Recycled Restyle: Budgeting

The last few weeks have been expensive; holidays and moving are costly. So this week the theme of the Recycled Restyle is budget! The challenge was to style each outfit from vintage clothes keeping the total cost under $100.

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My best find this week was definitely this Pink 50s Swing Coat, a steal at just $36. Not only is it a bargain but the style and colour are very on trend. Pastels are becoming increasingly popular for winter, and this long swing shape is popping up everywhere. To keep this outfit looking modern I chose to match it with equally contemporary items. In keeping with this pastel scheme I chose this High Neck Blue Top.

When creating winter looks with pastels I think it is important to break them up with neutrals and whites. I chose these Cropped White Pants to keep the look fresh and bright. To finish the look I added a pair of Nude Heels with a slight pink hue to match that of the jacket. All four pieces together totalled just over $87–an absolute bargain!

 

 

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While winter is definitely approaching there are days when the sun manages to peep through. It’s days like these where a careful balance of summer and winter items must be assembled, to make the most of the warmth while still keeping your feet safe from the lurking puddles. This trans-seasonal outfit features this super fun Cruise Ship T-shirt Dress. The print is so quirky, and the primary colours in this dress lend it to layering, so on a colder day you could easily throw a red or navy thermal shirt underneath.

To keep you toes dry I added this pair of Green Quilted Ankle Boots. Quilting is a winter must; it just makes these boots scream cosiness. I added this 80s Geometric Scarf as a head wrap to tie in with the colour scheme of the dress. Scarves are great for autumn. You can wear them as a head wrap to keep your ears warm, or drape them around your neck and shoulders for warmth! This outfit comes in just under budget at $98.

 

 

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I love this outfit, because it proves you really can look a million buck on less than $100 *cringe*. I’m a lover of all things sequinned and the playfulness of the pattern on this 80s Sequinned Party Dress meant I couldn’t resist. This dress is more modern than a lot from that era but I find that the cut, particularly the sleeves, can date it. I decided to add a jacket to cover the sleeves and to add a more modern, tough aspect to the outfit. I chose this Faux Leather Biker Jacket to take this dress from gaudy to edgy. I chose this particular one because not only was it in budget at $30, but it had interesting tough details like the belt and press stud collar.

Initially I had finished the look with a bargain cheap pair of Red Leather Pumps to come in under budget. As I was writing this post, however, I decided it was looking a bit matchy-matchy so I chose this pair of Black Studded Ankle Boots to tie in with the toughness of the jacket and keep the whole look modern. They were a little over budget but worth it, and the total for this outfit is just over target at $108.

The ethics of trust

I don’t want to be a ranty, spill my feelings onto the internet kind of blogger, but this post is going to bring me dangerously close. As I started this blog as a way to share my journey towards becoming an ethical fashionista I think it’s important to share the hard parts, as well as the fashionable parts. The fashion industry isn’t all glamour, and its harder than I though it would be to find beautiful clothes that are truly made in a beautiful way. The reason for my crisis? This week I was informed that my favourite brand, Gorman, may not be produced as ethically as I once thought.

I adore Gorman. Their clothes are completely unique, they use bright colours and unique prints that are right up my alley, and until this week I though our beliefs about ethical fashion aligned. On their website Gorman shares their ethics policy, and I thought this was a guarantee that they truly were ethical. During Fashion Revolution day, however, I was told by participants that a code of ethics doesn’t necessarily guarantee ethical production, as it may not be strongly enforced. The example that was given to me was ASOS, who have an ethics statement that uses ambiguous language (“we set out standards we EXPECT our suppliers to meet”), which leads people to believe that not much is truly being done to enforce their ethical standards. When I checked Gorman’s policy they use definite terms (“the ethical code of conduct MUST be adhered to”) to express their standards, which seemed like a good sign.

The introduction to Gorman's ethical code of conduct.

The introduction to Gorman’s ethical code of conduct.

But upon further googling it seemed like people still had doubts. I discovered a post on the Gorman Facebook page from Lisa Gorman, dealing with the fact that people were still questioning the Gorman’s ethics.

