Fashion and Sustainable Design

With clothing design both fashion and function come together. In recent years there has also been a focus on sustainability in the fashion industry which goes way beyond just using organic cotton fabric instead of conventional cotton or manmade fabrics. Sustainable design is the term that is used to describe the philosophy of designing objects to comply with the principles of ecological, social and economic sustainability.Whilst in some ways fashion contradicts sustainability because the very nature of following constantly changing trends and fashions can be wasteful and also create much waste, there are some ways that fashion and sustainability can go together. Designers are implementing exciting new initiatives to help reduce the impact of clothing on the environment whilst still making it beautiful to look at and functional to wear.The most innovative designs turn the sustainable features of a piece of clothing into the very thing that makes it desirable, fashionable or stylish. An example of this is the beautiful fabrics that are recycled into new pieces of clothing. It is the vintage nature of the fabrics that make the clothing so beautiful. Recently Christopher Raeburn has used surplus military parachute silk to make very on trend pieces of clothing. There are also various designers pioneering methods to reduce waste in the fashion industry including innovative new pattern cutting techniques which give the garment a characteristic look.The use of sustainable fabrics is also a key part of sustainable fashion design. There are a number of different sustainable fabrics to choose from each having its own unique look, feel and properties. Bamboo is super soft, warm and comfortable and has been likened to cashmere that drapes like silk; it is perfect for leisure wear and also for draping. Designers are also constantly coming up with new materials that look great and are also good for the environment. Innovative dying techniques and use of natural coloured fabrics have also been used to create beautiful designs.Sustainability is not just about what the clothing is made of though. It is about the overall and lifecycle of the product. How long will it last and when it reaches the end of its life can it be easily disposed of? Biodegradable materials are key to reducing waste in the fashion industry but there are also more interesting projects happening for example where shoes can be deconstructed at the end of their useful life and some parts recycled. Any clothing, shoes or accessories can be made more sustainable by designing them to last and for maximum usage. This can include classic and versatile styles that won’t go out of fashion quickly and multitasking pieces of clothing that can be worn in a number of different ways.Sustainable design is not just about one factor or aspect of clothing that reduces the impact of a piece of clothing on the environment. It is about designing a piece of clothing that takes into account all aspects of the garment from design to sourcing of materials to sale of the product and beyond. In order to be truly sustainable designers also need to take into account social and economic factors. By embracing this philosophy whilst still ensuring beauty and functionality of the clothing, designers are helping to make the fashion industry more sustainable.

Local SEO and SEM for SMB’s – Ten 2011 Predictions Effecting Your WOM Marketing Effort

Traditional WOM (word of mouth) is still a huge driver of new business to all small local companies. But internet WOM is already or will be the number one source of new clients in 2011. The single most important component will be Reviews, Testimonials, and Reputation Management. Whether on Yelp, Google Places or your own website or blog, folks will use the words of your existing customers to determine whether to buy from you or not.
Email Marketing will continue to be the number one ROI (return on Investment) among all marketing tools available to small businesses. Sending relevant and fun emails to your clients past, present, and future is producing fantastic returns for everyone we know. If you are not currently sending out emails to your own list, make it a priority in 2011.
Google Places will continue to baffle and befuddle with their changes and their buggy applications, but they will also continue to produce huge results for those who are highly ranked under important keywords. Our expectation is that Places will become even more dominant in 2011.
YouTube now sees 35 hours of video uploaded every minute. Nationally YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine and drives business to every kind of company. Every single pundit sees even more emphasis on this category of marketing as smart phones become the number one way to view videos.
Social Media to grow exponentially as SMB tool. Facebook will be a tool we will all need to become more familiar with. During 2010, I jumped into the social media pool with the intention of streamlining the effectiveness of Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In. Most SMB’s cannot effectively manage all four or sometimes even one. Not enough time. He who figures out how to optimize the use of these four products with the least investment wins.
Websites are, says Google, critical to your ranking on Google Places. Moreover, with Google’s new Preview tool on search, the front page of your website needs to be an attention getter in two seconds or less of viewing time. This will be a major bonanza for web developers and designers who get it! Most don’t. The ones who get that you have to weave the marketing and the local SEO into every aspect of the website will become heros to their clients.
Local Networking: WOM from your customer to their friends and neighbors is fantastic. WOM online through social networking, videos, and reviews is really great. But many small businesses fail to appreciate the importance of WOM from peers, suppliers, and community resources in traditional and non-traditional face-to-face encounters.. In 2011, we expect this type of marketing to continue to be increasingly useful and popular. Meetup.com will be an important part of this equation along with Le Tip, BNI, and similar groups.
Local businesses will need to figure out ways to get around Google Places domination under their major keywords. A plumber is going to need to create videos and articles about how to choose a plumber. Bakers are going to need to give online lessons in cake decoration. There just isn’t enough room for every company in every neighborhood to be on page one for Google Places.
Obviously, even the one man business is going to need visibility on smart phones and IPads. Look for niche players to get into the business of helping SMB’s get visible on mobile units in 2011.
The biggest unknown for 2011 will be how truly local businesses can get any kind of exposure beyond a five mile radius on Google Places). Will Google find a better way than the current service area concept?These are the biggies for 2011. There are many other important marketing developments that will effect us all in the new year, but if you get these ten right, I suspect business will be quite good.

