Despite the thrill of fall shopping, I usually get more excited to re-wear my favorite items from the past year. As soon as the air is brisk enough to resurface my faux furs, fluffy scarves, and leather boots, it feels like I’m getting a whole new wardrobe. This also makes the transition to fall dressing a little less stressful: If you’ve already got a stable of pieces you love, there’s less pressure to spend a month’s rent on the season’s new must-haves. But while I’ve got most of my bases covered (with an overstuffed coat closet and bookshelf turned shoe rack to prove it), my sweater collection is severely lacking. Since I view sweaters as “basics,” I’ve never put quite as much thought into buying them as I would for, say, a designer jacket or vintage dress. But a sweater can make the outfit. Last weekend, after struggling to put together a look that was even remotely appropriate for the crisp, 50-degree temps, I saw a dozen girls in what I’m convinced is the new fall uniform: vintage jeans, block-heeled ankle boots, and the most perfectly slouchy turtlenecks and pullovers. So I set my sights on revamping my sweater supply; with all the options out there, finding a few that fit my tastes and budget would be easy, right?
Wrong. My idea of the perfect sweater collection goes something like this: A few tissue-thin, soft crewnecks that fit more like long-sleeved T-shirts; a couple chunky sweaters that aren’t too oversize, too thick, or too hot (a very tall order); and a fuzzy cardigan that looks French, not frumpy. Finding sweaters that special for a reasonable price has been the biggest obstacle; I can’t justify spending $700 on a cashmere V-neck, and not just because my AmEx can’t handle it. Now that the industry’s production practices are becoming more transparent, I always wonder how much an item has been marked up, where it was made, who made it, what their working conditions were like, and how “luxe” the materials actually are.
It wasn’t until I discovered Zady’s edited, minimal in-house collection of “Essentials” that I found exactly what I was looking for: chic, simple sweaters in super-luxe fabrics that are also sustainably produced. Zady stocks ethical clothes, beauty, and accessories from designers like Objects Without Meaning, Sundry, and Clare V., and its own label has grown steadily since its launch in August 2014. Beneath each “Essential” item, Zady lists every painstaking detail of its production process, “from sheep to shelf.” For example, the Lightweight Alpaca Sweater I’m planning to order in every color starts with hypoallergenic, ultra-lightweight alpaca sourced from rural families’ flocks in the Andes; then it’s sorted, washed, combed, and spun in an efficient “eco-factory” mill in Arequipa, Peru, before being sent to a heritage knitter in Farmingdale, New York. There’s also an alpaca cardigan, a shrunken knit sweatshirt, and my personal favorite, a chunky pullover in a thick, three-gauge knit that’s cut to hug the shoulders so it doesn’t resemble a giant sack. Since it isn’t too long or baggy, it’s ideal for girls like me who aren’t particularly tall. (Emma Watson, who is my height, has already been seen wearing it.) I’m not a self-proclaimed hippie and don’t know everything about climate change, but I love the idea of collecting these sweaters and knowing exactly what went into them. When they look this good, why bother shopping elsewhere?
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