Lisa Gorman's defence of Gorman's ethics

Lisa Gorman’s defence of Gorman’s ethics

Again, this post seems very positive, and I truly believe that Lisa Gorman believes in ethical fashion practices. But in the comments some interesting issues were raised:

  1. If Gorman had nothing to hide, why don’t they release details about the locations of their factories?
  2. Audits are undertaken by Factory X, who own Gorman. Would it not be more thorough for the factories to undergo an independent, impartial audit?
  3. If Gorman truly is produced ethically, why is it not certified with Ethical Clothing Australia?

Maybe we’re all just thinking about this too much. Perhaps it really is important for Gorman to keep the locations of their factories private to protect their “intellectual property”, as they claim. And just because the audits are carried out by the corporation that owns them doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t thorough, right? But when it comes to shopping ethically, thinking about things too much really is what we need to do. A lot of thought and effort goes into making sure every stage of the process is ethical, and I’m not sure we can trust companies to simply promise they are ethical without providing proof.

This is why the service provided by Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) is so important. They offer an accreditation process by which every stage of the supply chain is researched and audited to ensure it is ethical. Fashion supply chains can become very complex, as while a brand may think they are only outsourcing to one factory, this factory may outsource to another and so on, which means that while the initial factory may have acceptable practices, the work may actually be completed in another factory which does not. ECA takes on the responsibility of analysing a business’s supply chain, and their label is a guarantee that the clothing was produced ethically. I have huge respect for their process, and I would love to see a day where Australian only buy clothes with their seal of approval.

On this blog I spend a lot of time talking about the benefits of shopping vintage, because recycling is a sure fire way to make sure you’re not supporting an unethical label. But this can’t be the only way for us to shop. Huge amounts of workers in places like Bangladesh, China, and even here in Australia rely on the garment industry for a livelihood, and we can’t take jobs away from them. But we need to make sure these jobs are safe, well paid, and fair. That’s why I’m throwing my support behind the ECA and I would like to see my favourite brands seeking their accreditation. I know, for brands, there is a risk that bad practices will be discovered. But as a consumer I would rather hear reports of these poor practices being uncovered and dealt with, rather than hearing no reports at all.

That’s why here and now, I’m calling on everyone who loves Gorman as much as I do to publicly ask them to seek accreditation with the ECA. If we can band together, let them know that this is what we want as consumers, then perhaps we can make a change. So here’s what I’m proposing: Take a photo of yourself in your Gorman. Share it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and add the hashtag #ECAforGorman. Tell Gorman why you love them and why it is important to you that they gain this accreditation. I’m hoping that if enough of us care, and put in the effort to let Gorman know what we want they will listen.

UPDATE:

I posted about my campaign idea on social media and got a surprising amount of support. It showed me that people really want to know how their clothes are made, and that ethics and transparency are really important to people. I also learnt that while my motives were good, my plan was not. At the moment the ECA can only accredit businesses who produce within Australia. Unfortunately, Gorman is produced in China and are therefor not eligible.

Why does the ECA only accredit within Australia? Mostly, it is because in countries other than Australia the laws protecting workers rights are considerably more lax, or simply do not exist. This means that even if the ECA were to conduct an audit, they would have no legal basis to enforce any reform.  I asked around and it seems that there is no international body that enforces standards of ethics, because they would face the same issues with the lack of legal backing.

 

Time Capsule: Escape to Warm Weather

This week I’ve taken some time out and headed to the Gold Coast. Packing’s always tricky; I find it hard not to lug three huge suitcases along with me when I’m only away for five days. I chose a few things, then chose things to match and before I know it half my wardrobe is packed. But there’s a secret to avoid this packing nightmare; develop a capsule wardrobe.

I learnt about the idea of a capsule wardrobe from Gok Wan, when I was addicted to Gok’s Fashion FixThe term was actually coined in the 70s by Susie Faux, owner of West End boutique Wardrobe. Faux used the term to refer to a basic collection of classic staples that every woman should own, which could then be styled to suit each new season with accessories. Wan’s use of the term is slightly different, as in Fashion Fix he created a collection of 24 interchangeable pieces, each of which worked with the  others. With this he intended to teach women that you could still manage to create a large range of outfits from a small amount of clothes, thereby “shopping less and wearing more”.

