Where I Shop, Why I Shop, How I Shop

My Instagram followers have been asking me about where I shop, so here I am, breaking it all down for you guys.

First of all, I think that we (the general consumer culture) shop too much. Fast fashion stores like Zara, Primark, and H&M have created a culture of the “Friday night outfit.” This is when you go shopping for an inexpensive dress so that you have something new to wear for a party, but then you never wear it again, it falls apart, or you replace it with another one the next week.

This isn’t how I shop, though. I prefer quality over quantity and outfit repeating isn’t social suicide, it’s my normal. When I shop, I invest, therefore I only make purchases about once a month. I’d rather have a small wardrobe of reliable and timeless pieces than a large wardrobe of poorly made, trendy clothes.

So here’s where I shop:

I work at Rue La La and Gilt, which are off-price designer retailers. This is where I can get some of my favorite designer items at discounted prices. It takes a lot of hunting because these sites change their inventory multiple times a day, but it’s so worth it when you find what you want for less money.

Sweater & shoes from Allsaints; vintage Lee Jeans from L Train Vintage; belt bag from & Other Stories

If I’m looking for a pair of shoes, my go-to is Gucci and All Saints. They have the most reliable and beautiful leather goods and incredibly comfortable shoes. My black Gucci Brixton loafers and Princetown slippers are some of the best investments I’ve ever made. Also, I’ve bought the same pair of combat boots from All Saints twice because of how much I loved them.

I also love All Saints for dresses and sweaters. Their quality of clothing is great and their designs are edgy and sexy.

Reformation dress

If you look at my Instagram you will see that a large portion of my wardrobe is from Reformation. Ref is a California-based environmentally-friendly, ethical clothing manufacturer. Everything they create has just the right balance of sex appeal and timeless style (think: silk dresses with high slits, or sun dresses with open backs). I love how I can buy a plain, modest LBD from them but just how the dress falls and moves on the body, I will immediately feel confident.

Lastly, since Natacha Ramsay-Levi became the creative director of Chloé a year ago, I’ve been obsessed with their inventory and splurged on a pair of white Rylee boots. The quality of Chloé is divine and the style is a perfect mix of Parisian-meets-Western-meets Cate Blanchett from Ocean’s 8. It’s a very empowering look.

When I’m searching for my next purchase, I like to scroll through Moda Operandi, Net-a-Porter, and Man Repeller for inspiration. Otherwise, I just head to a thrift store.

If you have any more questions for me feel free to comment below or message me on Instagram @miazarrella.

Examining the “I Really Don’t Care Do U?” Jacket Fiasco

Screen Shot 2018-06-26 at 7.30.29 AM.png
SOURCE: Andrew Harnik/AP/REX/Shutterstock

I’ve written about FLOTUS Melania Trump’s attire before. The first time was her powder blue Ralph Lauren Inauguration suit. Everything from the choice of an American designer to her Jackie Kennedy-inspired aesthetic demonstrated that Melania was trying to convey the image of American royalty (an image Jack & Jackie had accomplished). It was strategic, as many of her outfits have been. She wore Ralph Lauren that day because she recognized the importance of wearing an American designer as she and her husband were sworn in as the leading family of the free world. It was incredibly calculated.

That’s why I struggle to believe that the jacket she wore to the Upbring New Hope Children’s Shelter, a Texas detention center for undocumented minors, doesn’t mean anything.

At least that’s what her spokesperson Stephanie Grisham claims. When Melania boarded her plane to Texas she was photographed in a $39 spring/summer 2016 collection Zara jacket emblazoned with the saying: ‘I really don’t care, do u?”, and the public was outraged.

Screen Shot 2018-06-26 at 7.32.41 AM.png
Click to view on Twitter.

According to Bustle, “Grisham denies that there was any message behind FLOTUS’ jacket in an email to Bustle, writing, ‘It’s just a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe. (Much like her high heels last year.)'”

