So I'm sure I'm killing any future gifts from brands with this post, but since I decided that I won't be taking any free gifts for review this year (to minimize waste) I kind of don't care. Of course I love free things, but if it's at the cost of what I stand by (brutally honest opinions and minimal waste) then I rather pay for the things I review and try to monetize elsewhere (which means if you're reading my posts on a phone or tablet, sorry those small pop-up Google ads are gonna continue for the time being). Also just to note for this list I am not including things I got free from referral credit (that applies mostly to Everlane and Grana) because in a sense I "earned" those credits and I'm "spending" those credits (and they never asked for a review of their items). The ones on the list here are the items I got completely free in exchange for a review from companies that contacted me directly out-of-the-blue.
1) Mott & Bow Jeans: My love for these 98% cotton, 2% elastane jeans are still going strong! I received these for review at the end of June last year and they are still in my jeans rotation. In fact I prefer them over the Everlane jeans I've reviewed thus far (including the modern boyfriend and the skinny jeans) because the Mott & Bow ones are just more comfortable for me (I think it has to do with the M&B ones being more mid-rise and not high-rise). The slim boyfriend style of these jeans work well with my pear-shape (especially my thicker thighs). These jeans are in heavy rotation with my other two Frame denim jeans.
2) Tradlands The Skipper Shirt: I love this really soft button-up and it's my go-to shirt for whenever I go to lu'aus or Hawaiian get-togethers (which is more often than you think since I'm from Honolulu). It's my mainland version of the Aloha shirt.
3) Chamberlains' leather milk: One of my first collaborations and one that was extremely useful since I still use all these products to protect and condition my leather shoes and bags. This collab probably worked so well since I had already done an initial review of their product and that's how they found me. I'm a big believer in their products, especially if you want to cherish and take care of your expensive leather items.
1 and 2) Siizu V-neck tee and Siizu Hella Top: I initially liked both items (maybe because they were free?) but soon found that I never reached for them. The v-neck tee made of 100% modal, was not a fave since I preferred my 100% cotton tees from Everlane and Grana. The Hella Top was cute but didn't fit into my super casual, non-office lifestyle. I also don't think frilly items fall under my style.
3) Tradlands Faroe Tee: Sorry to say that when it came to this specific item from Tradlands, it was kind of a dud. After I washed it, it was super stiff and uncomfortable. When it comes to linen I would go with Elizabeth Suzann, Everlane or Grana.
Also a note on Grana since I received the most free items from them to review: I think Grana is always a mixed bag with lots of really good things. Since I was simultaneously getting free things from them as well as buying things with credits earned, I ended up with way more Grana pieces than I anticipated or needed, some of which I'm letting go here.
So yep, once this post is up I'll revise all the above reviews to include this post so that people know how these free items fared in my closet rotation. Also since I'm being completely honest here, it can be tough at times to write anything negative about items given free to review since there are usually representatives of the company checking on your reviews and making sure you post to Insta. To me, that already feels restrictive even if the brand never tells you 'you can't say that'. I rather be pressure-free to say whatever I feel like (and I don't mind giving my money to brands that really deserve it)!
P.S. After writing this post, I read this one from EcoCult and I'm surprised to learn that bloggers will recommend items without having tried it themselves. Also for them to review and post something, EcoCult charges $400 (which makes me think, how can you say anything bad about a product if you're getting paid $400?). It's making me realize if I want to keep my blog the way it's going (only providing unbiased reviews with items I've tried myself), I'm going to have to keep my day job (or drive uber to supplement--which I've seriously considered) lol.
P.P.S Please read Leah's comments below because she is a much more experienced blogger than I and comes up with a lot of good points that I failed to clarify in this post (basically it's hard for me personally to write 100% unbiased review when it comes to free and gifted items).