The G in G.Viteri, Gaby started the brand with her husband Roberto to bring together their shared passions – travel, helping local Ecuadorian communities, and environmental preservation. The brand is among the world’s best having received the Blue Butterfly trust mark of positive living by Positive Luxury.
“Roberto and I decided to start working together before getting married. We quit our jobs and travelled through Ecuador, looking for the best artisans and unique handmade pieces. On this search we stumbled upon a hat store in the Andean region. We immediately fell in love with the tradition and complex process behind every single toquilla straw hat. It represents our country’s roots.
We work with different hat artisans; each one has their own specialty. They all live in very poor rural areas of Ecuador, mainly in Azuay and Manabí provinces. We work with female co-ops that comprise more than 200 female weavers, and also with small family businesses. In the small family businesses the entire family works together. 90% of our artisans are women and their immediate families.
Our relationship with each artisan is not only business-related, it’s more like a long friendship. We value each of them not only for their great skills and hard work, but also for what teach us regarding ancient traditions, appreciating nature and their absolute kindness.
We are committed to making sure all of our suppliers benefit from working with G.Viteri. Growing together and helping each other is part of our DNA.
Toquilla Straw Hats (“Panama Hats”) are only made in Ecuador. In a world led by mass production, it is not easy to have a unique handmade product that is made with love and joy by only a few people in the world.”
A bonafide Panama Hat (ie. handmade by Ecuadorian artisans from Toqiulla straw) is a joy to be treasured. Elegant, timeless and practical, the Panama transforms any outfit and hair state to impossibly chic. Most importantly, it provides essential sun protection in our ozone-challenged climate.
It took us Sunday Trackers years to find our perfect Panamas – mine a natural coloured short-brim, Miriam’s a darker flat-top planter style. Like finally coughing up for a good leather jacket, once you know you know, and you’ll never go back to cheap and nasty versions.
See how happy and smug we are in our hats?
With some practical TLC your precious Panama will continue to make you look and feel like a fashion blogger posing in Positano for years to come.
Rule number one: Never EVER pinch your hat by the crown
Whaaat?! It’s the natural human reaction to grab your hat by the fold in the front. RESIST and retrain your brain to lift your hat on and off by gently holding the brim or cupping the crown with an open hand. Pinching the crown not only damages the shape of the hat it will eventually cause the crown to rip. We learnt this the hard way.
Two: Rest upside down
When not on your head, rest your hat on a flat surface with the brim facing up (crown down). Hat racks and hooks work too. Back seat of the car, bed and desk are not good resting places for your hat. If you’re really serious about protecting your investment buy a hat box (eBay has tons of great vintage options).
Three: Do not add water
A light sun shower is survivable, a hard soaking will be much harder for your hat to come back from. If a gust of wind blows your Panama into the big wet, see step four for resuscitation.
Four: Steam to reshape
There are a couple of different methods you can try to restore a hat to its original shape and glory. One is to hold the hat in steam over a pan of boiling water and gently mold back into shape. Use the blow dryer on a low cool setting to dry. To reshape the brim you can use an iron on very low setting. The other is to lightly atomize it (a fancy word for spraying with a mist of water), re-shape it and allow to dry naturally.
Five: Wipe clean
If your hat is looking a bit grubby we recommend lightly wiping with a face wipe or baby wipe. A facecloth with a slight dab of water soap should also do the trick.
Six: Pack snugly
Of course, if you are a fashion blogger heading to Positano you want your hat to be Instagram-ready as soon as you step off the plane.
To safely pack your hat in checked luggage stuff the crown of your hat with some of your smalls—swimmers and sarongs are great for this. Ensure the brim of your hat is resting on a flat, even surface in your case, like the first layer of clothes. Place the hat brim side down and with additional clothes (maxi-dresses, skirts—anything that’s long) wrap around the outside of the crown till you’ve built up a solid barrier around your hat that you can continue to pack around. Ensure there’s enough height in your case so that the lid won’t squash the crown when you close it. More than one hat (you diva)? Place them snugly on top of each other, the smallest at the bottom, and pack in the same fashion.
When you get to your fabulous sunny destination be sure to unpack your hat straight away. Should it need some TLC, again see step four.