Oh, Stephanie, there is a message, though. According to The Washington Post, at least 2,300 children have been displaced and separated from their parents since the Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy- a policy which President Trump later changed his mind about as nonchalantly as one changes their mind about ordering a soup instead of a salad. Therefore the message we are getting from your jacket is that you simply don’t care about the traumatized children you’re visiting. It’s not “hidden,” it’s blatant.

Fashion DOES mean something which is why politicians have been using style for years to subliminally communicate with the world. Do we have to mention Hillary Clinton’s power suits and strategic use of the color white, a hue associated with the suffragette movement and purity? Or what about Barack Obama’s dad jeans that proved he was “one of us”? Or what about Michelle Obama’s affinity for J. Crew that showed she didn’t need expensive labels? Oh, oh! And let’s not forget how Meghan Markle’s wedding veil featured hand-sewn tributes to all 53 countries in the Commonwealth.

Clothing is a way to speak without using our voices. In this digital age, a photo really does speak a thousand words, so we can’t afford to make reckless outfit decisions. In our FLOTUS’ case, her jacket spoke volumes. It said, “I don’t care about these traumatized families.” Yet, we could argue it actually says, “I don’t care enough to think.”

Maybe the FLOTUS didn’t take a second to think about her outfit decision on this important day, but that would be dumbfounding. This event follows her visit to Houston after Hurricane Harvey destroyed a nearby city. That day she was scrutinized and attacked by the public for wearing stilettos to the site. (She later changed into white tennis shoes, but the public frenzy had already broken out.) So it baffles me to assume she just “didn’t think” about the green parka’s message. After all, she did wear sneakers on this Border visit, so she learned something from past mistakes.

Perhaps our FLOTUS thought wearing an outdated jacket from a fast fashion company would make her relatable (like Michelle). Perhaps she thought it was practical for the day and would go along well with her Stan Smiths, which she remembered to wear this time. Perhaps she thought it was appropriate because it was casual. And even though she put all of this thought into those gritty details, she didn’t take the time to read the fine print. Literally. And that’s what has us all shocked.

It must be difficult having to pretend to care all the time.

Side note: I don’t believe, as the President has tweeted, that this is a message to the “Fake News Media,” nor do I believe the conspiracy theory that her jacket is a middle-finger to her husband.

Fashion, meet Music.

Instagram: @miazarrella

If you can listen to music & read at the same time, tap here for my Spotify playlist that goes along with this post. 

Fashion holds up a mirror to our culture. It’s a reflection of our society’s goals, values, interests, and standards. Style– as in personal style which is not solely influenced by the industry’s trends– is a reflection of that person’s values and interests— and that includes music.

That being said, my outfit here says: “I wish I was a Highwayman,” and well, I do.

The Highwaymen have been described as “The Mount Rushmore of Country Music.” Comprised of solo artists Mr. Johnny Cash, Mr. Waylon Jennings, Mr. Willie Nelson, and Mr. Kris Kristofferson, the Highwaymen was a joining of forces in 1985. This grouping is comparable to Marvel’s “The Defenders” or when the “Suite Life of Zach and Cody” and “Hannah Montana” did an episode together.

I’m a big fan of old country music. If you were to ask me if could have dinner with anybody dead or alive, I’d say Johnny Cash. And if you were to look at my Spotify history you’d see I’ve been on a Waylon Jennings kick for three weeks (and counting). However, I’ve never worn anything country-inspired (after all, I do live in the Northeast). I first saw this “Waylon on Tour” belt buckle on Johnny Knoxville, another self-proclaimed country music fan and personal hero of mine. The Chloé boots are a new addition to my wardrobe and I believe I was so drawn to them because of my new appreciation for country & western themes. (Not to mention: These boots look incredible on bare legs, which has always been a huge struggle of mine while boot shopping.) So even though I’ve never considered myself a country girl, my music taste has undoubtedly affected my wardrobe, and this isn’t the first time.

When I’m in deep with a band or musician, I become so enamored with their style that I find ways to incorporate it into my daily looks. Whether it’s a band T that I style with trousers and a blazer, or something more subtle like western-inspired ankle boots, the music I listen to has helped me shape my wardrobe.

