Garik Himebaugh is the founder of Eco-Stylist, an online marketplace and styling guide for ethically and sustainably made men’s clothing. I jumped on a call with Garik to discuss his journey into sustainable styling and what the current men’s fashion scene looks like for those wanting to shop ethically.
Have you always been interested in fashion?
I was super fashion unaware for most of my life, but when I was 25 one of my best friends told me that the way I dressed could be a lot better. She opened my eyes to the idea of dressing better. Before, I was consciously choosing to wear clothes where I could hide and not stand out, but she opened me up to the idea that fashion is a form of expression and I could learn to be good at it.
Your slogan is “Dress Like You Give A Damn.” What does it mean to you?
I want people to interpret it in their own way. But for me it has two meanings. Firstly: Dress better and in a way that gives you more confidence. Secondly: Care about how your clothes are made, the people who make them, the planet, and resources used to make them. “Dress like you give a damn” perfectly encapsulates both ideas in one slogan.
What is happening in the Men’s sustainable fashion movement?
It’s definitely growing! It’s interesting because the number of brands have grown. Part of the problem I wanted to solve when I started Eco-Stylist was to be able to buy an entire outfit, not just the shoes, with only pieces that are ethically and sustainably made. And I’ve seen that side get so much better. While there is room for more options, I finally feel like there are enough options to choose from.
The consumer activism space overall is still predominantly women, and engaging men in that conversation is an interesting challenge. Men aren’t necessarily going to join a sustainable fashion group, but they are aware of environmental issues and want to be more eco-friendly. So for me the question is how do we reach them and bring more into the community.
It is happening, and I’m seeing more men jump in. But we need more reaching out, engagement and awareness.
What are your thoughts on today’s fast fashion cycle?
Fast fashion is focused on getting people to spend money on things they don’t need. It’s so encouraging to see brands not focused on trends and instead putting emphasis on timeless pieces and fewer collections, like one or two per year. Some brands like Taylor Stitch workshop pieces and take orders first, only producing the number of orders sold. It’s an interesting way to address making new things. Limited quantity. Sustainable men’s fashion brands are producing much less and that makes more sense. From a price perspective, because sustainable fashion can cost more, it makes more sense to slow down the cycle.
How do you believe the fast fashion industry can begin to fix itself?
From interviews I’ve read with fast fashion executives, they’re reluctant to stop the massive overproduction because they’re driven largely or entirely by revenue. It would be great to see them trying to do something to improve worker wages, but we’re seeing more commitments on the environmental side, not so much on the human side yet.
Pressure from consumers and the industry will be a strong driving force in slowing down fast fashion. The reluctance these brands have shown to change their ways thus far makes it clear that they won’t do it on their own.
What advice do you have for men who are wanting to break up with fast fashion?
Learn a little more about fast fashion by watching short films on Remake’s website, or bigger films like River Blue, which talks about the Gap specifically. Watch these without feeling any pressure. When I saw these films, I didn’t want to buy fast fashion anymore. Awareness naturally does that.
What’s your favorite thing to wear?
I have two favorite pieces right now. Firstly, my Adelante boots. They’re amazing shoes that I’ve had for years and wear all the time. Secondly, a one of a kind suit jacket (that I wear as a blazer) from Brave Gentleman. It’s a metallic color, in between gold and silver, with black elbow patches made from vegan suede. Someone bought the matching pants so he was selling the jacket at an extreme discount. I can’t wear it with just anything, so it challenges me to think about style and the outfits in a fun way.
What piece of clothing do you think men should splurge on?
Jeans. Nudie jeans are super sustainable, made with organic cotton, high quality, and fit really well. Outerknown jeans come with a lifetime warranty. The brand will repair or replace them for life, and they are made using organic cotton. Outland Denim has amazing fit, are high quality, and they employ previously trafficked people and empower them to build new lives.
What are your top three favorite sustainable men’s brands?
It’s hard because I really love all of the brands that I work with, but if I have to narrow it down:
Isto — They use natural fibers like linen or organic cotton and ethically make everything in Portugal. They have really soft flannel and unique, muted natural colors. I have one of their t-shirts and it’s the highest quality I’ve ever worn!
Outerknown — Doing awesome work. Evolved from only making surfer wear and makes really interesting pieces. I have a wool blazer from them that I wear all the time. A real leader in sustainable men’s fashion.
Adelante — This brand holds a special place for me because it got me into the sustainable fashion space. The shoes are incredibly high quality. I love their leadership and what they’re doing for people. Their shoes are made to order, and they’ve expanded to do custom sizing.
How do you wear your values?
Every time I put on an outfit, I’m thinking about where the pieces came from and what that means to me. It feels good to know where my clothes came from and what they’re made of. I still have pieces that are not sustainably made, because it doesn’t make sense to throw them away. I probably won’t buy from those brands again, but wearing and keeping them for as long as possible feels good.
Images: c/o Garik Himebaugh