Years of endless summers will eventually take their toll on your Panama but as Marylin Monroe said, “imperfection is beauty” - any slight dents or discoloration only makes your hat more unique and special.
Acquiring and styling ethical fashion can require some thought and prep. Less is more is the general rule – work with what you already own and only buy quality, long-lasting pieces with decent ethical cred. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun…
There are no hard and fast ‘rules’ when it comes to fashion, but for conscious dressing these maxims will set you on the right track.
Ethical fashion is often one colour extreme or the other, from the neutral, natural aesthetic of organic labels like Kow Tow to the bright clashing prints of Stella Jean. There is nothing wrong with wearing black, but ethical fashion offers amazing an array of brands with a vibrant and colourful aesthetic. Our handwoven Banago clutch bag, Mar Y Sol beach tote, and Sunday Tracker sandals adorned with pom poms all prove the more colour the better!
WEAR A HAT
Hats are an easy win for ethical style, (not to mention sun-protection). A genuine, handwoven Panama hat will never go out of fashion. For added fun, this season has seen the addition of pom poms to the classic panama. In colder months a knitted beanie or felt fedora are great practical options with a range of great ethical makers to choose from.
Thanks to Australian-made Nobody Denim and their cult skinny jeans there is no compromise between ethics and style. Every fashion blogger seems to own a pair. And when you consider all the possibilities denim offers – cut-off shorts, skirts, black jeans, white jeans, boyfriend jeans, jackets – that’s half of your wardrobe covered.
INVEST IN COATS AND JUMPERS
The initial outlay for a decent woolen coat can be painful, but boy is it worth it. You can’t put a price on not being cold in winter. US ethical label Reformation do a great line in reasonably-priced classic navy, black and camel coats. For more outdoorsy outerwear check out Patagonia. With transparent supply chains, environment programs and a promise to repair all clothing for life, Patagonia is miles ahead of other outdoor clothing brands.
BORROW, BUY SECOND-HAND OR SWAP
An obvious rule for ethical style, pre-loved is always preferred. It’s not easy though, pulling off second-hand requires time and a certain je ne sais quoi. Australia lacks great vintage shops and the US consignment store system, so for decent gear e-bay is your best bet. If there’s something specific you need or a brand you love set an alert. There are also facebook groups you can join dedicated to buying and selling second-hand clothing by popular labels (eg. Gorman, Spell).
Layers of jewellery, oversize earrings, chokers and statement cuffs are all hallmarks of ethical style. For a statement bag, go for classic styles that aren’t cliché, like Matt&Nat's elegant vegan handbags. Or funk it up with a pom pom woven basket. It’s either muted or really fun. Most bags you can wear in different ways – it can be a handbag or a clutch or a shoulder bag.
Do not follow Nina Karnikowski on Instagram if you are in any way insecure about your life/career, the number of stamps on your passport, or if your last holiday was spent in a grotty tent in a Big 4 with a toddler.
Or, get over it. Someone has to travel the world and be paid to write about it. Otherwise how would we know about male Mongolian bikini wrestling? Or what it’s like to stay on a billionaire’s priavte island in Vanuatu?
As well as being well-travelled, a brilliant writer and extremely photogenic, Nina also gives a real sh*t about humanity, the environment, and where her clothes come from.
In other words, she’s the total package.
1. Which came first, the travel or the writing? The writing. I’ve written ever since I was a kid. I still remember my first little journal - its hard navy cover with gold stars and moons all over it; its small, useless gold lock that made me feel so grown up. Back then I wrote about friends, boys and how annoying my mum was. Eventually, it became a place where, when I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, I could go to pour my thoughts out onto a few pages and feel kind of ok again. When it came to choosing what I was going to do with my life, I honestly didn’t feel like I had any other choice. Writing was kind of it for me. And if I had to choose between travel and writing – man, it’s a tough one, but I think I’d choose the writing.