Here’s the outfit breakdown:

The button-down is an old piece from Madewell. The shorts are my mother’s Gap shorts from 25 years ago (gotta love vintage). The bamboo handle purse is thrifted. The belt buckle is Waylon Jennings tour merchandise (available online still). The sunnies are Ray Ban and the boots are Chloé (both still available for purchase).

My Street Style Interview with Boston Magazine

Tap here to read the article onsite.

(Or just skim this screen-grab.)

Photos by: Diana Levine

screen-shot-2018-06-14-at-6-44-40-am.pngContinue reading “My Street Style Interview with Boston Magazine”

Channeling Waterfalls at Chanel

Exploring the waterfall motif at the Chanel Spring/Summer 2018 Ready-to-Wear Show

By Mia Zarrella

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 11.00.47 AM
Photo Credit: Chanel.com

At Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2018 Ready-to-Wear show, attendees entered the Grand Palais in Paris and found themselves at the Gorges du Verdon in France. It was difficult to believe that the floor-to-ceiling waterfall flowing behind a winding bridge surrounded by serene greenery was just a set.

As the first model stepped onto the catwalk, 16-year-old  Kaia Gerber, daughter of American supermodel Cindy Crawford, the show’s theme became clear, quite literally.

The models were dressed in transparent plastic knee-high boots, plastic hoods and hats, and long plastic gloves. Other models wore swimsuits and billowing blue and white dresses with designs reminiscent of clouds, blue skies, and waterfalls. Even the classic Chanel two-piece knit suits were elegantly fringed and embellished with glittering threads to mimic the glimmer of cascading water.

Despite the graceful designs, models resembled unhappy, rebellious debutantes on their way to have afternoon tea with Grandma. Their heavy blue eyeshadow and black eyeliner resembled war paint and their expressions were fierce and pouty.




It was extravagant, yes. Is this new for Lagerfeld? No. Last season’s Space Odyssey show showcased models in metallic garments. The season before that, models strutted through what looked like a mainframe computer wearing Stormtrooper-meets-Daft Punk helmets. So, extravagance is expected with Lagerfeld. Yet, the intention behind his shows is up for interpretation.  

In a Vogue US interview, Lagerfeld said, “I don’t make explanations of what I design. I am not a philosopher who leaves notes on seats. You watch; you can see what you want.”

This runway was more than just an ode to waterfalls. Presented just after Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma’s devastating effects on Puerto Rico and Florida, this collection celebrated both the beauty of water and its ferocity.  

The models’ dramatic, war-painted eyes, the glaring stares, and borderline snarls, were daunting too.  Wearing the dreamiest of dresses and lightest of pastels, models stood strong, and glared into the camera, as if to say: “Don’t mess with me.”

In a Fashion Network article, Lagerfeld is quoted saying, “There is no life in the world without water.”

Climate change is becoming an increasingly discussed topic, as well as an increasingly vital threat. In order to keep the world inhabitable long enough for our children, our children’s children, and so on, there needs to first be a greater appreciation for nature. The child model in this runway show reminds us of who will be living with the messes that today’s adult generation leaves behind.  

Perhaps those “Don’t mess with me” looks translate as “Don’t mess with nature.”


A Demonstration of Britishness at Burberry



By Mia Zarrella

England’s most iconic brand is provoking Brits to take a deeper look at their capital’s culture. Inside the Old Sessions House at 7 p.m. on September 16, Burberry’s Autumn/Winter ‘17 collection was a far cry from the billowing Victorian ruffled blouses and tassled blazers from last year’s A/W show. Instead, Burberry’s collection borrows fashion queues from the working class and the posh, creating a gritty representation of what it means to be a Brit.

A spectrum of Britishness, which Burberry CEO Christopher Bailey and collaborator Gosha Rubchinskiy strived for in their designs, was demonstrated outside of the runway show, as well.

Swarms of people gathered outside of the building’s entrance covered in fake blood holding stuffed animals covered in red dye to show their distaste for Burberry’s use of animal fur. Protesters held signs that read “Compassion before Fashion” as they chanted “Shame on London Fashion Week,” all while blaring an audio recording of animals squealing while being slaughtered for their fur.