Not only are capsule wardrobes great for saving money, they also minimises the waste the fashion industry generates with changing fads and disposable clothing. With so many benefits it would be remiss of me not to feature them on Wear it Fair, so I plan to have recurring feature teaching you how to construct a capsule wardrobe from vintage items (hence “time capsule”, get it?).

This week the theme of my capsule wardrobe is holiday dressing. I’ve chosen eight pieces which can be switched up to create eight days worth of outfits; perfect for a Gold Coast get away!

These are the eight pieces I’ve chosen:

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  1. Cropped 80s Aerobics Print Tank
  2. Red Oversized Short Sleeve Shirt
  3. Green Silk Sleeveless Blouse
  4. Alphabet Print Tennis Shoes
  5. 80s Geometric Print Midi Skirt
  6. Abstract Colour Block Shorts
  7. Parrot Print Wrap Shorts
  8. Rainbow Wedge Sandals

When picking the components of this capsule wardrobe I started by deciding on some guidelines. In warm weather I like to wear bright clothes, so I chose to go with a bright colour palette featuring mainly primary colours. I also love bold prints so I stuck with items which feature large, abstract geometric prints.

Then I picked one item to base the rest around; in this case it was the cropped t-shirt. Sometimes, instead of choosing your guidelines first it can be easier to choose one key item and base the rest around this. Once I had the t-shirt I matched it with the yellow midi skirt and abstract print shorts. I wanted three tops and three bottom, so I added a second pair of shorts, as shorts are more practical for holiday adventuring and activities. I loved the parrot print and vibrant colour of these wrap shorts, so I couldn’t go past them.

Since my three bottoms featured bold prints I wanted to go for plain block coloured tops (even for me, there is such a thing as too much print). I drew the colours from within the prints to make sure they would work with the other pieces. Another tip to creating a really versatile capsule wardrobe is to choose items which can be work in different ways. Button down shirts are good for this because they can be worn on their own, or open and layered over other items.

To finish the wardrobe I wanted two pairs of shoes; one casual and one more formal. On holiday its essential to have a really comfy pair of walking shoes, and this alphabet printed pair was perfect with the other bold prints. I wanted a second, slightly smarter pair for going out to dinner, but something you could also wear casually. I chose a pair of rainbow sandals with a slight wedge heel which filled this bill perfectly.

So, without further ado, the eight outfits:

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While this post was about holiday dressing, a capsule wardrobe is something we should all consider adopting. In future Time Capsule posts I’m intending to focus on how to start a capsule wardrobe with what you’ve got, keeping some pieces, getting rid of others, and adding some to bring the collection together. So keep you eyes peeled over the next few weeks to get your own capsule wardrobe started!

 

Recycled Restyle: Winter is coming

As much as I would like to imagine winter is not setting in, the fact that I’m writing this wrapped in a doona and a big wooly jumper makes it hard to deny. Plus, who wants to pass up the chance to put a Game of Thrones reference in the title? As such, this week’s outfits are styled to help you prepare for the colder weather.

In other news, my semester at Uni wrapped up this week so expect to see more articles (including a look into the recently released Australian Fashion Report 2015 and a look into the results of Fashion Revolution Day) here in the coming weeks.

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This Purple Wool Plaid Vintage Cape is spectacular.  It is a little pricey but a good wool coat is always a good investment, and I feel a winter coat should have some personality. Some people shy away from bold patterned coats because there is the potential of clashing, but a coat like this which closes completely at the front means you can get away with wearing something underneath which doesn’t match perfectly. For a work look like this it would be paired with a Collarless Oversized White Blouse like this one.

To keep the look modern the blouse would be tucked into a pair of  80s Leather Pants. I like the pleating in this particular pair, as leather pants that are too skinny can get uncomfortable and a little impractical (see: the Friends episode with Ross and the Leather Pants.) To pull in the purple from the jacket I added a pair of Purple Wedge Booties with a suede texture to differentiate them from the leather of the pants.

