Monday, August 18th, 2008...12:47 pm

Chicago’s Pivot Boutique: Why it’s Smart

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Oh, beautiful Chicago — the architecture, the neighborhoods, the parks, the youthfulness, the mob lore… and Pivot. My first visit to Chicago’s only eco boutique lived up to every one of my (high) expectations. The shop is sleek, quirky and just the right size — small enough to feel intimate, but large enough that its Fulton Market destination location is well worth the trip.

Playing off the store’s “Eco Smart Fashion” tagline, each item includes a “Why it’s smart” hangtag detailing the ethical marks the product has going for it. This makes for wonderful feel-good shopping — educating shoppers about materials and processes at the same time.

Speaking of well worth the trip, the end-of-summer sale I happened upon was way too good to be true. I snagged ridiculously good deals on…

g=9.8 undies

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“This item is smart because it’s made from LENPUR, a biodegradable fabric made from white pine pulp. LENPUR offers the comfort of silk, the touch of cashmere and the lightness of linen — making it absolutely perfect for lingerie.”

Bras have been my socially responsible purchasing weakness — finding good everyday bras outside of the usual suspects was beyond me… until g=9.8. The French brand (named after the constant for gravity) supports its local economy by manufacturing in its small hometown of Angers, France; their lingerie is made from Lenpur, a biodegradable fabric made from white pine pulp; their packaging is made of recycled and/or fair trade materials, and everything they sell is certified under the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, which limits the amount of chemicals used in textiles. The cross-back one I got fits wonderfully (and true to size)! Background info here via ecolect.net.

Manimal leather scrap earrings

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“These earrings are smart because designer Kristen Lombardi creates them using the scraps from making her moccasins. The black style is vegan friendly (recycled tire rubber).”

Manimal — gotta love it. Handmade in Massachusetts “in a small third floor apartment where the eaves fall into the windows,” designer Kristen Lombardi is known best for her moccasins but also makes beautiful organic jeans and these earrings, which make the most of her signature ribcage shape. They look awesome with my hair pulled back, and I’ve already worn them many times!

Camilla Norrback: Hi, waist

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“This item is smart because it’s made from ORGANIC COTTON. That means the cotton was grown on land that has been free of chemicals for at least three years. Conventionally grown cotton is one of the world’s most heavily sprayed crops — with ORGANIC COTTON you get the comfort of cotton without the pesticides next to your skin.”

Camilla Norrback makes “Swedish women’s fashion that is good for both environment and conscience.” And booty. This skirt fits beautifully (especially with the help of a little belt), accentuating the waist and flaring out perfectly at the bottom. The label puts everything through this filter: “A garment of the highest quality that is justly manufactured as well has an entirely new dimension — the wearer can feel both beautiful and proud. This is the modern luxury, what we at camilla norrback call ecoluxury!” The detailing of the pintucks and side buttons are just the right flair for a basic black skirt.

Other amazing picks from Pivot (that I didn’t buy… but maybe you should):

Noon solar bags

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Taking multi-tasking to a new level — charge a battery pack anytime you’re out! As the Pivot blog by Jessa says, “yes, green and gorgeous do in fact go together.”

Stewart+Brown vest

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Beautiful, lightweight and multi-functional. (Wish I’d noticed it in the store!)

Lara Miller ‘Eileen’ top

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A Chicago-designed and -produced line, Lara Miller is a Pivot darling. No wonder!

Thanks to Pivot’s wonderful founder Jessa Brinkmeyer for my oh-so-hospitable visit. I’ve been excited to read more about her involvement in staking Chicago as a green fashion hub, and we can no doubt expect much more to come — like the exhibit “Museum of Sustainable Style” she’s curating for this fall’s Fashion Focus, a week of highlights on the chic side of Chicago.

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