Because of the demonstration’s aggressive nature, attendees like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, and other industry professionals, were escorted into the show by policemen in neon green reflecting jackets. Some guests were spat on, others were shamed for their outfits through a megaphone. The protest stripped the high-profile event of its glamour and instead depicted the dissonance between the fashion world and everybody else.

Inside, attendees couldn’t escape the grit of the streets. Instead, taking influences from the upper class, the working class, and “chav” fashion, Bailey’s female models wore Burberry-tartan caps, colorful transparent trench coats, and argyle socks with bold heels. One model wore a pink, drawstring jersey skirt with gold heels, pink argyle socks, and a tartan hat, while on multiple occasions female and male models displayed their bare chests underneath their trenchcoats.

The collection represents a combination of past and present Britain, posh and chav, and so did the set design. Photographs of 20th century Britain by photographers like Brian Griffin and Roger Mayne hung on the walls in the bare rooms of the Old Sessions House. These images, which inspired Bailey’s collection, were selected with the help of photographers and curators Alasdair McLellan and Lucy Kumara. The exhibit, which is still available for viewing, depicts documentary photographs of cultural events and various social classes in England.

In an on-camera interview last week, Bailey told UK Vogue Editor in Chief Edward Enninful that this A/W collection was exploring “the difference facets of what Britishness means.”

Bailey said, “The new collection is a little bit of an eclectic mix of everything that I love about Britishness: the highs, the lows, opulence, the working class, the difference sides of ceremonies, of pomp, and traditions, and fashion and clothes through the ages.”

As the show commenced on Friday evening, inside the top level window of the Old Sessions House, in the glowing yellow light, a man in a tailored suit looked down upon the swarms of protesters outside raging against the fashion industry. Meanwhile, inside at the catwalk, the most glamorous in the industry snapped photos of styles evoking Britain’s distinct cultural and social influences.

The most blatant distinction that night, however, was between those inside the runway show and those on the outside.


Boston Magazine’s Fall Fashion Feature: “Cut and Paste”

Head Stylist: Abby Bielagus
Assistant Stylist: Mia Zarrella

For this photoshoot, I assisted the head stylist with all facets of the photoshoot, including pulling clothing from over two dozen high end retailers, organizing the styling closet, steaming and preparing the clothes, dressing the models, monitoring the photoshoot, putting together new looks during the photoshoot, and even assisting the photographer in directing the model’s poses when needed.

View more styling from the fall fashion shoot at Bostonmagazine.com. Photo by Toan Trinh, styling by Abby Bielagus, modeling by Martine Fox/Q Models, and assistant styling by Mia Zarrella. OUTFIT CREDITS: Coach 1941 “Daisy” shearling jacket, $2,500, Coach; “Mash Up” cotton T-shirt, $175, Marc Jacobs; Céline corduroy pants, $1,050, Barneys New York; “Marchapp” leather-and-suede boots, $995, Christian Louboutin.

Click here to view the fall fashion spread online.


Boston Home Magazine: “Shear Genius”

Read about one Boston designer’s most treasured possession.

Words by Mia Zarrella for Boston Home
Photography by Joe St. Pierre for Boston Home

“It seems fitting that Kathryn Yee, a designer who offers upcycled cloth goods through her company the Everyday Co., collects scissors. Her favorite of the bunch?”

Read the full story to find out. 

Food Rescue Organizations: Helping the Hungry and the Environment  

By Mia Zarrella

A large truck pulls up to a nondescript white house with red doors and blue trim. There’s a small sign in the window that says “Refugees Welcome Here.” Two men roll open the back of the commercial vehicle and begin unloading boxes of food onto a dolly. The side of the truck reads: “Food For Free.”

The driver is Simon Walsh, an Englishman with gray hair who has been working at the nonprofit food rescue organization, Food For Free, for 15 years. It will take he and his assistant at least an hour to unload all of the food.