2. Best ever….
budget holiday: I did Antibes on a budget with my husband a couple of years back, as a bit of a “can we do one of the world’s poshest places on a sausage budget?” Well, yes we could, and we had a damn lot of fun doing it. We didn’t have two grand to blow on a room at the insanely gorgeous Hotel du Cap Eden Rock, so we used Airbnb to find a fantastic apartment right in the centre of the old town. We decided that yachts were totally 2012, and instead opted for a $100 per day eight-foot runabout (the one with the torn sunshade and five horsepower engine) to putter us around those insane sandstone cliffs. And we hired a cheap scooter to visit the poshest beach in town, Plage de la Garoupe, then picnicked in a hidden cove with crunchy French bread, juicy nectarines and a $6 bottle of wine. Bliss.
all-out no-expense spared holiday: My second wedding anniversary at the ritzy Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur in Rajasthan, India. I had rose petals sprinkled on me when we arrived. The pool boy gave us iced cucumber slices for our eyes while we sunbathed. And in our Grand Royal Suite, surrounded by intricately carved wooden furniture and rich silk upholstery, we had a bath looking out over Lake Pichola while we drank French champagne and ate mud cake. It was so ridiculously opulent I’m still wondering whether I dreamt the whole thing up.
travel surprise (good or bad): How cool Mongolia was. To be honest, I didn’t know a great deal about the place before I went. But here’s a country where nomads (who make up over 40 percent of the population) will teach you how to make vodka from yak’s milk. Where you can witness three-year-olds racing horses bareback, and grown men in bikinis wrestling each other in what can questionably be considered the ultimate display of manliness. And where you’ll explore landscapes so wild, open and untamed you sometimes fear it’s going to swallow you whole.
3. Can you recommended any eco or sustainable holiday resorts/experiences? I had a fantastic experience this past summer on Ratua Private Island in Vanuatu where, because it’s owned by a French billionaire, 100 percent of the profits go back to the health and education of the communities in the neighbouring islands. There were just ten 200-year-old Javanese bungalows dotted around this idyllic island, all with no TV, AC or even glass in the windows. The epitome of barefoot luxury, where we spent our days snorkeling with sting rays, tropical fish and the giant turtles the area is famed for, kayaking to remote blue holes, getting massages and swimming with the island’s horses - all while knowing that our tourism dollar was going to exactly the right place.
4. You lived in Mumbai for a year, how was that? Living in India changed my life, and not a day goes by when I don’t dream about its colourful flower garlands, smiling faces, scents of turmeric and masala, lumbering street cows and addictive chaos. It transformed me with its ability to delight and confuse and outrage me all at the same time. Each day when I’d walk along the seafront at sunrise I’d be stepping over whole families sleeping on the pavement. Seeing those sorts of sights – along with the chained monkeys performing on the streets, the legless guys pushing themselves around on trolleys begging – made me feel simultaneously helpless and so inspired to try to see more of the world and attempt to change not only my perception of it but other people’s as well.
5. Favorite shopping destinations? Ganesh Emporium in Udaipur, India: a restored 250-year-old mansion housing 16 cavernous galleries crammed with Rajasthani treasures. Here you can find everything from woven camel dressings detailed with beads, tassels and mirrors, to antique rugs, handmade bedspreads, and chunky silver jewelery. Morocco: in the Marrakech souks where you’ll find leather babouche slippers in all the colours of the rainbow, silk caftans and djellabas, silver filigree lanterns and millions of beautiful hand-woven Berber rugs. I also loved Essaouira where you don’t get hassled the way you do in Marrakech, and where the goodies have a kind of faded elegance to them that matches the whole aesthetic of the town. Cappadocia in Turkey, where you get the most stunning kilim cushions, rugs, bags, slippers, vests… You name it, they’ve got it in kilim.
6. What are some treasured items you’ve picked up in your travels? A hand tie-dyed Tibetan Lingtse Cape that I purchased in the Ladakh region of northern India - they haven’t been made since the 1960s. Its stunning colours, thick wool fabric and shaggy tassels seriously spark my joy every time I look at it.
A beautiful pink and black Yao minority jacket that I bargained for in the Longji rice terraces in the Yangshuo region of China on a hilltop one afternoon as the sun set. You’ve probably seen images of the Yao women before: they’re the ones dressed in pink and black with hair down to their knees: they only cut it once in their lifetime, just before they get married. To have such incredible workmanship and intricate embroidery hanging in my house reminds me that fashion can truly be art. I also treasure my Mongolian camel wool slippers, they’re so comfy and make me think of the special times I had with the nomads whenever I slip them on my feet.