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Sometimes when winter hits we tend to reach for black and grey. I wanted inject some colour into this week’s play look with this Colour Blocked Leather Biker Jacket. Biker jackets like this tend to lack shape and are best matched with a garment which shows off the shape of your legs, like tapered pants or a short skirt. So to add shape to the biker jacket I added a pair of High Waisted Mustard Pleated Pants.

To keep this look feeling a little masculine, I chose to add a pair of Green Suede Loafers, but chose a pair with a slight heel. To finish off the look I wanted a vintage band tee. There are loads and loads on Etsy for around $20, but when I saw this Bruce Springsteen T-shirt I couldn’t pass it up because I’m a bit of a fan. Plus it was the perfect shade of mustard to match with the pants. The only drawback was the fact this tee actually costs $980…

 

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Every week there is an outfit that it takes all of my self control not to buy, and this week this is it. The pattern on this 60s Knot Print Midi Dress is just killer, and I love the golden yellow colour. The high neckline and long sleeves make this a demure choice, but the way the pattern is placed on the body means its still über flattering. With such a spectacular print I really wanted to allow the dress to speak for itself with all black accessories, but I wanted each element to have a certain level of detail. To keep with the rope theme I chose this fantastic Black Tasseled Box Bag which features an intricate rope detail on the top flap to add a bit of personality.

To channel the 60s style of the dress I chose to add this Metallic Black Turban. With a high-necked dress I never wear my hair down, as it disguises the detail of the neckline. Adding the turban allows the hair to be tucked up inside out of the way of the neckline. To finish the look I wanted a pair of thigh-high boots to disappear into the dress, and it had to be this pair of Chanel Quilted Thigh High Boots. Yes, they are THE Chanel boots from The Devil Wears Prada so I had to put them in to continue the pop culture theme of this week’s post. Don’t get too attached though, authentic vintage Chanel comes at the authentic Chanel price of over $2,200. For a very similar boot at one-sixth the price, check out these 70s Couture Thigh High Boots.

Recycled Restyle: Procrastination

The end of term is fast approaching and, typically, I’m on a mission to do anything but my assignments. As if, as a design student, I hadn’t had enough photoshop for the week I sat down and created three new outfits styled from vintage clothes available on Etsy.

Now, I know that sustainable fashion won’t be very sustainable if no one can afford it so I try to style outfits from items which cost under $100 each. Unfortunately, this week my final-assignment addled brain failed to comprehend numbers, so I need to issue a price warning that the boots and shorts featured in the “play” outfit are not for those keeping to a budget. Unless you budgeted $300 for shoes in which case you’re fine.

 

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This week’s work attire actually breaks two of the rules I go by when styling myself. Firstly, I don’t like to have anything too matchy-matchy, so keeping to entirely navy, blue and red is different for me. Secondly, I try not to style anything to look too “vintage”. Don’t get me wrong, the girls who can pull off a 1950s A-line with full petticoat are my idols, but I find that, on me, outfits styled in a vintage way tend to look like costumes.

But there is always an exception to the rule, and it came with this incredible 60s Geometric Patterned Blouse. The boldness of the pattern was kept at a work-appropriate level by the subdued nautical colour scheme, and that’s why I chose to carry it through the whole outfit. The shirt itself is quite boxy, and the cut is almost masculine, so I chose to match it with this  Navy Blue Pencil Skirt and White Swirl Pattern Heels to add a feminine touch. The final touch (which really does tip this over into unfamiliar rockabilly vintage territory) is the Red Plaid Head Scarf, which ties in the red from the shirt and gives the outfit some personality.

 

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I’m a bit of a chronic pattern-clasher, but when styling this Impressionist Village Skirt I had to let the beautiful print speak for itself. To compliment the sunny scene in the painting I chose this  Yellow Tie-front Tee. The waist tie on this shirt is the perfect pairing for this draw-string waist skirt. I find that tucking tops into anything with a draw string waist can get messy, as there’s a lot of gathering coming together. That said, letting a tee hang put over the skirt would mean the waistline disappears, and you’ll look swamped by your clothes. A cropped shirt or tie shirt solves these problems perfectly!