The headquarters is located at 11 Inman St. in Cambridge, around the corner from Central Square’s eclectic coffee shops and vegetarian cafes. Food For Free salvages unwanted food from corporate cafeterias, grocery stores, and other food centers then donates it to low-income people. The salvaged food in Walsh’s truck will eventually find its way into food pantries, shelters, daycares, and school programs. For now, the food is stored in a large outdoor refrigerator until it’s time to be donated later today.

Walsh started working at Food For Free to help those who cannot feed themselves and to feed himself, as well.

“It could so easily be me receiving the food,” said Walsh. “Most of us live at that level where it wouldn’t take much for us to be in need of some help with procuring food. If I didn’t have this job, with the free food that comes with it, I would probably be in line myself sometimes.”

Massachusetts food-rescue organizations, like Food For Free, divert surplus food that would get thrown away and give it to more than 266,000 Massachusetts residents who struggle to put food on the table.

What many people see as waste, food rescuers and environmentalists see as a valuable resource.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), food waste and other organic, compostable materials, make up about a third of commercial waste varying slightly season-to-season. That equates to about 1.5 million tons of waste each year.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that 95 percent of food that is thrown away either goes into landfills or combustion facilities. Once in a landfill, food decomposes, releasing methane —a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

MassDEP’s 2010-2020 Solid Waste Master Plan strives to resolve this environmental issue. On Oct. 1, 2014, MassDEP initiated a commercial food waste ban prohibiting commercial cafeterias — hotels, grocery stores, restaurants — from disposing food that could be otherwise composted or donated. The goal is to divert at least 35 percent of food waste — or an additional 350,000 annual tons — by 2020. Boston has its own mission too, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wants  Boston to be a zero-waste city by 2050.

What started as a composting and waste-prevention initiative, opened the doors to addressing a human issue.

“It’s quite depressing to see whole boxes of produce that have been picked by hard-working field hands, then packed and loaded, then transported across the whole country, then unloaded, then finally thrown in a dumpster because although perfectly edible it won’t last till it gets put on a supermarket shelf,” said Walsh. “It’s great that we can say, we’ll take that and give it to someone who needs it that same day.


In 2015, Food For Free distributed two million pounds of food and fed over 25,000 hungry people in 11 Greater Boston cities. That is nearly two million pounds of food that would have otherwise contributed to the waste stream.

“The initial emphasis really was just trying to get the food out of the trash and get it composted, which is using it as a material and getting value out of that material,” said John Fischer, the branch chief of commercial waste reduction and waste planning for MassDEP. “But as we did that it became clear to us — and clear to a lot of those businesses and institutions — that some portion of that food that they were throwing out was really perfectly fine.”

So instead of tossing produce that’s at the end of its shelf-life and instead of dumping cooked food that was never served, the food, under the Good Samaritan law, can be donated.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 266,459 of the 2,547,075 census-reported Massachusetts households are food insecure. The agency counts 123,615 households as being “very low food security.” According to Massachusetts food outreach organization, Project Bread, 1 in 10 households in the state struggle to consistently put food on the table.

Food For Free’s director of operations, Ryan Lee, worked at Project Bread from 2007 to 2015. He found that for low-income families, food — as opposed to heating and electricity — often gets reduced.

“Parents skip meals so kids can eat. You start to find ways to stretch a meal, and oftentimes, a way to feed the families for less money is feeding them more starch, which is cheap,” said Lee.

Project Bread says that hunger escalated during the recession. It peaked in 2011, with 11.9 percent of state residents going hungry. That number has decreased, but remained 24 percent higher than what it was prior to the recession, with 9.7 percent of residents living with food insecurity. And the number of very food insecure residents has nearly doubled, increasing from 3 percent a decade ago to 5.4 percent in 2015.

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 10.45.11 AM

Maria Infante, director of community outreach at Project Bread, said, “We’re hearing more and more often people who are completely new to the world of looking for food resources. They are previously middle class families or lower middle class and now all of sudden they are not able to have enough food and don’t even know where to start because that’s not something they have been exposed to.”