7. What does ethical fashion mean to you? It means actually giving a shit. Excuse the language, but you know, so many people don’t and it can be frustrating. It means thinking twice before you buy a top just because it’s $10 – have a look at where it’s made, consider what the conditions might have been for the person who created it, and ask yourself do you truly need it and will you wear it again and again, or will you just toss it out after a wear or two? Ethical fashion is fashion that’s made with heart, soul and conscience, garments that are made with care and love in good conditions. As a consumer, I truly believe you can feel when the garment’s been made with love, and you’ll in turn love the bejeezus out of it and probably keep it your whole life.
8. What are your core personal values? I believe in stepping as lightly as you can on the planet - it’s the only one we’ve got and even though the environmental problems we’re facing right now may seem insurmountable, every small contribution we make really can make a difference. I’m no saint but I try to minimize the amount of water and energy I use and the packaged food I buy, I try to never buy fast fashion or food, I never drive when I can walk, and I go organic whenever possible – because those chemicals are not only killing us but our earth, too. I make an effort to seek out sustainable accommodation when I’m travelling, and to offset my carbon footprint when I can. Oh, and I’m also a great believer in compassion and love, because that’s where the path to peace begins.
9. What makes you laugh? Apart from Broad City and our dog Minty? People who take themselves too seriously. They crack me up.
10. What’s the oldest or most worn item in your closet? Well I do happen to own a yellow silk jacket from the 70s… the 1870s, that is! A beautiful Edwardian piece that sits on my wall and that I’m terrified to actually wear, lest it fall to pieces on my body.
11. Unoriginal I know, but I have to ask…Nina’s packing essentials: My yoga mat in its ethically-made bejeweled Nagnata yoga bag. Apple cider vinegar to use as a facial toner and digestive tonic. And a good probiotic – because the places I tend to travel to can wreak havoc on a lady’s belly.
13. What’s next? I’m heading back to India next week to relive the Mumbai magic, to get some ashram time in and to explore the state of Himachal Pradesh where I haven’t yet been. After that I’ll be on assignment back in Aus, following in the footsteps of Crocodile Dundee in Kakadu, closely followed by a trip to Malaysia.
It was during a family summer holiday that Jane Hayes became conscious of the gender divide on the beach. “While kids and their dads were all wearing rashvests, swimming and playing on the sand, most of the women were sheltering up the back of the beach under umbrellas.”Back home in Sydney Jane started searching for a women’s rash vest that wasn’t pink with a prominent logo.
Her friend and fellow mum Julie Capobianco had always worn one. “I called Jules and asked where she got hers. When she told me it was a men’s one we thought let’s look into this.”The pair had talked about starting a business during recent career breaks. With a mutual love of fashion, Jane’s background in PR and publishing and Julie’s in digital marketing, launching an online shop was a natural fit.
“There was a genuine need and gap in the market,” Jane says. “No one, here or overseas was making luxury women’s rash-vests that made women feel stylish and confident no matter what age.”
“We decided if we were going to do this we would manufacture locally and design one product, and get it right. It had to be something we would wear ourselves that would make women feel relevant and still be able to swim and use the ocean. Living by the beach meant we knew exactly what we wanted.”
After a year of researching, costing and case studies The ACQUA Brand launched in December 2014. Thanks to Jane and Julie’s PR and marketing expertise the brand gained instant profile, with public figures like Lisa Wilkinson, Paula Joye, Sarah Wilson, Candice Lake and Zoe Foster Blake promoting the “water-wear” on social media. Hollywood stylist Rachel Zoe also featured the brand on her website after discovering it on Instagram.
A key aspect of the business and brand is it’s ethical credentials. Designed and manufactured in Australia, each piece is made from Econyl®. Also the basis for champion surfer Kelly Slater’s new menswear label, this sustainable fabric is made from regenerated waste like fishnets and carpets.
