Ethical apparel abounds at Arboretumby Courtney Cochran
It’s a dilemma perfectly fit for the new millennium: Two adventurous young ladies find themselves living in wine country with a hankering for high-end duds made in an environmentally responsible fashion. Problem is, finding so-called “green” high fashion in rural Northern California is like trying to track down a Michelin three-star in Bakersfield.
So, they decided to take matters into their own hands.
Business partners and responsible fashionistas Kate Morison and Andrea Barrett launched Arboretum Apparel in April, 2007 just north of the plaza in downtown Healdsburg. To head through the door of the smartly renovated space is enter a place where, according to Morison and Barrett, “fashion meets compassion and ethical apparel abounds.”
Cultivating an ethic aesthetic
Indeed. The charming spot features environmentally conscious duds for men, women and children from brands like Del Forte Denim (made in Oakland), rag & bone, Jutta Neumann, and Stewart + Brown – names you’re more likely to see on the pages of Vogue and GQ than in a shop in northern Sonoma County.
But it’s all here, along with personalized service from Morison and Barrett, who help customers sift through the apparel they describe as decidedly fashion-forward but not trend-driven. “The idea,” explains Morison, “is to help customers find classic pieces that they can incorporate into their existing wardrobes, and hopefully wear forever.”
Breathing new life into an old space
This hearkens back to the idea of sustainability, which incorporates elements of recycling and re-use into its environmentally-conscious philosophy. All of the lines carried at Arboretum incorporate some degree of sustainability into their production, whether it’s in the form of environmentally-friendly materials or responsible manufacturing processes – or both.
Morison and Barrett upheld these same values in building their boutique: Arboretum occupies an 1890s-era storefront that was previously condemned. They enlisted the help of eco-friendly Earthtone Construction in renovating the space and used materials and finishes with the lowest-possible environmental impact wherever possible. Their decision to refurbish an existing space rather than build a new one is just one more example of their admirable commitment to sustainability.
Shopping: Recommended Brands
rag & bone – This New York-based brand produces jeans and modern minimalist suits for men and women at an Appalachian factory they helped save from shuttering when its biggest client – Levi Strauss – abandoned US manufacturing for Mexico. Their “made in the USA” mantra is just part of rag & bone’s sustainable philosophy, which also incorporates the use of eco-friendly materials.
Del Forte Denim – Oakland-based Del Forte jeans are made in the US from one hundred percent organic cotton. Founded in 2005, the forward-thinking brand seeks to integrate distinctive design and ethical production into its line of skinny, wide-legged, and cropped jeans. A portion of proceeds go to cool causes like The Sustainable Cotton Project.
Arboretum carries clothing for men, women, and children of all ages as well as accessories like bags and belts. Open daily from 10am to 6pm.