Founded in 1981, Food For Free donates to over 100 agencies, catering to the specific needs of clients.

“We are coming up with small solutions to help individuals, as opposed to systematic change,” said Lee. “We’re doing our part to do what we can.”

Every year, as part of Food For Free’s Field of Greens program, 50 volunteers harvest 4,000 to 8,000 pounds of vegetables at a quarter-acre farm in Lincoln. This program supplies nutritious produce to the Pine Street Inn in downtown Boston, where the ingredients get incorporated into meals for homeless men.

Then there is the Home Delivery Program, which serves about 100 people who cannot shop independently. Each month, these low-income clients receive about 35 pounds of groceries twice a month. Food For Free receives these groceries from places like the Greater Boston Food Bank, Whole Foods, and Boston Public Market.

Food For Free delivers food to Cambridge schools, which allows busy, low-income parents to pick up free groceries once a month at their child’s school.

The Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program sends food home with elementary and middle school children on Friday afternoons to sustain them for the weekend. And for Cambridge High School students, Food For Free had a different solution.

“The high schoolers just don’t have the same schedule, so what we decided was instead of that sort of passive way of getting food, there should be a more active way of getting food,” said Alanna Mallon, director of programs. Mallon helped start an on-site food pantry at the high school. The pantry opened April 1, 2016. Food For Free, along with other donors, bring fresh food to the school every Monday.

At Cambridge Community College, Food For Free offers similar support. The Rev. Cheng Imm Tan is the community manager for student support at Cambridge College, where she says 40 percent of students, who are an average age of 35, make $25,000 or less.

“It became clear that food insecurity is an issue to deal with for our population given the income level,” Tan said.

About a year ago, Tan collaborated with Food For Free to create several food events such as Coffee Hour, offering fruit cups, yogurts, salads, sandwiches, and pastries, and Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, which involves a 40-minute lecture about healthy eating and then a free produce market in the last 20 minutes. About 80 to 100 students attend these monthly events.  

“I think people just really feel very supported and excited.” said Tan. “I like doing it because I always get really great feedback from students about how they feel.”

Food for Free also has a Family Meals program which caters to clients who face a barrier in the kitchen, whether they are disabled, elderly, or do not have access to a stove or oven. Like frozen TV dinners, these meals are already prepared and just need to be microwaved.

Just walk through the side entrance of the Christ Church Cambridge, up the two flights of stairs, and follow the clanking and banging sounds. That’s where Fiona Crimmins, program director of family meals, and Amy Starzec, program coordinator, work with volunteers to put these meals together.

Wearing a Fat Tire Ale cap, blue hygienic gloves, and an olive-colored apron, Crimmins walks into the kitchen carrying a large cardboard box. This is one of several boxes of surplus food that Harvard University has donated to Food For Free. Today’s morning delivery has an assortment of frozen foods: rice, potatoes, chicken, corn, string beans, peas, haddock, and turkey paninis.

Once Crimmins and Starzec take inventory of the delivery, two kitchen volunteers begin sorting and preparing the food. There are two other volunteers banging a mallet onto a crowbar that’s stuck in a block of frozen haddock. To keep from spoiling, it’s imperative that once Food For Free receives a frozen shipment, it is portioned and packaged quickly.

The food is then distributed into plastic trays. The small left compartment of the tray is for colorful veggies and the large right cubby is to be filled with a bed of starches with a serving of protein on top. Another volunteer, Jesse Feiman, places the food proportionately into the assembly line of trays on the counter, carefully inspecting that all the food is in perfect condition for eating.

Feiman tosses an unappetizing piece of chicken into the trash, saying to the others, “I would be upset if that showed up on my plate.”

Once the trays are filled, volunteer Demi Ayres packages them. Ayres started volunteering with Food For Free after the presidential election.

“I wanted to contribute in a positive way to helping those in need,” said Ayres. “What can be more important than feeding those who are in need of help? How can they possibly sustain their own lives without good nutrition?”

Ayres uses a pressing machine to seal the trays airtight, then she sticks a label on the top, and places the trays into a white cooler to await their new home.