One of my favourite details of the skirt are the beautiful poppies along the hemline. To make these pop (excuse the pun) I added a pair of 60s Lace Up Sandals in a matching red. These quirky little shoes give a cheeky touch to an otherwise very casual outfit.

 

 

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I can never go past a tassel or, in the case of this 80s Beaded Blouse, beaded pictures of tassels. Covered in beaded tassels which wind their way from front to back this blouse could border on over the top, or even too “80s” for its own good. To keep it looking opulent, rather than outdated I chose to team it with a pair of Gold Leather Bermuda Shorts. Metallics are popping up in recent collections all over the place (see the Gorman Supermoon Pleated Skirt I’m lusting after) so the gold fabric combined with the length keep these shorts looking modern.

The gold cords and tassels on the blouse reminded me of military aiguillettes, and complete the look I wanted to play up this military feel with a pair of Black Suede Thigh High Boots. These beauties may be a bit pricey but a good pair of black boots is a worthwhile investment. The combination of shiny leather and rough suede give these boots just enough uniqueness while still keeping them impeccably versatile.

Independent Fashion Bloggers Feature

Well this is exciting! Blogging for less than a week and I’ve been featured in the Independent Fashion Bloggers weekly round-up,  Links à la Mode!  Thanks very much to IFB for making me feel special!

Here’s a list of the other lovely bloggers that also scored a feature. I should point out that not all these blogs feature ethical fashion, but check them out all the same!

Links à la Mode: April 9

SPONSOR: Shopbop Coupons: Theperfext, Katin, and Black Wedges,
Sperry Men’s, French Trotters, Red Heels, Nude wedges, Plaid Dresses,Leather & Lace Dresses

Want to be featured in Links à la Mode?
1. Read the clarified rules and submit your links on this page: Links à la Mode.
2. If your link was selected and you need this week’s code, visit this page:

Recycled Restyle: Stylish Beginnings

Shopping second hand is a great way to ensure your shopping isn’t supporting a flawed industry. Not only are you taking business away from unethical labels, you’re also helping the planet; by reusing clothes, rather than disposing of them, we’re reducing the amount of waste we produce. Win-win!

Every week (or more frequently if I’m procrastinating from Uni assignments) I’m going to create three outfits from second hand clothes available online. This week I sourced all the clothes from Etsy, which is one of my favourite places to look for vintage as there’s a huge range. A quick disclaimer: while each item I’ve included below is obviously fabulous I have no experience with the individual sellers. I’m yet to have a bad experience on Etsy, but checking out the store reviews before you buy is always the way to go.

 

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Vintage is often associated with the idea of 1940s girliness, with full skirts and tiny waists. I’m all for girly, but I like to make it feel a bit more modern, and a little less housewife. In this work outfit I chose to combine a classic Pink Pencil Skirt with a bold 80s Floral Embroidered Jacket.

I matched them with a Textured Lavender One Piece Swimsuit as a top, adding a flash of colour and highlighting the purple tones in the embroidery. I find that vintage bathers work perfectly as a stand-in for a top or bodysuit, as the majority aren’t even made from fabrics we would associate with swimwear now. Just make sure they don’t smell of chlorine!

To finish the look I added some simple Cream Wedges, with just enough of a heel to keep with the girliness of the look without causing any un-ladylike blisters.
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I could not go past this 80s Missoni Sweater. The pattern is incredible and the detailing around the neck and hemline are perfect. If it’s gone when you click that link it’s almost certainly  because I caved and bought it for myself.

With such a busy jumper you need something plain to go underneath, so I chose this Red Suede Mini Skirt to poke out from underneath and tie in with the colour palette.

Finally, I wanted a shoe equally as quirky as the jumper. These Chevron Pattern T-strap Heels were a perfect fit for me (accidental pun, but coincidentally they are my size…) as the tan and metallic leather combo had the same Venetian feel as the print on the jumper, and they stopped the outfit becoming too matchy.

