Can a summer wardrobe be eco-chic and affordable? Yes, says Randy Brewer, owner Convert, a California-based boutique that offers a wide selection of sustainable apparel at high-street prices. Launched in 2010, the store was the veteran buyer’s response to the dearth of ethical, fashion-forward threads that didn’t leave a dent in your bank account. Response has been overwhelmingly positive, Brewer says; so much so, in fact, that he opened a dedicated shoe annex on Berkeley’s Fourth St. Convert also partnered with Los Angeles shoemaker Jeffrey Campbell to craft a planet-friendly collection of vegan flats, pumps, platforms, and boots using deadstock fabrics, biodegradable jute fibers, and animal-free glues.
“Sustainable footwear is hard to come by and comes at a price,” Brewer tells Ecouterre. “The footwear industry is particularly tough on the environment, so we’re really excited about supporting those that are going against the curve and producing shoes that leave less of a footprint, so to speak.”
Brewer knows better than anyone that aesthetics need to come first.
By tackling both sides of the retail equation, Brewer hopes to shift designers and customers in a ecologically responsible direction. Since Convert’s opening, Brewer has worked to help brands make small but dedicated steps toward change. Yet he also knows better than anyone that aesthetics need to come first. “I have a certain criteria when it comes to buying, and no matter how minimal the eco-impact, if it doesn’t look stylish, it’s out,” he says. “I want my customers to discover great fashion at Convert and know they are helping the planet as an added bonus.” Besides carrying a range of conscious companies such as Melissa Plastic Dreams, Palladium, Amour Vert, and Prairie Underground, Convert also features recycled-cardboard shelving, secondhand furniture, and vintage fixtures.