Shops We Love: Ekovaruhuset

Fashion meets fair-trade on Ludlow Street. By Jenny Feldman
Manhattan-based Swedish eco-designer Johanna Hofring loves to recycle. So much so that when her first venture, The Art Fiend Foundation, went out of business last year, she decided to plant an organic clothing shop in the very same location. Ekovaruhuset, which opened in Art Fiend's former jewel-box sized Ludlow Street storefront last November, is in fact Hofring's second green retail outlet; another by an identical name is located in Stockholm, which opened in 2004. And not many changes were made to the Art Fiend space: The wide-plank wood floors were stained darker brown, new signage went up, and a different door is still in the process of being installed by Hofring's husband, Tor Soderin.
The boutique is not just an outlet for Hofring's namesake label of hand-crocheted dresses (in fact, very few of her own designs are currently on display), but carries nearly a dozen fair-trade and earth-friendly brands for men and women. Conscientious shoppers can find a range of wardrobe basics here. Standouts include Kuyichi denim's "bio-cotton" dark wash jeans, Peau-Ethique's boxer briefs in organic cotton, and local designer Susan Ciancolo's handmade tops sewn with stream-of-consciousness-style phrases like "Never Mind" and "Sunray is Bliss." Many of the pieces are exclusive to Ekovaruhuset and one-of-a-kind. There is also a wide selection of crocheted and knit hats, slippers, and jewelry, including necklaces by Xing-Zhen Chung, a designer who weaves hemp yarn with freshwater pearls and seashells. For those looking to extend their green agenda further, there are sneakers by Veja, a company that crafts all its products in a cooperative in Brazil using natural rubber sourced from the Amazon rainforest. Soon to come will be a small children's section inspired by Hofring's one-and-a-half year-old daughter, Vida. The eco-movement has certainly come a long way, baby.
Ekovaruhuset, 123 Ludlow Street, (212) 673-1753;
Fashion meets fair-trade on Ludlow Street.

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