Category Archives: Consumerism

Final project post: bio fabrics/ sustainable fashion

Carbon Footprint of a cotton t-shirt

The Reformation: fast fashion brand modeled around sustainability and fair wages

Gallatin Fashion Show collection using all up-cycled fabrics


Full Final Project presentation here–> Green World final project (1)


Epstein’s Brandicapped takes the reader on a journey through Some Place, a town in Southern California that makes white shirts. The story begins with Dr. Melman coming across Some Place. He makes quick note of the problems with Some Place’s brand, or lack there of.

Along the way, Dr. Melman meets Bumble, Rumble, Aumble, Numble, Dumble,  and Ed- the principle principals of what becomes Some Place’s brand. He educates them about what it means to create a brand and helps them do so to “un-brandicap” the town of Some Place.

In Brandicapped we learn the components of what it takes to create a brand. I find that these components and principals can be applied in my own line of work as I begin to enter the world of being an artist.

Specifically, as a photographer, I realize that I need to begin to form my own brand- what type of work I do, who my clients are, my goal with my work, etc. This requires me to market myself appropriately through my website, social media, and connections that I make while in school and beyond.

As I do this, I find that my line of work and the jobs I desire to have will fall into play. However, that ultimately requires my success in creating a brand for myself. Because, as I learned in Brandicapped, “THE BUSINESS IS THE BRAND, AND THE BRAND IS THE BUSINESS.”

“Embracing All Kinds of Nature”

Since my last update, I have changed a piece I previously made, and created a few new garments. Below are pictures I took of the clothes on a friend of mine. I tried to start to think about how we may want to frame the pieces through photography. And now that I have seen them on someone, I can begin to create an idea of styling or how each piece might connect to a larger scene. Some of the fabric used was found in a recycling container at Parsons, and some of the other fabric was left over from previous projects and costumes. I have not been finishing the edges on most of the pieces because I like having an allusion to the idea of incomplete, or unsolved. I believe this quality is echoed in the state of our environment and the choices we now get to make.

I listened to a podcast recently that has shaped my idea of what is occurring to our planet and what role we play in the destruction, preservation, and reshaping of the natural earth, animal species, and plant diversity. I came across the podcast while listening to the TED Radio Hour sponsored by National Public Radio. The topic: Age of the Anthropocene, or a new geological age, defined by humans and their unprecedented impact on Earth. It is broken down into six segments answering, “What’s The Anthropocene? How Do We Embrace All Kinds Of Nature? Are We Headed Into Another Mass Extinction? How Can Dinosaurs Help Us Understand Our Own Species?” and “Can We Preserve Seed Diversity For The Future?” The topics discussed were varied and allowed me to question the environment in ways beyond how we usually approach our consumption crisis. The podcast balances hope and concern well as well as addresses topics we may not know about and deepens topics we may know well.
In this new light, I continue with my final project, thinking of ways to deepen its impact and meaning. Finding out where I can express concern and where we can find hope and activism in the project. Alex and I are in talks right now about how to frame the garments and I know the ideas that have stuck with me must be interwoven. Especially, what I have gained from the segment Emma Marris did on embracing all kinds of nature. Marris brings us back to being a child and experiencing the wonders of life beyond us through the lens of raising her own children. The ideas that the younger generations will hold of the environment will inevitably be different from ours. But, it is still our responsibility to foster a care within them for the same thing we have loved, and lost in some cases. She brought light to something I too often lose sight of, nature in an urban setting. I know that at the very least, this is something that will come through in my final project.


Brandicapped illustrates the importance of branding and advertisement within any company.  Epstein breaks down the different aspects of a business model and the roles such as executives within a business to create something successful and sellable, in this case the t-shirts of someplace.  As students and artists in a new wave that seeks to reject the nine to five and instead harness the desire to create our own brands, businesses, or make our works sellable, the information provided in Brandicapped is vital.  Whether it is to purvey a message through works of art, or gain traction towards an idea, or brand ourselves the elements of branding and advertising are necessary today to present these ideas as white space relevant to someone in a niche market and to push them forward.

‘Brandicapped’ The Crazy World of Branding

This short story by MEL! Epstein, immerses the reader into a town once removed from modern society. It follows the  Brandologist Dr. Melman while he comes across the town and begins to spread his knowledge of branding, in order to help the foreign community strive.

In “Brandicapped,” the town is called Some Place. Some Place is unknown, but proficient at manufacturing the finest white shirts in America. The only problem is that if you don’t live in Some Place, you have no idea they even exist.

Some Place represents the artist who never advertises or shares their work. Every member of the town, works in the factory, producing the shirts, buying the shirts and then proceeding to wear the shirts. To them this system seems perfect.

Brandologist Dr. Melman represents the art galleries which are available for artists to show their work, get art lovers to buy their work all in the hopes of making more profit and creating a name for themselves. While promising to help change Some Place’s lack of branding appearance, Dr. Melman experiences resistance from the community of Some Place.

