2016-17 Featured Students

    Caitlyn Baagoe: Sustainable Fashionista (October 2016)

    When considering one’s hopes, goals and dreams, the “future” has a different meaning for everyone. For this Iowa State University student, her bright future is the passionate pursuit of becoming a leader in sustainable fashion. 

    Apparel, merchandising and design senior, Caitlyn Baagoe, had the opportunity to follow her passion for sustainability and fashion. Over the summer Baagoe interned for Groceries Apparel in Los Angeles, specializing in 100 percent organic and 100 percent recyclable clothing.

    In addition to their organic and recyclable content commitment, Groceries Apparel also manufactures all of their clothing locally in Los Angeles where they have their own vegetabledye studio.

    By keeping manufacturing in-house, Groceries Apparel is able to maximize “quality, efficiency and employee pay” while minimizing their carbon footprint and waste, making an environmental, economic and social difference.

    Baagoe was interested in interning for Groceries Apparel because she knew she wanted to pursue a career in sustainable fashion and she believes in the company’s values and vision related to producing clothing.

    Prior to her internship, Baagoe learned a lot about fashion through her courses in the College of Human Sciences’ apparel, merchandising and design program here at Iowa State that offers a number of sustainability courses.

    During her internship, she experienced first hand all of the components that go into a sustainable fashion brand. As she prepares to enter the apparel industry, Baagoe hopes to do her part to inspire the fashion industry to more sustainable and ethical practices.

    Baagoe said that fashion fits into all three aspects of sustainability -- economic, social and environmental. 

    “Environmentally, we have opportunities to leave less impact related to waste and water quality through the use of recycled packaging, nontoxic dyes and recycled fabrics,” she said.

    During her internship, one of the projects Baagoe completed was developing colors using non-toxic dyes (as shown on the right).

    According to the World Wildlife Foundation, a single cotton shirt can take up to 2,700 liters of water to produce. The amount of water used to make less than 1,000 t-shirts is enough to fill an entire Olympic-sized swimming pool. Comparatively, Groceries Apparel uses USA sourced recycled cotton drastically reducing water consumption as well as improving water quality through eliminating the need for fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides.

    The social and economic facets of sustainability play are evident in the apparel industry as well. Socially, Baagoe noted that considerations of pay and benefits through increased public awareness is one way the fashion industry has made a sustainable difference.

    For Groceries Apparel, that difference comes from manufacturing their own clothing in the United States, avoiding the uncertainties of outsourcing and ensuring their workers receive a living wage needed to maintain a normal standard of living. Creating a sustainable future through ensuring living wages allows individuals to sustain themselves in the present in order to plan, strategize and prepare for the future.

    This consideration is juxtaposed by another phenomenon in the clothing industry, “fast fashion” -- buying new styles for less money allowing “fast” accessibility to fashion trends. Unfortunately, low prices, often associate with lower quality, resulting in clothing ending up in the back of a closet or in the trash, making a substantial environmental impact. Economically, fashionistas can save money on clothing and waste less resources by investing in clothing that lasts longer and is more durable. Additionally, support is given to the fashion industry, workers and their families through investing in quality, durable clothing.

    Through her internship and educational experiences Baagoe hopes to influence and lead others to become more sustainable as both leaders in the fashion industry and consumers of apparel.

    “I think educating is key. The more you know, the more you can make educated consumer decisions,” said Baagoe. “There are many ways for consumers to shop ethically, save money and keep clothing longer.”

    Personally, Baagoe practices sustainability in fashion as an industry professional, but also as a consumer -- highlighted in the tips below.

    “We are already seeing so many clothing brands shift even in little changes,” said Baagoe. “The future is bright.