Growing up I was surrounded by fashion. My mother, an advertising buyer, always had dozens of fashion magazines piled up, and I often spent time after school perusing the magazines and dreaming of working in the fashion industry.
One summer in high school, I interned for a young adult magazine working in their fashion closet. Surrounded by beautiful garments, seeing previews of future collections, getting to know brands, it all seemed like a dream— and a nightmare. You see, I had always felt the inclination to spend my free time and, ultimately, career, in positions that created positive societal impact. Sitting among piles of clothes and shoes, I thought there has to be something more than this.
I realized my dream of working in fashion no longer resonated with my deep desire to change the world and moved on to work in a variety of fields— refugee resettlement, and entrepreneurial advisement.
Even though I no longer desired working in the fashion industry, my love for clothes, and notably, shoes, did not falter. I continued shopping and, as a young professional in the nonprofit sector, I shopped at our beloved fast-fashion giants, always looking for a deal.
A few years ago, my friend started her own ethically and locally made clothing company in Colorado. I started reading about what she was doing and was disturbed upon learning the social and environmental impact fashion companies had on our planet— newsflash: it wasn’t pretty. I was intrigued to learn more about local production, sustainable fabrics, and a new side of fashion I had not yet seen: ethical fashion.
In February 2014, I pledged to only buy clothing that I deemed ethical. That included pieces that were made locally, thrifted, or in transparent factories around the world that I felt were up to a standard I could feel good about. And while it wasn’t too hard to shop this way, I spent hours sorting through tons of brands that were expensive, not my style, and even when I found something I liked, I still was unsure of fit and quality.
I started talking to consumers and to small and emerging ethical fashion brands. Over and over I heard the same things:
Consumers: “I would shop in a more responsible way, but it’s just not convenient and it’s too expensive. I am not going to spend hours like you trying to find a shirt that’s made responsibly if I can just walk down the street and go to Zara and it’s affordable and easy.”
Designers: “It’s hard to balance marketing and sales when I want to spend my time designing and making beautiful products that will sell in the first place.”
It was clear to me that there was a big hole in the market, and a solution that would serve both needs: curating everyday essentials that were affordable, made ethically, and done so predominantly in in-person experiences. The latter would allow for for ease of access as well as the ability to touch and try on the items which is lacking at present.
IMBY was born not far thereafter. Welcome to American-made everyday essentials that are anything but basic at a price you can afford. Who said ethical shopping can’t be easy?