Do you know the name of the cobbler who made your shoes? Was it an Italian artisan contracted by one of your favorite labels? Or was it a young girl from Uzbekistan who's being forced into child labor?
We've all been there before. You want new shoes. No, you need new shoes. But you have absolutely no more than $50 to spend on them. I've been a full-time college student for almost five years now. Trust me, I know the struggle. Just because I know a lot about expensive clothing and can spot a Celine bag from forty yards away doesn't mean I can afford one.
I'd be lying to you if I said half my closet wasn't made possible by the outsourced jobs of Forever 21 factories. It's definitely not something I'm advertising, and expensive brands certainly aren't exempt from questionable labor practices.
The fashion industry is a business after all. It's littered with some of the most artistic and creative people who have ever lived, but it's also helmed by CEOs with business degrees who make decisions about how the product you want to buy from them is made.
I am deeply committed to the idea that personal style and clothing choices are an integral part of the way we communicate to people around us. It's the physical manifestation of what we tell ourselves we are. It's so important, and anyone who discounts "fashion" as simply a shallow clique for rich white girls isn't taking even one second to think critically about it.
Luxury is a big part of fashion, and the stereotypical definition of the word "luxury" evokes images of exotic handbags made out of crocodile, or floor-length fur coats. Aesthetically and theoretically, I admire and understand these things. But I'm not shy about the fact that I make every effort to avoid animal exploitation when I purchase things. (I do still have some leather boots and wool coats that I am praying last forever, or at least almost ever.) But I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't make an equal effort to avoid human cruelty as well. Humans are animals too, after all!
Enter shoemaker Stephanie Nicora, founder of the Nicora Johns brand. She used Kickstarter to fund her dream of making stylish shoes that are cruelty-free to both animals and humans while remaining eco-friendly and keeping the labor here in America instead of outsourcing. Pictured on the left it Giisha, one of the master shoemakers working for Nicora Johns and actually being paid a fair wage for his craft. The company runs an Instagram and Tumblr where they post photos of new products, as well as photos of their shoemakers working. They have everything from dainty brogues to platform boots, and the best part is, since every pair is handcrafted, you can customize EVERYTHING. Davey Havok ordered a pair of custom, black lace-up boots and they are fucking cool.
The idea for starting the company began with both nostalgia for an old American craft lost, and a genuine empathy for all the unemployed American artisans, who could be benefiting from having full-time fulfilling work as craftspeople making shoes. Currently only 1% of the shoes Americans buy are made in America, and this number decreases by 7% every year.
Today, the shoe industry is one of the highest polluting industries in the world. Between the chemicals required to treat leather or make synthetic materials, the agricultural destruction caused by overgrazing livestock, shoe materials make the top ten list of world’s most polluting industry every year.
The number one thing on my Christmas wish list this year is a pair of black on black Priscilla wedges. Priced at an absurdly reasonable $198, I'm sure my parents will be stoked to tuck these under the tree for me. (Right, parents?!) When you consider that no humans, animals, or planets were harmed in the production, and that you can email their customer service department for special sizing at no charge, less than $200 for a pair starts to sound cheap!
Bonus: They won't fall apart after two months like the cheap, factory-made shoes you're used to!
STAY UGLY (AND ETHICAL!)//
The time has come. It’s getting colder and while people are pulling out their scarves, beanies and boots I’ve noticed something a little different than before…people are pulling out BIG coats. The style “oversized” is here, and I am a fan.
Lets get one thing straight, this doesn’t mean you can go out and buy just any coat two sizes larger than your true size. It really comes down to getting the right proportion and how you plan to wear it. For those who decide to give the trend a try, pair your oversized coat with a dress, some leggings, or add a belt and it just might all come together.
Keep in mind that depending on your shape, you might be better off trying something longer than usual or wider than usual. You can still achieve the oversized look with either!
Check out my favorite oversized inspirations below as well as my own creation!
Stay UGLY, everyone :)
If you see photos of Nadia Aboulhosn, one thing will become very clear: this pretty lady gives no fucks. There's something specific about the way she poses her face and her ass that demands attention. So you'll look...and then you'll keep looking. Between her personality and her sense of style, I think it's a pretty safe bet to say the fashion world will continue looking at her for quite a while.
I first discovered Nadia via Nicolette Mason's Instagram account
, where she posted about the Mynt 1792
coat collaboration that both women designed for. Not to take anything away from any of the other ladies in the promotional group photo, but my eyes immediately went to Nadia! She had on a black and white striped crop top, black skinny jeans, strappy sandals, and dark red lipstick. Also known as The Best Outfit Ever™
as far as I'm concerned. So obviously, after seeing her I set about following her in all of her various online outlets (Instagram
, and website
So, yeah. Nadia isn't a size 0/2 like most of the models working in the industry today. But to cast her as simply a "plus-size blogger and model" would be to put her into a narrow box that she doesn't deserve. If we want to get real, Nadia is smaller in size than the average American woman. So is calling her plus-size even accurate? I don't know, and honestly I don't care. I'm following her because her outfit choices inspire the hell out of me, and that would be true whether she lost or gained fifty pounds.
