Sustainability is in style

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword these days. It’s become a major driver for how many businesses are approaching day-to-day operations in an effort to drive down operating costs while at the same time helping to preserve resources.

A new group has formed in Madison to further the sustainability movement among local businesses, and it’s announcing its arrival with a premier fashion show event on April 1.

Ethos Madison Live is the brainchild of Ashley Rostad of Blackwater Studios and Lindsay Leno of UpShift, who together had an idea around mid-February for a fashion show focusing on small, local businesses that have some combination of sustainable, eco-friendly, or fair-trade principles. Once they started planning the show and reaching out to other local businesses, the idea took on a life of its own and the Ethos Madison Collective was born.

The Collective currently includes sustainable Madison boutiques ReThreads, Serrv, Change, and Evolve, along with UpShift and Blackwater, with room to add additional members that fit the group’s core values of offering sustainable, eco-friendly, second-hand, or fair-trade products.

“We were all in strong agreement about the importance of such an organization within our community,” says Rostad. “To promote the shops themselves, but also sustainability and its importance and attainability in our city as a whole.”

Rostad notes there has been a significant rise in awareness in recent years about sustainable and eco-friendly practices and their importance. “This abundance of information allows more people to see the big picture, see how their actions and habits really make a difference, whether good or bad.”

While the Ethos Madison Collective is still very much in its infancy, Rostad says it was apparent from the group’s first meeting that it could fill a role in the greater Madison community.

“In a community that is so focused on sustainability, there are also lots of ‘big box’ stores that dominate in the area,” she explains. “Our current focus is the fashion show, and from there we can focus more on how to grow the Collective within our city. The fashion show is simply the first of, hopefully, many events that we’ll use to promote the awareness and visibility of these amazing local businesses, but also of how changing your shopping habits can really have an impact within your own community and also globally.”

Rostad was impressed by an article she recently read that she says was full of insightful information. One statement in particular struck her:

You won’t make big cuts in your environmental impact by taking shorter showers or turning out the lights. The real environmental problem, a new analysis has shown, is embodied in the things you buy.

“Where you buy your clothes, where they’re coming from, how much — or in most cases, how little — you wear them, and what you do with them once you’re sick of them, that is where a huge problem lies,” Rostad says.

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In fashion

While sustainability makes logical sense as a lasting trend, it’s also very “in” right now.

What better way to showcase the movement then than with a fashion show designed to expand awareness of efforts being made in Madison to support sustainable practices?

Ethos Madison Live will take place at 7 p.m. on April 1 at Winedown, located at 118 State Street, in Madison. The event is free and open to the public, and includes a full wine and cocktail bar, appetizers, and swag bag giveaways. Live fashion bloggers, stylized models, a music DJ, and an MC will also be on hand to make it a true multimedia event.

“This show is so important because there is such a strong fashion community in Madison,” Rostad notes. “We have such a conglomerate of people, some who follow trends and are always ‘on point,’ some who take trends and make them their own, and even more still who make their own trends. This is a city of individuals, of thinkers, and that is what defines fashion — people who aren’t afraid to make things their own, to go against the norm, to look at something and morph it into their own representations.

“We want this fashion show to be different,” she continues. “We don’t want this to feel like a stiff, overly structured show. We want it to be really fun for those in attendance — interactive in a way. We want to show people that high-end fashion trends are attainable by shopping local and shopping smartly. Expect great music, incredible entertainment, and a great excuse to mingle with your friends while fashion walks by. After the runway portion of the show, we hope people will stick around, maybe even ask some questions, and just have a good time as we celebrate the amazing talent we have in this city.”

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