Why I'm Mad at Steven Alan / by Katie Turner

I've been working for Patagonia as a seasonal retail sales associate since October of 2015. Before I started, the only time I had ever step foot inside a Patagonia store, was to go to an event there and pick up an application. Since starting there, I have to admit I've fallen seriously in love with the Pata-product and my days of only wearing 'on trend' items of clothing are few and far between. After I purchased my first Synchilla Snap-T, I never took it off. It's honestly one of my favorite pieces that I own!! Not only do I love the product for the comfort, but Patagonia's guarantee that their clothing is made ethically is really one of the highest selling points in my book. Now, five months later, I own two Synchilla Snap-T's, one Mixed Snap-T, and a Cotton Quilt Snap-T as well. It's safe to say I'm a fan. Recently, the Snap-T fleece has grown in popularity in HUGE numbers. It was by far one of the top selling pieces this past season, and Patagonia even recognized that by creating a few special edition Snap-Ts that were only around for short time. It was so great to see the Snap-T being so popular because not only were new customers purchasing them to make memories in them, but customers of Patagonia from the last 30 years were coming in and telling us their stories of their first Snap-T and what it means to them. 

Today, I was scrolling through my Pinterest feed and came across this look by Steven Alan from their new RTW Fall 2016 Womenswear line and something familiar immediately caught my eye!! It was hard to tell from the side view, but all I needed to see was the color, shape, and details of the piece to immediately realize this is a design inspired by a Patagonia fleece. The rest of the collection is awesome, and I could definitely see myself wearing some of the pieces if I knew their clothes were made using sustainable fabrics. Steven Alan produces most of it's clothing in New York, though, so in that way production standards have been deemed ethical by others. 

I'm not the only one who sees this! The resemblance is so uncanny, that Women's Wear Daily wrote a feature on the newest collection and this exact look and stated,

"Classic shirting was softer with a few slightly draped, painterly silhouettes. On the sturdier side, there was fuzzy Sherpa jacket and a nifty riff on a classic Patagonia fleece for the gal who likes an outdoorsy look but is unlikely to scale any mountain range" (WWD, Jessica Iredale). 

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing I love more than fashionable pieces that have an "outdoorsy look" to them. I'm also not about to go climb a mountain anytime soon. My problem with it isn't that they made a design similar to Patagonia's, it's that they made a design similar to Patagonia's and they made it unethically. Patagonia fleeces are made with mostly recycled polyester, and their production line is so transparent, you can even see which factories and other companies they work with through The Footprint Chronicles. As far as I know, Steven Alan produces their clothing ethically in New York, but after a lot of personal research today, I have no evidence to support the fabrics used in this collection were ethically sourced!

Sure, any brand can make a shearling pullover and add a pocket and snaps at the collar. Patagonia doesn't own the rights to having snaps on a garment. I'm just disappointed that this "outdoorsy" jacket was most likely created in a way that did harm to the environment instead of working to protect the exact thing it was inspired from. A similar argument could be made for Chanel's Spring 2016 Couture runway show. One of my favorite lines from Fashion Journal's post about the so-called eco-friendly fashion show was, "Eco-inspired? Sure. Sustainable? Not so much."

Okay, so maybe I'm not really mad at Steven Alan. A better word to describe how I'm feeling right now would be disappointed. At least Steven Alan isn't falsely claiming sustainable efforts here (as far as I know). The collection is new and there haven't actually been any reports yet on what this jacket was made from. I'm betting on it not being sustainable, but I am always open to being proven wrong.