I can't even deal with her sunglass game. It's too good. And I never thought I'd look at pair of athletic shorts and think they looked stylish, but she's proved me wrong about that! Apparently you just need a long sleeve white T-shirt, gold jewelry, and heels. (It probably helps that her waist to hip ratio is an 11 on a scale of 1-10. Scientifically attractive!) And Karla Deras circa 2012-inspired hair
is ALWAYS a good idea.
This is totally a promotional photo for a swimsuit line, but I liked it so much I had to include it, and i don't care that it's late October. (I promise to do a more seasonally appropriate post soon. There's no such thing as too many wide-brimmed hat and boot posts, am I right?)
Special thanks to Nadia for letting me use photos from her website
for this story. She's a doll.
It doesn’t take an experienced model to know that the modeling industry is a tough place to be. As glamorous as it may seem, the life of a model is not always so beautiful underneath the surface. Jamie Lynn Crandall has seen and done it all, and she sat down with Ugly during this season’s cover shoot to tell us about her experience in the industry and what she has learned.
UM: You’ve lived in various major cities throughout your modeling career. What brought you back to Utah?
JC: This industry is not an easy industry. You get criticized every day, so you have to be tough about it, or else it breaks you and you just don’t do it anymore. I was recently living in Chicago, and I think that’s when it was wearing on me worse than ever before. I realized that I just needed to come home and recharge.
UM: How were you able to keep your cool under all that pressure?
JC: Well, it was tough. When I was modeling in LA and Miami, I was around some of the most beautiful women in the world. I couldn’t help but compare myself to them, and it was really difficult to keep a positive self image. However, I think for the most part I’ve been pretty strong about it. For example, if I don’t book a job, I just get over it and move on to the next one, but I got to a point where I was being extremely critical of myself and feeling inadequate for not booking certain jobs or not looking a certain way. After realizing how bad it had gotten, I had to pull my head out of my ass and remind myself, “This is just not normal, I can’t talk to myself like this. This is not how anyone should be feeling about themselves.”
UM: Do you wish you had started your career differently?
JC: I kind of wish that I would have just finished school before I moved to LA. I know school isn’t for everyone but I wish I would have. My younger sister manages JMR Chalk Garden here in Salt Lake, and she does a great job at it. I would love to own a store with her. I think it’s something we would do well together.
UM: Would you want to do that here?
JC: Yeah, I would love to. I’ve lived in LA, I’ve lived in Miami, I’ve traveled to New York, and it’s all made me love Salt Lake so much more. I love being home. Salt Lake is really growing as far as fashion goes, so I want to stay and be a part of that. I think running a boutique would be a great way to stay involved.
UM: What kind of store would you like to run?
JC: I love how they buy for their store. It’s not like other stores here in Salt Lake. It’s more in tune with trends that are going in the rest of the country. I trust my sister with fashion. I always have to ask her if what I’m wearing is cute, so she would be great at buying for a store with a more unique and edgy style. UM: What have been the most positive experiences from modeling?
JC: I think it has made me a very independent and diligent woman. I was thrown into situations that I don’t think many people are. The first time moving out of my parents’ house in Utah was when I moved to LA on my own. I had to take care of myself while I was out there, and at the age of 21, it definitely toughened me up and forced me to become more independent. UM: Where do you see your modeling career going in the future?
JC: I don’t necessarily want to be done with modeling anytime soon, I think I’ll always model because I love it, but I have to evolve. I just want to make something else out of it. I was Miss Utah in 2011, and although it’s been a few years, I want to utilize that platform to influence young girls in a positive way. UM: What advice do you have for young girls looking to model?
JC: I strive to be as honest and helpful as I can when girls ask me for advice. I always want to put them in the direction of a really good agency if that’s what they’re looking for. If they’re wondering about tips on diet or exercise, I always tell them, “You have to know your size and your body, because you cannot try to be what you’re seeing in magazines. You just have to be you, and then you’ll book the best work you can. UM: What is your favorite thing about the fashion scene in SLC?
JC: There are so many up-and-coming, talented people here, and they haven’t necessarily been given the opportunity to feature that talent, But it’s happening. Slowly but surely. I just like to see local people do well. I love collaborating with so many different people who I probably would never have met if it weren’t for fashion or modeling. I’m not a writer or anything, but I want to be involved and stay involved. I feel like I’m in that transition stage of figuring out what I’m doing next, and it’s a little overwhelming, but also incredibly exciting.