“We always wanted the brand to be made from the highest quality, yet sustainable fabric and it’s something we’re really proud of,” Jane says. It’s also been essential for business growth. The ethical nature of the brand was a key factor in David Jones quickly snapping up The ACQUA Brand for all Australian stores.
Next step is to go global, Jane says. “It made sense to start in Australia where we have been overwhelmed with the response. Sun-protection and anti-ageing are becoming increasingly more important for health and wellbeing. In our research we learnt that a white cotton tshirt only has a UPF of 5, that 90% of skin ageing is caused by sun exposure, and that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Australia, Europe and the US.
“I think we can start the conversation there and really go global with our product and message.”
“Our goal is to bring the Australian beach lifestyle to the world, with the added bonus of stylish sun protection.”
Underthings are often last or non-existent on the ethical shopping list. If you’re like us, a Marks & Spencer five-pack of briefs does the job for far longer than it should. But out of sight shouldn’t mean out of mind. Take your eco outfit all the way by choosing to buy ethical, responsibly made and good quality underwear that will last.
For other intimate essentials, like tampons and condoms, we've found some innovative ethical alternatives.
Bras and undies Australian made Nico underwear strikes the perfect balance between style and practicality. Their bra, undies and bodysuits are made of sustainably sourced materials like modal, bamboo and organic cotton. Most importantly Nico underwear is made to last. The first underwear brand to be accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, Nico also won the Lingerie and Swimwear category at the 2013 Source Awards - the global awards for sustainable fashion.
Tampons TheTOM Organic message is simple: we can look after ourselves and the planet every (time of the) month. TOM Organic feminine hygiene and nursing products are made using pure organic cotton grown in Australia. The company is Australian-owned, Certified Organic, B Corporation and supports women specific charities.
Underwear 2.0 Combine TOM Organic with Oxfam and you get something like Thinx: Underwear designed for wearing during periods, no other product (or landfill bound waste) necessary. And daggy period undies these are not. Thinx are super sexy black and lacy and come in four variations to suit your flow, including a G-string for light days. Thinx are made in a family-run factory in Sri Lanka that’s committed to providing supplementary education and training to its female employees. But it doesn’t stop there, the company’s partner organization AFRIpads, trains women in Uganda to sew and sell washable, reusable cloth pads, helping them become entrepreneurs. In turn, girls are able to purchase an affordable and sustainable pack of pads, allowing them to attend school every day of the month.
Condoms Trying to resist using the phrase “making sustainable sexy”, but it’s so appropriate for Sustain condoms. These boys are Fair Trade, B Corporation, Vegan, Cruelty Free, Non GMO and nitrosamine free (try saying that in one go). Sustain condoms are made of latex from one of the most sustainable rubber tree plantations on the planet, located in southern India. As well providing 180 unionised rubber tappers and their families with a higher than average wage, the plantation provides education and healthcare to the entire community, including an AIDS awareness program. Sustain are also an FSC® certified company trying to address the number one cause of climate change: overpopulation. Over 200 million women globally lack access to contraception. The company supports Planned Parenthood and 10% of profits support women’s reproductive healthcare.
“The ocean makes me feel really small and it makes me put my whole life into perspective… it humbles you and makes you feel almost like you’ve been baptized. I feel born again when I get out of the ocean.” Beyoncé Knowles
A swim at the beach is good for the soul. Ocean-side is where we go to relax, have fun and be immersed in a natural environment. But this is under threat. As of 2015, there is six times as much plastic in the ocean as there is sea life. Sea levels have risen alongside ocean temperature causing beaches and sea life to shift and disappear. This isn’t the kind of beach we want out children to experience, but it will be unless we make better decisions about what goes in our oceans.
That extends to what we wear at the beach.
Cozzies ‘Shaping swimwear sustainably’ is the motto of Shapes in the Sand, a sleek ethical swimwear brand. Their bikinis and one-pieces are made from ECONYL®, a yarn of 100% regenerated materials. This material actually helps to reduce the amount of global waste by collecting it from landfills and oceans and feeding it back into production cycles. This waste includes nylon contained in fishing nets and clothing, which is transformed back into virgin raw material without any loss of quality. Made in Australia, they manufacture their swimwear to the highest quality for a long lifespan (say goodbye to that only-good-for-one-summer bikini).
