Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Your favorite lingerie - satin, lace and Formaldehye?


Formaldehyde has been classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  So it might surprise you to find out that there's probably formaldehyde in your underwear, albeit at very low levels.

Formaldehyde has been used for years on a variety of clothing as a finishing agent.  It contributes to the stain-free, wrinkle-free and static-free properties of a garment.  The low levels of the chemical used in clothing have historically been considered safe.

However, last year Victoria's Secret got hit with a lawsuit after one woman started developing welts and rashes after wearing one of their bras.  The lawsuit snowballed and there is now a class action suit against Victoria's Secret.  I'm not sure that this is really a "fair" lawsuit, since you'd very likely find the same chemicals in bras purchased from the mall or any *mart store.  Additionally, some people are very sensitive to certain chemicals, while others may wear the same garment for years without issue.

All that being said, even if formaldehyde is harmless at low levels and can be removed with a few good washings, do you really want it in your underwear?  You may not be chemically sensitive, but... yuck!  Let's not get all gloomy now, though.  FaeriesDance.com quite happily offers more than 3 dozen panty options and 2 dozen bras all sans formaldehyde.  Now that's something to dance about.

Friday, September 18, 2009

QUICK FACT: Is hemp illegal to grow in the USA?

Hemp is not technically illegal to grow in the USA. It can be grown with a special permit from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Rumor has it however, that farmers are never actually given permits. So for all intents and purposes, it is illegal. Industrial hemp is in the same family as marijuana and was banned for its similar look. You can't get high on hemp though, as the mind-altering drug THC found in marijuana is nearly absent in industrial hemp.

On August 5 of this year, Oregon passed a bill to make hemp farming legal in that state. They are the 17th state to pass some sort of pro-hemp legislation in the past 3 years. The states are also lobbying to have the DEA permit issue removed and allow state-control of hemp production. At the moment, all of our hemp fabric for clothing is imported and US farmers would like to change that.

A really interesting tidbit is that in 1619 at Jamestown Colony in Virginia it was mandatory for farmers to grow hemp because there was such a shortage. …You must grow it, you can't grow, oh the confusion over one little plant…

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Win a Classic Bikini Panty

Cleverly hidden at the bottom of the last post is a contest to win a Classic Bikini (or other panty of your choice) if you provide us some feedback on our "What constitutes Made in America" question.  To win you need to post a comment on the PREVIOUS post (not this one).  However, we just learned that the comment function wasn't working with the settings we had chosen.  So... just a quick note to let you all know that you can now leave comments to enter the drawing.  :-) 

Sorry about the confusion and good luck.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Which Organic Clothes are Made in America?

This is a question we get often so I'd like to clarify the answer.  We have many lines with tags that say "Made in the USA" on them.  But legally speaking, that only means that the final garment was sewn in the USA.  There are essentially 3 steps to making a piece of clothing (organic or otherwise). 

  1. The base material (cotton, hemp, bamboo, pine tree, whatever) has to be grown somewhere. 
  2. The base material has to be soaked, spun, woven or otherwise turned into fabric for cutting or yarn for knitting/crocheting.
  3. The garment has to be sewn (or knit or crocheted).
While there are always exceptions to every rule, we have found that in the vast majority of cases #1 and #2 are done in the same region.  It's too expensive to grow cotton in one country, send the raw material to another country to make fabric and then send the fabric to a 3rd country for cutting and sewing.  Most raw material is turned into fabric or yarn local to where it is grown.  However, it is very common to produce fabric in one country and then ship the finished fabric off to another country to have it sewn.

The tag on this adorable Overall Dress on the left states Made in the USA.  But the Hemp/Tencel blended fabric is imported.  We do our very best to track down exactly where our products are imported from.  We try to list both where an item is sewn and where it's grown along with working conditions for both.

As we mentioned in our last Quick Fact, the USA does not grow enough organic cotton to meet our own eco-fashion needs.  Thus organic cotton is often imported.  Hemp is still illegal to grow in most of the USA (more on this in an upcoming Quick Fact), so it is almost always imported as well.

I've thought about putting together a separate category of just Made in America items, but I'm uncertain about where to draw the line.  If the tag says Made in the USA (i.e. sewn) but the fabric comes from China, should it be listed as Made in America?  Or does Made in America only mean sewn and grown end-to-end here somewhere in the USA?  There are still a few manufacturers who grow and sew end-to-end completely in the USA.  For example, SOS From Texas grows, spins, weaves and sews completely in the USA. 

What about America-first policies?  Bgreen, maker of our most popular panties, the Classic Bikini (shown right), sews right here in California and gets as much organic cotton as they can from US farmers.  When they've purchased all that is available, they look to Turkey to fill in their raw organic cotton needs and import just the raw material, which they add to their US-grown cotton and turn into organic fabric in their California warehouse.  Does this "count" as Made in America?
Please give us your feedback.  We'd love to hear your thoughts on what you consider Made in America.  What would you want to see in a category called Made in America if you were perusing for something?  To encourage participation in this topic, we're giving away 1 pair of our Classic Bikinis (they come in 7 colors and sizes S - XL) to one person who leaves a comment about their Made in America thoughts. 

TO ENTER THIS CONTEST:  Leave a comment on THIS blog post (comments on facebook or through e-mail will not count) and we will randomly draw one name from all comments posted by 8am PT this Friday, September 18, to receive one free Classic Bikini (or any other of the $10 value panties that bgreen offers: String Bikini, Hi Cut Brief or String Thong).

Good Luck!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Last Chance Item: Eat Organic Bikinis

We've been e-mailed a few times after something has gone out of stock from disappointed customers who had an item on their wishlist.  So I've decided to add this "Last Chance Item" post as a permanent feature to the blog when very popular items start running low.  First up are the Eat Organic Bikinis.




These adorable organic cotton hipster panties have been a popular staple at FaeriesDance.com for the last 3 years.  Unfortunately, they were manufactured through HTNaturals, who closed their apparel division this summer.  As of this morning we have decent stock left in size Medium, but only 2 Small left, both in Cherry and 2 Large left, both in Kiwi.  Once the few Smalls and Larges go, we will also have to start substituting them out of the Bikini Sampler Gift Set.  So if that's been on your wish list for a while, now's the time to get it.  These panties make amusing gifts for the winter holidays, Valentine's day and wedding showers, too.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One more hosting challenge - Almost done

Well, after 4 years with great website performance we're finally changing hosting companies.  Our old hosting company has been bought out and our performance has been less than stellar since the transition.  Sadly, we've had more downtime in the last month than we've had in the last 2 years combined. 

The happy news is that we're upgrading to a better host with more bandwidth.  However, as we transition to the new host, some outages are possible.  We apologize for any inconvenience and expect the whole process should be completed some time tomorrow (Thursday) late afternoon.



In the mean time, checkout our facebook page to for a chance to win this free bamboo polo shirt.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

QUICK FACT: Where does organic cotton come from?

For years Turkey has held the record for growing the largest amount of certified organic cotton.  But according to the Organic Trade Association, last year India increased its production of organically grown cotton by 292% to become the number one grower.  India alone now produces nearly half the world's supply of organic cotton.

The USA produces a mere 2.1% of the world's supply of organic cotton and does not produce enough to meet the country's demand.  So a lot of organic cotton is imported by necessity.  We hope the increasing demand for chemical-free, organically grown cotton will encourage more US farmers to go organic.