“They are not just a mish-mash of leftovers from last night,” said Crimmins. “They are beautifully presented and the labels are printed nicely. We aren’t just giving food, we are giving dignity. I don’t care if you’re food insecure or not, good food breeds dignity.”

These prepared meals will be delivered to agencies that will disburse them to those in need. Some will end up in motel rooms, others in college dorms or low-income housing.

“A big portion about why our program got off the ground is entirely because of the food waste ban, because all of a sudden, university dining halls were faced with this ban,” said Crimmins.

Harvard University was the first campus cafeteria to donate to Food For Free and remains one of their largest donors of prepared foods. In the 2014-2015 school year, the first year Harvard was a donor, it donated over 45,000 meals.

“Initially we were donating a lot of things that we could’ve wrapped up and put into a cooler for the next day,” said David Davidson, managing director of dining services. “We had to make sure we weren’t giving up shop.”

In December 2016, MassDEP revealed that the commercial waste ban, only two years old, created 900 jobs in food waste hauling and processing. In 2015, Massachusetts diverted over 1 million tons of waste disposal. The state is halfway to achieving the 2020 goal of reducing waste by 2 million tons.

“What if every university dining program found a partner like Food For Free and did this?” asked Christa Martin, director for strategic initiatives and communications at Harvard University. “We could go a long way to addressing some of the hunger issues in this country.”

The truckload of food that Walsh and his assistant are unloading is from the Greater Boston Food Bank, which donates a total of about 30,000 pounds of surplus perishables to Food For Free weekly.

“We are an essential and established part of how the community gets fed now,” said Walsh. “I don’t see us as a charity (although of course we rely on a lot of donations), I see us as more of an agency doing a service for the city, helping to make sure that the substantial segment of the population who are food insecure get good nutrition.”

Once the Food For Free truck is unloaded, and all the food is sorted into the freezer and dry goods pantry, employees select what produce they need for their programs and pantries. Then the delivery vans are loaded and head out to deliver the food around the city, ensuring that the right food is being brought to the right people at the right time.

“It’s an anti-hunger mission,” said Lee.

With all of this leftover food finding new homes, it is as reassuring as it is disconcerting to food rescuers. There is a culture of excess and a culture of shortage living next door to each other in Massachusetts.

“I feel this is an incredibly important endeavor, not just about eliminating waste, but making the next step and making sure that waste isn’t waste anymore because it goes to somebody who needs it,” said Crimmins. “It turns surplus into usable food.”

Crimmins then said, “Our business is booming.”  

Click here to see food rescuing in action.



The Civil Union of Fashion and Politics

By Mia Zarrella / Beacon Correspondent – November 10, 2016
Click here to read this article on BerkeleyBeacon.com.
Photo credit: Instagram.com/trapvilla

Fashion has been exceptionally political this year.

The campaigns, debates, and scandals leading up to the result of this 2016 election created a  divide in the American people, but also inspired members of the fashion industry to promote their favorite candidate and encourage citizens to vote.

On Oct. 18, Vogue endorsed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. This is the first time in its 124 years that the magazine has endorsed a presidential contender.

Below a 1993 Annie Leibovitz portrait of Clinton, Vogue wrote, “Editors in chief have made their opinions known from time to time, but the magazine has never spoken in an election with a single voice. Given the profound stakes of this one, and the history that stands to be made, we feel that should change.”

The readers’ reactions online ranged from celebratory to outrage. Some stated they were going to become new subscribers to the publication, while others stated they were forever unsubscribing. After sifting through the 97 article comments, I started thinking about the important role fashion plays in politics, and how that role is so often overlooked.

One reader, @Connie05, triggered me especially when they commented, “Stick to fashion! For the love of all things sacred, stick to fashion. I buy your magazine for fashion and stylist and current trends in the beauty business not to endorse candidates…Glad to know where your publication stands. I cancelled my subscription.”

The typos, by the way, are @Connie05’s, not mine.

And @Connie05 wasn’t alone. Most unhappy readers had three things to say: stick to fashion, stay out of politics, and Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be president.