Much loved for their super sexy mum-friendly one-pieces, JETS also qualifies as ethical being a long-term signatory to the Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation process. The iconic Australian label says they are committed to improving conditions in the textile, clothing and footwear industries.
Rashies With Australia having the highest rate of skin cancer in the world covering up as much as possible is the smart way to swim, but can present style challenges. Thank heavens The ACQUA Brand make the previously utilitarian rash vest the new beach essential. For the sun conscious as well as the style conscious, each piece in The ACQUA Brand collection is 100% Australian designed and manufactured. They also use ECONYL® - not only is this material eco-friendly, it’s two times more resistant to chlorine, suntan creams and oils than competitors' fabrics. With styles that are super chic, flattering and full arm and torso coverage (think Giselle in that Chanel ad), The ACQUA Brand ticks all the boxes.
Surfboards Modern surfboards are notoriously “unsustainable” with most made from toxic, petroleum based chemicals. Once broken or damaged the potential for re-use or regeneration is very limited. Firewire was the first major high-performance surfboard brand to produce a surfboard made from the latest advancements in green chemistry and recycled materials. Their ‘ENVIROFLEX’ boards are glassed with resin made from 25% biologically derived carbon content and meet the
ECOBOARD Project benchmark developed by Sustainable Surf, an environmental non-profit organization. In Australia, MKSY Surfboardsare bringing back the all-wood boards made from a timber called paulownia, which doesn't absorb water due to its waxy qualities. If you fancy DIY, Tree to Searun make-your-own wooden board workshops from Mt Eliza, Victoria.
Often seen wandering the streets of NYC looking casually amazing, our Miranda has secured her place on many a best-dressed list. Her standard get-up of skinny denim, casual tops, blazer and a classic-style bag is pretty perfect. She makes it look easy. Maybe it is? We give this look the ethcial treatment.
The Ropes' Shana Ready takes inspiration and materials from her coastal surrounds in Maine. What began as a childhood hobby, making jewellery for friends, is now an incredibly successful business and brand.
"For me, jewellery has always been a vehicle to keep memories alive – some of my favorite pieces I inherited from my grandmother and I've always respected the power jewelry has as a tether to a certain person or time.
As a child, I was very interested in weaving and beading. So, basically as far back as I can remember I've been making jewelry for myself and for friends, but it was just a hobby that I never thought much of. The Ropes was actually born from this habit: one snowy winter day I was fooling with some of my husband's lobster gear that was lying around the house and made two bracelets, that would later become the Kennebunkport and Portland styles.
From the time I was 8-years-old, growing up in Maine, I knew wanted to be a fashion designer. I went to RISDI and got a job in New York shortly after graduating. I loved New York City, and still do; the nearly effortless access to art and culture is unparalleled. Untimely though, it was just that, the sheer saturation that I loved as a consumer, I found challenging as a creator.
In Maine, inspiration is less obvious, it needs to be sought out, unearthed, earned a bit more, and that's where my creative process lives. Its funny, because for a log time I thought that my love for Maine, for my home and fashion were irreconcilable. When, in reality, Maine, has been the catalyst for the career that I always wanted.
I think that sometimes in ethical fashion there is an emphasis on passivity, on creating low or no-impact products, but I am also interested in the more active approach. How can I create something that has a positive impact?
For this reason I try to source mostly local or Maine materials to support the businesses and craftspeople that call the state home. All the rope I use is authentic dock line, quite literally the stuff you would use to tie up boats. You could walk down to any marina and you would see it. The clasps are also marine hardware. I think there is enormous beauty in utility.
Having my own business is definitely not an easy road. I feel like there is such pressure out there on women to not only manage kids, marriage, a household, and successful career, but to make it all look effortless in the process. Owning my own business and raising a family has pushed and challenged me in every aspect of my life and grounded me in so many ways. It forces you to let go of perfectionistic attitudes, embrace the messy stuff and hopefully, to be kinder towards yourself.
My proudest achievements so far, (besides my children of course!) is having built a design career for myself in Maine. I am so glad that I listened to my heart and didn’t compromise when it came to doing what I love in a place that I love."