For the Eco-Conscious Fashionista

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The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, trailing only behind the oil industry. Additionally, the US is the largest importer of garments in the world.  Despite the fact that up to 95% of the textiles that are landfilled each year could be recycled, consumers throw away up to 70 pounds per person each year.  These daunting statistics may leave you confused and angry, but you can make a difference in the environment by making smart purchases.

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That’s where Nina Nguyen Designs comes in.  Nina Nguyen’s commitment to leaving the world a better place than she found it includes her use of organic, responsibly sourced stones, and recycled metals.

Nina isn’t the only designer who holds sustainability close.  Slow fashion is on the rise, with brands like Older Brother, which boasts that garments can be buried in your backyard to decompose after they’ve been loved to death, Dick Moby and their recycled leather sunglass cases, and Tradlands, who recycles any and all unused material remnants, setting the bar high.

Now, fashionistas can rest assured that they are making a positive impact on the Earth by purchasing pieces made by brands that share the same sustainability beliefs as them!

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“I think all products should be made in a manner that benefits everyone involved. I would love for my jewelry to bring this message: that people should always be concerned with where the things they purchase come from, who made them, where the materials came from, how long they last, and what will become of it when its life is over.”  -Nina Nguyen

Nina Nguyen Featured in INDESIGN April/March 2014

INSTORE Cover

GOLDEN BEGINNINGS: “I used to help my mother trade gold in our hometown of Pleiku, Vietnam. Every Sunday, my mother would set up her little table, and workers from the nearby river who’d panned for gold would line up to sell my mother the gold they had found. My uncle used to make the beautiful sparkly gold dust into rings. My job was to bike to the market to deliver the gold. The gold rings were fastened on a chain for me to easily disguise under my clothes. This was to evade the communists’ eyes and ears on my parents. Being able to work with my family is a major part of my jewelry designing process today.”

FAVORITE STONES: “Anything that is unique, mineral, fossilized and can’t be found in a traditional jewelry store. Right now, I am obsessed with druzy and geodes.” 

                         Maharani Wisdom Cuff

THE GREATER GOOD: “I think all products should be made in a manner that benefits everyone involved. I would love for my jewelry to help bring this message: That people should always be concerned with where the things they purchase come from, who made them, where the materials came from, how long will it last, and what will become of it when its life is over.”

DESIGN INSPIRATION: “I first experienced wisteria’s allure as a tourist traveling through Tokyo by bicycle. Pedaling a bicycle path completely surrounded by wisteria, I was immediately fascinated by the graceful purple blossoms cascading into view. Wisteria’s enduring beauty and charm will be represented in my spring 2014 collection.”

Wisteria Melody Necklette

Wisteria Melody Necklette

CELEBRITY CONNECTION:  “In 2013, Miranda Lambert wore our Audrey earrings in black druzy to the season premiere of THE VOICE. That was such a pleasant surprise! Her stylist contacted my PR firm, so I guess my unique design is being mentioned in the celeb stylist circle.”

STYLE EVOLUTION: “I think my work has evolved as my personal preferences evolved. The styling of my design has changed from having a more modern and minimal look to having a somewhat classic, heirloom look while retaining the composition of a modern material”

STANDING ON PRINCIPLE: “In 2009, my line was represented by a New York showroom. I was dealing with the constant pressure from department stores and buyers to produce cheaper products. I don’t know how I did it, but I walked away from some very large purchase orders to focus on bettering my designs. The biggest achievement of my career was when I learned to stay focused on what I do, who I am, who my audience is and what my brand represents.


Q & A  / Getting Personal with Nina Nguyen

WHAT IS ON YOUR MIND WHEN YOU ARE NOT DESIGNING? “Children of Vietnam project. I plan to bring my experience to assist with raising more funds and bringing awareness to the organization.”
WHAT CAN’T YOU RESIST BUYING WHEN OUT SHOPPING? “Is there a hotline for Shoeaholics Anonymous?”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VACATION SPOT AND WHY? “I moved to Boulder, Colorado a year ago. There is so much to do and it is always nice to wake up in my own bed since I am on the road so much.”
IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY OTHER CAREER. WHAT WOULD IT BE? “Eco-handbag or eco-apparel designer. Have you tried to look for eco-clothes? I could see myself taking an interest in this industry.”

Inside Spread

by INDESIGN Magazine