In the end, the people take his help and use the branding ideas to expose their town and share with the public that they make the finest white shirts in America. This will increase revenue, invite more people into the town and allow more work for the factory men.

This story, is important for up and coming artists, like myself for it teaches the value of selfbranding. Whether it be a well constructed resume, an online portfolio or a social media page. In order to be successful in this business, one has to self- brand themselves in a creative, catchy and memorable way.

What makes one stand out like the white shirts make Some Place stand out? What catches the casting director’s or employer’s eye that intrigues them to look at you or read about you? How can you create a brand for yourself that helps you become more successful?

These are all questions I am asking myself and my fellow art comrades.

Through further research on this topic, I found this TED Talk about the importance, danger and challenges of branding. It helped me round out the moral of the story and the relation it has to the present artistic world. Check it out!


Final Project Update

Imagine your commute to work or school today. Picture those ads you saw everywhere: on the subway, plastered on construction walls, practically anywhere you are in New York City you can see an advertisement for something.

Have you ever purchased something because of an ad? Do those ads generally catch your attention?

Well here is our final project: the anti-advertisement advertisement. Instead of perpetuating our constant value of consumption and consumerism, these ads aren’t trying to sell you anything; rather, they’re trying to remind you and educate you of the potential dangers of such material based industries such as the fashion industry.

Highlighting injustices from the industry, from environmental destruction such as air pollution to animal rights to water contamination, these anti-consumerist fashion advertisements serve to educate the public consumer and urge them to rethink the products they buy.

My brother Joey and I are working together for the midterm. Our focus is on sustainable fashion, so our project will be an unconventional look at advertising. We will be creating 4-7 false advertisements of companies that are failing to practice sustainable manufacturing. This means that the companies are not regulating their effects on the environment or on the people making the clothing. We will be keeping the same aesthetics, branding, and logo design of each advertisement, but changing the name to reflect these unsustainable companies.

A lot of our inspiration came from the documentary The True Cost, which details multiple facets of the global fashion industry, from cotton farming and Monsanto’s seeds to outsourced production to consumerism. We were also inspired by CR Fashion Book‘s pseudo-advertisement “fantasy” campaign, and played with extending fake advertisements to make more of a political statement about the current state of the destructive fashion industry.

This week, Joey and I began taking pictures for our satirical advertisements. We chose the companies that we want to base our advertisements on and changed the names to signify aspects in which the companies are unsustainable and harm the earth.

We have created a calendar for when we will take each photo and travel to the different locations. We are also using the Gallatin computer lab to access Photoshop, experiment with lighting, saturation, and hue, and design the ads.

The first photo was taken in the East Village. We waited for perfect cloudy weather, scoured around for the perfect setting, set up the camera, got in costume, and took plenty of photos and poses. While we got many weird looks on the street, we figured we’re in New York— everybody does weird things.

We don’t want to give too much away, but here’s a sneak peek of some of the unedited shots we got.

Next week we plan on visiting the Bronx Botanical Gardens.

Consumer Craze

While unfortunately I had no food at my dorm, I went on a little grocery store tease to Whole Foods where I used to shop back home. Until recently, I had assumed that everything at Whole Foods is good for the planet and for humans (in moderation, of course). But looking more closely at the food I buy (or would buy) makes me wonder: Does “organic” really mean anything?

Almost everything at Whole Foods has some sort of label: USDA Organic, NON GMO Project Verified, Vegetarian Fed, Cage Free, USA Grown, Sustainable Farming, and so many more. But often times, I am attracted to these products simply because of the conscious sounding label.

Whole Foods states on their website their definition of organic:

– No toxic or persistent pesticides or herbicides

– No sewer sludge or synthetic fertilizers

– No GMOs (genetically modified organisms)

– No antibiotics

– No synthetic growth hormones

– No irradiation

But, why aren’t most consumers aware of these policies?

Shopping consciously extends to so many more areas than food. Body care is often labelled FairTrade or Cruelty Free. Clothing is sometimes labeled 100% Organic Cotton. But, most people don’t care how products other than food are made. Because food is consumed in the body and affects one’s personal health on a more individual and personal level, more attention is placed on buying organic foods. But, clothing and body care is just as important. While they may not go in the body, on the body can be just as important. The chemicals in skincare products like makeup and soaps can be harmful to the skin, just as clothing with toxic chemical dye and treatment can be.

Consumers should be just as attentive as they are with food when it comes to other products. But, they must also learn more about the meaning of different labels and how it impacts themselves and the world.



Watch this Documentary: Why We Fight

There is a powerful documentary from 2005 called “Why We Fight.” I urge you to watch it, especially if you are curious about how the politics of war in the US operate. Below is a trailer:

To summarize what I found educational about this film is that is shows you how big of a corporate business our war is in America. It elaborates on the strategies in the war on Iraq and wars today. In relation to environmentalism, it talks about how they use resources and develop weaponry for MASSIVE profit.

I saw that the actual film can be watched section to section on YouTube or rented through Netflix DVD )