 

 

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I loved this 80s Pinstripe Jumpsuit because it’s the perfect example of vintage fashion that doesn’t look its age. Monotone pinstripes seem to be the uniform of bar-going Sydney-siders at the moment, and the slim cut of the leg and low neckline could have you confuse it with something brand new.

Because (sadly) the weather is starting to cool down here I’ve added a Crop Sleeve Leather Jacket over the top. To keep with the slightly tough, masculine feel I added a pair of chunky Black Leather Slingbacks. I love the translucent leopard print heels on these as a cheeky final detail for people to notice as you walk away.

First Fair Steps

I haven’t seen my bedroom floor for about 6 years. That’s when my clothing collection exceeded the volume of my wardrobe and the “mountains by my bed” method became an accepted part of my clothing storage system.

Ever since I was a kid drawing the clothes without the people in them I’ve been a bit fashion mad, and as an adult (by age at least) this has manifested in a serious problem with Shopoholism. But it was only recently that I started I started questioning where my clothes came from, and exactly how the BARGAIN CHEAP dress I bought was so bargain cheap

Turns out that mostly, the answer to that question is a sad one; my savings came from someone else’s suffering. Costs were cut in production, and an underpaid, overworked sweatshop worker was paying the price for my savings.

So at the beginning of this year I made a decision. I would not purchase any clothes that were produced under unfair, unsafe, or unethical conditions. Then the only hard part was working out exactly how to make that change without giving up on fashion all together. A few months into my journey I’m slowly working out methods to make sure my shopping isn’t hurting anyone. I’m not purporting to be an expert in shopping ethically, and I’m hoping that if anyone other than Mum reads this blog you might chime in with advice and handy tips!

For now, I thought I would share some of the questions I had taking my first steps towards “wearing fair”:

 

If we all decided to boycott brands that use sweatshops would we be putting people out of jobs? Is any job better than no job at all?

I recognize that purchasing new clothes and supporting the fashion industry is important for providing jobs. In countries like China and Bangladesh a huge proportion of the workforce is employed in garment production and it is important that these jobs remain available. However if these jobs are unsafe, under paid, or unfair, then we aren’t doing anyone any favours.

If people keep buying clothing made in sweatshops there will never be a necessity for producers to make changes. But by ceasing to support these industries the time would come when they would have no choice but to clean up their act. Eventually these workers can be employed under safe and fair conditions, producing fashion we would all be happy to buy. A big dream? Yep. But I went to Melbourne Uni.

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Dreaming large is what we do.

 

Do I throw out my old clothes just because they weren’t made ethically?

This was a point of contention for me. I didn’t want to be seen to support unethical brands, so my first thought was to get rid of large amount of my old clothes. But this produced a new issue: getting rid of perfectly good clothes was wasteful, and would mean I would need to buy more clothes to replace them.

So I decided to keep them and wear them until they wore out. As the majority of these “unethical” clothes were plain t-shirts and singlets I felt like the risk of someone saying “I love your top, where did you get it?” was low. I also don’t wear clothes with obvious branding or logos, so I’m not openly supporting any brands.

I feel like this decision also made it easier for me to make the switch. If I had had to purge my wardrobe and start again it would have been so much more time consuming and difficult and I may have just thrown up my hands and gone to Supre to replace them. But keeping them and vowing that from now on I would never shop at Supre again made the transition easier.

Supre’s ethics = very very poor. But as I’m not 13 or a size –5 I probably should never have shopped there.

 

How do I know where to get my clothes now?

I plan to profile ethical retailers and take you all through the steps to shopping ethically, but in the mean time, here is my number one tip; Google it. I tend to search “*Insert brand name here* Ethics”. If they have a code of ethics on their own site this will pop up first which is great. Otherwise you’ll get one of the many sites, like Shop Ethical, which rates companies’ practices and ethics.

Generally if the company is reasonably well known and I can’t find any information on it I tend to assume the worst. If they hide information about their production methods it probably means they’re no good.
 

So I guess the final question I have for now is, who wants to do this with me?