Dispelling the Immigration Myths

In practicing immigration law, I’ve found that in our society there are several misconceptions related to immigration and the immigrant population. In a series of upcoming columns, I’ll address some myths.Myth 1: Immigrants take jobs away from Americans.Fact: Economic studies show that immigrants actually increase economic productivity and the wages of American workers.The most common immigration myth I hear is that immigrants are taking all of “our” jobs. In reality, studies support the proposition that immigrants, whether here legally or illegally, not only don’t take jobs from native-born citizens, they actually create jobs and increase the economic output and salaries of American workers. One of the major findings in a 2007 report by the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) to the Executive Office of the President was that, on average, U.S. natives benefit from immigration because immigrants tend to complement U.S. natives and do not substitute for them in the workplace.Foreign-born workers fill gaps left by native-born workers both in high-skilled and low-skilled jobs -jobs necessary for the effective continuation of the present level of U.S. economy and society. A March 2008 National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) report showed that for every H-1B visa (non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations) requested by an S&P 500 U.S. technology company, overall employment at the company increased by five workers. The NFAP report also found that among the study-sample companies experiencing layoffs, for every H-1B position requested, total employment was estimated to be two workers more than it otherwise would have been. A report released this month by the Technology Policy Institute noted that highly skilled immigrant workers, admitted to the U.S. on H-1B and other visas, benefit the federal budget by paying more in taxes than less skilled workers. In addition, the Technology Policy Institute study found that these types of highly skilled immigrant workers are not likely to receive federal benefits, particularly in the near term.In its comprehensive report published in 1997, the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that on average, an immigrant and his or her children generate public revenue that exceeds their public costs over time -approximately $80,000 more in taxes than they receive in state, federal and local benefits during their lifetimes. According to the 2007 CEA report, the predictions made by the NRC a decade earlier were accurate. The CEA report stated that, “the long-run impact of immigration on public budgets is likely to be positive.”When immigrants fill lower-skilled, labor-intensive positions, their hard work and lower pay allows higher-skilled U.S. workers to increase productivity and thus increase their incomes. Also, as the native-born U.S. population becomes better educated, young immigrant workers fill gaps in the low-skilled labor markets. Native-born workers are then able to specialize in their profession of choice. This process is exemplified by typical poultry packaging corporations. At most poultry producing companies, the owners, managers and board of directors are able to attend to corporate business because they can hire lower-paid, often immigrant, workers to process, clean and package the product. As has been noted repeatedly by other authors, there are few U.S. workers who are willing to accept these types of low-paying positions and difficult working conditions.The CEA concluded “immigrants not only help fuel the Nation’s economic growth, but also have an overall positive effect on the American economy as a whole and on the income of native-born American workers.” According to the CEA, approximately 90 percent of U.S.-born workers experienced an increase in wages due to immigration. In its 1997 report, the NRC estimated that the annual wage gain due to immigration for U.S. workers was $10 billion each year. In 2007, the CEA estimated the gain at over $30 billion per year.In addition to having an overall positive affect on the average wages of U.S. workers, an increase in immigrant workers also increases employment rates among native-born U.S. workers. According to a study based on U.S. Census Bureau data at the state level performed by the non-partisan research group Pew Hispanic Center, between 2000 and 2004 “there was a positive correlation between the increase in the foreign-born population and the employment of native-born workers in 27 states and the District of Columbia.”For example, the Public Policy Institute of California reported that California saw an increase in wages of U.S. natives by about four percent from 1990 to 2004 – a period of large influx of immigrants to the state – due to the complementary skills of immigrant workers and an increase in the demand for tasks performed by native workers.Studies performed earlier in the decade by the Brookings Institution have shown that immigrant entrepreneurs and business owners create additional jobs in the U.S. economy for U.S. citizens as well as other immigrant workers.The myth that all of “our” jobs are being taken away by immigrant workers is simply not based in fact and should be abandoned. Immigrants play a vital role in our local and national economy, in good times and in bad. Whatever your position with respect to immigration policies or enforcement, it’s important to recognize the valuable marketplace contributions being made by immigrants in Prince William County.The above information is provided for informational purposes only. The information should not be construed as legal advice and does not constitute an engagement of the Szabo, Zelnick & Erickson, P.C. law firm or establish an attorney-client relationship with any of its attorneys. An attorney-client relationship with our firm is only created by signing a written agreement with our firm.