I understand that readers might be upset that Vogue endorsed a candidate they don’t like. Yet suggesting a fashion magazine has no role discussing politics and should “stick to fashion” is disputable.

Fashion and politics are not mutually exclusive. In fact, fashion is inherently political as designs are born from the designer’s culture, and style is determined by a person’s values and beliefs. Not to mention a fashion company’s own set of laws and ethics: who it employs, how much it pays its employees, what materials the garments are made of, etc.  All are determined by politics and speak to the company’s bureaucracy and legislation.

Fashion has been changing the political and social culture for centuries.

When Levi Strauss first designed Lady’s Levis in 1933, women could finally wear jeans made for their bodies, while working in the yard or farm. Then, in 1966, Yves Saint Laurent created Le Smoking pantsuit, allowing women to wear pants in a formal setting. These designers were influenced by feminist movements toward gender equality.

In 1994, the cruelty-free organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) broadcasted an advertisement protesting the use of animal fur in clothing. Supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Tatjana Patitz posed nude with the slogan, “We’d rather go naked than wear fur.” Though PETA has a reputation for being radical in its scare tactics to promote animal rights, this was a tasteful advertisement that used style and beauty icons to promote change through clothing.

In 2013, after neighborhood watch guard George Zimmerman was acquitted for killing Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old, black T-shirts reading “Black Lives Matter” in white font were the uniform of what would become the Black Lives Matter movement. The recognizable shirts became a way to share and vocalize the need for racial equality.

And in September 2015, Kerby Jean-Raymond, designer for Pyer Moss, produced a short film about police brutality and racial injustice that aired during his New York Fashion Week show. Earlier that year, Jean-Raymond designed the “They Have Names” shirts that list the names of those wrongfully and/or brutally killed by policemen. The profits went to the American Civil Liberties Union.

And this year—an election year—the trend continued with a fervent sense of urgency to get Americans to vote.

Opening Ceremony’s Fall II and Winter 2016 New York Fashion Week show was a mock-pageant featuring comedians like Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, and Whoopi Goldberg, who gave commentary on the democratic process. The show, dubbed “Pageant of the People,” had real voter registration booths on set while a dozen of A-list comedians talked on issues of immigration, feminism, economic inequality, police brutality, gender discrimination, and more. In its show notes, Opening Ceremony wrote: “No decisions we make this year are as critical as the ones our country will consider on election day.”

The same week as Opening Ceremony’s show, Vogue hosted a Hillary Clinton campaign fundraiser. The event was organized by Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and Huma Abedin, the vice chairperson of Clinton’s 2016 campaign. In the spirit of NYFW New York Fashion Week, 15 designers, including Diane von Furstenburg, Marc Jacobs, Jason Wu, Joseph Altuzarra, and Tory Burch, featured designs for the Democratic Party nominee. The designers all created T-shirts showing they are with her—designs which can be purchased from Clinton’s website. The collection was dubbed “Made For History” to underline the possibility of a woman being elected president of the United States.

In an industry that thrives on appearances, to design a shirt that promotes one presidential candidate polarizes consumers. Yet it seems that during this high-stakes election year, designers and public figures are taking that risk.


The night of the third presidential debate, singer Rihanna wore a $35 Trapvilla T-shirt with a screen-printed image of Hillary Clinton wearing a Yankees hat while serving as New York’s senator. She shared two pictures of the shirt to her 45.6 million Instagram followers. Each post received over 1 million likes and between 4,000 to 8,000 comments.

Those who have the gusto to support or defame a candidate on their chest offer themselves up to scrutiny, but also has the ability to influence. Fashion is a platform for communication, a utility for expression. Therefore, naturally, it makes sense for it to be used to spread political beliefs.

As you can see, @Connie05, fashion has always been political, from the moment women started wearing pants to when men started wearing dresses, from the first Black Lives Matter T-shirt to the “Made For History” clothing line.

When we read about style and trends and when we go onto Instagram or flip through a magazine, there are political connotations. As long as politics are present, fashion will remain the powerful force it is today.