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Beanies You Can Afford to Lose

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In the News
Nordstrom Is Collecting Clothing Donations
Woman in front of a Nordstrom store

Fashion and environmentalism aren’t perfectly compatible — even Patagonia admits that — but in recent years, retailers have started showing an increased interest in the afterlife of the clothing you buy from them, with big names like Madewell and H&M operating clothing recycling programs. Now Nordstrom is launching a clothing donation program, billed as a way of encouraging customers to keep their stuff out of landfills.

Nordstrom has partnered with Give Back Box, a company that sends donations to local charities like Goodwill. The process is pretty easy: You take a box, put your gently used clothing, shoes, and accessories in it, slap on a prepaid label, and drop it off at a UPS or USPS.

At the same time, Nordstrom is piloting an in-store donation program at six locations in Washington state where shoppers can just drop their unwanted clothing in Goodwill bins. On Thursday, the Nordstrom stores at Bellevue Square, Northgate Mall, Alderwood Mall, Southcenter Square, Tacoma Mall, and in downtown Seattle will start accepting donations.

Execs at the department store aren’t sure how long they’ll continue this initiative, nor have they decided whether to expand IRL donations to other stores.

“We’re really looking to our customers to guide us here,” writes co-president Erik Nordstrom in an email. “We want to see how they respond and whether they think this is a service we should continue offering.”

Nordstrom says that the clothing donation program was inspired in the first place by feedback from shoppers who were looking for a more environmentally friendly way to clean out their closets. (Reselling can be... a challenge.) Customer feedback is also the reason why Nordstrom is trying to work more sustainability oriented brands into its assortment. Everlane, which has made manufacturing transparency a big part of its identity, recently turned to Nordstrom for its first wholesale partnership.

In 2014, Nordstrom ran a similar program with Fashion Project, a secondhand clothing marketplace that forwarded a portion of the profits from each sale to charities. For every five pieces of clothing a person donated to Fashion Project, they would receive a $40 gift card to Nordstrom. (Fashion Project has since shut down its own operations and folded into Union & Fifth, another reselling site that benefits nonprofits.)

As far as environmentally and socially minded initiatives go, working with Give Back Box seems to be a pretty straightforward deal for retailers. The organization also works with brands like REI, Amazon, Loft, and Levi’s on virtually identical programs. —Eliza Brooke, senior reporter

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Deal of the Day

If you’ve yet to add dark florals to your wardrobe, consider getting some from Yumi Kim while they’re 25% off (along with pretty much everything else on the site); get the discount using code FRIENDS at checkout through tonight only. There are spaghetti-strap dresses to layer with turtlenecks, dresses with sheer long sleeves that would look badass with combat boots, and halter jumpsuits to pair with leather jackets. You can also shop by print, which is helpful for figuring out whether you like Lilac Passion better as a cold-shoulder top or a cut-out midi dress.

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In the News
New Legislation Aims to Protect Models From Sexual Misconduct
Models in line

Since model Cameron Russell started collecting and sharing anonymous stories of sexual harassment and assault in the fashion industry two weeks ago, models have continued speaking out about their experiences. Today, New York assemblywoman Nily Rozic introduced a bill called the Models’ Harassment Protection Act, which aims to do something about the widespread sexual misconduct directed at models by people they work with (including photographers, designers, and agency employees), as well as harassment based on factors like age, race, sexual orientation, and disability.

The goal of the legislation is to hold modeling agencies accountable for protecting models against harassment of all kinds. As things stand, models are considered independent contractors and thus aren’t protected from harassment and discrimination the way employees of other companies are. At the same time, agencies are able to dodge accountability for the welfare of their clients by listing themselves as “management companies.” Rozic’s bill, developed in collaboration with Model Alliance, a New York-based advocacy group, would make it illegal for agencies to subject models to harassment regardless of those factors.

When it comes to sexual misconduct, the absence of legal protections for models is compounded by the power imbalances rampant in the modeling business. It’s a profession filled with young women, many still in their teens, who are working with adults much older than themselves and who are frequently tasked with advocating for their own boundaries when it comes to posing semi- or fully nude. (Three days ago, Victoria’s Secret model Sara Sampaio wrote on Instagram that she’s pursuing legal action against men’s magazine Lui for violating the no-nudity clause in her contract.)

But harassment of models doesn’t just happen on the job. The LA Times reported over the weekend that Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual misconduct extended to the models he met through his various investments in fashion. —Eliza Brooke, senior reporter

The Best Cheap Beanies

I’m not sure if it’s due to a personal problem or a curse, but I lose winter hats more than any other item.

Over the years, I’ve developed a few strategies for coping: I try not to spend too much money to soften the blow when I inevitably leave a hat behind somewhere, and when I find one I really like, I buy a few in the same color. This way, they’re all more or less interchangeable, and there’s always one waiting in the wings for when I leave it at the gym/bar/office/subway.

If you can relate (or have an interest in inexpensive winter accessories for a different reason), the following hats are some of the best out of the dozens I’ve tried. They’re all basic, warm enough, and — the best part — blessedly cheap. —Cory Baldwin, shopping editor

Super Basic
A blue beanie and a black beanie
Carhartt Watch Hat, $9.99 | ASOS Turn Up Beanie, $9.50

Carhartt is one of the brands you’ll see most commonly in workwear shops, where everything is designed for people who spend their days outside, so you know these hats will last and keep you warm. Don’t be fooled by the overpriced Carhartt WIP beanies, which cost between $28 and $48; go for the regular old classic watch hats that are just as good (they’re both 100 percent acrylic), look exactly the same, and, at $9.99, are a third of the price. Another tip: If they fit you, the kids’ hats are only $7.99.

If you want to go logo-less, ASOS makes a couple of very solid, basic beanies for cheap. There’s the Turn Up beanie, which is basically the hat you’d buy from American Apparel if the brand still made it, or a Carhartt beanie without the logo; both are $9.50. There’s also a ribbed acrylic-knit fishermen beanie that comes in dozens of colors and costs between $8 and $13. (And it comes in a “mini” version if you want to do the hipster thing where only the very top of your head is covered.)

A Little Nicer
A pink beanie and a gray beanie
& Other Stories Merino Wool Beanie, $29 | Everlane Mini Chunky Knit Beanie, from $12

If you want something a step up from a basic acrylic beanie, the best bet for doing so at a low cost is hitting the fast-fashion circuit. The best ones I’ve seen this year are from H&M-owned brand & Other Stories. The Swedish label makes a bunch of hats, but there are two in particular that I really like: the Merino Wool Beanie and the Wool Beanie. Both come in five (slightly different) colors, and both cost $29.

Everlane is also a strong option, even though it’s one of the more expensive ones. Last year a friend gave me this wool-cashmere blend hat as a gift and I loved it, but of course I lost it and the brand doesn’t make it anymore (unless you’re cool with a hot pink one, which is on “pay what you wish” sale starting at $16). I’m considering replacing it with the Cashmere Beanie, which, at $58, is more than I’d usually spend. A smarter move might be going for the Mini Chunky Knit Beanie, which is currently on sale starting at $12, marked down from $28.

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