another in Brussels. However, according to my source there are plans for 5 new shops by the end of 2011.

So, if you still aren't convinced that you need to go to this great shop where you can find stylish, great quality secondhand items at very low prices and yet know that you are doing good even as you shop, then I just don't know what I can tell you to make you happy.

Know other places we should check out? Want to show off your secondhand and vintage finds? Send suggestions and photos to: