Interview Spring 2018 People Creating A Better Planet
Issue 03 Regenerative Fashion Edition
The Eco-Fashion Revolution
How the "Sense8" actress is revolutionizing the way we think about our wardrobes.
Fixing the Industry Fashion Revolution
Circular Brands United By Blue
The Future of Fashion Alysia Reiner & Livari 1
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Issue No. 3 Regenerative Fashion The Regeneration is more than just a magazine, it's a vision for a brighter and more interconnected future, where businesses can spearhead change and people can work together to regenerate our planet Earth. This issue, we wanted to get a full understanding of fashion as an industry, from luxury goods to outdoor gear and all the fast-fashion nonsense in between. There is so much potential for good to be created from a regenerative apparel industry that seeks to be durable and flexible, ready for out-of-style or worn clothes to be reintroduced to the product life cycle. What if instead of being destined for landfill, fabrics could be infinitely repurposed or reclaimed as our culture transforms? Now more than ever we need to create a fashion industry that considers the kind of ethical economy and flourishing ecology we wish to create. 1
People Creating a Better Planet Issue No. 3 â€˘ Regenerative Fashion Spring 2018 ISBN: 978-1986533164 Founder, Content Director and Lead Designer Kyle Calian Co-Founder, Operations and Editor-at-Large Davis Burroughs Editor-in-Chief Ashley Goetz Guest Editor Patrick Duffy Finance Michael Greenberg Illustrator Hannah Salyer Photography Attributed Per Piece
Jamie Clayton Orsola de Castro Rebecca van Bergen Laura Hunter Devon Leahy Katie-Jane Bailey Brian Linton Daniel Silverstein Allie Cameron Kelli Woo Julia Grieve Rachel Faller Bill Johnston Dustin Winegardner Harry Fricker Alysia Reiner Amanda Hearst Hassan Pierre Rachel Kibbe
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Common Objective Brooke Blashill Andrea Diodati Tina Picz-Devoe Chelsea Lensing Clare Press Anita Vandyke Jacinita FitzGerald Dominique Drakeford Samuel Barnes Sophie Hirsh Mary Bemis Rupa Singh
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The Regeneration Magazine is produced by Kyle Calian. It is printed in Northport, New York, by Eco Friendly Printer on recycled FSC certified stock. The Regeneration is an independent publication. The ownership of each article contributed is copyright. This copyright belongs with the contributor of the respective article, which is stated here. All other ideas expressed by The Regeneration are put forward with the intention to inspire productive conversation about humanity's relationship with the environment. The opinions published in The Regeneration belong to the respective authors of each article, which do not necessarily represent the views of the publishers and editorial staff. Some content in the magazine is republished with the written consent of the publisher. Certain content republished in this magazine is in the public domain. No other content in this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written consent from The Regeneration. The Regeneration Magazine reserves the right to accept, reject or edit any material submitted by contributors prior to publishing the magazine.
Our Values 1
Drawing the connections between the largest movement on Earth.
Showcasing contributions that drive meaningful conversation.
From businesses to nonprofits and small personal passion projects, we're here because we share a mutual love for planet Earth.
These are inspired by positive change, resiliency and innovation, not fearmongering.
Promoting the commonly forgotten connection between social justice and environmental sustainability.
Believing that sales figures are not the only measurement of success.
The goal of this movement is to improve the quality of life for all living things.
Therefore, we don't pursue growth for growth's sake, but only if all of these values can be upheld.
Acknowledging the evolution of the economy away from free market capitalism.
Practicing what we preach and taking great efforts to minimize our environmental footprint.
We need to showcase the businesses that are trying to achieve a true triple bottom line. These organizations are at the forefront of the next economic movement, and the more we can learn from them, the better we can adapt their models to solve social and environmental problems.
We use recycled materials, plant a tree for each physical copy sold, optimize our supply chain and do not pulp unsold copies. Additionally, we only accept support from organizations that align with The Regeneration's values.
Key Terms Glossary
Letter from the Guest Editor Patrick Duffy, Global Fashion Exchange
The Industry Issue: Waste Tamsin Lejeune, Common Objective
Redesigning The Sampling Process Jessica Donohue + Katie Jane Bailey, Cobalt
Circular Solutions Davis Burroughs
22 A Conversation with Jamie Clayton, Global Fashion Exchange
76 Buy Fewer, Better Clothes Jacinta FitzGerald
The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès Patrick Duffy
Corporate Sustainability Laura Hunter + Devon Leahy, Futerra
42 The Revolution Orsola de Castro, Fashion Revolution 56 New Rules of Retail Engagement Brooke Blashill, Ogilvy 60 Bridging Artisans and Companies Rebecca Van Bergen, Founder of Nest
92 Cleaning Up Our Oceans Brian Linton, United by Blue
136 Every Thread Matters Rachel Faller, Tonlé 140 From Plastic Bottles to Clothes Bill Johnston, Recover Brands
102 From Trash to Treasure Daniel Silverstein, Founder of Zero Waste Daniel
150 Turning Scraps into Socks and Undies Dustin + Harry, Arvin Goods
The Natural Beauty Revolution Allie, Hara the Label + Kelli Woo, Basal
Social Media Who We're Following
Product Picks Feeling Masculine
Product Picks Feeling Feminine 128 Reclaimed Vintage Julia Grieve, Preloved
175 Zero Waste Design Chelsea Lensing
The Future 180
Empowered Clothing Alysia Reiner, Livari
Instagram Shopping Sophie Hirsh, Delta Vintage
Appendix Partners and Patrons
What to Read Wardrobe Crisis, Clare Press
The Polyester Problem Mary Bemis, Reprise Activewear
Ethical Luxury Amanda Hearst + Hassan Pierre, Maison De Mode
Richmond Renaissance Rupa Singh, Ethical Style Collective
194 Fabric Recycling Rachel Kibbe, Helpsy 199 Fasting From Fashion Anita Vandyke, Rocket Science 202 Black Owned Brands Dominique Drakeford, Melinass 208 Regenerative Textiles Sam Barnes, The Regenerates
"Fashion is about loving clothes, and style is the ability to be effortlessly comfortable in your own beautiful skin." - Orsola De Castro
Key Terms To make the most of the inspiring content to follow, consider first reviewing this glossary of relevant words and phrases that frequent this issue.
Carbon Footprint The amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc.
Carbon Offset A reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases made to compensate for or to offset an emission produced elsewhere.
CSR Regeneration “Regeneration,” in a literal sense, means new birth. In this magazine, regeneration refers to a process-oriented systems approach to design. Environmentalists sometimes use this term interchangeably with “sustainability.” But regeneration is quickly becoming the preferred nomenclature because of its focus on creating better systems and materials, not just making those that exist less bad.
Fast Fashion A contemporary term that expresses the aggressive speed at which clothing designs go in and out of style. The result is mass-produced, often inexpensive clothing that encourages overconsumption.
Corporate social responsibility, often abbreviated CSR, refers to a corporation’s initiatives to assess and take responsibility for its effects on environmental and social well-being.
Hauling Online videos, generally produced by teenagers or young adults, that showcase new clothing or products in creative, entertaining ways. Influential “haulers,” are sometimes targeted by manufacturers to market new products.
Upcycle To reuse discarded objects or materials as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.
Polyethylene terephthalate, abbreviated PET, is a petroleum-based plastic often used in consumer packaging, such as water bottles.
A program in which consumer goods may be returned to a company for repair or recycling, based upon the idea that the company that makes or sells a product should be responsible for removing it from the waste stream at the end of its life cycle.
Illustration Hannah Salyer
A Few Words from Our Guest Editor Patrick Duffy
Words Patrick Duffy 8
I am so pleased to introduce the third edition of The Regeneration Magazine: A Regenerative Vision for the Fashion Industry. Our goal is to empower people with knowledge about the fashion industry's impact on our planet and to explore new ways in which we, as individuals within the business, nonprofit and wider education communities, can live a more consciously fashionable lifestyle. To meet global sustainability targets, all of civil society, world leaders, institutions and private sectors must work together and take accountability for their actions as we search for better and more sustainable alternatives. Fashion retailers and designers in particular play a key role in pushing forward sustainability. The fashion industry is a major contributor to the global economy and is a vital sector to consider in developing solutions to create a better planet.
This brings us to the focal point of Issue No. 3. How do we use fashion as a vehicle for change? It is incontrovertible that fashion is an important part of how people define themselves. This simple idea makes the entire industry a powerful tool of influence. Think about it: What we wear, or are told to wear, can shift how people think, live and act. Brands like HermĂŠs, Dior and Chanel influenced the world to wear modern French chic. Armani, Versace and Gucci paint the portrait of Italy as the capital of style. The Americans who gave us denim like Levi's now see it worn in every country across the globe; itâ€™s a little-known fact that denim contributed significantly to the end of the Cold War era, as Western consumerism quickly entered the culture of those living in the rather dismal and uniformed Soviet Union. The way we purchase clothing has also changed considerably in recent years. Before mass production, clothes were made by tailors in small numbers. It was perfectly normal to wear the same clothes several days in a row. Clothes designed for work were longlasting and did not follow any particular fashion trend. After World War II, mass production took hold and "fashionâ€? became part of the daily lives of consumers. That's when we discovered its marketing potential, and clothing production skyrocketed as newer and cheaper materials, mainly synthetics, flooded the market.
Which brings us to fast fashion, a market that continues to grow exponentially. Retailers with thousands of outlets bring fashion to the people, but it is accompanied by new obstacles for both people and the planet. These new challenges were not carefully considered when the industry ventured into the vast and exciting boom of democratizing fashion. Fast fashion has five fundamental problems: high water consumption, unacceptable discharge of hazardous chemicals, violations of human rights and labor standards, soaring greenhousegas emissions and excessive waste production. That's a lot to handle! The advent of fast fashion brought a dramatic increase in sales, while businesses aggressively cut costs and streamlined supply chains. This trend caused a shift whereby clothing prices fell dramatically, and decreased lead times pushed brands to introduce new lines with greater frequency. McKinsey and Company tell us that ZARA offers 24 new clothing collections each year and H&M provides 12 to 16, refreshing their stores with new lines weekly. The environmental impact of fast fashion becomes apparent when you start to think about where all of these new clothes come from and where they end up. That impact is staggering. For example, 83 percent of the world's drinking water is contaminated by the thousands of plastic particles emitted by each wash of synthetic textiles from our closets. 9
It’s pretty clear that the fashion industry needs to chill out. The transition toward "slow" or more durable fashion is, however, a complicated process that requires action in many different sectors. As the speed of fast fashion increases with consumer demand, the amplification of the core problems for the fashion industry also magnifies. But we're not releasing this issue to point fingers or focus on the negative. There are many positives in the industry as well. Some companies are addressing their environmental impact by analyzing their supply chain issues and offering creative inspiration for new business directions. The fashion industry is finally starting to embrace sustainability and become a significant driver of how and what consumers purchase. Business Of Fashion tells us that 65 percent of consumers actively seek sustainable fashion, a massive increase from the tumbleweeds we saw just 10 years ago. More and more, we are seeing designers, brands, celebrities and influencers speak out about making a change. Hollywood actresses like Emma Watson, Angelina Jolie, Jamie Clayton and Breeda Wool are actively promoting consumer consciousness with regard to people's fashion choices. One globally recognized designer in the U.K., Vivienne Westwood, has always nurtured the idea of using fashion as a form of communication about ideas that extend beyond the typical beautiful and indulgent world of high fashion. Famous 10
for her campaigns to promote addressing climate change, saving the oceans and renewable energy, Ms. Westwood has made herself not only an icon of the fashion world but also an agent for change. Then, there are pioneers like Orsola de Castro and Carry Somers with Fashion Revolution who tapped into social media to encourage consumers to ask, “Who made my clothes?” and garnered nearly 533 million impressions through the campaign’s hashtags in 2017. That's encouraging, but is it enough to bring the industry and consumers out of the negative and into the positive, where people and the planet become just as important as profit? Well, you’ll just have to flip through these pages to find out for yourself. I would say that I hope you enjoy the ensuing content, but I already know you will. Cheers, Mr. Patrick Duffy @mrpatrickduffy
The Industry Introduction
The Industry Fashion is not exactly the environmental movement's topic du jour. Global summits on climate change have traditionally focused on transportation, agriculture, and the oil and gas industries. It’s time to talk about the fashion industry, too. Retail magnate Eileen Fisher claims that “the clothing industry is the secondlargest polluter in the world, second only to the oil industry.” Hard to believe? We’re with you. But a quick look at the $3 trillion apparel industry’s impact on water consumption and water pollution, on greenhouse gas emissions, and on waste tells a somber story. The environmental and social impact of fast fashion, a phrase that
refers to the staggering speed at which textiles are consumed and discarded, is a conversation worth having. For too long, the “before” and “after” stories of clothes — where they come from, how they are made and where they go at the end of their life cycle — have been out of sight and out of mind. If you have yet to find your place in the environmental movement, you are not alone. Climate change can feel like a big, broad, scary topic. But clothing is something that touches everyone, everyday; something we can all understand. So if you have been hesitant to learn more or to get involved, then this is a great place to start.
As consumer spending increases, especially in emerging economies, the clothing industry's environmental impact could greatly expand. The following graph depicts increases in environmental impact if 80% of emerging markets achieve Western per capita consumption levels. 3,030
CO2 emissions, millions of metric tons
Water use, billions of cubic meters
Land use, millions of hectares
Source: World Bank; McKinsey Analysis
The Problems Water Textile manufactures consume water at an alarming rate. It can take up to 2,700 liters of water to produce a single cotton T-shirt (organic and nonorganic), according to the World Wildlife Fund, a global environmental organization. Clothing factories also produce disturbing volumes of wastewater contaminated with toxins like acids, alkalis and fluorocarbons. That toxic 12
sludge leaches into waterways, contaminating drinking water and polluting the rivers, streams, lakes and oceans that sustain human life. Air Clothing production is a fossil-fuel intensive process. According to a 2016 World Bank Report, if current trends continue then by 2025, the fashion industry could be pumping
3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. That amount of carbon gas is enough to inflate ten trillion 2-footdiameter beach balls. Stacked on top of each other, they could create more than 16,000 towers stretching from the earth to the moon. Land At the end of their life cycle, most clothes get incinerated — an energy intensive process — or go to landfill. Worldwide consulting firm McKinsey and Company reports that threefifths of all clothing produced ends up in the dump. That’s valuable apparel that could go to the needy or be upcycled into a new product. Instead, clothes suffer the same fate of many other tangible goods; they get trashed. See Tasmin Lejeune’s article on page 14 for more on the industry’s waste issue. People Fast fashion does not just impact the environment. It hurts people, too. Most consumers pay little mind to who makes their clothes. They don’t know that their clothes are usually produced abroad, often on the backs of underpaid laborers that work in life-threatening conditions. On page 42, Orsola de Castro talks about connecting consumers with garment workers through #WhoMadeMyClothes.
The Opportunities Here’s the good news: The industry is changing. Apparel companies large and small are beginning to acknowledge their social and environmental impact and to take the first steps toward a sustainable fashion future. “As supply chain transparency becomes the new norm, more and more brands are disclosing the factories and people who make their clothes,” argues Jacinta FitzGerald in her article “Buy Fewer, Better Clothes,” which can be found on page 76. Part One of this magazine shines a light on the many problems facing the fashion industry, and highlights the businesses, organizations and individuals (including featured actress Jamie Clayton, see page 22), that are turning those problems into opportunities. 13
The Industry Issue: Waste
Words Common Objective Team commonobjective.co 14
Despite the well-aired public mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” it is estimated that each year the fashion industry creates around 13 kilograms of fashion waste for every person on the planet. That waste is equivalent to a landmass larger than the size of France. To combat this, the industry must adopt a circular economy approach, rethinking and redesigning the way products are made, used and disposed of. The average consumer now buys 400 percent more clothing than 20 years ago. Fewer than 1 percent of garments are recycled into new clothing each year, and only 20 percent of textiles are recycled at all. A huge amount of waste also occurs further upstream in the production process. Research in a 2017 white paper claimed that more than a quarter of resources are “spilled out of industry supply chains.” Fashion industry insiders estimate that between 3 and 5 percent of factory inventories are lost because of ordering mistakes, changes to specifications or issues with color. The majority of textile waste ends up in landfill or is incinerated. Where there are no effective waste-management systems, especially in low-wage textile hotspots like Dhaka in Bangladesh, huge amounts of fashion waste are created.
Photo ABC Australia
A few key facts: 1
The average piece of clothing lasts 3.3 years before being discarded.
Every ton of discarded textiles that is reused stops 20 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
2 Use of synthetic fabrics releases thousands of kilograms of microfibers into fresh and oceanic waterways every day, anywhere from 240,000 to 3 million plastic bags per day.
5 Fewer than 1 percent of garments are recycled into new clothing each year, and only 20 percent of textiles are recycled at all.
3 It is estimated that extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduces its environmental impact by 20 to 30 percent. 15
Photo Recover Brands
What are "closed loop" systems?
A closed loop system is one in which products are designed, manufactured, used and handled so as to circulate within society for as long as possible, with maximum usability, minimum adverse environmental impacts, minimum waste generation and with the most efficient use of water, energy and other resources throughout their life cycles. This includes recycling of waste back into production systems, as well as making products reusable or repairable. The tide of waste may be turning. There is a strong business case for closing the loop on fashion waste. China banned imports of textile waste at the end of 2017, and textile landfill bans may emerge in Europe. Where companies can collect waste garments and regenerate fibers to be used in new garments there is a clear economic, social and environmental gain. Seven full-time jobs and 15 indirect jobs 16
are thought to be created for every 1,000 tons of used textiles collected. More than 80 fashion companies in the U.K. have signed up to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, which includes targets to reduce waste going to landfill by 15 percent and total product lifecycle waste by 3.5 percent by 2020. In the Netherlands, 55 companies signed up to a government-sponsored Sustainable Garment and Textile Sector Agreement, along with NGOs and trade unions, with the aim of reaching 80 percent of the Dutch garment and textile sector by 2021. As brands and fashion designers respond to new ethical and sustainability trends, and shoppers engage in clothing exchanges, upcycling and pre-loved fashion, the prospect of zero waste fashion could start to materialize.
Illustration Hannah Salyer
Businesses can reduce waste in their supply chains by:
Adopting a whole life cycle or “cradle to cradle” approach to product design, production and marketing of products, identifying where waste can be reduced and textiles can be recycled or reused.
Promoting consumer recycling of garmen_ts and textiles — from garment collection points and textile recycling directions to fashion exchanges and upcycling programs.
2 Improving accurate forecasting and specifications with suppliers _to reduce errors leading to waste during production.
Points of Interest What to know, and how does the industry move forward?
Microfibers Recent research has found that 83 percent of global water ecosystems are now contaminated by plastic microfibers. With billions of synthetic clothes washed every day and waste water channelled into water systems, the fashion industry is a major contributor. We all consume plastic as a result, across the food chain and around the world, with untold effects on human and animal health.
Yet, our industry is massively increasing, not reducing, the amount of polyester and other synthetics used. Reversing the effects of microfiber pollution — and securing a sustainable future for all of our ecosystems — will require radical change to the way we do things. It is time to stop chipping away at the edges.
Quantity vs. Quality Most of the debate and action around sustainable practices in the fashion industry relates to the quality of the materials and processes employed. This includes more sustainable fabrics and fibers, more efficient and sustainable processes, technological innovation and improved sustainability of tracking and monitoring processes.
We need bold and courageous commitment by industry leaders. We need to move toward business models that are less linear (dependent upon growing volumes) and more circular. This requires creative thinking and action by all of the industry’s players, from the largest brands to the entrepreneurs at the cutting edge.
However, in the context of massive increases in the volume of products produced, these quality changes become negligible. What matters is the overall impact, taking into account both volume and quality of processes. This “elephant” in the room is often overlooked in debates. But unless we find creative solutions to the volume question, we will only be addressing the tip of the iceberg.
And we need companies to present their targets and impacts, not just in the context of the quality changes they are making, but also offset against growth in the volume of products produced. Currently, many companies present their sustainability targets as percentages (e.g., percent of water reduction per unit produced), rather than as realtime figures, so that the volume impact is ignored.
Illustration Hannah Salyer
Collaboration We all share the common objective of a fashion industry that works better for people and the planet. Yet, with increasing numbers of initiatives in the sustainable fashion space, and with over 200 certifications now available relating to sustainable fashion, the options for fashion professionals can be confusing. We need to be strategic in our efforts as an industry so that all of the resources toward the urgent challenges we face are aligned with our common objective. Organizations and influencers leading change need to work hand in hand toward a combined impact. And the industryâ€™s foremost business leaders must collaborate to lead the way with the bold, courageous approach necessary to address the issues of microfibers and volume, as well as the quality considerations of the products and processes employed.
The Common Objective (CO) platform matches users with the connections (sustainable suppliers, buyers, experts) and information (resources, training, best practices) they need to do fashion better. It rewards businesses that are working in a sustainable way with better search rankings, profile and more customers. This creates a commercial incentive for suppliers to integrate best practices and empowers buyers to make informed decisions. CO's mission is to create a level playing field, in which sustainability becomes an opportunity, rather than a cost. Its members share a common objective â€“ business that works better for everyone and the planet. CO is free to join and open to all. Find out more, and become a member of the incredible founding community at commonobjective.co 19
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Photo Gabriel Magdaleno
Actress and Global Fashion Ambassador Interview Models
Photos Casting Stylist Assistant Stylist Hair Makeup Dress Art
Patrick Duffy @mrpatrickduffy Jamie Clayton @msjamieclayton Jacqueline Holley @jacqcosmos Johnny Reed @officialjohnnyreed Jovan Garita @jovangarita Gabriel Magdaleno @gabrielmagdaleno Andy Rempel @andyjrempel Chandra Dyani Chavez @chandradyani Camry Passey @camrypassey René Cortez @hairbyrenecortez Ashley Joy Beck @AshleyJoyBeck Vivienne Westwood @viviennewestwood Eddy Segal @eddy.mami
Jamie Clayton is an American actress best known for starring in the Netflix series "Sense8." Guest Editor Patrick Duffy sat down for a chat with Jamie about getting involved in sustainable fashion, extending the life of the things you buy and finding intention in the pieces you invite into your closet. Patrick Duffy: So, welcome to the world of sustainable fashion. Jamie Clayton: Thank you. I'm thrilled to be here. You're such an icon to me and to many. Could you tell me about your background, so our readers know what life was like growing up with you? We’ve talked about you coming from a conscious family that recycled and stuff.
So, tell me where it all started for you. I remember something as simple as a sixpack of soda — how it's put together with those plastic rings. I remember cutting those up into pieces. Because as a kid, we were aware at that point that those were ending up in the ocean. They were ending up around the necks and bodies of animals, like turtles. I grew up in an environmentally conscious household for sure. Just growing up in California, everyone always recycled. 23
So I've always been very aware of the environment. The fashion didn't come into that, I think, until I started buying vintage when I was a teenager. Once I started buying my own clothes and learned how to sew. Oh, that's cool. Yeah, going to thrift shops and buying clothes. Then, buying two things and cutting them apart and sewing them back together. It was sort of my intro into sustainability, even though I didn't really know as a teenager what that was. It's only been the past five or six years that I've been really aware of the Ethical Fashion Initiative, how some designers really are going out of their way to make sure things are ethically produced. Would you say that you now kind of look and shop for labels … that you’re making conscious decisions in your choices based on those types of things? I'm definitely drawn toward and inspired by designers who are really striving to make a difference, because it's what I do with my acting. And it's what I've tried to do with the path that I've taken with my life, trying to make a difference and trying to inspire. So, I look for that in other areas of my life and fashion, definitely. I have been a fan of Vivienne Westwood for forever. Then, when I found out what she was doing with the Ethical Fashion Initiative, it's so inspiring. I really, really, really love Dries Van Noten, and I recently just saw his documentary called “Dries.” He specifically incorporates beading and embroidery into every single one of his collections, so the people in India that he's been employing for 20 years have jobs. He does it on purpose. 24
That's incredible. Those kinds of efforts made by these people. And the whole thing about teaching people a skill, not just going once and doing a runoff of a charity tote bag or a charity T-shirt. It's longevity. It's employment. And I'm so inspired by that. That’s so great. Let's back it up. When did you start to become interested in fashion as a communication tool? And what kinds of people inspire you to create the look and feel and aesthetic that is Jamie Clayton? My mother is really into fashion, so from the time I was very small ... I mean, Todd Oldham is just hands-down my favorite designer, probably of all time. But it was a different time back then in the '90s, when everything was excess. When I started going to clubs as a teenager, I was making all of my own clothes. I learned how to sew. My friends and I would go to thrift stores. We would buy clothes, and I would cut them up and sew them all back together. I had a sewing machine and an overlock, and I learned about personal style. It's a very intimate thing to be able to express yourself through clothes. And the stories that you want to tell, and the things that you want to say. Now, I'm really drawn to designers that have a unique vision, that don't fall into trends. Believe me, I love a good trend. But I really love Margiela and Dries and Vivienne — designers that have a specific aesthetic and just find new ways to do that every season. Like Dries with patterns and really good velvets and silks and the embroidery and the beading. And Vivienne with the shapes
"It's a very intimate thing to be able to express yourself through clothes."
that she does and the punk aesthetic and her famous squiggle print. Everything reinterpreted and reinvented. With Margiela, it's the Tabi boots, and it's the sock boot. It's these iconic things ... That kind of never go out of style. Yes. Exactly. And for me, that plays into the whole “Buy Less, Choose Well” slogan. As I've been able to develop my own personal sense of style, which is always evolving and growing but has always at its core sort of been the same, I have pieces hanging in my closet that have been there for literally 20 years. I find that when I go buy something and bring it home I'm like, oh, this works with every single other thing in my wardrobe. I developed my own uniform, my sense of style. So do you then not subscribe to the fast-fashion model? Is that not of interest to you? I'll say this, I do love a ZARA dress. But the thing is, I try to avoid trends. I don't want to knock anybody for what they want to wear. But, when all of a sudden everybody is wearing the same thing, I sort of run in the other direction. I've been like that my whole life. Totally. It's all about individuality, right? It's about being able to find that piece or that special thing that represents you. I can completely identify with that. When I started to go out too, I had a kind of uniform — a Saint Laurent tuxedo that I used to just wear to the fucking ground. I would wear it every single night with a pair of red Manolo Blahnik heels. 26
Exactly. And I've always been that kind of person, even when I was waiting tables in New York and just barely scraping by living in a studio apartment in Brooklyn. I've always been the type of girl that would rather have one pair of good shoes than 10 cheap ones, because I was raised by a woman who taught me the value of quality and longevity in quality. I know that it can seem unattainable. Like you said, your Saint Laurent tuxedo. I get it. A lot of people can't afford a Saint Laurent tuxedo, so they go to H&M. But if you spend a little bit more money, you're gonna have it a lot longer. When you buy quality pieces, it's true. We've all heard it a thousand times over. They do just last longer. They do. You're right. It's also how you take care of it, which is interesting when you talk about the fast-fashion model. My mom also taught me to take care of my things. Now, things are disposable. You can get rid of and get rid of and get rid of. That's created this monster. It's a shame, because the accessibility to trends and to clothes is so vast now. When you and I were growing up, H&M and ZARA didn't exist. Let alone stores that will do the knockoff of every trend off of every runway before the runway pieces have even made it into stores. You can walk into these fast-fashion retailers and get these knockoff goods. And because it's so cheap … I remember going to thrift stores when I was a kid. It was real clothes. You can't get real clothes even at thrift stores anymore. That's so true. Which is like, then what's the point? But I make a point whenever I'm traveling
"It doesn't matter if it's a pair of Margiela booties or a pair of pumps that I got at a flea market in Paris. Everything that I invite into my closet, I give the same amount of respect to." ... I love Hippie Market in Paris and Made in Berlin â€“ a great vintage shop. I got a great pair of vintage Levi's there. I always vintage shop everywhere I go. That's amazing. Yeah. I think it's really important. Going back to what you said before, I was raised to take care of my things. I meticulously take care of everything that I own. When I lived in New York, I was always going to the Leather Spa and getting new taps put on my heels. I got into the habit of every year, going into my closet and getting all the things that needed repair. Maybe a blouse was missing a button or heels needed new soles, or I had a vintage Dior bag that needed a new snap. So I found a place that did snaps. I went and got the shoes fixed. I got the button put back on the blouse. All of these things that you can go into your closet and rejuvenate and refresh and find new ways to wear. Don't get rid of a bag because a snap is broken. There's a place out there than can fix it. I know it sounds simple conceptually,
but that is the biggest thing in our culture, the disposability of everything. Of everything. You make such a good point. You've created a lifestyle for yourself where everything has a purpose, and there is intention behind every piece you buy. For me, it's the same. I haven't bought clothes in probably three years, except for a new pair of shoes that I just got a couple months ago. I saw your Instagram post. It was very inspiring. Thank you. Itâ€™s interesting when you shop by your ethics and do your research. Whether it's a pair of vintage jeans or a great bag in Paris, don't you feel good that you've consciously invested that time into something? Yes. I mean, I'm also famous amongst my friends for being sort of fanatical about research and prices. And I do, because I buy vintage. I buy second hand. Even if I love, love, love something, designer stuff is 27
"We all eat. We all sleep. We all make love. We all dance. It just looks different. And people are terrified of things that look different." 28
expensive, you know? I like to wait 'til things go on sale. YOOX is one of my favorite websites. They partnered with Vivienne with her initial Ethical Fashion Initiative. They don't sell real fur, and it's all last-season stuff, so it's like an outlet mall online. And I love them because, yes, I do a lot of research. If I'm going to invite a new piece of clothing into my wardrobe, there's been thought behind it. Girl. That is the statement of the century. That's amazing. It's true. Like, how bad do I need this coat? For every one thing that I buy, there's probably 17 things that I don't buy. And every piece that I buy, I think about. I think about the longevity of it and the craftsmanship, where it's from and who did it. I do. I think about all of those things. And again, in the process of taking care of everything in my wardrobe and rejuvenating and refreshing, I treat that dress from ZARA the same way I treat that dress from Dries van Noten. I hand-wash my things and take very good care of them. I invested in a steamer. I do not dry-clean. I think that it's toxic, and it's a lie. I know that there are eco-friendly drycleaners, but I don't understand â€Ś I take care of everything. It doesn't matter if it's a pair of Margiela booties or a pair of pumps that I got at a flea market in Paris. Everything that I invite into my closet, I give the same amount of respect to. I've always said this: respect the clothes, and the clothes will respect you.
That resonates with me so much, because of how fashion is moving right now. It's consume, consume, consume, meaninglessly and mindlessly. And you're part of this incredible campaign now, with Fashion Revolution and Global Fashion Exchange, that teaches about intention behind everything that you bring into your closet. Honestly, it is how I've always felt. I think that coming from a background in the fashion industry and knowing in beauty and in fashion that it's the industry's job to tell consumers, "You need this." And then six months later, they tell you, "You don't need that anymore. Now you need this." That's what trends are. Like I said before, when I go buy something and bring it home, I get a kick out of wow, this actually works with everything that I own. It still surprises me when I do it, because I've been able to sort of curate a uniform, or a wardrobe, that revolves around itself instead of revolving around what the industry has told me I need at that moment. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely right. And I love fashion, but there's a lot of stuff that goes on in the fashion industry that I think is toxic, emotionally and environmentally. Absolutely. That's the big thing on everybody's lips right now. Gucci just today said eco-consciousness and ethical values will be part of their brand moving forward. Or H&M by 2020, whatever they're gonna do with water and their cotton supply chain. 29
"If I'm going to invite a new piece of clothing into my wardrobe, there's been thought behind it." What do you think about these trends with big brands? Does it mean something? Would you buy a product, because of these messages? Yeah, 100 percent. I love fashion, so on social media I follow the big magazines and designers. So I'm very aware when things happen, like last October when Gucci said they weren't gonna be using fur anymore. As a brand right now Gucci is on everybody's lips. Everybody's wearing Gucci. Everyone is. I mean, it's Gucci, Gucci, Gucci, Gucci. It was so smart. Because it's not like Alessandro just became the creative director and then the very next day was like, "Oh, by the way, we're not gonna be doing fur." No. He got the brand to a place where everyone was talking about it and then said, "Now, we're not doing this anymore." So when that story did come out, it was a story. And it was important. And it was big. So, yes. I follow along when those things happen. I notice that H&M has always done a conscious collection, where they've used recycled materials. But overall, I don't know what their impact has been. If they are moving forward and by 2020 want to do these amazing things that they say they're gonna do, I think that it's important. But 30
I'm more inspired by Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood and Dries. With the Ethical Fashion Initiative, it's not about charity. It's about giving these people jobs. It's longevity. So I'm interested in that. And it does inspire me when Gucci says, "We're not using fur anymore." Yeah, it makes me want to go into the Gucci boutique and be like, "Hey, what's up, Gucc?" Let's do it. I do. I like that. I think it's important. I wish everybody cared that much about fashion. And not just about the trend of looking a certain way, but understanding ... Loving fashion so much, I've always known the names of designers and the current creative directors and what their inspirations are. Going back to craftsmanship and quality, as opposed to the mass production of everything. Yes. I mean, wear what you want. Feel gorgeous. If you want the hot new thing, do it. But I always ask myself, am I gonna go buy that hot pink bag or am I gonna spend a little more on a black one that's made of better quality materials that will last longer?
Absolutely. And also shopping for your ethics, because purchase power is a big thing — where you're spending your money and what you're spending it on. Investing in a brand, in a way, is a representation of your values. You know what I mean? It's so true. Yes. 100 percent. I'm also really deeply affected by subtle statements and very visible statements that designers make regarding queer communities. I want to make sure that the designers that I'm wearing respect me as an individual and where I come from and what I represent. I don't want to wear clothing made by someone who's made derogatory statements, or who I find out is involved with maybe not casting a certain model. I watch the collections every season, and I'm very conscious of the diversity that these designers put on the runway, in their ad campaigns. And when I watch documentaries about designers, my eyes are open to who they're working with in their ateliers, who they're collaborating with. I'm very aware of all of those things. Yeah. That's important. It's important, you know. Being on “Sense8” opened my eyes to the world and to different cultures and different people. And so I look for that in everything. Tell us about that. How has being on “Sense8” opened your eyes to the world? And bringing it back to fashion, has it affected how you look at what you wear or what goes in your closet?
110 percent. Traveling all over the world shooting the show opened my eyes to the fact that we are all on the same planet. We're all the same. We're all human beings. We all are coexisting together. But there’s all of this fear based around the fact that we look different, and the things that we do look different. We all do the same exact thing. We all eat. We all sleep. We all make love. We all dance. It just looks different. And people are terrified of things that look different. But you know, some of the villages that the Ethical Fashion Initiative works with are in the slums of Kibera, in Nairobi. I filmed there on “Sense8,” and we were able to give these people extra jobs — the film crew, a casting director, the costume people and the locations people. And, simultaneously, the Ethical Fashion Initiative is making Vivienne Westwood bags right around the corner. Then, when we're filming in London, and I pop into Vivienne Westwood and pick up one of those bags, it feels right. It feels congruent to what I want to be expressing. And it's also, Vivienne happens to fall into my aesthetic of my personal style. She's the originator of punk, the whole "fuck you" to the system. I've got a black Vivienne Westwood Red Label blazer that I think I got in 1999 or 2000, at Century 21 in New York. And I've still got it. It's quality. I've always been a fan. But yes, I look for those things, and I'm inspired by it. We were in Mumbai for I think two weeks filming on “Sense8.” To be there with Tina Desai, who plays Kala on the show, and to smell the smells and taste the flavors of all the different seasoned foods and meet the people … to then know when I'm wearing something Dries van Noten that it was embroidered by people there, that feels good. I think that's 31
what it's about. Giving back in that way. That's so cool. I'm not gonna go out of my way to buy something that isn't my personal style. But I think there are definitely enough designers out there doing enough with sustainable fashion that everybody can find something. You've got Marni, Stella, Dries, Vivienne … Everyone's making stuff that's sustainable, whether it's with vegetable dye or faux fur or vegan leather. Everybody's doing something. So you’re part of a huge campaign now, with Global Fashion Exchange and Fashion Revolution. We're so excited about that. Part of what Fashion Revolution talks about is the demand for transparency from brands. Do you think it's important for consumers to put the task back on the designer? To say, "We want to know where our clothing comes from. We want to know that everything is made and produced safely and is ecologically sound." Yes, 100 percent. I think that it's totally OK to walk into a store and say, "Hey, show me your vegan leather items. Do you use real fur? Do you have any faux fur pieces? Tell me about the sustainability of your brand." Whether you're walking into Macy's or Céline, I think that it's OK to ask those questions. And I think that it's the responsibility of the salespeople to know those things and to know where things are made. It's the #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign. It's the transparency and knowing the artisans. There's a lot of brands out there where everything used to be made in Italy. And now these major, major luxury retailers, a 32
lot of their clothes are the same price point, but you look at the labels and it's not made in EU anymore. Although there's nothing wrong with that, I want to know that these brands are paying a fair wage to those employees. Do they have health insurance? Are these companies just trying to make more money by producing a lower-quality product? Or are they actually doing that to invest in these factories and these people and their livelihood and the sustainability of the planet? Whoo! That was a mouthful. Ah, girl! Transparency. Of course. And you know what? That is very smart. I love that. I'm super into it. Dries doesn't use real fur, and I love that. There are certain things that, just for me, are a no-go. And when someone that I love, like Dries, takes a stand like that, it just makes me love him even more. For Sure. So we've known each other for a while, and I love that you came onboard with Global Fashion Exchange (GFX). Did you ever think that you would kind of be leading this movement? Pushing the envelope outside of just your immediate closet, so to speak? To answer your question, no. I mean, I never dreamed in a million years that these things that I've been putting into practice just for me, in cultivating my personal style … They're just things that I've tried to implement in my life and pass on to my friends. I never realized that the industry was moving in such a sustainable direction.
I think that everything that you're doing with GFX is so brilliant. You're heading this movement in saying, "Let's highlight this. Let's show the world what these designers are doing so that hopefully other designers will follow in their footsteps, so to speak." For me to have been asked to be an ambassador for GFX â€Ś I say that I never thought that it would happen, but in a way it's really congruent with my creative visualization. It's definitely congruent to my beliefs. I don't have the time to be involved with things that I don't wholeheartedly, honestly, truly believe in. And with Global Fashion Exchange, it was a talk that I had with my team. I knew that this was gonna be a commitment. It wasn't just me getting my picture taken as some one-off, frivolous thing. This is a commitment that I'm making to Global Fashion Exchange, to myself, to the industry, to sustainable fashion. And yeah, I'm gonna go buy a new pair of Margiela boots, but I'm gonna wear them with my 20-year-old Vivienne Westwood jacket and my vintage Levi's. For the rest of your life. Yes, exactly. Everyone can get involved with this. Anyone who loves fashion, anyone can get onboard with sustainability. It's fun, and it's easy. And with the clothing swaps that GFX is doing, I can't think of a more fun way for anyone to sort of dip their toe into the idea of sustainability. If you haven't been to one, go. They're fun. It's a great way to expand your wardrobe and invite something new into your closet. Amazing. So I have two more questions. One, what are three tips for readers to
live a more conscious life, while looking and feeling gorgeous? Three top-line Jamie tips. OK. Maybe a super practical one is what we said before. If something in your wardrobe is a little broken or a little busted or a little dingy, always think about refreshing something and giving it new life before getting rid of it. That's the big thing. I love dying things black. If you're sick of something, dye it black. That's, I think, a really fun way so that you don't get rid of it. Don't create more waste. Definitely don't throw things away. I'm really big into donating. In New York, I donated to Housing Works. And now that I live in Los Angeles, I'm always donating to Out of the Closet. Find a thrift shop, a charity shop that's aligned with your passions. For me, it's always something having to do with queer communities. But find that. Always give stuff away. I think that that's really, really important. Give things new life. So repair, dye it black and give it to a charity shop that is aligned with your values or recycle it. Those three things. Yeah. I mean, the repairing and the dying I'm gonna say is one thing. Repair it, dye it, give it new life. Donate things. And then don't be overwhelmed by the idea of living a conscious life. I think it is as simple as walking into a shop or Googling a designer before you invest in something. Find out their practices, whether it's faux fur or vegan or if they're involved with the Ethical Fashion Initiative. Ask if they are involved, and if they're not, if they've ever considered it. Social media is a huge way to be more conscious and be more aware. And definitely 35
think about the longevity of an item before you invite it into your wardrobe. That's it, girl. We're embroidering that and sending it to you as a wall hanging. I love it. I fucking love it. The last question is a big one for me. There's all of this crap that has been created with our generation, generations before, that has contributed to climate change, which is eminently upon us. What's your advice to the next generation, whether related to fashion or not, about how they deal with climate change? Itâ€™s a big question. Yeah, but it's an important question. So, every summer for the past three years Iâ€™ve been volunteering at a summer camp. And the kids are all 8-15 years old â€Ś We eat all the meals in the dining hall, and then we do a couple of outdoor barbecue type dinners during the time that I'm there. Like on the Fourth of July, we barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, and everyone ate on the lawn. And all the kids are responsible for cleaning up their litter. There's not one piece of litter on this entire campus, on these campgrounds. And it's funny, living in New York for 17 years and when I go back to New York now, it breaks my heart the amount of litter in the subways and on the street. I think teaching these kids at camp ... It's such a simple thing when they're there, to teach them not to litter. When I was growing up, like I said before, we were always environmentally conscious. But climate change wasn't a thing that was 36
discussed or talked about. The environment and being "environmentally friendly," it's not enough anymore. And I think that kids are understanding. It is mass-consumerism, and this idea that we constantly need more. Just because there are more people on the planet now, doesn't mean we need more food and more clothes and more. Right. I think it's instilling this value that more isn't better. That's it, right there. Instilling the value that more isn't better. Teaching them to be conscious and to respect the world. Yes, and something as simple as picking up your popsicle wrapper off the lawn. And something as simple as not throwing away a pair of jeans just because they might not be the coolest thing. Dye them black! Dye them black! I think that's incredible. Those are such simple things that you don't see, at least with kids that I know these days. Many of them have not been taught those simple things. It's crazy. I told you from the very beginning, the thing with the clothing swaps is that's something I remember from when I was a kid. And I see it at camp. The kids are constantly swapping clothes at camp. We lose that as adults. I love that you've brought this reminder of my youth to adults. You've given them something, because it's fun and it's smart. It's so smart. Oh, thank you. What we love about it too are the subtle educational tools that go around it. What I really hear from
"Always give stuff away. I think that that's really, really important. Give things new life." your last answer is about instilling that thought process. Getting kids to ask why they need to pick up the wrapper. Exactly. I'm staying in Bushwick in New York right now and was coming out of the deli when some guy took his lunch out of the plastic bag, threw the bag on the ground and walked away. And I picked up the plastic bag, ran after him and gave it back. I hate to say this, but I was like, "What the fuck?" Of course, he wasn't very happy about that, but I'm an impassioned individual. Yeah. But I mean, it's literally our planet. It's our neighborhood. It's our house. It breaks my heart, the way that people treat the subway. You know, all the fires that happen in the subway are because of litter that catches on fire. Yeah. That's crazy. And that's how I would get to work and get to acting class and get places. I would never, in a million years, ever dream of throwing anything onto the subway tracks. That's my livelihood. I don't get it. One thing that I remember when I moved to New York â€Ś it's off-topic, but it's really funny. I remember looking at the sidewalks, and there were all
these black spots. And I was like, what is that? It took me years to realize it was gum. People spitting their gum out onto the sidewalk, and it getting stepped on and stepped on, until it became a part of the sidewalk. Once I realized that, I never, ever, ever once spit out gum. I never did before that anyway. I don't understand the mentality of the disrespect for the environment and your home. Your home. It's your neighborhood. It's your community. I would never in a million years. Global Fashion Exchange is an international platform promoting sustainability in the fashion industry with inspiring forums, educational content and cultural events. Through interactive clothing swaps, GFX empowers consumers to take action for a better environment while they stylishly renew their wardrobe and save hundreds of thousands of clothes from going to landfill. Follow Jamie Clayton at: @msjamieclayton Follow Patrick Duffy at: @mrpatrickduffy Follow GFX at: @globalfashionexchange 37
O T P OPT I IMM II The Regeneration
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Brooklyn-based candle company Keap blends escapist fragrances, developed by master perfumer Christophe Laudamiel, with a pioneering approach to sustainable materials. Each of its candles supports the distribution of solar lamps to communities in need.
Check them out at: keapbk.com Follow them: @keapbk
Keap was started with the simple yet lofty mission to make candles better: using the finest fragrances and purest materials available, and a long-term commitment to eco-effective luxury. Primarily sold via a CSA-like subscription, Keap candle shipments come in rotating seasonal selections, accompanied by collectible limited edition marchboxes by local artists, as well as many other perks. Keap works closely with SolarAid to create a solar revolution: every candle they sell supports distribution costs to get solar lamps to communities in need through their Buy a Candle, Light a Home program. For readers of The Regeneration: Use code REGENERATION-DISCOVERYSET at checkout to get a complimentary discovery set gift card when you sign up for a candle membership. 39
The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès
Words Patrick Duffy 40
For most fashion consumers, Hermès is synonymous with ultimate, and often unattainable, luxury. In recent years, the historic house has become widely recognized for its cult-classic, superstatus pieces named for its own fashion icons, Jane Birkin and Grace Kelly. But what many people don’t know is that the house also has a rather influential (and, one could argue, more subtly chic) foundation focused on art and craftsmanship, aptly named Fondation d’entreprise Hermès. Fondation Hermès has a rich history deeply rooted in craft and design, a direct reflection of the fashion house’s own mission. As a heritage company that ceremoniously refuses to follow trends, Hermès looks outward into the stunning French terrain for its materials and inspiration. For decades the foundation has navigated the challenges of 21st century business with a creative approach, sourcing from the beautiful countryside of Lyon — looking local to support and revitalize the community of skilled workers that make the house famous. “It’s more important to be sincere than to want to seduce at all costs, because that’s the true way to be close to your values and to give meaning to your actions,” says Catherine Tsékénis, director of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès. “In today’s connected society, our actions should be stemmed from ultraism and, fundamentally, rooted in responsibility. For company foundations such as Hermès, this means being responsible for the wealth we’ve been given; we have to give back.”
Et voila, the artist residential program does just that. Annually, the foundation selects artists to receive a hands-on education while working alongside expert craftspeople inside Hermès workshops. Each participant is given the opportunity to engage with artisans skilled in a wide range of mediums and to work with impeccable materials. A rather exciting incubation period, in which these old and new skills and materials merge, results in an original work of aesthetic excellence. Recently, Hermès opened “Les Mains sans sommeil” at Paris’ renowned Palais de Tokyo. The exhibition, which features the work of residency program artists, invites the audience to experience a slower side of fashion that celebrates both craft and process. The exhibition fosters an appreciation for quality over quantity, a welcomed perspective in the wake of a fast-fashion climate desperate for change.
The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès supports men and women seeking to learn, perfect, transmit and celebrate the creative skills. Learn more at: fondationdentreprisehermes.org 41
Orsola de Castro Co-Founder of Fashion Revolution Interview Photos
Kyle Calian Fashion Revolution
Orsola de Castro is the co-founder and creative director of Fashion Revolution, a global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry. Recently, Orsola created Reclaim To Wear, resulting in collaborations with retailers, such as Topshop, as well as projects with Central Saint Martins and Hong Kong Design Institute. Kyle Calian: Letâ€™s just jump right in. Would you describe your path to what you're doing now? Orsola de Castro: I was always a maker of things and a designer, always interested in clothing and fashion and textiles. I started with a very small label, which launched at the end of '97, called From Somewhere. Basically what we did was customize secondhand cashmere jumpers, in particular, but all sorts of other post-consumer waste objects and pieces of clothing. The label was very successful, and it was worn by all of the big-wig celebrities at the time. I was a designer recuperating things that other people abandoned, because it rang true to my creative process. My first collection at London Fashion Week was called, "Abandoned and Reclaimed Women's Wear." We went by the kind of mission statement
that redemption is possible. The label was successful. We were on "Sex and the City." It was sold internationally to very high-end boutiques. Then, in 2006, I was asked by the British Fashion Council to curate and found their first area entirely dedicated to sustainability in fashion. And so, I coined the name Esthetica and, together with my partner, we started this journey. Esthetica at London Fashion Week ran from 2006 until 2014, and we showcased the best of international sustainable fashion. We launched the careers of Christopher Raeburn and Katie Jones, and we hosted Bruno Pieters with Honest By and People Tree. We were visited by almost all important international press; Suzy Menkes was a fan. We worked with several international boutiques. It was a very successful space. In 2013, the Rana Plaza disaster occurred. 43
And after a journey of seeing how my own creativity could have an impact in terms of sustainability, I thought, OK creativity is one thing but we just need to get into action. Carry [Somers] called me, and sheâ€™d had this amazing idea for Fashion Revolution, and immediately I jumped and said of course. Together we set out what Fashion Revolution meant for us, what it was going to be. Not just a commemorative event but the start of a movement. I'd been working in this space for such a long time, and the group in London was so strong. There was a big community in the U.K. dedicated to sustainability in fashion and raising awareness and raising the bar of the conversation. So, we cherry picked, and we got this amazing team together. This is how Fashion Revolution was born. Great. And what is your vision and mission with Fashion Revolution? First of all, our vision was that of speaking a fashion language, so being really pertinent to people that are interested in fashion. Changing the fashion industry from the core. If you want to have an effect on something, you have to understand your audience. We wanted to talk to consumers, to render them aware of what was going on via a very spontaneous and individual process. This is why we always say, â€œBe curious, find out and do something." There is a stage at which our curiosity can lead us to action and understanding what one can do about the impact of the fashion industry with our everyday choices. We also set out to have an influence in terms of the policy makers, so we created events at the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Most recently, we presented at the European Parliament. 44
The first day we started our proper campaign on the 24 of April 2014, we already knew that we'd had a massive impact in terms of people. You know, we trended worldwide on Twitter. And so we could see the change. People were ready to change. The more we grow (we're only at our fifth year) the more we see that we can have impact across the fashion supply chain. We've been really good at connecting people with garment workers with our hashtag #WhoMadeMyClothes. We've done projects related to garment workers, so we've tried to have as much impact on that, on people's lives and their environment. We talk about the effect and the negative impact of the production supply chain in terms of chemical usage, pollution, water usage, toxicity. And we also then inevitably talk about the consumer and what mass productions look like. How could we potentially be more mindful in our choices and slow down the system to make it more sustainable? So we have a very wide remit of actions. To a certain extent, it is a measure of our efficiency that we manage to make people interested in and more knowledgeable about all the different areas that can potentially affect and interest them. You have a pretty diverse number of publications and resources available on the Fashion Revolution website. Can you tell me about some of the work happening at the organization? My God, we do so many things. Again, we have to look at it as if we are almost acting with two remits. One is the policy focus, so that's our Fashion Transparency Index. The 2017 version has been read over 30,000 times, which is huge for a resource that talks
about the complicated issue of transparency and above all public disclosure of brands.
We really do make a special focus on being visually very interesting and intriguing.
It's a highly complicated document, but it's very comprehensive. It's not an endorsement of brands; it's very impartial, very focused on just giving the information that is available. To a certain extent, itâ€™s doing a very thorough job of research on behalf of whoever reads it.
We've partnered with Greenpeace recently, and we created a series of events as part of their Make Something Week. This is something that we were very focused on, going back to reevaluating skills and loving our clothes for a long time. As well as our #WhoMadeMyClothes and #IMadeMyClothes hashtags, we launched the #LovedClothesLast hashtag, which was used, for instance, by Stella McCartney during her Earth Day campaign. It really is about making people conscious of the fact that their wardrobe is a part of the fashion supply chain. Therefore, any changes on their behalf will have a lasting impact. It's an important step in the right direction.
But we also want to reach our audiences with ways that they can do things themselves, and therefore our fan zines come into play. They're very creative. They're talking about something serious but in a playful, innovative, spontaneous, poetic way. We're very careful with our language and with our imagery, so it always says things in a relevant, engaging, often positive way.
We've also worked with some insanely famous YouTubers, such as CutiePieMarzia, who has something like 10 million followers, and Grav3yardGirl and LaMadelynn. Rather than haul, we ask them to do a #Haulternative. So maybe swapping or mending, buying younger designers or buying second hand and vintage, customizing and so on and so forth. We try to really have a wide scope of initiatives and resources that are available to all and that fit different cultures, different situations. We put out a series of podcasts from our Garment Worker Diaries project. They were all on garment workers and their health and environment and their working habits and their families. The podcast actually is really successful. It's been downloaded over a thousand times just in the last month. That is really about connecting consumers and citizens to garment workers and their lives. So, we have a very wide range of initiatives and projects aimed to really show the full spectrum of the fashion supply chain and what can be done. Do you find it difficult to juggle all of these different endeavors? Personally, as creative director, no. It's very much the way that I operate. And in that sense we go back to the first question â€” how we all started and the fact that we managed to put together a team that is varied and very capable in different aspects. Carry and I are also very different. So if I am the more artistic one, then she is more policy focused and more strategic, numerical than I am. That's the reason we've managed to have this kind of very strong double-pronged approach to the way that we want to communicate. So no, we don't find it difficult to manage, 48
because it's very much us. It's how we want to be and what we feel we are. I don't deny that it's an enormous amount of work, that we are a young organization. We do need to grow our workforce and the people that work with us, because what is difficult is the amount of work we have because of the huge appetite that we've encountered. Thinking externally, what do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the fashion industry right now? You know, again, we're lucky that we have over 100 country coordinators, so we have a very huge understanding of what happens
locally. It is impossible to say that there is a pressing issue or a few pressing issues. It's the entirety of the fashion industry that needs to change. In fact, you have a glossary from A to Z of things that need to happen, things that have been happening that we need to know more about and issues that need to be changed. We know, obviously, climate change. We know, obviously, gender imbalances of power. We know overproduction, mass production, overconsumption, disposability, pollution of the oceans. There is not one simple piece that takes over from the others, and that's why it's important to act together. Because people that are interested in all of those areas need to facilitate change.
And on the opposite side of that coin, what are you most excited about right now in the fashion world? I'm most excited about the next generations. I'm a privileged person, because I teach and lecture very regularly, particularly at very important fashion schools, such as Central Saint Martins. We are very closely in touch with students globally, with our student ambassador scheme, and that really keeps us going. Seeing the new generations, not just of consumers but of designers and young business people and communicators wanting to make a difference. Sustainability is hugely in demand when it comes to universities. It's actually the 49
students that are asking their educators to tell them more about the subject. They are really embarking on a journey of exploration, so there's no question that change is at hand. The reality is though, that perhaps there isn't time to wait for them to become the next fashion designers, the next CEOs, the next people in power. In between now and then, we still need to apply an awful lot of pressure. I'm excited by the passion behind initiatives that are being born, the fact that there is so much available these days compared to even just three, four years ago in terms of understanding the difficult moments that we are facing and how we must all act for change. But I do feel that social media, social networks and communication in general 50
have opened this kind of Pandora's box. There is a genuine feel that we can start acting in our own homes every day. And I feel that there is the exuberance to start doing it. You know, I think everything has become visible now. Before it wasn't. It was still invisible. We now see the pollution in the oceans and the overconsumption of clothing and, you know, situations such as Africa refusing to take our secondhand clothing or China refusing to take our rubbish anymore. It's visible. It's palpable. And that has accelerated things enormously I think. That's the biggest challenge with climate change as a whole; in some ways, it is a very invisible problem. What has been your biggest surprise, so far, in doing this work?
"In 10 years time it's not going to be called the sustainable fashion industry. It's going to be the fashion industry, but it's going to be more sustainable."
Everything has been a big surprise. First of all, the fact that I ended up doing this. I am 100 percent a creative person, and I spent most of my life in the studio putting together pieces of fabric and making clothes. The progression then — becoming kind of a curator and working with Esthetica, and then starting Fashion Revolution — has been surprising on a personal level. But mostly, I feel that what has surprised me is the good will. I felt that it was going to take longer to see spontaneous action, and it has accelerated to a point in which I read the newspaper and I think oh, my God. These guys are doing this, and look what's happening here. I feel that there is a genuine resurface of different values. And despite the really difficult things that are happening — socially, politically, from Brexit to Trump to all the horrible things that we're seeing — the dialogue around things is encouraging. And in that same vein, what has been your proudest accomplishment? The latest fan zine, which is called "Loved Clothes Last," is something I am extremely proud of. It puts together everything that is
me. My label was all about upcycling, and so for many years I've been known as the queen of upcycling. I worked with Topshop. I worked with Speedo. It's what I did as a designer. So to be able to then create an instrument for change that puts together that knowledge, but at the same time talks about issues that are so dear to me, such as mass consumption, overproduction, disposability and so on and so forth ... I’m proud of its success. It’s been really well received. And when it comes to Fashion Revolution, I think that collectively we are proudest of the fact that in a short space of time we have managed to actually effect change. It's not just the impact on the people that have supported us, but also the Transparency Index being taken so seriously and downloaded and read so many times. It is potentially read more by the fashion industry than the consumers. So we have had a genuine effect, in terms of how the fashion industry has adopted change. We've seen more brands publishing their first- and second-tier supply chain since we started our Transparency Index. That's rapidly increasing, and we've known of 51
Model Renee Peters @renee.elizabethpeters
companies that have done it explicitly because we were producing this body of work. They wanted to be a part of it. That's been something that we are really proud of, as well as rendering people that were very invisible, such as garment workers and supply chain workers, rendering them visible. Giving them a voice and ensuring that at least, if you want to, you can have access to them and hear them. Changing the tone a little bit here, who are some of your biggest influences? On a personal level, it's hard to say. I'm a very curious person, so I will switch rapidly from one to the other. I'm extremely interested in literature. I read a lot ... It's poets and writers and painters. I'm very interested in the arts, so I can't kind of focus it. Itâ€™s almost as if for each area of my life I have a strong influence. So, difficult question. When it comes to Fashion Revolution, I think that the influencers for us are those individuals who are brave and courageous and stand out. We are influenced by the people that speak up. By our supply chain. By the people that are driving change at whatever level. It's hard to pinpoint individuals, because Fashion Revolution is so much about the global. I guess, potentially, we like this democratic feeling of being influenced by the people that are part of the revolution itself. Yeah, definitely. Do you have some favorite designers or companies that you're proud of or excited about? In the U.K., there are some designers that we work with regularly, from Christopher Raeburn to Katie Jones and Bethany Williams, a young designer. But I'm proud
of the work of organizations and brands that we've done nothing with, you know? Reformations in the U.S. They're doing an amazing job. People Tree continues to do an amazing job and, of course, we're looking at Stella McCartney being a total game changer and Patagonia. There are so many right now that are moving the right direction. I tend to be a champion of the underdog in my personal journey. It is very much about encouraging young designers to work differently, and that's the work that I do. I'm also one of the judges for this amazing competition called the Redress Design Awards. I've been doing that for six years, and it's all about promoting new talent. I very much believe that the fashion industry of the future will have way more biodiversity. It's not going to be about just the high street and the high end and the big corporations. It's going to have more space for artisanal brands, smaller brands, slower brands. Brands that are born transparent and sustainable from day one and for that reason, they potentially will never become global. I believe that the future is very much about looking for those brands. And I think that what I am the most proud of is that to a certain extent, both personally and with Fashion Revolution, we are having a significant part in influencing them in their design focus and design change. How can people get involved with Fashion Revolution? The easiest way is to follow us on social media, to look at our website, to download our resources. Again, as we say, â€œBe curious. Find out. Do something.â€? We might be the right organization for you. There might be 53
enough in our website resources and social media for you to become involved. But if not, we also give a huge and very comprehensive list of other organizations that are doing things in different ways. Because our real remit is that of connecting everyone to everyone else. So, again, be curious, find out and do something. And be involved in the revolution in general, if not just the Fashion Revolution. Great. Finally, in previous interviews you've mentioned the framework of how we talk about sustainability and fashion. Do you want to touch upon that? I feel that for a long time the words sustainable fashion and ethical fashion had a very bad stigma. It was almost like the country cousin. In a way, I have a conspiracy theory that the high street and the mainstream and the luxury fashion had to somehow stigmatize us, because they couldn't somehow yet be us. And so I feel that this is different now, and I personally don't like the words ethical fashion or sustainable fashion.I believe that fashion is fashion, and then there should be unsustainable fashion and unethical fashion. I'm really noticing a great shift in the way that things are communicated. A brand is no longer just ethical. The media, the journalists understand that it's not just a sustainable fashion brand. It is a brand that uses materials in a innovative way. It is a brand that recycles their pre-consumer or post-consumer waste. It is a brand that is looking to reduce their social impact by paying proper wages. I'm beginning to see the biodiversity in terms of description that can only come from knowledge of the issue. It was frustrating 54
when everything was just ethical, eco or sustainable. We are moving toward a much more literate understanding of how to talk about it. And therefore, I think that this argument on sustainable fashion and ethical fashion will be obsolete very soon. That's why I tend to use the word regenerative so much, and that's why the magazine is called The Regeneration. Because it implies positive feedback loops, and it implies more of an ecological, integrative approach to design. Yeah. We can't just put it on fashion. It's the whole of the industry that needs to incorporate those words. And then it's still that industry, you know? In 10 years time it's not going to be called the sustainable fashion industry. It's going to be the fashion industry, but it's going to be more sustainable. I feel that we're moving toward a different vocabulary that definitely stems from the fact that we are more knowledgeable and more informed on the issues. Check them out online at: fashionrevolution.org Follow them at: @fash_rev
2018 Fashion Revolution Campaign Art Direction & Creative Production Novel Beings Photography Alastair Strong Styling Matthew Needham, assisted by Rosie Harris Makeup Melanie Christou Hair Betty Bee Location Sunbeam Studios Retouching The Laundry Room
Featuring fashion revolutionaries @ novembermeetsmay (wearing secondhand jacket and skirt from @traid, shirt and t-shirt stylists own) and @lukevsmith (wearing @ jodieruffle jacket, hoodie stylistâ€™s own, trousers @mpfneedham)
New Rules of Retail Engagement: The Quest for Purity in Products
Words Brooke Blashill 56
As a marketer in the fashion industry, I have contributed to both the problem and the solution. It is difficult to continue romancing the idea of consumerism, when over 11 million tons of clothes end up in U.S. landfills each year. Working in an industry that is the secondlargest polluter and contributor to climate change, I feel a responsibility to shift the conversation, inspire people to ask where their clothes come from and help consumers make better decisions. This is not always easy. Though 90 percent of millennials say they will buy from a brand whose social and environmental practices they trust, just making an informed choice about which T-shirt to purchase can leave you feeling like Nancy Drew. The quest for transparency has evolved into a deeper need for product “purity.” It happened in the food industry, and it is slowly making its way into retail, services and experiences. Consumers want clean and honest items that are not harmful to the environment or the workers making them. According to Nielsen, 66 percent of millennials are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. This shift is not about altruism — it is driven by millennials’ desire to make choices that represent who they are and what they believe. These 2.5 billion “aspirational consumers” are becoming increasingly interested in — and basing their decisions on — the environmental and social impacts of their purchases. Spurred by this next generation of highpowered, conscious consumers, retailers are beginning to address business functions where quick and impactful
changes can be made, such as marketing, while other parts of the business play catch-up. Being at the forefront of this industry transformation is like riding a bike that is still being built. Powerful changes are happening, and brands are working quickly to bring solutions to the market, sometimes prematurely. Which means that although we are getting great sustainability stories, some products might yet lack authenticity.
What can we do in the meantime? As consumers, we can educate ourselves on the value of items and what to do at the end of their useful lives. Can you keep that shirt, those shoes or that bedding longer than six months? Do you know the responsible way to give a product a second life, such as recycling or donating it? Here is some inspiration from stylish brands that are doing good:
Apparel Christopher Raeburn christopherraeburn.co.uk Luxurious, handcrafted products made from re-appropriated military fabrics sourced throughout Europe and produced in England. Photo by @christopherraeburn
The RealReal therealreal.com Leader in extending the life cycle of luxury items and one of the top online consigners â€” ensuring everything is 100 percent authentic, while giving new life to brands from Chanel to Cartier. Photo by @therealreal
Shoes All Birds allbirds.com Simple, stylish, comfortable shoes made from Marino wool and natural materials, without a premium price. Materials are produced in Italy and shoes are ethically hand assembled in South Korea. Photo by @allbirds
Home Detroit Rose Candles detroitrose.com Beautiful-smelling candles hand poured using 100 percent natural, non-GMO, soy wax, lead-free cotton wicks and premium fragrance oils. Made in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by @sugarmilkk
Brick And Mortar Fairlight NYC 13 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014 Smartly curated shop in the West Village with a knowledgeable staff and a stylish selection of emerging sustainable designers. Photo by @littlesunlady Model @zeliseb
Accessories Soko shopsoko.com Ethical jewelry and accessories produced from sustainable materials, such as recycled brass and reclaimed cow horn and bone. Made in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by @lorenzinilifestyle
Simply Straws simplystraws.com Sleek-designed, handmade, reusable glass drinking straws that come in a rainbow of colors. Made in the U.S.A. Great way to reduce plastic waste! Photo by @chanellesladics (shout out to @yerba_mate)
Brooke Blashill is a senior vice president at Ogilvy, the award-winning global advertising agency, with a master’s degree in global fashion management from FIT. She founded and leads The Boutique, an international retail division dedicated to helping fashion, luxury and e-commerce brands develop creative and effective marketing strategies.
Blashill is also the recipient of PR Week’s esteemed “40 under 40” award and cofounder of the Global Fashion Exchange, an educational sustainability platform and brand consultancy. globalfashionxchange.org Instagram @vonblashill
Photo Terrence McCarthy
Rebecca van Bergen Founder of Nest Interview Photos
Kyle Calian Sara Otto
Rebecca van Bergen is the founder and executive director of Nest, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing global artisans, their families and their communities by helping them build sustainable businesses. She founded Nest after graduating with a master's degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis in 2006, and has since been recognized for her leadership by PBS, CNN, the Clinton Global Initiative and the White House.
Kyle Calian: What led you to start Nest? Rebecca van Bergen: I founded Nest almost 12 years ago. I was 24 and had just graduated with my master's in social work. At the time, Muhammad Yunus had just won the Nobel Peace Prize for microfinance, and people in the international development world were kind of calling it a solution to poverty. It was scaling really quickly, and from the lens of social work and working directly with people, it seemed like that model would have a lot of challenges for women, largely that lending in our countryâ€”that's debt. That's not a business. So how do you make sure that it's not just about giving people debt, but also ensuring they have
the tools and the market reach to grow a business? The mission of Nest then, and still today, was really around holistic support for artisans and how to build businesses beyond just financing. Got it. So is that what inspired the mission behind Nest? Basically that. Craft is the second-largest employer of women in emerging markets. But it's often kind of seen as less scalable than other sectors, like agriculture, coffee, farming or other things. So it's really been, in my very humble opinion, underresourced and under-invested in. And that might be because it's a predominantly female sector. Despite employing so many workers around the world, the innovation and development and support for this 61
sector has really not been as strong. So how can we help mobilize attention, resources and support to artisan businesses? I can see that Nest is a multifaceted organization, but I'm assuming that didn't start all at once. What was the first service you offered, and how did it develop from there? That's definitely true. We kind of always, though, wanted to look at the supply chain in its totality. Both working directly with artisan businesses â€” which we do now through our Guild, which is an openaccess network of artisan business â€” but also working with brands on developing sourcing strategies. Because if you direct resources and attention to artisans, but the brands have no purchasing power, 62
that's ultimately not sustainable. The converse is also true, if you work with brands and there's no scalable artisan partners. So how do you straddle the supply chain and work on both supply and demand, so there's more sustainability and seamlessness in artisan sourcing? You've done a really incredible job turning the problem into an opportunity. I was looking at the recent report you put out on your model for systems change. Can you talk about how you created that and the philosophy behind it? For the early stages we were a little more grassroots and really focused on working directly with artisans. Over the last 12 years or so, we've really shifted our
model to be more systems change. In part because we really noticed that, because of the lack of innovation and support for this sector, there were very large policy, sectorwide challenges prohibiting brands from deeper sourcing strategies. But we also saw artisan businesses in Swaziland, Africa, and in India, and in Peru all struggling with quite similar challenges, despite being in very different cultures and geographies. So, zooming out a little bit, we really saw a need for larger systems work. It goes back to that concept of looking at a supply chain in its totality. How are we driving demand amongst consumers? How are we supporting artisan businesses and vendors? How are we supporting the industry for better practices? A lot of it, we've come to realize, is
related to government policy and local labor laws (and/or the enforcement or lack of enforcement of those issues). We have seen that across the spectrum, from the individual person to the larger system within which they live and operate and work. A slightly wider lens is important. It really orients the work around the problems. I imagine finding artisans around the world was a pretty incredible task. How did you go about finding them, or did they find you? At the very beginning, I did research and found some. At this point, they find us. We used to select around 10 or 15 artisan businesses that we'd really invest in over the course of a year. We launched the Guild three to four years ago, because so many artisan businesses were reaching out to us.
I mean, when 200 businesses reach out to you in the course of a year and you're doing 10 projects, you're not meeting the demand. We launched the Guild as a way to create a robust pipeline into our more intensive work, but also to provide some level of support and assistance to this global community, since we realized the size and scope was there. Can you talk more about the Guild, just to give our readers some context? Sure. We launched an open-access network called the Guild. It's over 400 businesses across 70 countries and over 100,000 individual artisan workers. We provide several things to the Guild as a 64
whole. We provide sourcing, so we give our brand partners access to the Guild to find new vendor partners. We run a professional fellowship program where we match individuals or companies with employee engagement programs that want to do robust, very project-specific work with artisan vendors. So that could look like redefining a website. It could be a webinar on pricing strategy. We offer a range of professional development and project-based, pro bono consulting to the Guild through that program. Then, we still select about 10 to 15 [businesses] that we do much more in-depth work with over the course of a year, including on-site consulting. So that's kind of how that works.
So the logical next step was the new compliance you've been working on for homes and small workshops? Yeah. So about 50 percent of our time we work directly with artisan businesses, and that's the Guild work. The remainder 50 percent we consult with brands on artisan sourcing strategy. That can be matchmaking from within the Guild or helping design and production teams know best practices when sourcing from an alternative population. But one of the really consistent challenges we saw time and again over the years was that because workers are outside of a traditional factory, they're usually in their homes or in these small workshops. Compliance programs were not designed for that population, so two things were happening. A company would decide it was too risky to work with an invisible population of workers in their homes, and so they wouldn't source artisan. Or they would try to force their factory systems on women in their homes, which also doesn't work. We really saw that as a barrier to artisan businesses scaling within current, larger companies. So about three years ago, in partnership with West Elm and a steering committee of brand partners â€” Target, Patagonia, PVH, Eileen Fisher, Children's Place, a whole group of them â€” we co-created the first set of industry-wide standards for work outside the factory and the assessment (or the more technical term, auditing) of those workers. As a nonprofit, we made sure that it was training and remediation-focused. It's not about taking a clipboard and
checking boxes. It's really about arming those businesses with policies and best practices and templates, so they can have the transparent supply chain that a brand wants but that also serves them well as a business. I hate the word empowerment, but it is on-the-ground, training first, really working with the artisan vendor as a partner to create these systems. It sounds like Nest is not a traditional nonprofit organization, in the sense that you also have an integrated, fee-for-service for brands. Was that to make the company more financially sustainable, or how did it come about? That's kind of always been part of our work. I think what's really shifted is the caliber and the size of the brand. When I started Nest 12 years ago, "artisan" wasn't a buzzword. There wasn't a maker's movement. None of that really existed. The interest from big companies like Target and West Elm now, that being such a core part of their business, has really been an exciting shift in the industry. But I think the bigger shift is these kind of consumer trends and interests in artisan that have brought larger partners to the table in interesting ways. Before, in our earlier days, it was niche brands that were really interested in this. Now, it's much more mainstream. Is the leadership summit a way for you to bring brands and artisans together in the same place? Yeah, that's exactly right. Once a year we bring 10 to 20 artisan leaders to New York City. I'd say, by and large, most of them have never left their countries, let 65
alone come to New York. We really do industry immersion and allow the artisan businesses to see how a major company, like West Elm, works. I think it provides a lot of clarity. There tends to be misunderstanding on both sides. An artisan business not understanding how a two-day delay sets off this huge challenge for the company in terms of merchandising, catalog development, all these things. Then, vice versa, corporate teams often have a lot to learn from working with a producing group that's not a factory and the kind of challenges. We really see it as an important bridge-building mechanism between artisans and brands. The other thing about the Guild that is special and is brought out in the leadership summit is the interconnectivity of the artisan businesses themselves. There are so many amazing artisan businesses operating right now and so many women around the world that are artisans. Mercado Global is doing amazing things. SOKO Kenya's doing amazing things. You hear about all of the-se incredible businesses, but they're not often inter-connected. How we build a stronger peer-to-peer community is another import-ant aspect of what we hope to do. That's incredible. It really is. So youâ€™ve just put out this Nest compliance for homes and small workshops. What do you feel is next? We have a lot of work to do. We were kind of in the pilot phase with that program, so this was the launch. Now, we're moving from the core brands that were part of this initial steering committee to working with 66
the larger industry as a whole. We unveiled a consumer seal, which is also something we've never done before. A lot of our work historically has been B2B, working with artisan vendors and working with brands. I think this is a big first for the organization in terms of really bringing mainstream consumers into our work and into the importance of this sector, which is super exciting but a lot to do. Absolutely. And I think there's a lot of potential for scale there too. What has been your biggest challenge over the years building Nest? There are a lot of misconceptions about the artisan sector. That's been a big one. In terms of philanthropy and foundations, there have been a lot that are hesitant to invest in the artisan sector. I think they saw it as not scalable, or very geographically specific, and really didn't see the interconnectivity of the workforce like we do. So that's been a big challenge. Although, I think the tides are starting to turn. The other big challenge, which we didn't even know until this past year, is that significant portions of current production are happening in homes or small workshops. That might not be high-skill, artisan work, but it's women working with their hands, sewing soles on shoes or even just ironing and poly-bagging goods. There's over 300 million home workers in the world, according to the ILO. That's a lot of people. So in addition to the scale of craft, there's there is also this more manual labor workforce. Which is why, in our convening this year, we launched the term "handworker." We really see our work
Photo Sara Otto
Photo Caroline Ashkar
"How can we use those types of businesses and opportunities to reach immigrant women, or women of color, or rural women or former textile towns? There's so much opportunity for reimagining what craft business looks like in the United States." as working with women that are using their hands … regardless of the skill level of the technique. I think we've even been surprised to see the true scale of the sector. But consumers are just getting their heads around the idea of factory conditions and factory labor. To expect a consumer to understand the next step of subcontracting and who these women are is a big leap. I think that's going to be a challenge for us, how we talk about that. But it’s also really exciting. And then, what has been your proudest accomplishment? Whew. There's been a lot. The United Nations was really exciting. I didn't fully appreciate until the day came how amazing it would be to have a really multilateral group of people — from government, to philanthropy, to brands, to artisan leaders, to consumers — all in the same room. And in such an amazing 68
venue as the U.N., which is about global understanding and diplomacy. It was really amazing to see that level of commitment and such a powerful lineup of speakers and participants really coming together. Some of our concerns about lack of interest or lack of scalability in this sector were kind of negated that day. We've seen the momentum since then. I think this year and next year will be really, really exciting to finally see some of those conversations shift and attention brought to this population of women. What are some trends you're seeing in the world of sustainability? It sounds like artisans are going to scale a lot. Is there anything else on the horizon? One thing that's been interesting is there's a lot of interest in the U.S. I think that is pushing the envelope in interesting ways. The maker's movement has a very strong foothold in places like Brooklyn, but I think
it's really starting to expand. And people are starting to see that as an opportunity to reach more diverse groups of makers that may be less established. How can we use those types of businesses and opportunities to reach immigrant women, or women of color, or rural women or former textile towns? There's so much opportunity for reimagining what craft business looks like in the United States, which is something we're really excited about. As am I. Who are some of your biggest influences? Whew. We have quite a few. There's a woman on our advisory board we've done a lot of work with named Natalie Chanin. She runs a business called Alabama Chanin in Florence, Alabama. She's been doing it for 20 years and has really been one of the mothers of understanding work in the United States. How to work with cultural traditions here, and the importance of making and home-based work for American women. So she's one of my idols and mentors for sure. I think we've been really lucky in that we have an incredible board and advisory board full of lots of people who have devoted their life to these issues. Marty Cordes, of the Cordes Foundation, sits on our board. They've been one of the first philanthropic foundations to really devote the entirety of their portfolio to ethical fashion, artisan work and this population of women around the world â€” and to really see the need and the potential in that sector. I'm hugely amazed by Marty. It's a family foundation, so it's Marty Cordes, Ron Cordes and their daughter Steph.
They're amazing. Those jump to mind, but I'm sure there's many others, too. Finally, how can people either get involved with or support Nest? Multiple ways. I mentioned we have a professional fellowship program where people can volunteer to do pro bono consulting with our artisan partners, which is amazing. And that doesn't have to be just within fashion or design. We have tech, and we have business. We have a whole host of things. If you think about running a small business, and the huge range of needs that you have, obviously it kind of follows that we would need a huge range of fellows. So that's one great way. Another is that we run what we call our co-op community. It's a membershipbased program. We do events, and you get insider news. It's $250 a year, so it's really accessible, and you can donate monthly. But it's a great way to kind of get plugged into what Nest is doing. Check them out online at: buildanest.org Follow them at: @buildanest
Innovation at Cobalt
Editor's note: The transcript below is a clip, which has been edited for clarity, from a more extensive interview with The Regeneration Magazine. Kyle Calian: So, Li & Fung is a global supply chain manager for lots of big brands. Can you tell me a little bit about your process, and how companies seek you out or vice versa? How do you end up fostering those relationships and how does that process work?
Interview Kyle Calian Photos Charlyne Thorn and Cobalt 70
Katie-Jane Bailey: Indeed, we are probably one the largest companies you never heard
of, worth approx $16 billion. Our reach is massive. I head up design and creative of a knitwear division at Cobalt. Our scope is worldwide spanning the U.K., U.S., Europe and other Asian markets. Our customers are diverse in multi-tier distribution from luxury bespoke to mass market giants and discounters, many of which are household names. In addition to brands, we partner closely with retailers on the design of their labels. As a realist I recognize being the biggest doesn't automatically make us the best, a notion that drives me to pursue product design with passion and purpose. I am proud to say we are product specialists known for creating beautiful trend-driven knitwear that is inherently zero waste by classification. We utilize our extensive knowledge of yarn as well as our technical and manufacturing knowhow to allow our strategic customers or ‘partners’ the opportunity to work in the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which makes cotton production better for the people who produce it by valuing organic and recycled cotton over conventional cotton. That being said, you can't pull the wool ….. the existing supply chain is challenged and not sustainable. Turning a blind eye was never an option but we are shifting towards transparency and collaboration, both internally and externally, to creatively problem solve, which is essential to survive and shape the future. Even though we work one stitch at a time, our scale means that any small difference equates to a massive change. It all starts with design, so the better our choices, processes and execution than the better the product will be. After embarking on years of self-directed sustainable and cradle to cradle education, it was time to apply creativity to an established
and traditional industry to shake it up for the better. We are not just changing the supply chain but recreating it entirely from the lens and starting point of design. I understand you are also pioneering a digital sampling process to help address the issue of sampling waste in the fashion industry. What's that all about — why does it matter? We are moving away from analog to digitize each step in the supply chain so its fully digitalized end-to-end. Virtual sampling is one part of that. Creating a virtual sample saves time and significantly reduces the vast amounts of energy and resources that go into making real physical samples , which works wonders in mitigating the industry's waste issue. If you look at the process of design — getting one single item into a shop floor — we might go through about 25 or more samples for that one style. Given our scale, that's a lot of samples and waste . The majority of those samples are produced in China or in Asia, but our customers are global. Think about the carbon emissions alone on transportation, plus the raw material that we're using and wasting and the energy that's been used and wasted along the way. We’re trying to eliminate all of that. Our design teams are undergoing expedited training working in a co-creation process so that we can digitally visualize styles with actual yarns and fits, rendering designs to real-life models. Through this we cut development time down from weeks to hours, avoiding depletion of natural resources and saving energy. This process also offers a greater variety of options at a 71
lower cost It's quantifiable and staggeringly better for the environment. This pioneering process allows us to create fast fashion design with zero waste or negative impact. We are led by innovation. We partner with institutes, consumers, retailers and external innovators to find the latest technologies that produce better materials and knitwear. With our extensive trend and market intelligence services including retail reports, runway reviews, data analytics and sustainability design core, it really is spinning a yarn to the supply chain of the future But when it comes to my process, one of my main responsibilities is to research what our customers' sustainability goals are, whether small or ambitious, and then articulate those findings to our team so that I can say, "This is our customer, they
are looking to achieve XYZ within the next two years, and then this is how you can strategically make a step towards it, to at least meet on, if not surpass it." And of course, we try to reach the stars. And we want to exceed them and be leaders, and truly partner with our retail customers to join this journey of a sustainable future, because I do think they look to us to provide guidance. Because of these simple, meaningful changes we can now have that direct dialogue with the retailers about these topics. Our communication approach is that we understand the negative impact of our industry, but we have a lot to do, and we really can't do it alone, and so we need partnerships that allow us to problem-solve collaboratively. Do you think you're there yet, or is
there still a lot of work to be done? We're not all the way there at all, but we've made progress, and that's the most important thing. Itâ€™s the end of a chapter and the start of a new awesome book where creative teams are changemakers to build the systems of the future. Katie-Jane Bailey, Senior Vice President of design and creative at Cobalt Knitwear is an accomplished creative executive with proven success in global markets. She employs her business acumen, design leadership skills, and knowledge of effective team building strategies to drive positive revenue growth for her clients.
ConsciousTee aims to spread good vibes with ethically and sustainably made organic cotton tees and sweatshirts!
We love our planet. That is why, as a startup, we do our best to be kind and loving to the environment. Our tees and sweatshirts are made with organic cotton (approved by the Global Organic Textile Standard and Soil Association Organic), and they are manufactured solely using renewable green energy from wind and solar power. We also care about the wonderful people making our tees. That is why being approved by the Fair Wear Foundation is so important to us, as it ensures good, fair and responsible labor conditions.
Check them out at: conscioustee.co.uk Follow them: @conscioustee_ 74
A T-shirt shouldn't just be a T-shirt; it should be a compassionate, sustainable and ethical T-shirt.
all inclusive sizing responsible materials conscious education
A V A I L A B L E M AY 2 0 1 8 A LY N E D T O G E T H E R . U S 75
Buy Fewer, Better Clothes
Words Jacinta FitzGerald 76
It used to be that I’d know if bell bottoms were making a comeback by reading my air-freighted copy of Vogue six weeks after they were on the Paris runway. Now, a quick check of my Instagram feed tells me minutes after Kendall Jenner has crossed the Bowery in velvet flares, and I can shop that look in seconds. Social media influencers, funded by brands ranging from Boohoo to Bottega Veneta, offer a continually changing array of looks. The speed of new offerings leaves us no time to cultivate our own style before one trend passes and another one takes its place. Our desire for new clothes is insatiable. More than 100 billion garments are produced each year, a 100 percent increase over the year 2000. That’s 14 new pieces of clothing annually for every person on the planet. But according to one Greenpeace study, we only wear 60 percent of what’s in our wardrobe. Globally, one garbage truck of textile waste is sent to landfill or burned every second. Yes, you read that right, every second. At present we only recycle 13 percent of our clothes. The rest go to landfill or are incinerated. Let me say right now that the dump is never the best option for your used clothes. Waste is not the only problem with our burgeoning taste for new clothes. While shoppers are being seduced by on-trend imagery and aspirational lifestyles, workers are being exploited, toxic chemicals are flowing into local drinking water sources and our global resources are dwindling. The way we consume clothes through buying, using and tossing is not sustainable.
As the European Commission’s Kristine Dorosko told Sourcing Journal: “We are currently living on 1.6 planets ... We are using 10 times more natural resources than 100 years ago.”
your clothes, and rather than following the latest trends, become a trendsetter yourself. Experiment with new styles. Try setting a goal of not buying anything new for three to six months.
So what’s a clothes-loving girl to do? No one wants to be responsible for contributing to this mess. The best way to start is to stop. Before making a new purchase, stop and think: Do I really love this? Is it going to add value to my wardrobe? Is it durable and well made? Will I wear it often? And do I know how to care for it? In the words of Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia, “As individual consumers, the single best thing we can do for the planet is to keep our stuff in use longer."
Fashion brands themselves are going on a fashion fast with leaders like Bruno Pieters committing not to make anything new for nine months in response to the industry’s waste issue. It’s a bold move for some, but believe me it’s incredibly liberating once you start, and you soon discover what works for you and doesn't.
First things first — take a good look at your closet. Get acquainted with all of
When you need to buy new clothes, choose brands that work to reduce their impact on the planet and take care of their workers, and think about your purchase as an investment. Buy responsibly made and durable pieces, take care of them 77
and repair them whenever possible. Make the most of each purchase. As the usable life of a product increases its overall environmental footprint decreases, and so does its cost. Some innovative brands are working toward a circular model by taking the full life cycle of their products into consideration. Patagonia, Eileen Fisher and Riz Boardshorts all offer take-back programs that allow customers to return their clothes to the store when they are done with them, which then get recycled into new products. When choosing materials, go for the sustainable choice. Look for regenerated, recycled or repurposed materials, or if you prefer natural, pick low-impact hemp or certified organic cotton, linen, wool or silk. Swap viscose, which can be extremely hazardous to the environment, 78
for lyocell or Tencel, both of which are made in a closed loop system from responsibly managed forests. With human rights violations increasingly apparent in the industry, itâ€™s important to support brands that have ethical labor practices. Ethical Clothing Australia, GOTS and the Fairtrade labeling system are certifications to look for. Some brands work with artisans in developing countries to create beautifully handcrafted products, supporting sustainable business growth and social development programs. Others produce locally and visit their factories often, building up a long term relationship with them. As supply chain transparency becomes the new norm, more and more brands are disclosing the factories and people who make their clothes. This information can usually be found on a brandâ€™s website, in its marketing
material or on a garment’s label. If that information is not visible, then ask for it. Ensure the garment is well made by checking the seams. It’s a bad sign if the stitching is unraveling, and raw cut edges are a no-no, unless you like your clothes fraying and rolling up at the hem. If the fit is not quite right, consider having the garment tailored to your shape. Likewise, check if it is pre-shrunk or has a shrinkage allowance, as natural fibers tend to shrink, and there's nothing worse than your beautiful new T-shirt becoming a crop top. While buying fewer and better clothes will give your wardrobe a good foundation, we all want to switch up our look now and then. There are some great secondhand and consignment options offered both instores and online. The growing movement toward a sharing economy for clothes is another waste-free way to try new looks through renting, borrowing or swapping. Rent the Runway led the way with high-end rentals, Australia’s version is Glamcorner, and now you can lease clothes through stores like Anne Taylor, Filippa K and Mud Jeans. At Lena Library you can borrow clothes instead of books, allowing you to experiment with your look without contributing to the industry's waste problem. Clothing swaps pop up all the time. If none are happening in your area, consider making one with your friends or workmates. Technology is giving us exciting innovations, too, such as the Levi’s x Google smart jacket designed to address our desire for newness without creating waste. The jacket is designed to last for many seasons, and the integrated smart technology gives it the ability to be
updated without having to be replaced. UMd is a brand by tech company Unmade that offers customized, madeto-order clothes and accessories. Once the customer has personalized the style online and placed their order, it is produced to meet their specifications, thereby eliminating any waste caused by the overproduction of garments. Your purchasing choices can help drive change. You vote with your dollar. While buying fewer, better clothes won’t solve all of the fashion industry’s problems, it puts some of the power back in your hands. Start by making informed choices. Jump off of the cycle of disposable fashion, and take care of the clothes you already own. Check out the Good On You app, available globally, which rates brands based on their social and environmental policies to help narrow down your choices. And to peruse an array of great ethical and sustainable brands, visit online stores such as Well Made Clothes, Gather&See, Rêve en Vert, The Acey, Maison de Mode and GALERIE.LA. Jacinta FitzGerald is a fashion sustainability consultant. She has worked in fashion design and manufacturing for two decades, including her own label which focused on local manufacturing and sustainable materials. Most recently COO of Project JUST, Jacinta now provides sustainability solutions to brands and consumers. Her platform MakeGood.world features interviews with leading changemakers and educational content, and provides resources for brands on sustainable design, production and sourcing. Follow her on Instagram @jacintafitzgerald 79
Devon Leahy VP of Strategy at Futerra
Devon Leahy is VP of strategy at Futerra, a change agency dedicated to making sustainability so desirable that it becomes normal. She works with clients like VF Corp, Target and REI to build the business case for sustainability and social impact. She has an MBA and a master's in environmental policy from the University of Michigan, and has led corporate social responsibility and sustainability work at Walmart and Etsy.
Laura Hunter Communications at Futerra
Laura Hunter is head of copy at Futerra where she specializes in finding the simple, compelling story that will get through. She works with clients like GEOX, C&A Foundation and Kering to develop brands and campaigns that get people excited about sustainable fashion. Interview Photos 80
Kyle Calian Futerra
Kyle Calian: How did the two of you end up at Futerra? Laura Hunter: I started my career in the charity sector working on campaigns and branding projects. I was keen to move into an agency, but I wanted to use my skills to make a positive impact. I hope I don't sound too much like a millennial, but that's what I wanted to do. And then someone told me about this creative agency that only works on projects and campaigns that make a positive impact on the environment or on people’s lives. Once I heard that, I was hooked. And Devon? DL: I've been at Futerra for less than a year, but I've been working in the corporate sustainability space for about 10 years. I had worked both in-house on the client side, with companies like Walmart, and also on the marketing, branding and communications side of the spectrum. What was so appealing about Futerra was the blending of the logic of strategy with the magic of creative. We are able to bring our strategies to life and translate them into not just reports or websites that no one visits, but into campaigns that incorporate compelling ideas and movements around the strategies. That mixture is really hard to find. When you’re inside a company in a CSR or sustainability function, you aren't usually sitting very close to the marketing folks that have those resources at their fingertips. So you are often fighting to break out of your silo. You have a lot of different stakeholders you're trying to engage with, but you don't have the right tools (internally) for compelling storytelling.
It’s such a treat to be in an environment where there are creative team members that just get the content. They get the issues. They get that we need to be talking about this stuff, but they can also help turn those conversations into behavior change campaigns or employee engagement platforms that can drive the impact of what we’re trying to create. So this blend of logic and magic is really unique. I’d like to dive a little bit deeper into that. Devon, can you talk about the strategy or logic side of the work you do? DL: The strategy base in corporate sustainability is pretty large. There are a plethora of organizations that focus on reporting and material assessment. In other words, they’re looking backward at the impact of a company. That approach is very important, and it’s something we leverage in our work. But Futerra’s approach to logic is more about developing forward-looking strategies. We do that by first understanding the impacts of that particular business, and then by looking across the industry to understand what broader critical issues the entire sector is facing. And Laura, could you tell us a little bit more about the communication work you’re doing? LH: Our subject matter can be complex social and environmental issues, so our job is to get sustainability off the page and into people's lives. We're working to make complex issues accessible, relevant and exciting. 81
So how do we do that? Well, the main thing that we do is answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” When it comes to the public, there is certainly a group of people who will go out of their way to choose the sustainable or eco-friendly option. But that’s just not the case for the majority of people. So when it comes to sustainable fashion, we need to help the masses see the value in it. Just saying it's sustainable isn't enough. Empathy and understanding what motivates people is at the heart of what we do. We meet people where they are and find creative solutions to deliver a product or service they can clearly see the value in. That’s what we did with Geox, an Italian shoe manufacturer. They launched their first sustainable shoe a while ago, which used less than half of the normal components that usually went into manufacturing a shoe. But we didn't just market the shoe based on its environmental benefits. We created a campaign called the art of simplicity. It was based on the idea that it takes confidence to strip away things that you don't need, which tapped into a consumer desire for a more considered, minimal lifestyle. You took a similar path with REI? How did you craft their story in a way that fits into their larger brand image? DL: When you look at REI, as both an apparel and outdoor equipment co-op, they have a unique business model. They offer both products and services, like equipment rentals and experiential services, that work together to turn their customers into lifelong lovers of the outdoors. What’s really incredible about REI is that they’re cordial to the outdoors; they have this ability to remove barriers and increase access to the outdoors through the products and services they offer. 82
So when you think about the strategy that they’re going to employ, the focus has to be around mending the relationship between humans and the outdoors, and explaining why spending time outdoors is so important for human health and the health of the environment. That’s what was behind the work we did around their #OptOutside campaign. And for our readers, can you explain what it means to opt outside? DL: #OptOutside is a campaign that REI has been doing for a number of years that encourages their customers to spend time outside on Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day of the year — rather than spending time indoors buying stuff. So they actually close their store on that day and encourage customers and employees alike to spend that day outside. They also do some programs and projects with partners across the U.S. to make sure that actually happens. It’s not just a soft act. They put a lot of effort and energy behind it. This year, Futerra worked with them to develop an intellectual and thought leadership piece about why opting outside on Black Friday and on other days of the year is so important. LH: That piece was called "The Path Ahead" and is the intellectual underpinning for why we should get outdoors. For me, it was so eye-opening to learn about the impact of nature on our well-being. It can help with depression, enhance child development, make our cities better places to be. "The Path Ahead" democratizes the knowledge around the benefits of a life lived outdoors. We also created a short animation for launch. It starts with the fact that Americans
spend 95 percent of their time indoors and that it's time to choose a different path. Awesome. DL: Along with that, the amount of time we spend indoors is also increasing over time. Our research showed that this trend has negative effects on both public health and the environment. And if we’re not spending time outside, then we’re not as apt to fight to protect it. We don’t necessarily value it at the individual level. As a society, the environment is undervalued economically, too. That’s a key point. Great. So to wrap it up, considering some of the trends you both see in the world of corporate sustainability, what are you and the Futerra team most
excited to work on next? LH: For me, definitely circular solutions. DL: Same answer over here. LH: Yeah, it's all about circular. It's really interesting, because when you go to any conference now, everyone is talking about circular solutions. It’s wonderful and so exciting. But getting a mainstream audience involved in that conversation is a big challenge that we're working to solve every day. DL: On the strategy side, we are similarly interested and focused on actually doing a fair amount of work in the circular space on retail and apparel. 83
"For the longest time, companies have operated under the assumption that once you purchase an item they don't need to talk to you again. There needs to be a major culture shift before circular solutions can become the norm." For me, whatâ€™s expanding is trying to make it work financially and making the case that circular solutions can actually help businesses grow. But itâ€™s not easy because there are patterns of conception and barriers to nimming that. There is a well established infrastructure and pricing and cost structure that companies have built around taking resources, making products and then sending them to the landfill. For the longest time, companies have operated under the assumption that once you purchase an item they donâ€™t need to talk to you again. There needs to be a major culture shift before circular solutions can become the new norm. Check them out online at: wearefuterra.com Follow them at: @futerra
Oil + Water is a Brooklynbased skincare company specializing in micro-batch, handcrafted products made with high-quality natural ingredients and a strong focus on earth-friendly practices.
Check them out at: oilandwatersc.com Follow them: @oilandwatersc
Their unisex formulas contain carefully curated and potent botanicals, most of which are certified organic, food grade, fair trade or wild harvested. They're also vegan friendly and cruelty free. All Oil + Water products feature beautiful, 100 percent cotton letterpress labels and are packaged and shipped using environmentally friendly containers and shipping materials. The company even offers a container return program for customers who do not wish to reuse any empty glass bottles and jars. Overall, Oil + Water aims to provide simple but luxurious, natural and effective skincare products under the reductionist principle that less is more, and to promote awareness about clean beauty and eco-conscious living.
For the last century, clothes have traveled at lightning speed from the runway to the retail store to the dump, a stampede that has left ecosystems damaged and workers abused.
But the businesses featured in this section, such as United by Blue, Arvin Goods and Recover Brands, are moving away from that linear approach to fashion by making clothes that give more to the planet and its people than they take.
Everybody’s talking about circular brands
Slow down, take a breath and think about it
Circular business models, which take into account the full life cycle of a product, are gaining traction. "When you go to any conference now, everyone is talking about circular solutions," says Laura Hunter, head of copy at Futerra, a sustainability consultancy and creative agency (flip back to page 80 to read her interview).
In keeping pace with what’s hot and what’s not, the fashion industry and consumers alike move so fast that they rarely stop to think about the environmental and social consequences of business as usual. By not taking the full life cycle of a product into account, from material sourcing to disposal, the industry’s social and ecological externalities, such as water pollution, excessive greenhouse gas emissions and poor labor practices, have grown more harmful each year.
The revolution is underway But the status quo is shifting. Manufacturers and brands are increasingly designing goods with the entire life cycle of the product in mind, and retailers are beginning to line their racks with cradle to cradle products, too. Take-back programs, which allow consumers to return their clothes to the store when they are done with them, are now being offered by companies like Patagonia, Recover Brands and Coyuchi. 4Ocean is creating jewelry out of plastic that they clean up from the sea. And outdoor-lifestyle brand United by Blue (featured on page 92) is eliminating 1 pound of trash for every product they sell. Brands like these are adopting circular business models that move past the antiquated idea of working solely in the interest of protecting the bottom line. Instead, they are built on protecting the triple bottom line, which accounts for a companyâ€™s social and environmental impact as well as its economic value. 89
Circular Solutions: A Win-Win-Win
Take a resource, make a product, throw it away. That’s been the story of stuff since at least the industrial era. But on a planet with limited resources and a human population expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050, the sustainability of the take-makewaste approach to economic growth is a pressing concern. In response, companies around the world are crafting and implementing circular solutions, which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce defines as “action that drives greater resource productivity improvements, eliminates waste and inefficiency, and contributes to a stronger competitive economy.” These companies are bending traditional lines of thinking on how to make and dispose of a product by taking its full life cycle into account, a departure from the linear approach to production. And as more businesses adopt circular solutions, they are not only reshaping their individual entities; they are changing the shape of the global economy, too. That transition is well underway. “It’s happening at a beautifully fast rate,” said Reynir Smári Atlason, head of consultancy at the apltly named Circular Solutions, an Icelandic firm that helps businesses meet their sustainability targets. “If you can design a product in such a way that you can get the raw materials back, then you don’t have to spend as much money on purchasing new materials.” Similarly, Reynir explained, if you can assemble a product that has the ability to break down in the biosphere at the end of its life cycle, then less money needs to be spent on waste management. “It makes business sense to do this,” he said.
Words Davis Burroughs 90
Both of those approaches could be categorized as “cradle to cradle” methodologies,
a phrase popularized by author Michael Braungart in his 2002 book. Cradle to cradle is a play on the popular corporate mantra, “cradle to grave,” an old industry standard that neither accounts for the value of materials that go to landfill nor considers the life of future generations. Cradle to cradle design and circular solutions don’t just benefit human health and the environment. Rather, the circular economy represents a reward of $4.5 trillion in additional economic growth, according to research from Accenture, a multinational management consulting firm. “At its heart, the circular economy is about decoupling natural resource use and waste from the good stuff that we want from a global economy: economic development and prosperity,” the firm claimed in a 2016 report. Featured in this magazine are several fashion brands that showcase the power of circular solutions. Arvin Goods, for example, makes socks and underwear from recycled clothing, fabrics and textile scraps, saving freshwater, lowering C02 emissions and reducing landfill waste in the process. Consumers are encouraged to return used socks to Arvin, so the company can recycle them into their original form (yarn) which is then combined with other responsibly sourced yarns to generate new products, creating a closed and sustainable apparel loop. Circular solutions aren’t just for fashion companies. Travel companies, construction companies, food processing companies and many more are reaping the benefits of cradle to cradle design, too. In the case of food production, up to 40 percent of food in the U.S. is never eaten, although one in eight American families struggle to put food on the table, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental group.
A key problem in food production is linear design — the take-make-waste approach. In Latin America, the World Resources Institute estimates that 56 percent of food is wasted before even reaching distribution. Barnana and Wonky Juice, two young health food brands in Costa Rica, are working to change that by buying misshapen, “ugly” and discarded food products from local farmers and using them to make new treats, such as energy bars and sauces. Niaga, a Netherlands-based startup, is another early adopter. The company is bringing to market a disruptive technology that “enables the production of a fully recyclable carpet,” writes Hugh Welsh, president of DSM, a Dutch multinational active in the fields of health, nutrition and materials. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 4 billion pounds of carpets go to landfill each year. In partnership with DSM, Niaga creates regenerated, future-proof carpets that are made without harmful volatile organic compounds, prevent waste and require 90 percent less energy to manufacture — a win-win-win for consumers, the environment and the economy. Circular solutions are still a relatively new concept, and companies are just beginning to leverage their potential. “Environmental responsibility was considered a liability in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but now it is being more discussed in private firms,” Reynir said. If they are going to become the new norm, though, the discussion needs to move beyond just the social and environmental benefits, he added. “Products that are consciously made simply sell faster … that’s the main selling point for manufacturers.”
Brian Linton Founder of United By Blue Interview Photos
Kyle Calian United By Blue
Brian Linton is the founder and CEO of United By Blue, a for-profit outdoor lifestyle brand focused on conservation and sustainable supply chains. For every product sold, United By Blue removes 1 pound of trash from our worldâ€™s oceans and waterways. Brian discusses his journey from growing up in Singapore to developing his passion for protecting the ocean and building a brand that does more than just sell apparel and gear. 92
Kyle Calian: How did you get to where you are now? Can you describe your path? Brian Linton: Early on in life I was passionate about fish and all things aquatic. Growing up in Singapore, I had loads of fish tanks in my bedroom. If you can imagine my childhood bedroom, it was a twin bed surrounded by 30 bubbling fish tanks. I didn't come at the passion for oceans and waterways from being a surfer or growing up on a beach. I just really loved fish. That passion led me to start my own business, which was a resort merchandise line of jewelry, accessories, flip flops â€” things that fall outside of the fishing industry. That business focused on a financial donation that all went to ocean conservation. But with experience, I realized how unimpactful that model was, at least for me. I wasn't able to pinpoint anything individually and say, "This is what my business accomplished for the environment." I realized that I wanted to start a business that would induce a more tangible benefit, be a lot more hands-on and have a real, quantifiable impact on oceans and waterways. And that's what led to United By Blue. It was a combination of my passion for fish and the realization that I wanted to do something where I would get my hands dirty. I didn't want to just pay somebody to do something good in my name. That's a great backstory. Is that what inspired the 1 pound trash mission at United By Blue? Yeah. Rather than giving away money like I was, I wanted to roll up my sleeves to pick up trash and use our business model to
fund that on an ongoing basis. When did that process start? On day one. How do you choose the cleanup locations and how does that work? As a multichannel retailer, we have a lot of stores that carry our products, as well as partners all across the globe that work with us in some way, shape or form. So, a lot of our clean up locations are the result of our distribution network. Our distribution network allows us to be in communities all over the place in a way that we can then leverage to become a part of those communities through cleanups. Let's transition to talking a little bit about products. What inspired some of them, and how did you choose the fabrics you've decided to use? United By Blue is an outdoor brand, and that means that we design and manufacture products to either be used in the outdoors or remind you of the outdoors in some way. The products are designed to connect you to the outdoors. And the materials that we use, it's always going to be the sustainable alternative to whatever we do. If it's cotton, it's going to be organic. If it's polyester, it's going to be recycled. We try to look for the most natural and most sustainable of natural fibers. We use bison fiber as a natural fiber, for example, and we pioneered the use of that to make jacket insulation, sock yarns, blanket insulation, things like that. 93
Can you talk about your manufacturing process â€“ how it works, where it's located, all that jazz? We have a global manufacturing network where we choose manufacturers not based on origin but based on responsibility and sustainability. Our tagline is "responsible, durable goods." So we make quality products responsibly. Quality and durability go hand in hand. If you're using organic cotton but you're making something crappy, that's not good for the environment. We're looking for people that can make things responsibly, which means our network of manufacturers is global. We manufacture products in the U.S., India, Canada, and Vietnam, and we're always looking for better and more sustainable alternatives to everything that we make. So, for the bison fabric, is there a manufacturer that works directly with that supplier? The bison story is unique to us. It's something we developed from the ground up. Our bison fiber supply chain is coordinated entirely by our company. We work with the farmers to shear the bison, and then we clean the fiber at a different factory. Then, we de-hair it, which is the separation process of the different diameters of fibers. That de-haired product is either made into yarns, or we make it into insulation with another place. My process of this bison fiber supply chain is something that uses at least seven to eight different suppliers, but United By Blue and my team are the ones that are mainly coordinating that throughout the entire process.
And then where do you source the material for the recycled polyester, and how does that work? I know people do that very differently. Yeah, we'll use our bags as an example. Our Ridgeline bags, which are recycled polyester, water-resistant bags, are being made in Vietnam. We source our fabric from the manufacturer directly who buys REPREVEÂŽ yarns, which is a branded recycled polyester yarn made from postconsumer PET, mostly water bottles and things like that. And then those are made into fabric or yarn, which is made into bags. Got you. So polyester is a bit tricky regarding the recycling after the fact. I know some companies offer take-back or repair programs, often with lifetime warranties. How does that work? Yeah, our bag program, in particular, does have a lifetime guarantee. So we do take bags back. We repair them, and if we can't repair, we replace them. But really, the premise is that the United By Blue bags should last you a long time. So if there's an issue with it, if say a zipper breaks, that's something that doesn't necessarily end the life of the product, and you should repair it. And we're the ones to do that for you. Absolutely. I agree. Would you just bring it into the store or do you guys send it somewhere? It's either or. We have people that are in the Philadelphia and New York region that can bring it into the store. We send it off to Philadelphia, and then they get it back. If you're in Chicago or you're somewhere else where we don't have a store, you would send it to our distribution center, and the 95
customer service office would manage the repairs. You have a flagship store in Philadelphia that you built in a very responsible way. Do you want to talk about that process? Sure. So, the new flagship in Philadelphia opened in November. It replaced our original store, which was right down the road. This new store was built from the ground up in a brand new building that we rented the corner unit of. We have 160 feet of window frontage, which is beautiful and amazing. We decided from the get-go that we were going to make this a LEED Platinum certified build â€” the pinnacle of sustainability. To do that you have to do a lot of planning, and you have to sort of work backward. You look at what the final objective is, which is the 96
platinum certification, and then you start looking at every single thing that goes into getting there. That includes things like using the most sustainable energy efficient HVAC system out there. In the long run, it saves a lot of energy and is better for the environment. We also use 100 percent re-claimed wood and materials. We might start with 100year old flooring, but we refinish it into an excellent finished product. And then our cabins and our bars and everything that we do is also reclaimed wood. It also comes down to the paints and to the reusability of all the things that are in our store as well. So like, all of our disposable items are compostable. We also do a lot of composting, so we compost all the food scraps. We don't throw anything away. And
we use local organic fresh ingredients on the restaurant side of what we do as well, which is a pretty cool part of the store.
couple of years old by then but, you know, it gave us that structure and that guidance to understand how to scale responsibly.
What's the restaurant entail? Is that like a cafĂŠ?
I think it's a lot tougher to become B-corp certified when you're bigger, because your processes are so engrained in your dayto-day routine. Teaching an old dog new tricks is hard.
Yeah, it's like a casual farm-to-table restaurant concept that's thoroughly intertwined with the store. It is a full cafĂŠ, but we have a full kitchen as well. We have a kitchen staff, and we're cooking breakfast, brunch and lunch every day. That's amazing. Full LEED certification, and you are also a B-corp. What was that process like? Yeah, we were one of the first, within the first 300 or 400 B-corps. That process gave us the discipline early on to know what is the responsible way to run a business. I think it was 2012, and we were already a
For us, we were lucky; we were fortunate because of how early we made the transition. And looking forward, what's next for United by Blue, and what do you think your biggest challenge will be down the line? United By Blue is a deflection point. We've grown a lot in the last couple years, and we do not see a slow down happening anytime soon. We're excited and honored that all these customers are trusting us with their 97
dollars and with their purchasing decisions. We'll sell double the products that we sold last year and double the products that we sold the year before. Eliminating 1 pound of trash for every product that we sell is not easy. It's going to be tough to stay true to that mission and make sure that we're putting the appropriate investment into cleanups so that, within a year or two's time, we will remove well over a million pounds of trash every single year. To put that into perspective, in the first eight years of our existence, we removed a million pounds of trash. It's very likely that next year we'll be at a pace where we'll be removing 1 million pounds of waste annually. That's exciting for us concerning what this model was built to do, and it's happening. So, that's exciting. What has been your proudest accomplishment so far? Probably our team more so than anything. And there are so many accomplishments, you know, like a million pounds of trash removed or hitting some of the revenue goals that we've had. But growing and building a team of people that care about what we're trying to do is to me, our most impressive feat. We are a for-profit business. We don't hide the fact that we exist to make money, but we also exist for the dual purpose of having a positive impact on our environment. Everyone I interview at United By Blue cares. Same thing with the volunteers at cleanups. They could go out and pick up trash on their own, but we join people together and make a community out of it. That's 98
unity, that united aspect of United By Blue, whether that is uniting volunteers or uniting employees around something that matters. What are some of the trends in sustainability you see right now that are most exciting? You know what's getting me excited is that I have been at this for eight years now, and every single year the idea of buying something that's made from organic cotton or a natural fiber gets more mainstream. It's still apparently a very, very minor part of the industry, but I think there's a general understanding that these things exist now, which is exciting. People are enthusiastic about things like organic wool or bison fiber. We recognize that we don't always have to use, you know, oil-based synthetic fibers to make great products. You know, recycled polyester is a petroleumbased fiber, which is made from crude but at the end of the day there's a lot of other threads like organic cotton that can be used to create beautiful things as well. How can people get involved with your cleanups? Between March and October we do cleanups almost weekly, and in the heat of the summer, we do them even more often. We have a dedicated crew that goes out and executes all of these different events that we do. We're going to have coverage in over 20 states this summer. Last question: where can people purchase United By Blue gear?
Obviously, the website and the flagship store. Anywhere else? We also have about 700 different locations that buy and sell our products, such as REI as well as dozens of local specialty outdoor stores.
"Eliminating 1 pound of trash for every product that we sell is not easy. It's going to be tough to stay true to that mission and make sure that we're putting the appropriate investment into cleanups so that, within a year or two's time, we will remove well over a million pounds of trash every single year."
Check them out online at: unitedbyblue.com Follow them at: @unitedbyblue 99
Local Action, Global Impact Sustainability Series June 14 The Regeneration Ethical Fashion Summit in New Jersey For more information visit reeves-reedarboretum.org 165 Hobart Avenue, Summit, NJ 07940
Join us on June 14 when we present Ethical Fashion, a sustainable fashion runway show. Explore with us environmental ethics in the fashion industry, real-world experiences, social consciousness, and successful local and individual implementation Ââ€” our goal, to build consensus for action.
A pioneer in developing sustainability programs focused on enhancing the energy efficiency of our homes. Through a simple two-step process, homeowners gain the visibility and insight necessary to make key decisions about upgrades that can significantly improve the comfort and efficiency of their homes. Scott Fischer, managing member of Ciel Power says, â€œOur campaigns are designed to build awareness of the many benefits of having a home energy assessment. The recommendations stemming from an assessment gives homeowners the information they need to decidedly lower their home's energy consumption, particularly for those living in older homes.â€? A detailed assessment report provides homeowners with actionable insight on ways to lower household energy consumption by as much as 30 percent.
They look forward to working with you. cielpower.com t.(201) 632-3463 email@example.com 101
Photo Zoe Smythe
Daniel Silverstein Founder of Zero Waste Daniel Interview Photos
Kyle Calian Zero Waste Daniel
Daniel Silverstein is the founder of Zero Waste Daniel, the first line of zero waste clothing made from ReRoll and composed of 100 percent scrap material. Since starting ZWD in 2016, Danielâ€™s namesake label has been recognized in numerous publications, and can now be found in boutiques and specialty stores around the world, including its flagship location at 369 Hooper Street in Brooklyn, New York.
Kyle Calian: Would you describe your path to what you're working on now? How'd you get started? Daniel Silverstein: I started as a designer. I studied conventional fashion design. I spent a year studying in Italy, which really opened up my eyes to a global perspective of design, as opposed to just our American approach toward fashion. That's where I really started getting into quality and understanding the difference between working in fashion and the family heritage and career paths of people who are tailoring from the time they're children. For example, I visited a factory where they were printing on leather, and it's the one factory in Italy where they print on leather. They've been doing it for 100 years or more, and you start realizing that not everything is a commodity the way we see it in the states. Some things are processes that are unique and special and have a lot of value. And even though they seem like a lot of work, there's a lot of pride in that tradition and that special skill. When I got back, I started working in conventional American industry and knew almost right away that that was not for me. About six months after I graduated, I left my corporate job at Victoria's Secret and started my own company. The idea was to make beautiful, luxury goods that were high quality, high design, would have no byproducts and would be made out of the most sustainable materials I could find. That was the end of 2010, beginning of 2011. I had been on a reality show where I was praised for my creativity and originality in design and ultimately left in the final three. It was called â€œFashion Starâ€?
on NBC, and I left feeling like I'm definitely in the right industry. Pursuing my own creative path is the right idea. But it was almost three more years before I really got to where I am. Over those three years, I produced several collections, and I worked in a high-end eveningwear space. I'm trying to figure out how to break into the industry in a financially successful way, while also feeling the pressure of the move toward online and direct-to-consumer with brands 103
like Everlane starting to pop out of the woodwork. I decided I needed to close my studio and start working on a different path. I thought maybe I would be a designer for someone else for a while, or maybe I could do more technical work behind the scenes, pattern making and sample making. One afternoon, I was cleaning out my studio. Being zero waste in my practices and incorporating that into my lifestyle, I had been collecting all my offcuts from about my junior year of college. I had two 40-gallon bags of textile scraps, really high quality, beautiful fabric. I didn't want to feel like I was dragging that stuff into the next phase of my life. So in one of those slow-mo movie movements, I was marching this giant bag of fabric scraps toward the dumpster, and I thought to myself, I can't throw this out. This is antithetical to who I am. And I threw it in dramatic fashion, because I have a flair for dramatics, onto the ground. It burst open, and I saw all of this really great fabric from one of the first major production runs that I had ever done for a store. I was like, I'm not doing anything today. Why don't I make myself a shirt out of that stuff? I put a picture of this shirt that I made up on Instagram. All of a sudden, my friends were asking me for them, like, "Oh, my God. Are you doing menswear now? These pieces are really different from your other stuff. I love this. How much are they? Can I get one in another color? I would totally buy that." I was like, oh. This is my company. So I started Zero Waste Daniel on the principle of closing the loop of other people's waste. 104
How many different companies are you collecting offcuts from? Right now, I donâ€™t know that I could give you a specific number. We work with four or five major suppliers. One of them is a great nonprofit organization that's collecting design room waste from commercial designers. They are collecting fabrics from over 100 different brands, so our textiles could be coming from any number. What would you say inspires your designs at Zero Waste Daniel? I'm a concept designer more than a silhouette or season-based inspiration, and one of the things that I find most inspiring is that there's nothing to do with textiles that have spandex blended into them. And spandex is a really, really popular material, because of the stretch and comfort properties that it lends to fabric. So when any company cuts something that has spandex in it, those leftovers cannot be recycled. And when something can't be recycled, it has to go to landfillâ€”unless there's another use for it. So I had developed a product that I really liked. But once I started to develop a business model, one of the most exciting things was that this material has almost no commercial value as small, random shapes and blended colors and textures. There's nothing to do with it. People who are making shredded textile insulation, who are regenerating fiber-tofiber recycled textiles â€” all of those things are freaking fantastic. I love that. I'm all about reuse. But this stuff specifically is bound for landfill. That really inspired me to innovate new, wearable, desirable, high-
around for our team members to help remind them only reusable. No single-use disposables, only recyclable materials. Our core team is four of us, and we are really supportive and helpful with each other. There are always plastics that are unavoidable. We've had so many companies donate fabric to us, and then it comes in a plastic bag. Although people are trying and want to be doing the best that they can, nothing is going to be perfect. Rather than giving those things back or getting annoyed, I'm trying to put together what I would call a critical mass of different kinds of material. So as our company grows and opportunities to collaborate with influencers and celebrities and artists and amazing people out there who share this interest arise, I have critical masses of alternative material that we can easily use in good design. Turn into zero waste, one of a kind products. style, affordable pieces that will actually stop stuff from going to landfills. Awesome. What other steps have you taken to get your business model to become zero waste? We have a zero waste studio, and the policies there are really strict. We don't have any trash cans in our store, and we make and sell everything in one place. So our studio and our store are one and the same. Everything is made right in the storefront windows. We're really transparent about our zero waste products. We have glass, plastic, metal and paper recycling, and we have rules posted 106
I have stashes of weird plastics and little doohickeys that came off a printer or a plug. We also do extensive research into where things that are hard to recycle can be recycled. For example, we needed a printer for the store. That's something that we needed to make our business thrive, but all of the styrofoam that it came with was really an issue for me. I was not going to send it to landfill, so we found a place in New Jersey where we could send that styrofoam and have it recycled. Awesome. I've had a lot of trouble with styrofoam. It's almost impossible to find places to recycle it. Well done. We take it seriously.
"The ability to turn waste materials into jobs and useful products is so much more than just the traditional transaction." I hear it. What has been your biggest surprise so far?
I agree. I saw you have a partnership with Coyuchi. How has that been?
I think my biggest surprise has been the wide range of ages that are interested in our brand, and the wide range of body types and backgrounds. It's something that I think feels relatable. I look at Zero Waste Daniel and our basic joggers and sweatshirts as almost like the Juicy tracksuit of the future. It's something that's not just for women. It's for anybody. And it gives that same kind of comfortable and casual, high-style vibe.
The Coyuchi partnership has been really cool, and we're actively open to other collaborations like that. What I love so much about Coyuchi is that they are always trying to do better. So when they realized they had some waste in their production, they reached out to us and asked if we would be able to do something with it.
But instead of just being something that symbolizes some sort of status, it actually symbolizes some sort of personal accountability. I think that's really cool, and seeing people who are over 6 feet tall all the way to tiny and petite, sharing the same interest in the same style is really heartwarming. Similarly, what has been your proudest accomplishment? My proudest accomplishment has been the fact that we have created real jobs and saved real waste out of this material that the industry I was trained to work in deemed unusable or not valuable. That is something I'm proud to hang my hat on.
It's that willingness and open-mindedness that people need. I think people get really stressed out trying to do everything and be everything, but all you need to do is find someone who wants to do it, and see if they'll work with you. What Coyuchi did was reach out and say, "We have these sheets that we don't know what to do with. Could you guys do something with them?" We were able to do something with the sheets that was even more affordable and accessible than our regular products, as well as put all of the offcuts from that project right back into our own zero waste supply stream. It really was a multibeneficial project, and I hope we get to do a lot more things like that. That's awesome. Do you have a favorite product that you've produced? 107
Personally, I'm a huge Bowie fan, so I think our David Bowie sweatshirts. They're just very close to my heart. Awesome. What are some other trends you're seeing in the world of sustainability? That's a great question. I think one of the trends I'm seeing is that the more convenient you make it for people, the more willing they are to do it. The other trend that I'm seeing that I don't like so much is that a lot of people go to great lengths to source their products and work on their supply chain to make sure they have the most healthy product, but they'll package it in unsustainable packaging. I think what we need more of is innovation in that space. Absolutely. Who are some of your biggest influences? Oh, easy. I have a rebel collection of little patches that we put on T-shirts and cosmetic pouches and things like that. They are four of my biggest influences. I really identify with the life path of the rebel. I think it's something that is just inherent in me and who I am. I think that one of my biggest is Bowie, obviously. Another one is Andy Warhol. I'll go with those two for now. Those are two of my biggest influences. I just think that artists that make work that they're compelled to make, and that's smart and comes from the heart, is so much better than making work or art that is meant to take advantage of people. I agree wholeheartedly. Related to that, what are some of your favorite 108
companies in the space? I'm a big fan of what Everlane is doing. I loved the original concept of American Apparel. I always found that to be something that had such huge potential. I remember when the first American Apparel store in the city opened. I was still in high school, and I found the store and just was blown away by this idea of everything being so basic and coming in every size and every color. And being proudly sweatshop-free, made in downtown LA. I thought the idea of having a brand that was going to supply America with the basics made here was something really, really strong. They kind of went off the deep end at some point, but I think that original concept has always been a big influence and inspiration for me. Other brands that I love in the space ... There's a lot of controversy around vegan fashion, because so much of it is petroleum-based, but a lot of it is just natural fibers. There's a lot of really beautiful natural fibers from a menswear brand that's called Brave Gentlemen, and I really like their work. Awesome. What is some of your favorite gear that you bring with you everywhere? I usually have one of my zipper pouches with a mason jar and a set of to-go utensils. I usually have some baking soda and a toothbrush just in case. Other than that, I'm fairly minimal. If I'm able to remember as I run out the door, I like to have pencil and paper with me.
How can people purchase Zero Waste Daniel apparel? It's so easy. You can shop at zerowastedaniel.com, or you can come to our main shop, which is at 369 Hooper Street in Brooklyn. Or if you see me making a one-of-a-kind piece on Instagram, you can direct message me and buy it right there. Is there anything else you want people to know about Zero Waste Daniel? I think what I really want people to know is that we are doing something more than making shirts. And if they can see an access point or a way that this brand can work for their lives, whether it's a zipper pouch or telling a friend or buying a T-shirt or having your own custom piece made â€Ś The ability to turn waste materials into jobs and useful products is so much more than just the traditional transaction. Check them out online at: zerowastedaniel.com Follow them at: @zerowastedaniel
Photo Anastasia Chomlack
Lupin Leggings are symbolic of our imagination and just how beautiful and free we can be. heiditheartist.ca @heiditheartist A peaceful soul with fiery talent, Heidi Denessen lays down the rules by creatively empowering women to be at one with themselves through her fashion. She borrows from Mother Nature and turns Her beauty and sometimes tragedies into creative forms of moving (physical and emotional) art.
Having grown up with a paint brush in one hand and scissors in the other, Heidi went from student to teacher to mentor throughout her years of artistic succession. Once her masterpiece is done, its colors and form are laid onto recycled fabrics to create one-of-a-kind, wearable art. She now shares with others the importance of long-term solutions in the fashion industry. Always seeking innovative ways to reduce the carbon footprint of her clothing line, she is transparent with her work around sustainability and ethical fashion. Heidiâ€™s aspirations are to change the world â€Ś one painting, one legging at a time. Her leggings here are made in Canada from recycled poly and spandex. Compression fit. Antibacterial. Odor resistant. Non-pilling. Breathable. Quick-dry. Wicking. Machine washable.
Fireweed Leggings A force of nature, planting its roots in destroyed soil and forgotten landscapes. Springing forth with the changing of seasons and thriving with a need to populate and heal the land, bringing life back to where it is needed. From yoga to running around town, these unique leggings bridge the gap between activewear and street style. Available in both long and capris lengths. Photo by Monica Rush
Fall Trail Leggings Fall into your own path, and be mindful of those who step into yours. The mysteries of what lies ahead in the woods are yours to make of what you will. These leggings hug in all the right places and suit all kinds of body types, with an extremely comfortable high waist that wonâ€™t dig in or slip down. They can be dressed up with a flowy top and booties to hit the town. Photo by Amy Lobb After The T-Bar Leggings Dreaming of warmth in the winter as you ascend the mountainside, you see your dreams rising alongside you. All leggings have been salt-water tested and can be worn to protect your legs while surfing or adventuring through raging rivers. They stand up to the toughest workouts you can throw at them, and double as long underwear for your winter sports. Photo by Anastasia Chomlack
Kelli Woo Founder of Basal
Allie Cameron Founder of HARA The Label
Kyle Calian HARA & Basal by Tara Deaton @tdeats
Kelli Woo is the founder and designer of Basal, a Los Angeles-based underwear label, whose mission is to make their consciously sourced product affordable to everyone. Kelli is currently the women’s senior designer at the Add Black design agency. Allie Cameron founded lingerie label HARA after traveling throughout Asia and experiencing firsthand the substantial environmental impact that the fashion industry has on the planet. With HARA, which means green in Hindi, Allie is creating a bridge between the design and sustainability worlds in order to address this shortcoming in the fashion industry. Kyle Calian: So whoever wants to go first, just describe your path to how you ended up doing what you're doing with your respective brands. Allie Cameron: Right now we are in Melbourne, Australia, creating a production house and a dye house. Six years ago, when I was in high school, I had an online clothing business where I was buying and selling recycled clothing. That was when I first became aware of the fashion industry and of the role that we play in it, as individuals and as consumers. After school I stopped doing the business, but it was always in the back of my head that I was going to end up doing something with sustainable fashion. A few years after finishing high school, I watched the documentary “The True Cost.” I knew in that moment that there was something that I could be doing right now to positively impact this industry. 114
So I went to India for three months where I worked on cotton farms, talked to farmers, visited factories and broadly began to learn about what is really going on in this space. When I came back to Melbourne I did more research and decided to go to Bali, which produces a lot of bamboo, because I learned that bamboo was the most sustainable fabric in this moment. So I spent the year there creating the brand and the company. Now we're back in Australia creating our own production house so that we can have full control and make sure that our growth is done in the most sustainable and ethical way possible. That's awesome. And Kelli? Kelli Woo: How did I get here? I started sewing when I was younger, beginning with making my own bikinis. I was always really into swimwear. I went to school for fashion, and then straight out of school
Photo Tara Deaton @tdeats
I started working at Rukka. When I was there I started realizing how toxic and horrible the whole industry is to the environment.
everything was really close, within driving distance, so that I could be there when there were any issues and avoid any unnecessary transportation.
The main thing for me was seeing the printing and dyeing processes and realizing how horrible all of that is for the people that are actually doing it. And then thereâ€™s also the waste from all of the things being shipped back and forth daily. The carbon footprint of even the smallest items was astounding to me, and it was so difficult to watch firsthand. So I planned to start this small underwear brand, because I knew how to sew. I started making all of my own samples and found a mill and a dye house that was in LA. Everything was within a 20-mile radius of my house. My main concern was making sure that
I was still working at Rukka when I started, and there was about one year of trial and error as I learned how to keep my business practices ethical and sustainable. Now, I work with a small, family-owned factory that's just a few miles from my house, where I am still learning the ins and outs of how to produce locally with minimal waste. That's where I'm at now. Bouncing off of that, what would you say your mission is with Basal? KW: My main concerns are the environmental impact of my products 115
Photo Tara Deaton @tdeats
and keeping it all domestically made, as nontoxic and sustainable as possible, all while providing fair wages to workers. But I also want the product to be accessible, at a price point that is attainable for all consumers. And Allie? AC: Yeah, I was extremely similar. I guess all of us in this industry of sustainable fashion have this same kind of idea. But basically to have a clothing label that's designed with the earth in mind that creates pieces that are sustainable and ethical at their core. Having a clothing label that is from the seed and the cultivation of the fabric right to the end product is rejuvenating and empowering. 116
Perfect. Could you talk about your production process? And for you, Allie, what inspires your designs and fabric sourcing? What distinguishes you from the rest of the industry? AC: The designs for me are inspired by how the body moves. I want to create an item that allows the body to move with comfort, one that is minimal but supportive. Because for me, I've never been into bras that have wires or are really restricting. I'd rather wear no bra. So when I was creating the two bras that we have now it was like, OK, how can we make this comfy and as minimalistic as possible? So that's what I've carried on when I'm designing, with the supposition that we should just let ourselves be ourselves and let our bodies move how
they are meant to move. We have to wear clothes, because you can't go outside naked (though I wish we could). So why not make them look cool? Totally. AC: That's where my inspiration comes from. I try not to overthink it. I just want the pieces to be easygoing and playful. Though I do really like Japanese fashion, so I think as we expand I'm gonna keep that feeling of simplicity that the Japanese do so well. I always think about ‘90s fashion, too, especially with the colors we have and the way we do our photos. KW: Yeah, I think your colors are always amazing. I'm always inspired by your color pallet. AC: Thank you. Could you talk a little bit more about your production process? AC: For our fabric we source from a company that creates lyocel, using a recycled loop process. So it uses one chemical to break the bamboo down into sludge, and then the sludge is processed into thread. Taking into account the whole process, I 100 percent believe that bamboo is the most sustainable fabric available now. Eventually, we are going to create our own fabric that we cultivate from the seed ourselves, but that's later down the track. We can never be 100 percent certain unless we're doing everything ourselves. Definitely. AC: Like Kelli was saying, dyeing in the
fashion industry is one of the biggest environmental hurdles. The world's largest exporter of dyes is a city in China, where the water is no longer potable because of contamination from artificial dyes. For us having natural dyes is a no-brainer. We actually just created a dye house in Melbourne where we’re going to create our own natural dyes. And Kelli? KW: Like I said, my main thing is keeping every step in the production process as geographically close as possible. Another huge thing that I have found is that the actual milling of fabric is really harmful to the environment, because shipping it back and forth uses tons of energy and tons of resources. I found a mill in Long Beach that's like five miles away from my house, which is super lucky. They use an organic cotton spandex blend. I’m not a huge fan of spandex, but it fits well and lasts a long time, and it can be used for nearly every activity. I apply that same line of thinking to my design process. I’m always looking to create comfortable, timeless silhouettes that can be worn for any occasion at anytime. California has really crazy regulations — in a good way. There's a proposition called Prop 65 that basically prevents any chemicals from being leaked back into the groundwater and prohibits the use of toxic chemicals at any point during the manufacturing process. My elastic also comes from the mill in LA. It’s undyed and as nontoxic as possible. And then my sewer is 15 miles away from my house, and my colorer is right next door, so I can keep everything super close. Ideally I 117
would have a dye house of my own where I could create natural dyes, but it's difficult and there's no one here that offers that. So I love the fact that you're doing that, Allie. If I were in Australia, I would for sure utilize that service. You can only do your best. That's a point we tried to highlight in The Regeneration's first issue. It doesn't happen overnight. KW: Yeah. True. On that note, what do you think will be your biggest challenge going forward, and what do you see on the horizon? AC: As we grow, probably our biggest challenge will be to maintain our sustainable practices at a larger level. How can we mass produce at an ethical and sustainable level, and is that even possible? For us, that is the question of the time. In terms of where we're heading, the goal is to have HARA as a platform to be able to make projects in areas of the world that need environmental support. That's why we were created, to be able to create a safe, stable label and then use all the funding from that to go and actually rejuvenate the earth into what it's meant to be. For sure. And Kelli, challenges going forward? KW: Yeah, same as Allie. My biggest challenge will be maintaining sustainability as we grow. But then also, we all know fast fashion is a thing that is probably not going anywhere anytime soon. Shoppers buying habits arenâ€™t going to change overnight. So itâ€™s a challenge to balance staying relevant 118
when it comes to design and product, with our mission to provide long-lasting, timeless pieces. I also want to keep my prices as low as possible. At the same time, I'd like to eventually be in stores. So I need to figure out a model that allows me to make enough margin and still be able to sell in stores while staying true to my brand. Related to that notion of scaling, what role has social media played in growing your business? You both have a very prominent presence there. KW: Itâ€™s been really important. On a personal level, social media is not really my thing. The facade of it all is pretty hard for me to swallow. But when it's Basal I've tried to make it as authentic and true as possible and tried to put my own personality into it, which has helped a lot. It's definitely allowed me to grow and reach people that I otherwise wouldn't have reached. I've met a lot of people through it, too. People are so awesome, and they hit you up and try to collaborate. You build so many relationships from having a presence on Instagram, especially, and that's something that's been really helpful. And everyone's always willing to lend a hand and talk about things and talk to like-minded people. It helps build a community. AC: Yeah, same sort of thing. Social media for us is everything. It allows us every day to reach a large group of people in an instant. For me, it allows me to do that through creative imagery, which I just feel is the most amazing thing ever. I didn't create HARA just to be a sustainable clothing label. I created it to
make a community and to empower men and women to love themselves and be themselves and to love the human body enough to care what we put on it. For so long now we've been told the same story on what beauty looks like, how we should act and what we should say. That whole thought pattern is so old that it's tiring. It's amazing to be part of this new revolution, where we've come to this realization that
beauty exists in everyone in different ways. Kelli, you mentioned beauty and changing that paradigm. What trends are you seeing, and what are your customers demanding? KW: Definitely a trend that is happening now, which is so awesome, is women empowerment. Not just women, but beautiful bodies and confidence in any type 119
"I think for a long time now sustainable fashion has been seen as expensive and lame. And now, because of social media, younger girls are making it super cool, and saying that they want to be a part of the fashion revolution." of form that you come in. That's definitely a huge trend and something that I also try to support by choosing a diverse group of models and celebrating every body shape and color. That's huge.
a long time now sustainable fashion has been seen as expensive and lame. And now, because of social media, younger girls are making it super cool, and saying that they want to be a part of the fashion revolution.
I think ethical and sustainable fashion is a trend in itself, but it's more of an evolution to what we're so used to seeing. I read some article that there's like a 40 percent market share missing in America of people who want to see that transparency and who would be purchasing it if there were transparent brands that explained where everything came from.
I talk to young girls all the time that want to start their own clothing labels, and they want to start it sustainably. I see young girls all the time talking about how they can make more sustainable choices. So there's amazing conversations happening within the younger generation. And they're the ones that are gonna bring on this change. They're the ones that are going to really push it.
Hopefully, that's true. People are realizing how important it is to spend your money wisely and to know where everything comes from and to also not buy a million things. The notion that less is more is, I hope, a trend thatâ€™s here to stay. Definitely. Allie, have anything else to add to that? AC: Yeah, within the sustainable fashion industry I can definitely see a trend of younger girls getting on board. I think for 120
The fashion industry is gonna change like crazy this year. And I think that needs to happen, because this is what's going to make the larger corporations like H&M and Topshop not only make a change, but also prove that it's genuine. I feel like we're past the point of just accepting the label of organic at face value. People want to peer behind the scenes. Because of social media, people can see people walking around in China with gas masks, and they can see the rivers getting
"It's amazing to be part of this new revolution, where we've come to this realization that beauty exists in everyone in different ways." blue and the dogs getting sick. We can now see that with our own eyes, so there's no shying away. Totally. Since starting this project, I've felt a very strong reaction from everyone who has interacted with it. I'm sure you both feel the same. There's a feeling of connection that comes from interacting with something tangible, whether that's a person or material or idea.
Check The Basal Shop out here: thebasalshop.com Follow them at: @the.basal.shop Check Hara The Label out here: harathelabel.com Follow them at: @hara_thelabel
KW: I have a question. So just when you look around, do you think places like Australia and England are a bit ahead of the curve on sustainable fashion? AC: Yeah. I think Australia is so forward on the sustainable movement. I lived in Bali for a year, and when I was there I was surrounded by a lot of people that were environmentally conscious. And when I came back to Australia just recently, I was overwhelmed by the massive change that has happened here, like with supermarkets that are going to cut out all plastic bags. And all of my friends are like, “We don't use plastic anymore.” That's a thing of the past. It’s uncool. Like plastic's uncool. I feel really good being able to create Hara in a space where everyone's really supporting of it. Same goes for England. 123
Feeling Feminine Intimates Basal • PIPER Bodysuit The PIPER bodysuit is made of an ultra soft and stretchy organic cotton/ spandex blend, milled and dyed in Los Angeles. All of their bras and underwear are made ethically from start to finish in factories near their home in California, which minimizes their environmental impact. They make quality, non-toxic underwear you'll want to live in. @the.basal.shop • thebasalshop.com
Skincare Oil + Water Facial Care Set The Oil + Water Facial Care Set is a trio of products for a complete facial care regimen to cleanse, hydrate and rejuvenate the skin. Emulsifying Balm: a gentle, oilbased balm for everyday cleansing and makeup removal. Face + Hair Oil: a lightweight, fast-absorbing oil formulated for daily hydration. Herbal Clay Mask: a deeply cleansing, stimulating and toning mask with a boost of organic herbs, perfect for a weekly detox. @oilandwatersc • oilandwatersc.com
Apparel ConsciousTee This T-shirt features the slogan "wo[men] supporting wo[men] #EQUALITY.™" It stands for: women supporting women, men supporting women, women supporting men and men supporting men. This tee is ethically and sustainably made, using renewable green energy from wind and solar power. The cotton is 100 percent certified organic. @conscioustee_ • conscioustee.co.uk
Lifestyle Future & Fauna A purpose-driven online marketplace of globally curated goods all made, designed or produced by women in sustainable ways. Their mission is to promote female entrepreneurship and positive environmental practices while connecting the community to the stories behind the product. On Future & Fauna, you'll find accessories, home goods and wellness items, made from Guatemala to Brooklyn to Mexico, like the earrings pictured here. @futureandfauna • futureandfauna.com
EMPIRE GLOBAL VENTURES LLC
On a mission to amplify green technologies, helping them scale and grow. Empire Global Ventures specializes in all aspects of business development: identifying target markets, creating strategies, developing relationships and closing deals. They work with clients to amplify their message across both traditional and social media platforms, through strategic partnerships, marketing campaigns, special events and branding initiatives. EGV has more than a decade of expertise working with green-technology companies to promote products, such as wind power, solar power and electric vehicles. They've even worked on designs for hydroponic farms in Iceland. Their committed team embodies these beliefs, which drives how they choose their clients. EGV is passionate about building a better planet for future generations.
They look forward to working with you. egvllc.com firstname.lastname@example.org +1 646.527.7305 127
Julia Grieve Founder of Preloved Interview Photos
Andrea Diodati Preloved
Preloved is a Toronto fashion label that upcycles vintage sweaters, denim and deadstock fabric to create one-of-a-kind, made-in-Canada fashions that are sold online and wholesale to more than 400 boutiques. Each year, Preloved uses more than 100,000 vintage wool sweaters and 50,000 vintage cotton pants. Over the brand’s 23 years in business, it has diverted more than 1 million garments from landfills. Its founder, Julia Grieve, was recently listed as an outstanding contributor to clean capitalism at Canada’s Clean50 Summit 7.0.
Andrea Diodati: Tell me how Preloved started. Julia Grieve: We started Preloved in 1995. I was 5 years old at the time [laughs]. I always had a love of vintage clothes. I always shopped thrift. I loved that vintage was so unique, but if you buy straight vintage it can be a little costume-esque. You need to update it and alter it to make it modern, fashion forward and trendy. That’s what I always did to my own clothing. I was modeling before Preloved, living in Europe and Japan. People kept asking me, “Can I buy it?” (my clothes), so I decided to come back to Toronto and open a store. I wasn’t quite 5, but I was very, very young, and ignorance is bliss.
You call yourself an accidental environmentalist. Can you elaborate? 20 years ago there was no concept of [ecofashion]. I was just about making really great, unique product and, as I always joke, saving the planet just kind of happened. It was the most positive offshoot that we could have ever imagined. We started to realize the difference we could make and started putting a focus on it. I am not an expert. I’ve been learning as I go. I always joke that I can’t even spell circular economy. But I’ve been able to divert a million sweaters from landfills, so how’s that for a girl who can’t spell?! My attitude toward the greenspace is it’s something we can all do with a positive outlook, and you don’t need a Ph.D. in environmental science to make a difference. 129
That’s really empowering. When did that shift from accidental to intentional environmentalism happen? In the last 15 years, we started hearing about eco-fashion. I didn’t really know what that meant. Then, someone said we were doing eco-fashion. And I was like, I guess you’re right. We’re recycling all this garbage. Then, we started putting the thought process behind it. When we buy our vintage sweaters, they arrive in 100-1,000 pound bails. We go through them for our top-tier production, the womenswear line. There’s a certain standard the sweaters have to meet. We need sweaters that don’t have holes in them, that don’t shrink, sweaters with prints. Then, we look at what’s leftover and say, what could we do with that? We could make mitts. What if we shrunk them all and make scarves? That’s how we started our accessory line, and it’s our best seller. Mitts, scarves, slippers, leg warmers were all made from stuff we weren’t using. It’s how we started our children’s line too. So those are the thought processes that came in after we realized what we were doing. You’re essentially making one of a kinds on a mass scale. Was it difficult to figure out the production process? That’s been the evolution and work behind the last 15 years. We knew we needed to create consistency within the brand. People wanted it, and they wanted so much of it! We were working with Anthropologie, and I told them the sweaters were going to be assorted. They were like, “Oh, we can’t have that. We’re not going to buy 1,000 sweaters like that.” So we came up with color blocking and using tones. As we 130
evolve, we’re adding new materials that are deadstock and overrun materials. Especially in the last four years as we switched over to e-comm, this has been the biggest puzzle to figure out: how to stay consistent. People ask, “How can you be so passionate about what you do every day?” It’s because what I was doing 22 years ago isn’t even close to what I am doing now. I love this challenge and puzzle of selling one of a kinds online. People also said, “You won’t be able to sell online.” Together with my manufacturer we figured out how we could mass produce, by picking fabrics that could be layered better [for cutting], by having buttons removed before we do this and certain processes like that. He helped so much that we ended up moving into the factory. I imagine the manufacturing and the design processes have to be so hand in hand when you’re mass producing one of a kinds. The relationship between a manufacturer and a designer is very intimate. I always joke about offshore production. I couldn’t do it from Queen Street to Scarborough — I had to move in! I don’t know how people can send a piece of paper over the internet and get a dress back. I don’t get it. Did you have to spend a lot of money on online marketing for e-commerce? We literally have never done it before. Facebook started limiting organic reach, so I guess we should pay for a Facebook ad. We never did that before! When we switched over [to e-comm] we already had such a great following. We had four lines and 181 stores of Anthropologie. It was growing a
lot outside of Toronto, where our bricks-andmortar store was. What’s the future of retail? I am not sure, and it’s constantly changing. If you asked me two years ago, it would be a different answer. I think there’s going to be a swing back to bricks-and-mortar. I always said that when we closed our stores. I am seeing the trend where people who started online are now opening up bricks-and-mortar stores, like Everlane. It’s a different model than retail in the 1990s.
You don’t need to have prime retail location, but you need to have somewhere where the customer can connect with the brand. Where we sell wholesale really well are towns outside of mass urban centers. You have an amazing community of people who love their small town but are quite urban. They appreciate that independent retailer, where they walk in every day and they know the woman that runs the store. That’s where independent retail works really well. Independent retail in downtown Toronto is tough. The rents are high, and you’re 131
competing with Zara. We are carried in 400 boutiques, and those are the ones that sell the best. That’s so interesting, because I do feel there’s a movement of urbanites moving into rural settings. I can see it. I see what the owner buys, and I think it’s too edgy for that town, but then two weeks later they sell through and come back. They’re selling to that young, hip customer that has chosen to live outside the urban center. Why did you focus on sweaters as your primary material? 132
We buy our sweaters from the rag house. Rag houses are clothes sorters. They sort clothing into cottons, wools, etc. The bulk of their business is selling or donating clothing to third world countries. Do you know any third world countries that would be interested in wool sweaters? So there was always these sweaters around that they were trying to sell me for a deal. What was I going to do with those sweaters? They were so ugly! But then I thought, what if we cut them up and made new sweaters. Also, wool is a very easy material to work with, and it’s a great quality, durable, beautiful material. So that’s why there was
such an abundance of sweaters in the rag houses. We became the exit plan. Is it difficult to find enough matching sweaters to fill orders? That’s always been a challenge for the last 20 years. There’s a different quality level of sweaters coming through with fast fashion. But I’ve got great suppliers who know what we like, and we design around those challenges. Do you have to tell buyers we can only cut X number of units of this style? We do, but I love to oversell [laughs]. This season we did that with our recycled Levi’s. We wanted to make sure we were using great quality Levi’s, but we didn’t want to use Levi’s that could be sold as pants. If they’re great Levi’s, why would we cut them up? So, we were using large Levi’s that maybe had a little bit of damage at the bottom. Because we were so picky, we had to put a cap on how many we would produce. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to start a business model similar to yours? Basically, do it! Just jump and you will land. It may be soft, may be hard, but you will land. That’s what I tell my kids all the time — just go do it! And then, research and network. Those are keys to my success in business. What’s your favorite part of owning your own business? My favorite part is that in 22 years I’ve never had the same day twice. When owning your own business, you are part of every aspect
of the business. I am not just running the website, not just doing the design, not just picking the vintage. Every day is a different day, and I love that! You’ve gone through fires and floods. What keeps you going when you face major adversities in your business? The fire was insane. It was the largest fire this century in Toronto and took down a whole city block. It was four weeks to Fashion Week. We had a really large staff at that time with over 60 people. I said, we can’t fall apart. These people need jobs. We’re going to work night and day and recreate that collection and show at Fashion Week. And we did! It was amazing! The mayor was there and Jeanne Beaker. I had to give people a purpose coming out of the fire, the ashes. Can you talk a little bit about your ‘Buy Nothing New’ New Year’s resolution? I survived 31 days and did pretty good! I love thrifting. One of my favorite parts of my job is to be in the rag house and sorting. I read about [Buy Nothing New], forced myself to do it and it’s so fun! My kids are getting into it. I added some other things, like I can buy things that are made in Canada. I am still looking for made-in-Canada underwear! I just got a tweed blazer from the thrift store, because shoulder pads are back in. If you wear a 1988 shoulder pad, it’s not the same. You have to alter it. So the interns took out the shoulder pad, cut it in half, moved it up forward and now it looks amazing! But that’s the difference between thrifting and being able to make it current. You have to alter it. 133
What else would you suggest to people to help reduce their impact? When you really think about what you buy, you will shop so differently. You will be really shocked about what you buy accidentally. You don’t need to be ashamed about loving fashion. Think about what the impact is, and be comfortable with the decision you’re making. If we are not paying any attention, we make a lot of decisions that we don’t have to. If you slowed down and saw "Made in China" ... look at the label, think about what that means and then decide if you still want it.
Andrea Diodati is a New York City fashion designer who grew up in Canada and has long been a fan of Julia’s work with Preloved. Andrea was so inspired by her conversation with Julia that she is currently working on a womenswear line, called AAFR^, that upcycles vintage tablecloths. Check out Preloved here: getpreloved.com Follow them at: @prelovedtoronto
8MM tons of single-use plastics enter our oceans each year, and plastic straws are among the oceans’ top 5 pollutants. LOLISTRAW is hypercompostable, meaning it will break down at the same rate as food waste in compost or in the natural environment, such as a waterway.
LOLIWARE is the world’s first edible bioplastics company. They replace single-use plastics with products that are ‘designed to disappear’. Their latest innovation is LOLISTRAW, a hypercompostable, marine-degradable, edible drinking straw designed to replace single-use plastic straws.
Check them out at: loliware.com Follow them: @loliware
LOLISTRAW is made from LOLIWARE’s patent-pending, seaweed-based material technology. Seaweed is a renewable resource that does not require land resources and actually absorbs CO2. LOLISTRAW can also be embedded with flavor or nutritional benefits. Imagine your cold brew served with a vanilla straw. Once you’re done, you can eat your straw! Be part of the solution … Support the launch of LOLISTRAW by pre-ordering on Indiegogo: bit.ly/eatyourstraw
Today's fashion industry is the secondleading cause of pollution, after oil. In response, one woman has taken it upon herself to create a zero waste, fair-trade clothing company, proving that (with some creativity) it can be done and setting the bar higher for other brands. Rachel Faller is the American founder, owner, designer, photographer and all around do-it-yourselfer responsible for the ethical fashion brand Tonlé, which means “river” in the Cambodian language of Khmer.
Words & Photos Tina Picz-Devoe 136
Faller lived and worked in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for six years after receiving a Fulbright Scholarship in 2008 to research artisan groups in the country. By living among the Cambodian people, working with them, learning their customs, cooking
their food and building what she calls a "second family" with her coworkers, Faller built a brand around the core principles of transparency, fairness and integrity. The TonlĂŠ brand centers around the concept that workers should be treated fairly and that consumers should know how and where their clothes are made. That includes how clothing production impacts the environment and human health, as well as the workers involved â€” the conditions they work in, their quality of life and their wages. I have known Faller since our preteen days of sewing together, and it has been inspiring to watch her brand grow and change over the years. Her small shop in Cambodia transitioned to an online store. Now, she has opened a shop in San
Francisco, where she recently relocated. This summer, I was able to catch up with Faller in our Massachusetts hometown. In today's fast-fashion society, where clothing is often mass produced in bulk quantities, there is something so different about the quality of her handmade garments â€” each signed with the name of the person who made it. Textile workers throughout much of the world are paid low wages, while working in unsafe and deadly conditions, as witnessed in the 2013 collapse of the eight-story Rana Plaza garment factory complex in Bangladesh, which killed 1,129 people. And, unfortunately, higher prices for designer clothing do not always translate to higher wages for garment workers. Globally, 100 million pounds of 137
textiles are wasted each year. They are dumped into landfills, burned or buried, polluting our air, soil and waterways. In contrast, Tonlé’s small, safe, well-lit and well-ventilated production workshop reduces waste. Tonlé buys remnant fabrics that factories have discarded, which Faller and her team scout out in Cambodian markets. After cutting their patterns for dresses, pants, skirts and shirts, Tonlé also uses 100 percent of the remaining scraps to form strips, which are then weaved or knit into new designs for cardigans, vests and smaller accessories, such as necklaces, handbags and scarves. What is left is then blended into a pulp and handmade into beautiful stationery paper and greeting cards. While most clothing production facilities waste 40 percent of their scraps, Tonlé follows a truly zero waste model to live by: use every last bit creatively. At a speaking engagement in Boulder, Colorado, Faller asked her 600 audience members to look at their shirt labels. They 138
were then asked to stand if their garments contained any acrylic, latex, spandex, polyester or nylon. Not surprisingly, most of the audience stood. Modern textiles are frequently made of these materials, which contain plastics, chemicals and dyes that are harmful to the environment and to human health when burned or put into landfills where they leach into water and air. It's high time we consider that this way of consuming is clearly not sustainable for us or for the planet we inhabit. Shifting society’s consumption habits requires that we all commit to small changes in our daily lives. The more we share and educate one another, the greater change we can create. You can support the spread of Tonlé's zero waste model by following the company on Facebook and Instagram @tonledesign, visiting tonle.com or stopping by 55 Clement St. in San Francisco.
Our recycling program in Chile, Net Positiva, provides fishing net collection points to keep plastic fishing nets out of our oceans. Preventing harmful materials from entering the ocean, our programs protect wildlife and support local fishing communities through financial incentives.
We make skateboards from recycled fishing nets.
Check us out at: bureo.co Follow us: @bureo
Once collected, our nets are washed and prepared for a mechanical recycling process, where they are melted and cut into small recycled pellets. These pellets are then injected into steel molds to form our products. We are on a mission to find innovative solutions to prevent ocean plastics. Our team shares a passion for surfing and the health of the environment. We are dedicated to making a difference and inspiring others to join us in the movement to protect our oceans.
Photo Recover Brands
Founder of Recover Brands Interview Photos
Kyle Calian Recover Brands
Bill Johnston is the co-founder and president of Recover Brands, an apparel and accessory manufacturing company whose mission is to create the most environmentally friendly and socially responsible products possible. Recover accomplishes this by maintaining complete control of their supply chain to ensure that all of their products are made from 100 percent recycled materials. An avid outdoorsman, Bill began his journey into sustainable business working for an outdoor adventure company after graduating from NC State. Here, he describes how Recover Brands came to fruition and shares some of the less obvious challenges and benefits of using 100 percent recycled materials. 140
Kyle Calian: How did you arrive here, working with Recover?
for using upcycled cotton and recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
Bill Johnston: I graduated in 2008 from NC State, with a focus on supply-chain management. My dad was in the industry too — he has a knitting Mill in Statesville — so I grew up around textiles. After graduating, I went to work for an outdoor adventure company called Moondance Adventures, where I guided backpacking and mountaineering trips for teenagers.
As our friendship blossomed through cycling together, I started to do more and more research on recycled plastic. Shortly thereafter, it became a no-brainer for us to try to start something. So we put our heads together and started a business.
I had always been into outdoor activities, but in leading expeditions all over the world I realized what I really liked was the opportunity to educate kids about the environment. I loved it, but after the first season I started looking for other opportunities. That was when the economy absolutely tanked, so finding jobs in sustainability was not exactly opportunistic. So I stuck it out for four more years and took some time to really think about how I could turn my passion for environmental protection into a career.
We had the idea in early 2010, but we didn't have a tangible product until the end of that year. Once we started selling, we realized there was this huge void in the market in terms of bolt production and more wholesale scale. Some of our initial orders were driven between running races and different events, but then we shifted our model to focus more on wholesale.
After my second year with Moondance I connected with a good family friend, John Riddle, who had been selling yarn to my dad since the ‘80s. John was a big cyclist, and I had always been really into mountain biking. I was in the market for some new wheels at the time, so my dad told me I should connect with John to get a new bike. I gave him a call, and we hit it off right off the bat. We started riding together and kicking around ideas. I told him about my passion for sustainability, and he introduced me to the world of recycled textiles. I was taken away by his musings on the possibilities
Great, and when did you decide you wanted to start Recover brands?
Got you. Can you tell me a little bit more about your process? We use both recycled PET and upcycled cotton in our core products. What we call the Recover Sport, which is made entirely from post-consumer plastics or recycled PET, is literally post-consumer waste. We collect water bottles, Coke bottles, Gatorade bottles — really any kind of clear number one plastics that are collected in curbside recycling bins or in industrial recycling bins. Those plastics are then sorted, cleaned, washed, broken down, shaved into flake, melted into pellets and then extruded into a new fiber. That fiber is the key ingredient for the Sport. The idea behind that product is that the world has a massive problem with plastic, particularly with single-use plastics, such that there is an enormous abundance of plastic in the 141
world that most often ends up in landfills or in our ecosystems. So our product brings new life to something that would otherwise go to waste and/or harm the environment. Our sport fabric is one solution for the worldâ€™s plastic problem. We also have a 50/50 blend, which is made from a combination of recycled PET and upcycled cotton that comes from post-industrial manufacturing scraps and old garments. When a manufacturer produces a new garment they end up with loads of thin scraps in their cutting rooms that, historically, has gone to waste. So we go in and collect those scraps, sort them by color and then blend them with the recycled PET to create a new 50/50 blended fiber, which gets spun into a yarn. One of the coolest parts of that process is that the color in the shirts actually comes from the upcycled cottons, eliminating the need for dyes and chemicals throughout the entire manufacturing process. That saves a tremendous amount of water and energy. Our shirts use less than a tenth of the water needed to produce a conventional shirt. That's amazing. Because of the complex nature of the fabric, do you guys have a take-back program or repair program for damaged apparel? We have a couple of different programs in place. The 100 percent PET products are more of a closed-loop product where those old garments can be broken down and put back into the supply chain, because 142
they are 100 percent polyester. The 50/50 blend fibers, on the other hand, are a little bit harder to break down. So we have an upcycling program where we take those old shirts, whether it's a defective shirt or just something that doesn't have life anymore, and we actually upcycle those shirts into drawstring backpacks and tote bags. Very cool. What have been some of the more difficult challenges you have faced so far? When we first started up we were in the height of the recession, so people were not only spending less but many werenâ€™t
spending at all. We were launching a new concept in one of the worst markets possible. The other aspect of that is that the general public is just so much more in tune to sustainability than they were in 2010. Sustainability and environmental issues writ large are on the forefront of people's everyday thoughts and conversations. Thatâ€™s really encouraging. That being said, there are definitely some serious obstacles ahead, whether you're looking at government regulations or just catching people up to speed on the extent of the worldâ€™s plastic problem. On the opposite side of that coin, what have been some of your proudest accomplishments?
Building something from scratch is something we're as proud of as anything. It's really encouraging when we can quantify our environmental impact from bottle diversion to water savings, energy savings, reduction in carbon emissions, all of those things. When we look at the grand scale since we started, the numbers are really significant. It's a real impact, and it's been really exciting to see how excited our employees are about it. When they look at their company as a whole and the very impactful efforts that they're contributing to in their work, the fact that we've been able to help facilitate that and really give them something they're proud of is really exciting. The same thing goes 143
for individuals. You can really see people get excited to know that they're making an impact even if they're just buying one individual product. I saw on your website you have a couple companies you've collaborated with. What have been some of your most exciting collaborations so far? A couple industries that we really focus on and have done well in are the outdoor sports world, which is a huge passion of mine, and the music world. We work with a lot of different touring bands and music festivals. One in particular that was just such a surreal moment for me was when we did shirts for Wilco's tour a couple of years ago. We've continued to work with them, because wow, we're making 146
shirts for Wilco. You always have to pinch yourself a little bit on stuff like that. That's one in particular. Another really key partner for us that we work with on a daily basis is Sierra Nevada Brewing. They're the pioneers of the craft beer world and have really revolutionized that industry. They are trail blazers in so many ways, and they set the standard for sustainability in crafting beer. To be a key partner with them is really exciting for us. We also work with a handful of non-profits such as the National Parks Foundation and Let Me Run. That's awesome. What are some trends that you're seeing in the world of sustainability, just in general?
I think the political climate right now has people way more engaged than ever before. I think people are seeing direct impacts from climate change and different things that are happening to the world, whether it's finding plastic on the beaches, or enduring extremely hot summers, droughts, wildfires — climate change is no longer this mystical idea. Its impact is very real. So there’s much more environmental awareness out there than there was when we started this business in 2010. That being said, we have some serious issues ahead of us on an industrial scale. We have a great deal of work to do on improving recycling systems and infrastructure to make sure that we're giving people the options to make sustainable choices on a daily basis. What I just said is a little bit counter intuitive to the world we're in right now where everyone is shopping online and buying things with excess packaging, which amplifies their carbon footprint. We all need more education on these topics so that we can make sure we’re reducing our impact while offering people enough variety of products such that they're able to make informed purchases. We also need to innovate, or in many ways return to making products that are durable and meant to be reused rather than simply thrown away. Who have been some of your influencers along the way? I'd definitely say the first person would have to be my business partner, John. He's not really involved in the day-to-day operations, but since the beginning he put a lot of faith in me and he has been a great
mentor throughout this process. I think for him, when we were first getting started, to put his time, connections and money into a 23-year-old who wanted to do something in sustainability — that obviously gave me a lot of confidence. Nice. I've had some amazing mentors along the way, but I'm still looking for that financial support. Yeah, for sure. How do you shop for yourself, and what are some of your favorite companies to purchase from? I am actually not a huge shopper. From a clothing standpoint, I wear Recover shirts every day — I'm in good shape there. I've got a rotation of four pairs of pants and then I've got shoes and underwear, so there's not a whole lot to buy outside of that. But I do spend money on outdoor gear, whether it's new bikes or backpacking equipment or climbing equipment. I always make sure to put a premium on buying nice stuff that will last a long time. That kind of quality is definitely key for me. And do you have a favorite Recover product? I wear our Recover Sport Polo pretty much every day. I love that shirt. I had an old polo that was one of my all time favorites, and I only had one of them. We kind of looked at that as a good model for how we wanted to build that product. I love it. It's something I can wear to the office and it looks nice, I can wear it to meetings or at night. But on the flip side, it has really nice performance 147
attributes. You can go for a run in it, you can go mountain biking in it, you can go surfing in it. It's going to dry super fast. It's an extremely versatile product that is a staple for everyday use. What do you do to reduce your environmental impact outside of your business? I'm kind of obsessed with waste on an individual basis. One of the things that I like to do, and I always encourage other people to do this as well, is to try to be more conscious about my impact. I like to make a game out of it, to see how little waste I can actually create. In my personal life, I think about my recycling bin, and my compost bin, and then compare that to my trash bin. I try to have zero to very little waste going into that trash bin to the point where I might have to take out a small trash bin maybe once a month. The compost, on the other hand, I'm clearing out once a week â€” same as my recycling bin. I really try to think about it as a game just to see how little waste I can actually send to the landfill and to make sure that what I'm buying or consuming is either 100 percent recyclable or compostable. Yeah. I'm in the same boat. Is there anything else you want people to know about Recover? Yeah, I think one of the big things we're trying to get out there is just general awareness. We want people to know there are other options for sustainable products. Not just the apparel that we make, but
we're also expanding our accessory line with other new products. One of the things we always talk about and the way we review Recover is similar to what a non-profit would in the sense that we're really trying to provide solutions to these environmental problems. And ultimately we want to get to a point where all this excess plastic is not a problem at all anymore. We envision a world where we've got recycling rates at 100 percent, where there is no single use plastic out there at all. We're working as hard as we can to try to get to that goal of helping solve that problem and educate and inspire people along the way with really nice products, so they can get excited about. In addition to building excitement about our products' green attributes, we also want it to be our customerâ€™s favorite shirt or hat or backpack or hoodie. Something that's extremely soft, extremely comfortable, extremely durable, such that they can feel good about it in every way. Ultimately, if they like the product enough and they wear it all the time and they're out there talking about it, it's just that word of mouth like, "Oh, wow. That shirt's made from eight plastic bottles." And it has that trickle effect where more and more people will hear about it, get excited about it, learn about us, what we're doing and help us grow in both an environmentally sustainable and socially responsable way. Check out Recover Brands at: recoverbrands.com Follow them at: @recoverbrands
Photo Adair Grace
Photo Christian Mcleod
Dustin Winegardner & Harry Fricker Co-Founders of Arvin Goods Interview Photos
Kyle Calian Arvin Goods
Dustin Winegardner and Harry Fricker are co-founders of Arvin Goods, an apparel brand that focuses on design-led and sustainably made apparel basics. As a reflection of their commitment to good design and love for wild spaces, Dustin and Harry have created the only basics brand to put sustainability first. Meaning Arvinâ€™s products are made using a closed-loop production process, as every Arvin basic is made from 100 percent donated or upcycled materials. 150
Photo Adam Cantiello
Kyle Calian: How did you each get where you are now, working at Arvin Goods? Dustin Winegardner: Here’s the short version – I have a background in product development and accessories creation. I had this idea after meeting with a lot of people and discovering some of the sustainable resources that were available to create a very simple product and brand around recycled or reduced-impact materials. I had the sock and underwear idea in my head already, and that led to a referral to Harry. Together, we ended up creating Arvin Goods. Gotcha. And Harry? Harry Fricker: For me, from the UK, I had been working for myself for about 5 years. I built brands for people, did a little graphic design, photography, film direction
and pretty much everything else under the creative umbrella. I moved to Vancouver about three years ago, where I got introduced to Dustin. We started talking about the sustainable sock and underwear idea. I had already been working for a number of different low-impact lifestyle brands in the U.K., and I kind of wanted to make a splash in North America and this was the best way of doing it.
Gotcha. What inspired the mission behind Arvin Goods? What really drives the company right now? DW: The idea was born from the realization that socks and underwear actually have a huge environmental impact. Most people don't put on their socks every morning and think that they're making an impact on anything — it's just a pair of socks or a pair of underwear or whatever. 151
Photo Vanessa Webster
They go look for cool socks and underwear, without putting much more thought into that decision. My original idea was if you could scale a simple, basic product like socks and underwear into a large company, you could actually create an impact via a very simple product. That was the idea, and then Harry took it and turned it into what you see or what you feel when you look at Arvin. HF: Socks and underwear are such a small item that they’re kind of an afterthought in the fashion industry. And yet, they’re items that almost everyone wears every single day. So they’re important, and they’re produced in mass quantities, and they have a huge environmental footprint. So I wanted to get people to understand that their sock and underwear choices matter, and to realize that if they put a little more thought into their sock and 152
underwear choices they could be making a very simple but very positive impact on the environment. That makes a lot of sense. They're a basic necessity. Arvin products are very unisex, and I think that's really great. It's a good entry point into the world of sustainable fabrics. DW: For most people the first thing they do in the day is put their socks on, and the last thing they do before going to bed is take their socks off. If people knew that each pair of socks required 50 gallons of water to produce, and if they thought about that every time they took their socks on and off, then it would start to resonate. Furthermore, you probably buy about five times the pair of socks each year than you do a pair of jeans. So if everyone made
Photo Adam Cantiello
more sustainable sock choices, the impact adds up. On that note, can you talk a little bit about your recycling initiatives and how you guys get your fabric? DW: Yeah, on the recycling, we partner with a Spanish yarn mill in Alicante, Spain,
that collects post-industrial cotton waste from factories that are making T-shirts, sweatshirts and other cotton products. They take the waste from the cutting and sort it by color and material, and then they run it through a grinding process that morphs it back down to its fiber form. Normally in a cotton process, you would 153
have greige fiber that then has to be dyed later. But in this case, you have green fiber or red fiber, whatever the color is, that's already colored and ready for spinning and processing. Next to that, the yarn we use for Arvin is a blend of about 50 percent upcycled cotton and 50 percent recycled polyester. It's all 100 percent recycled input. There's no virgin material put into the product. Thatâ€™s amazing. Well, that answers my question about the dyes as well. I see you guys have a take-back program, which is awesome. How does that work?
There are some programs that can take 100 percent polyester or 100 percent cotton, but blended materials are a little bit more challenging, especially with products that have trims on them like buttons or webbing. We are working on this with the same yarn mill, with the goal of being able to take after-life products and put them right back into the supply chain. You start to get into a volume discussion, and I think that's the challenge for everybody in this space. I can tell you that after being at a number of conventions and trade shows
Photo Vanessa Webster
DW: Because we're so young, there's not much to take back yet. The take back program is part of our long term strategy for the brand. If people do some research
around related initiatives from some of the biggest companies in apparel like H&M, Gap and other multinational corporations, you can see that the need for raw material will become greater over time. The systems are very young at this point so, itâ€™s tough to be able to take things back and process it like you said.
around this topic, it's a big priority for the industry. But I think in a matter of a few short years, you're going to start to see a lot of evolution on this front. OK. This question might be catered more toward Harry. Can you talk a little bit about your creative process in terms of designing? HF: Sure. One of our taglines is “friend of the people.” That slogan was born out of our search for a company name, which was really the first part of the creative process. I went through a thousand different names before landing on Arvin, which is an old English word that means friend of the people. It fit perfectly. Building from that, we wanted to be the new basics brand. We didn't want to go into crazy patterns or illustrations on our product. We wanted people to wear it with everything. If they are ‘blah’ colors, they can be worn with loads of different types of fashion styles. When it came to the product design, that was a little easier. We were limited to our color palette from the batches of yarn that we started with, but they worked great and they looked amazing. With the color, we wanted to keep it simple. We wanted to introduce the brand to everyone on social media. The product is for everyone at anytime, whether they're skateboarding or riding a bike or sitting at the office. Yeah. Congrats on your partnership with Macklemore. How did that come about? DW: He's a local Seattle guy who I followed for years before he became this massive mega global star. I've been involved with their merchandise creation
for a few years now. Macklemore’s wife was triggered by the story of Arvin and some of the things we're doing, because she has seen firsthand how wasteful the music merchandise business is. You can create thousands and thousands of T-shirts for a tour then whatever's left when the tour's over usually goes to waste — there's nothing they can do with them. Last year, he also did a little online video campaign for a jacket that Columbia produced that is made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles. When this all came about, we were developing Arvin. I approached them about the idea and said, "Hey, could we do something collaboratively that might pique some interest and create some awareness around waste in the fashion industry?" They were both more than willing to help. Awesome. That's super cool. DW: Yeah. Good people. Really, really amazing people. That's great. Back to the facility stuff for a moment. Because you're upcycling everything, you say that you pretty much don't use any water. Can you talk a little bit more about that? DW: Yeah. A normal cotton sock using virgin cotton would need water for the growth of the plant, and then there's also a lot of water used in the processing and dyeing of the yarn. Given that we're using colored waste, again, your fiber already has the color built into it. When it's spun, you end up with a new yarn on a cone that has not been recolored. If you compare 1 pound of our yarn with 1 pound of conventional colored cotton yarn, our yarn 157
uses zero water while the conventional yarn uses 2,000 gallons of water. Wow. DW: And our yarn uses none. That's incredible. DW: In our case, whenever possible, we try to use vat-dyed polyester in the blends. Some colors aren't as easy for that as others, but your basics are blacks, whites and navy. When you end with our finished yarn — the blend that's on the spool about to go into knitting — there’s virtually zero water used to create that yarn. You're also running the facility with a lot of solar power. Is that correct? DW: The yarn facility in Spain is run on 50 percent solar power. HF: The facility saves around 145 million kilowatt hours of energy per year, which is pretty big. What do you think will be your biggest challenge going forward? HF: We’re a small team with less than a year under our belts, so we still have trouble getting people to take us seriously. We don’t have the biggest social media following, and we haven’t gotten much press coverage yet. DW: Scaling. Yeah, scaling methods is our biggest challenge because we've probably talked to thousands of people at this point, but talking about it sometimes isn’t enough. People are confused about what 158
we’re all about. But when you actually show the product to someone, not one person has said, "I'm confused," or called bullshit or anything like that. Everyone's always like, "I had no idea that this was a thing or even possible." The more people that you can get to understand what's happening or what we're doing, the bigger it will be. I think the marketplace will dictate this, but as people realize, "Hey, I have another option that actually is better than what I'm buying currently and I didn't even know it was an option," human nature will choose the better option. Definitely. Then on that same track, what has been your proudest accomplishment so far? HF: It might be different for both of us, I'm not sure, but getting to where we are right now has been amazing. The people that we've met, the influencers that we've met, the people that messaged us on Facebook or Instagram, or emailed us, have been extremely supportive, which is so encouraging. Over the whole amount of time, I feel like that's our proudest accomplishment, just teaching people and meeting new people. DW: Yeah. I mean I feel the same way. I think back to my basics analogy. The fact that a pair of socks can create a conversation like this is something I'm really proud of ... because most people are going to the store and mindlessly buying a six-pack of black socks.. It's not something they go in and study and think about. As people dig into this and start to understand our story, it's interesting how much mind-blowing we're doing. Then, we get a lot of really good questions. A lot of people come back and they're like, "Hold
Photo Jordan Dyck
on a second. What? I don't get it," or, "How can you say this," or, "Is this for real?" I really like engaging in those dialogues because it's interesting and people just really don't know. They have no idea about what impact their basic clothing items are having on water and on the planet as a whole. Gotcha. Overall, what are some trends you guys are seeing in the industry and in the world of sustainability right now? I want you to be honest. DW: OK. I was just in Europe for two weeks at a trade show visiting customers. Prior to that, I've been to trade shows in the U.S., and the most interesting thing that's happening right now is that in the realm of clothing and outdoor products or textile-based consumer goods, thereâ€™s no debate over the amount of environmental harm being done by the industry. It's a fact and they're making decisions and marketing their products in a way that is slanted towards sustainability and impact reduction. In the U.S., we're still sucking around, for lack of a better term, on what's the best strategy and what's the best way to communicate that strategy to the public. These big brands are sitting there going, "Well, I'm not sure what to do." They know they need to do it, but they're not quite sure how to do it. There's a lot of inaction as people try to assess the landscape. I think that's a mistake. Consumers are only going to get smarter about sustainability. They're going to become more informed, and their standards are going to rise. I think big companies know that. They're trying to figure out the best move to stay relevant and stay active and do something
good. I just don't feel it's happening fast enough, because Harry and I are just two dudes who are really good partners in the process, but we were able to take some action and in six months, create something that can have a very large-scale impact. Then, youâ€™ve got these multibillion-dollar companies who arenâ€™t sure what to do, and they're moving slower than they should. As a trend, it's coming. Everybody's going to want it, everybody's going to need it, and everybody's going to become more and more educated. Yeah. I couldn't agree with you more. I think a lot of people are dragging their feet. I don't think they realize that they will most likely get left behind if they don't catch up. I mean there are questions of access, like certain things are going to be more affordable for certain people and fast fashion is still going to have a place, but I think that the space will start to open up. DW: Yeah. I'll be honest with you, the dirty dark secret of the whole situation is that it doesn't have to be more expensive. Yeah. DW: If people dig into it, if the dyeing process is led by sustainability, then the product does not necessarily come out as more expensive. I think a big problem with some of these giant companies is that they go into it with the notion that they're going to have a pricing issue or a marketing challenge. But in fact, they should just go into it from the raw design stage and say, "This is what we're doing," and it becomes solvable. These materials are out there. We didn't reinvent the wheel with Arvin. 161
Who or what were some of your biggest influences when you built Arvin? Who are some of the people or companies that really inspired you? HF: Well, there are a lot of huge companies that have influenced many decisions. What influenced me the most was my experience working with a number of different companies and realizing what could be done better. That influenced a lot of decisions that I made through the creative process. Some of the brands, of course, like Patagonia, the way they tell their story has been a huge thing. I came from more of a surf, skateboard, snowboard and outdoor industry background, so a lot of those brands in Europe, like Sinister, had a big effect on me, too. DW: The idea that the world doesnâ€™t need another sock has always guided me through this process. We're coming off a seven or eight year stint where socks were a kitschy, fashionable thing. Everybody's wearing the polka dots and the Bart Simpson socks. If you go to a trade show, there's 10,000 sock companies. The world didn't need another sock company, and so I never saw us as just another sock manufacturer. We're making a basics company that is doing things drastically different from how the rest of the industry is doing it. I liken that back to the world of Blockbuster, where people initially rejected a new way to watch movies, but then Netflix changed the game. It's kind of cliche now to say that because of the disruption mantra and all that, but it's true. Yeah. Finally, how can people purchase Arvin Goods? HF: We have a website, so you can buy through ArvinGoods.com. Then, you can find 162
us on Amazon Europe and Amazon U.S. We are also in a number of different stores in the Pacific Northwest and in California. DW: We just launched in Urban Outfitters as well nationally. Wow. Dustin: Yeah. Urban just took a couple of our men's styles and placed them in all their stores and online. That's something that's growing especially with the evolution of our women's collection, which has gotten a really strong reaction. In keeping to our strategy, though, we want keep the whole retail business very tight with a couple of really strong partners. Then, the majority of the business is meant to be direct to consumer and through our own online channels, because we feel in that manner, we can control the message and control the brand identity and make sure that it stays as fresh as possible. Great. All right. That's all I have. Thanks so much. DW: Thank you, Kyle. HF: Yeah, thanks Kyle. And thanks to everyone who took the time to read this interview. Check out Arvin Goods here: arvingoods.com Follow them at: @arvingoods
Photo Shayd Johnson
Who we're following
laurabaross.com Laura Baross is a New York-based sustainable lifestyle blogger and interior designer. When she realized she can contribute to a greener tomorrow through her work, she started DESIGN \\' CARE, an earth-friendly design platform that prioritizes sustainably sourced materials and works exclusively with environmentally conscious design brands. Blending an eco-friendly approach with her onlinebased, one-stop-shop platform is redefining the way people approach interior design. Laura's lon-term vision and hope is to positively impact our planet and future generations.
Dominique Drakeford is an environmental educator, creative director and community advocate who works in so many different spheres to inspire ecological, cultural and social change. Her baby, Melanin And Sustainable Style (MelaninASS), is an evolutionary platform that discusses the issues and celebrates the success of communities of color in sustainable fashion, green beauty and wellness spaces. 164
Who We're Following
Alden Wicker is the editor-in-chief of EcoCult, a curious, thoughtful, science-based view into sustainable fashion and travel in New York City and internationally. In 2014, she co-founded the Ethical Writers Coalition, a group of creatives who showcase and support various aspects of the ethical and sustainable lifestyle.
Renee Peters is a lifelong animal lover and nature enthusiast. She is a fashion model in NYC and tries to give back to the planet and the natural world, by using her platform as a model to reshape the way people think about the environment and their role in protecting it. She launched Model4greenliving to provide practical tips and everyday actions that encourage mindful, sustainable living. 165
Lilian Liu is a sustainability professional at the United Nations Global Compact, the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative. Passionate about sustainable fashion and building un-business connections, Lilian builds connections and partnership opportunities between U.N. and the private sector to advance corporate sustainability.
Christopher RĂŚburn has established his eponymous brand with sustainable and intelligent fashion design for a global audience. His designs feature a chameleon woven patch made from recycled yarns developed by their long-term branding partner @avydenrbis. In keeping with Palladium's exploration DNA and spirit of adventure, they worked closely together to explore a series of functional and innovative footwear.
Who We're Following
Over the course of her career, Safia Minney has been a pioneer in ethical business, establishing Fair Trade supply chain solutions, spearheading PR and marketing campaigns and defining the strategic directions needed to reach new markets. At the heart of everything she has done has been a creative force and passion to deliver social impact and sustainability. Check out her forthcoming book, "Slave To Fashion," which aims to raise awareness about modern slavery in the fashion industry and show how it can be eradicated with the help of both businesses and consumers.
Loomstate works toward a shared vision, believing that whole clothing supply chain, from cotton farm to fashion house, can support sustainable clothing production. This is clothing that goes beyond fiber and fabric, to include themoral fibers we share and the community fabric that binds us.
Feeling Masculine Basics Arvin Goods Arvin is the only basics brand to put sustainability first. It’s not an afterthought or a gimmick — it’s the reason Arvin exists. Each product is made using state-of-the-art, closed loop recycling and production practices. That means every Arvin basic is made from 100 percent donated/upcycled materials with minimal water used while eliminating waste and toxic dyes. Check out their sock and underwear lines available online and at Urban Outfitters. @arvingoods • arvingoods.com
Apparel Recover Brands Made out of 100 percent recycled materials, their products are built to last and made using the most environmentally sound methods possible. No dyes, no chemicals, no wastewater. They collect and sort post-consumer plastic bottles, stripping them of all labels and caps. Then, they salvage cotton from discarded industry scraps, which are also sorted by color and blended with polyester. The reclaimed fiber is then spun into yarn and knit into fabric, which is ultimately cut and sewn into a garment. With their proprietary process, they’re able to make fibers that are “first quality,” which makes them look and feel great. @recoverbrands • recoverbrands.com 168
Bracelet 4Ocean With every bracelet purchased 4ocean removes 1 pound of trash from the ocean. Double the pounds removed, double the bracelets. With their 4Ocean 2-Pound Pack you receive one of their signature blue bracelets and the limited edition blue and white anniversary bracelet. Pull your 2 pounds today at 4Ocean.com. @4Ocean â€˘ 4Ocean.com
Swimwear The Tropics The Tropics is more than just men's swim trunks. It's a lifestyle that represents commitment to a more sustainable future. Plastic is destroying the ecosystems of our planet, and it's up to us to make a change. Each trunk is made out of 10-11 post consumer recycled plastic bottles that could have possibly ended up in our oceans and includes a four-way stretch that is made to move with you. @thetropics â€˘ thetropics.co
A Chat with Chelsea Lensing
Interview Lucas Homer 170
Lucas Homer: Tell me about yourself and how your business got started. Chelsea Lensing: I grew up on a farm in rural Missouri, and most of my childhood was spent outside, gardening, feeding the animals. I learned how to sew from my grandmother, so I did a lot of that as a kid, as well. My dolls and stuffed animals were well dressed. I decided to study textiles in school. My main focus was experimenting with all-natural fibers and textiles. Once I got my degree, I kind of fell into the fashion industry. I really wasnâ€™t sure what I wanted to do, but I ended up getting a job with a denim company based out of Kansas City. Before this job, I was completely oblivious to the behind-thescenes world of the industry. It was hard
for me to face the facts and witness the amount of waste that goes into the production of our clothing. Seeing how hush-hush the supply chain was kept really inspired me to take it upon myself to ask questions, to figure out where and who was making our clothing. From there, I was also inspired to take a look at all the wasted clothing that was hanging in my closet. It was a huge wake-up call to see that I, too, had been consuming products that weren't ethically produced. And that I had been a part of this over-consumption that I had grown so offended by. I kind of went on a rampage and cut everything up and started making different things that I would wear and actually liked. I had no intention of turning this into a business. I started posting
things on my social media, and a couple of local shops reached out to ask if I wanted to sell my pieces. My business was kind of born from there. Sustainability was one of my core values from the beginning. I wanted to take clothing or deadstock fabric that was otherwise going to go to a landfill and turn it into something new. How'd you find out about the zero waste movement, and what drove you to get involved? I found out about the zero waste movement thanks to my boyfriend who is a total NPR nerd. He heard Lauren Singer on â€œWait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!â€? and knew immediately that I would be into it. I kind of became obsessed with 171
her and everything she was doing to grow the zero waste movement. I was on a trip to New York and just so happened to see that she and Daniel Silverstein (aka, Zero Waste Daniel) had a pop-up in Brooklyn, their Package Free Shop. Of course, I had to go visit. I met Lauren, and I was immediately hooked. I came back to Kansas City, sat down and started researching how I could make my business zero waste. I had already been using sustainable practices, but I wanted to do more. After weeks of studying as much as I could about zero waste practices and how to successfully run a zero waste fashion business, I decided that I wanted all of my materials to be ethically, organically and naturally sourced. I wanted my pieces to start from the earth and be able to return to the earth. Why is sustainable and zero waste fashion important? The waste that is associated with the textile industry is mind blowing. Today, the average American generates 82 pounds of textiles waste per year. Fast fashion has a huge role in this waste, and a lot of people don’t realize there is a pretty ugly story behind how and where their $15 pair of jeans came from. Nor do they understand the negative impact these purchases have on the Earth. The industry is using natural resources that are declining and taking a huge part in this depletion by using toxic chemicals and dyes in order to produce cheap clothing fast. Alongside the direct environmental impact, there are also social issues. Working conditions are poor, and labor costs are close to nothing in order to keep costs down on the final product 172
sold to consumers. It’s easy to forget that the industry extends from the farmers that grow the cotton to the women who are weaving the fabrics. There are so many people involved in the process of making our clothing. It's really important to take the time to be conscious of our consumption. Just because a tag says 100 percent cotton does not mean that it was ethically produced. If you add toxic chemicals to the growing process, use thousands of gallons of water to grow the cotton and then use toxic dyes where the water runs off into local rivers and streams contaminating communities — it’s not so ethical and sustainable any more. I would love if I could develop a relationship with every person that has a hand in the products that I make. It's not just me designing these goods. There are so many other people that are involved in the process of these pieces coming to life. It is up to us, as designers and consumers, to be conscious of what we are buying and supporting. What's your biggest motivation in this work? My biggest motivation is sharing my knowledge with others. Zero waste is still relatively new here in Kansas City. It's a new concept to just about everyone I talk to, which is a pro and a con. It's a con, because it's frustrating that people here are unaware of the amount of waste that we're producing and the effect that it's having on the environment. It's a pro, because I'm excited to get to share and start the zero waste conversation here. Kansas City is conscious of recycling
and the importance of natural and organic food, but there is still a lot for our community to learn here, especially when it comes to our clothing. Time and time again I hear the excuse. “It’s so cheap. I’ll just buy it and wear it once or twice, then donate it to Goodwill.” But the reality is that Goodwill is overflowing with too many recycled goods thanks to fast fashion, and there is just not a place other than a landfill for most of these textiles to go.
I see it only as growing. I think that especially my generation, millennials, truly care about where their clothing is coming from and who is making it and are willing to pay more for these qualities. The primary change we need in the industry must come from consumers. They need to choose a more sustainable lifestyle. And, fortunately, a sustainable lifestyle is becoming easier and is (I can’t believe I’m going to say this) trending.
Outside of my business, I have begun including zero waste practices in my personal life as well. This is always a topic of discussion with friends and acquaintances here. It’s exciting to plant this seed and get people excited about this movement. I know that I am making a difference when someone tells me they started recycling because of me or stopped using paper towels. Every person makes a difference, and I love being a part of this movement toward a greater good.
It is cool to care about the Earth. And we as designers and influencers need to take advantage of this by sharing everything we can about the industry in order to make effective change with regard to climate change, the environment and other pressing social issues.
Where do you see the zero waste or sustainable fashion industry going in the future?
Where can we buy your products? You can find everything about my zero waste business, including all of the materials I use and how to purchase my pieces, on my website: chelsealensing.com
Firm believers that the future of fashion is rooted in sustainability, organic fabrics and waste reduction. What started as a niche movement for ethically and sustainably produced clothing will, with diligent messaging, become the norm as consumers grow increasingly aware and conscious in their decisions. Weâ€™re doing our small part to help the revolution by making organic, ethically and sustainably manufactured clothing sexy. Our Better Bodysuits capsule collection is focused on the conscious fashionista, to give her a sense of glamour without the guilt. Feel the difference that a supple, organic cotton wardrobe staple can make. With love from Brooklyn.
Check us out at: weekendsafari.com Follow us: @weekendsafari
The Future 175
We think it's time for a “mindset makeover” Consumers are starting to pay attention to the way their clothes are produced, sourced and consumed, writes Rupa Singh of Ethical Style Collective (read more on page 218). Conscientious consumerism is spreading thanks, in part, to the influence of celebrities like “Orange is the New Black” actress Alysia Reiner, whose interview you can read on page 180. Likewise, manufacturers and brands are increasingly implementing circular solutions and paying more mind to supply chain management. Brands like Tonlé, ConsciousTee and The Tropics are setting the bar high. 176
There is a reason we devoted an entire magazine to the regenerative fashion revolution, and that should be encouraging, too. Every day, we’re introduced to new brands, influencers and activists whose knowledge, passion and contributions to a changing fashion industry are truly inspiring. And this new direction has global reach. "The genius of third-world designers cannot be overstated, turning shoddy plastics into beautiful, durable, functional clothing and accessories,” writes Brand Strategy Consult Samuel Barnes. You can check out Samuel’s article, “The Rise of Regenerative Textiles,” on page 208.
Not every path forward is the best path forward (and that’s OK) A regenerative fashion revolution won’t happen overnight. While certain practices, like circular business models, enjoy widespread support in the regenerative fashion community, not every solution covered in this issue will prove to be the best way forward. Donating used clothes, for example, has its issues; many donation collectors ship items overseas and, in doing so, undercut foreign textile markets, taking jobs away from craftspeople in developing countries. Might it be better, therefore, to avoid used clothing bins altogether? Rachel Kibbe, founder of the eco-friendly apparel store Helpsy, argues no. Read our interview with her on page 194. There are also disagreements over which “better” solutions are worthwhile.
Take organic cotton, for example. On its surface, it is a sustainable alternative to regular cotton and is made without harmful pesticides. But when you consider the amount of water and land it takes to produce organic cotton, its role in a regenerative fashion future becomes murky. Featured throughout this magazine are people who approach the issues from different perspectives but still share a common cause — building a fashion industry that works better for people and the planet. At The Regeneration, we believe in the power of open dialogue. We are not here to dictate which approaches win out. Rather, we are here to amplify the solutions-based conversations happening throughout the industry. 177
We are on an unapologetic bubble-bursting mission Here’s one last reality check. At this point, you’re probably feeling pretty jazzed about the regenerative fashion movement; we certainly are. But echoed throughout this magazine (and rightfully so) is the sentiment that despite its advances, the sustainable fashion movement still exists in a bubble. That bubble is expanding, absolutely, but the fast-fashion paradigm still reigns supreme. So, if you like what you read here — if it lifts a veil, surprises you or sparks something — share it. Share it with 178
your family and friends. Post about it on social media. Magnify its message by supporting regenerative fashion companies and seeking sustainable, ethically sourced apparel. Vote with your dollar, and help move the conversation forward with your money behind it. It is right for us to learn from the mistakes of the past and to study the problems of today, but change requires forwardthinking. That’s why we’re wrapping up this edition of The Regeneration Magazine with a look at what’s to come.
AAFR^ serves As A Friendly Reminder that we have the power to create a world where fashion is not the secondlargest polluter on the planet. By challenging notions of sourcing and production, AAFR^ reimagines waste into contemporary fashions that explore the history of our common materiality. In other words, we upcycle your granny’s crochet and auntie’s linens into ethically made shit that looks good. ‘Cause polluting is so last season, and human rights violations ain’t cute.
Models: Menen Nyah & Jil Averbeck Photography: Rebecca Lee Art Direction: Rebecca Lee & Andrea Diodati All Clothing: AAFR^
Alysia Reiner Founder of LIVARI Interview Photos
Hannah Phang LIVARI
Alysia Reiner is an actress ("Orange is the New Black," "Equity") and co-founder of LIVARI, a zero waste womenswear label made ethically in New York. Using the art of fashion as a medium of activism and hope, LIVARI is a collaborative space where the voices of women are celebrated and uplifted. Reiner debuted her collection at last yearâ€™s New York Fashion Week, alongside her partners, Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs, a fashion designer and Womenâ€™s March organizer, and Claudine DeSola, her longtime stylist and owner of Caravan Stylist Studio. Hannah Phang: You've been on quite an interesting journey and have dabbled in a lot of stuff. Could you share a little bit about what led you to get interested in sustainable fashion?
lots of ways you can be more sustainable around fashion. But finding amazing, sustainable brands is really challenging still. That are beautiful, that are thoughtful, that are things that I really want to wear.
Alysia Reiner: You know, it's so interesting. If you look at my history, I've always been a huge environmentalist and a huge activist for women. Those are sort of my two bleeding-heart causes. And I have always loved fashion. I feel like as I made my personal progress to get greener and greener in my world, starting with probably food and then building this super eco-friendly green home in Harlem, clothing was the last thing to go. I found it incredibly hard to find beautiful, ecofriendly clothing.
And I would say also that right after the election, it became very clear that both the environment and women's rights became sort of endangered species, as well as the arts. So I went to the Women's March, both to march but also because I went with the Creative Coalition to lobby for the NEA, the National Endowment for the Arts. One of the first things Trump wanted to do was end the NEA.
I was part of a swap shop in LA, and I have swap parties with my friends. There are
And my dear friend Claudine DeSola, who's one of my partners on LIVARI, knew that I felt so passionate. She knew Tabitha, my other partner, who had done some designing and was one of the Women's 181
March organizers from the very, very start. So we all had coffee and just started talking about the ways we wish we could change fashion. Number one is to slow it down, to not have such fast fashion. I think the statistics are 72 pounds per person go in landfills every year that are clothing based, which is deeply absurd to me. It's a mess. And then how much pollution and energy is used by the fashion industry. It's the third-largest polluter, right behind oil and gas basically. Those were shocking statistics to me. So what if we could slow down fashion? What if we could do something that was incredibly thoughtful and very conscious of every aspect? That used eco-friendly materials. That was zero waste. That was made in New York, hopefully. My biggest dream, knowing as much as I know about the prison system from “Orange is the New Black,” was what if we could hire women coming out of prison and find a way to change their lives that way? We were sitting there brainstorming, and Claudine at the end was like, “OK. Let’s do it!” I thought we were just fantasizing. I was prepping my next movie that I was producing and starring in, called “Egg.” We were going to shoot that summer, and I was like, how can we possibly do this? But because of this moment of fear, almost, of what our current president can do in a negative way, the idea of taking positive action as an artist and activist … What if we could show people what's possible around fashion, what's possible in the arts and educate people about 182
eco-fashion? What if we could incite change with this line. That's really where the impetus came from. That was the spring, and Tabitha was like, “Let me start sketching things.” I said, you know what, no. Before we sketch anything, let’s just meet with women and see what they want. Oh, I love that. What do women love in their clothes? What do they hate? What's their favorite piece of clothing? What's their biggest pet peeve? What's their favorite part of their body? Tabitha is really genius around fit and around taking that information and making something exquisitely beautiful. So we met with all these women. We did all this research, and then we started designing. We made this tiny capsule collection because, in part, we had very little time. We were offered a runway show and, I swear to God, it felt like “Project Runway” to me. I was like, I can't believe we're even doing this. And we did it. And we got so much press and were so excited about it being zero waste and having done it so quickly. Now, we're looking at what we want to produce next. We're doing it very slowly and thoughtfully, because we don't want to end up with waste. We don't want to end up with 100 pairs of pants that we haven't sold. The first thing we put out is the T-shirt, which is on sale now. We're really proud of that, because we partnered with a bunch of different companies. The first is Road 22 who, for a long time, has been making T-shirts and hiring women coming out of prison. We're so excited to be partnering with them. We also partnered with Cool Effect. They're a sort of crowdfunding platform.
They raise money for carbon offsetting projects. We decided on the Poo Project, which does exactly what it sounds like. They take poo in India and make it into fuel. In India, most people use incredibly toxic fuel, like coal, which is really bad for their families and their health and uses an enormous amount of energy. Instead, we're giving them the opportunity to use dung as a fuel source and helping to build that economy. The other person who's benefited by the T-shirt is Hodaya, who is the artist who painted the piece that’s silk-screened on the back. Our signature tee is called the backbone tee, because women are the backbone of society. Love that. I love this T-shirt so much, because Hodaya did this exquisite painting as a mural that's huge, huge, huge for my movie. It’s so beautiful and amazing. When you see our movie, you'll see it as part of the set. But when we took the set down, we had to let go of that mural. Now, it will live forever as this beautiful, beautiful T-shirt. We're really proud that Cool Effect, Road 22 and Hodaya get the proceeds. As a company we get very, very little, like 2 cents per T-shirt. But that really isn't why we put the T-shirt out. We put it out to support these three organizations. And moving forward, actually, we're about to do a collaboration with the Women's March. That's a little bit about the line so far. Just today we were talking to a business person (because the three of us are more creatives) about our next big project. It’s so funny. We came up with all these ideas and had already started designing
our capsule collection when one of my girlfriends was like, “You should have a breastfeeding dress.” The whole line is about empowering women, and when I was breastfeeding, I never had a dress I loved. I never had a shirt that I loved that was easy to breastfeed in. So we designed this phenomenal dress that you could wear to work, you could wear to a party, you could wear on the weekends. Super comfortable, super beautiful, super classy, has pockets— all of these really thoughtful aspects. Now, we're talking about how we would build that out as our next project. We'll probably, for now, go one piece to one piece. We don't want to over-expand. That's the most important piece of this. The last thing on the planet we want is to create more waste. It's wonderful to hear how LIVARI is built on collaboration, both with other organizations and also through asking women what they want and what they need. Could you speak more about the intersection of the environmental movement and the women’s movement. Why are they both threatened at the moment, and what is the role that fashion has to play? God knows why. It makes absolutely no sense to me that the environment and women are so deeply threatened in this moment. In our last administration that was the opposite of the truth. You know, our last president did spectacular work — imperfect work, but spectacular strides. What's so deeply interesting to me is that it makes no sense economically. Supporting women, having more diversity in your company and forward thinking 185
in reference to environmentalism are aspects which can only serve our economy. Which other companies all over the world are embracing, because it's obvious. So the fact that our economy, our current administration, doesn't understand that is mind blowing to me. As an actress I wasn't embraced early on. I was never an ingenue or the girl next door, so it was hard to get cast as an actress in the beginning. I've been very, very, very fortunate and have gotten some spectacular opportunity, but that wasn't true in my early 20s. I had to learn to bootstrap a lot and to make my own opportunities. Ass a producer, I saw my industry not hiring women. And I said OK, if I'm going to make something, if I'm going to produce something, I’m going to do it myself. I'm not going to complain about the fact that my industry doesn't support women. I'm just going to support women. That's how I feel about this project. It felt so bats --- crazy doing it, because I was producing the movie and in the movie and starting to shoot “Orange is the New Black.” But I wanted to do it, because nobody else was going to. Especially in this moment, I think it's so important that we not get depressed about what's happening in the world. That we not let it limit us, but we let it challenge us to create and do more in the direction we believe in. Yeah. Definitely. This is a moment where it's deeply important that we as Americans stand up and say, this is not OK. You are not representing me. If you're not going to represent me, I'm going to stand up and represent myself. I'm going to do what I believe in, and I'm going to do everything 186
I can to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to stand up and do what they believe in. It's such an interesting time, and I'm really encouraged by how active people are now. One thing I’ve noticed is that the conversation about fashion and labor has been in the mainstream, but it’s only recently common knowledge that fashion has an impact on the environment. Do you have thoughts on why people don't connect fashion with climate change? How do you get them to understand the impact? I think there are two different things going on. One is that sometimes people don't want to know things. It’s OK to admit that. I don't want to know whether sugar is bad for me. It sucks that I know that, because I really like sweet treats. But I've learned to eat them in moderation, you know? And I think there's an aspect of that with clothing. People love clothing. It makes them feel beautiful. A lot of people can't afford an Alexander McQueen jacket, and they can afford a jacket from Forever 21. And it's really uncomfortable to learn that sometimes cheaper things mean your labor is not being treated well. That's uncomfortable to know, so people kind of avoid knowing it. Sometimes we have to start by saying it's OK. I get it. Everybody wants to go to Forever 21, because it's cheap. You can buy that thing that only lasts a season, and you're not spending too much money. And believe me, there is some eco-fashion that I love but can't afford. It can be incredibly pricey. That's one of the things that we're looking
"And it's really uncomfortable to learn that sometimes cheaper things mean your labor is not being treated well. That's uncomfortable to know, so people kind of avoid knowing it. Sometimes we have to start by saying it's OK. I get it. " at. How do we make it and also make it affordable? So when things are inexpensive, people don't want to know why. That's just the truth. And what's amazing, and I try to share with people, is that the more people support environmentalism in all of its factions, the more the price goes down. Organic food is a perfect example. The same can be true of clothing. The other piece of it though, is people have to stop buying so much and buy more thoughtfully. That's really part of our collection. Itâ€™s about things that people own for a very, very, very long time. And things that are convertible, like a jacket where the sleeves come off to be a vest. A dress where the bottom snaps off, so it can be long or short. You can wear it with a pant, or you could wear it as a dress. Our skirts have adjustable waist bands. So let's say you put on a couple of pounds. You don't throw away your skirt. The waistband is adjustable. That's the whole idea of the breastfeeding dress. It's a beautiful dress.
I'm not breastfeeding right now. I would wear the dress. But when your life changes and you do become a mother, you can still wear the dress. Yeah. Super cool. That's a big philosophy of our collection, pieces you own for a long time. That's one thing we really hope people take away. Our goal is that these are timeless pieces. It's not fast fashion. Yeah, so cool. And I love that you touched upon the idea of relearning what the value of clothing should be. It's not disposable. Itâ€™s an investment. Yeah, and my truth is that a lot of my personal wardrobe I've had for 20 years. What we learned statistically talking to women is that the things that are important to [them] are a timeless style that stays in fashion. So a classic, classic piece of fashion. But more than that, it's if it looks good and feels good on them. And the other thing is that they love the story of a piece of clothing. That's one thing that, as a company, we're 187
really proud of. Our pieces have a great story. When you buy our T-shirt, you have three stories to tell. You can tell the story about hiring formerly incarcerated women. You can tell the story about helping the environment and carbon offsetting. You can tell the story about empowering a female artist who painted the painting on your T-shirt. So beautiful. And when they're able to tell these stories about their clothes, their eyes kind of light up, because they're so inspired by what they're wearing. That in itself makes them feel good. Agreed. People are just starting to understand sustainable fashion and to acknowledge its impact. What role do you see for brands and designers in making it the norm? There's the technical side of materials, the recyclers, the big brands starting a larger conversationâ€”what do you see as your role? That feels like such a tantamount task. I think my biggest job is to make something beautiful. To make something classic. To instill others with the passion and joy I feel about clothes and the environment. I think really just to share my joy and passion and story, and then let them tell it with their introspect. You know, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. I can't change anybody's mind. I can just share my joy, my passion as an artist, my passion as an environmentalist, my passion as an activist. I'm big on not scaring people into choosing things but loving people because they choose things. Totally. That's a lot of what the 188
environmental conversation was for so long. We went into scare tactics as the sort of first attempt to get people to engage. And now we're understanding the power that coming from a place of love and care and optimism can have. So agree. With that, what makes you optimistic about the future of sustainable fashion? I think number one is science, like what's possible now. What we've learned. What they're making now with recycled [materials]. It's so funny. Right before this I was doing a little fabric deep dive, and I found this fabric that's made of recycled plastic bottles and recycled coffee grounds. Ten years ago, no one made that fabric. Now, not only do they make it, but it looks gorgeous. I want pants in it, and I want to design with it. So that's what really excites me and makes me optimisticâ€”what's possible and what amazing creative minds are doing. In making anything, there's a whole supply chain. I'm sort of at the end of that chain. But at the beginning of that chain, there are all of these incredible people using recycled products, and that's really exciting. I agree. I have two more questions to close out. For people who don't yet know about the environmental and social impact of the fashion industry, what would your elevator pitch be? How would you explain the impact of the fashion industry in a few sentences? Oh, my goodness. I know. It's kind of a big question. I would go back to that stat that I started with, that fashion is the third-largest polluter
in the world. Just sharing that information is kind of ginormous, because I don't think most people have a clue that that's the case. I would say to them, look, every time you want to walk into H&M, think about that. Say it's 2018, and you want to drop a couple pounds. Every time you want to have a drink, maybe every other time you don't have one. Or every time you want to have a chocolate cake, every other time you don't. You know, start thinking about fashion in those exact same ways. Start thinking about putting yourself on a little bit of a fashion diet. Just like instead of having a martini you could have a club soda with really sexy frozen ice cubes and orange slices and infused bitters. There are amazing substitutions that could bring you as much joy. Like having a swap party with your friends, where you all bring some pieces you're not wearing and do a little swap. It's a great way to find community and help the environment at the same time. That's such a great way to think about it, because it's relatable. Everyone understands what it means to scale back on indulgences. Check LIVARI out online at: livariclothing.com Follow them at: @livariclothing Follow Alysia at: @alysiareiner
What to Read
It's time for fresh thinking — and a fashion system reboot. Today’s fashion industry is out of control, and so, apparently, are we. We are buying clothes at a rate never seen before; so many that the average American woman wears just one-third of what is in her closet. That cute new dress just looked so alluring on the hanger that we told ourselves we just had to have it. Four wears, and it is over. Seven perhaps, if we are restraining ourselves. We have grown bratty, greedy and lazy in our clothes-buying habits, seduced by convenience, availability and the great lie of “cheap.” And who can blame us when you can purchase a brand new garment, even one bedazzled with sequins, for less than the cost of a cooked breakfast? At the same time, we are becoming less connected to the origins of these purchases. How often do we question who made our clothes? Where were they made, how and from what materials? And what the hell are we meant to do with them all when our closets are full? Apparel and accessories are increasingly designed with disposability in mind. As fast fashion — often sewn by workers earning poverty wages in Asia and Africa — booms, we are literally buying clothes to throw away.
Words Photos 190
Clare Press Georgia Blackie
I live in Australia, where we send $500 million worth of clothing to the tip each year, some of it brand new with the tags still attached. The Brits dispatch nearly 10,000 garments every five minutes to landfill, according to Oxfam, a confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations around the world. I repeat: 10,000 garments
are disposed every five minutes in Britain. And over the past 20 years, Americans have doubled the amount of textile waste they generate, according to figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
leaders are working toward exactly that. We are learning to choose well and buy less, to slow down, to reconnect. We are even beginning (although there is a way to go) to redefine waste as a resource.
But these clothes, despite some of them carrying very low price tags, are not produced without cost. Workers pay. The environment pays. We are poisoning rivers with toxic dyes, drenching cotton crops in pesticides and contaminating our oceans with plastic fibers. How is all of this sustainable? The answer is clear: it is not.
“Wardrobe Crisis,” tells the story of how we went from Sunday best to fast fashion. The book explains how we lost that connection, once so deep, with how our clothes are made and offers solutions as to how we might rekindle it. We can design a sustainable, fair and just fashion future. Who is up for it?
The picture I have just painted for you is grim, but knowledge is power. The old fashion system is so last season! It is time to design a new one based on social and climate justice and fair labor conditions. We need to move from a linear production system — make, sell, use, discard — to a circular one, fast. And we can. Indeed, many designers, businesses, and thought
Clare’s book, “Wardrobe Crisis: How We Went From Sunday Best to Fast Fashion,” is out now. Follow Clare on Instagram @mrspress, and listen to the Wardrobe Crisis podcast free on iTunes.
Ethical Luxury Brands
Amanda Hearst and Hassan Pierre opened the first MAISON DE MODE concept pop-up in December of 2012, following a serendipitous meeting between the former editor and designer. After a few years honing their creative and merchandising skills with shops in Miami, Washington D.C. and San Francisco the pair decided to create a permanent home. MAISON-DE-MODE.COM was launched in October 2015 pioneering the one stop shop for the ultimate luxury ethical closet. Kyle Calian: How did you become interested in sustainable fashion? Amanda Hearst: For me it was a natural evolution. I always cared. I was very interested in the environment and in animals. Those passions eventually washed over into my professional life when I became an editor for Marie Claire about six years ago and started writing about sustainable fashion. And Hassan? Hassan Pierre: For me it was when I was launching the collection. At the time I really didn't want to just do another, you know, stale collection that was already out there. I really wanted to make it interesting, and sustainability was always something that I was passionate about. So I decided to marry both fashion and sustainability together and do something that was really luxurious and different. In terms of designers, how do you work with them, and how do you go about selecting them?
Interview Kyle Calian 192
AH: Well, when we started, I was an editor at Marie Clare, so I had relationships with some brands and I was doing the market research. So we started out with those,
and then from there it kind of happens organically where people will either approach us, or we'll hear of a brand and reach out to them. Recently, Instagram has been a really valuable tool in finding interesting brands from around the world. So, that's how we find the brands. And then in terms of which ones we finally choose, we always think of the aesthetic first. We make sure that the product is beautiful and luxurious and something that people would want to buy, and then we look to the story and see if it adheres to our standards. What were some of the things that you considered that you really wanted the brand to stand for? HP: Well, we looked at sustainability and ethical fashion as just umbrella terms covering what qualifications and characteristics that brand could have in order to be ethical. So we broke it down to six or seven pieces, which are represented by icons on our sustainability page. Those pieces showcase each product's characteristics. We focused on made in America, because we are an American company, and so few fashion brands are still produced here. We looked at vegan products. We looked at products that had organic or recycled material. We looked at fair-trade products and artisan-made products. It was really about being able to provide customers with clear access to luxury brands that were produced sustainably. You guys are pretty excited about your upcoming pop-ups with Simon Malls. What will you be carrying there?
HP: We're going to have ready-wears, jewelry, fine jewelry, handbags, shoes and some home goods. It will be a curated mix of some pieces that you see online and then some in-store exclusives as well. Check them out online at: maison-de-mode.com Follow them at: @maisondemode
Pop-up Locations 2018 April 2 - May 15 Houston The Galleria Nov. 27 & 28 Park Avenue Armory Fashion: A New Social and Environmental Standard Tickets go on sale April 30, 2018 Amanda Hearst and Hassan Pierre, sustainable fashion pioneers and co-founders of MAISON-DEMODE.COM explore the power of fashion to affect social change in a multi-day, interactive exhibit culminating in a conversation about the future of fashion.
Rachel Kibbe Founder of Helpsy Interview Photos
Kyle Calian Kenji Cordova
A graduate of Emory and the Parsons School of Design, Rachel Kibbe founded Helpsy in 2012, after working for years in the fashion industry. Appalled at the waste, abuses and general exploitation of resources, with Helpsy, Rachel aims to show that cutting-edge fashion and design-forward products can be as cool as they are eco-friendly and ethically produced. Kyle Calian: Tell me how you ended up working on Helpsy. Rachel Kibbe: About six or seven years ago I was getting really interested in sustainability and the fashion space, and I started an e-commerce store selling designers who were using sustainable methods and fair labor practices. There wasn't really any e-commerce store that was doing that, pulling them all together in one space. It was an entrepreneurial project but also sort of an activist thing. Then recently, I have combined the shop with a textile collection company. They're the biggest textile collector in the Northeast. They've collected about 20 million pounds of textiles this year. They are a new company, and a couple weeks ago we decided to call the whole company (the shopping and the textile collection) Helpsy. We have some really exciting things going on, [including] plans
to expand, get involved with the fashion industry and educate people about the environmental problem of throwing out your clothes rather than sending them to facilities to be sorted. How did that sort of program come about, and how does it work? Right now it's just bins. We're getting bins all around New York City, New York state, New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Right now our main goal is to get more bins out and or people to have more bins near them, especially in New York City where people don't necessarily have cars. So they don't have to lug their stuff really far. After we collect the clothes they then go to sorters, who sort them into grades for various uses. The lowest grades get turned into rags and insulation, the highest go to thrift stores. So switching gears to the store side 195
of Helpsy, how did you decide on the values that would help you choose brands and designers? I’m sure they’ve evolved over time. Ethical fashion is a really broad subject, and it's sort of a stupid term, because it means different things to different people. Some people would say it's unethical to wear leather, period. And other people would say that doesn't really matter, as long as it's a byproduct and you're not killing endangered animals. What matters to that person might be that a company gives profits to charity and uses sustainable materials. So I sort of thought about as many categories as possible that would matter to people, and four or more was the cutoff for being considered. Gotcha. I saw as you're rebranding Helpsy, you're calling yourself a tech company. Can you elaborate on that? Yes. What we're trying to do is make every part of our collection process better through tech — including using technologies to reroute our trucks, so we're using the least amount of CO2 possible. Putting tech actually inside our bins to measure and predict contents, so we are not servicing bins multiple times when there isn't enough in them. Also, so we're able to measure the amount of product that's going into the bins, and we can estimate the amount of CO2 that we are saving by reusing and recycling goods. We're also working with routing technology for at-home pickups, like an Uber for athome pickup. That sort of thing. What do you think will be your biggest challenge going forward with the program? 196
I think the biggest challenge is really that our biggest competition is the landfill. People are skeptical about bins and clothing recycling. For some reason they don't really ask questions about plastic or aluminum recycling, which has more problems than our industry, arguably. There have been a lot of articles, even recently, about where clothing really goes, insinuating that companies are collecting clothes and flooding overseas markets. Well, that's oversimplified. Overseas markets are buying it. There's a demand for it. If they don’t buy it, it goes in the trash, millions of tons yearly. There are clothing collection companies that are more honest and above board than others. We're a strictly for-profit organization, and we are very clear about that. We want people to know. Although we do charitable things and are aligned with some charities, we are not a charity. So it’s getting people to understand that their clothing can be recycled and should be recycled, just like plastics. And that any bin, even if it's not ours, is better than the landfill. And getting people to think about their textiles as an environmental hazard is really important. Convincing the consumer to do something when they're done with something is always the hardest part. Oh, it's such a hard part. There’s all this, “I want it away from me. I don't want to have any complications. I just want to get it away.” You know?
Yeah. And so many people are fed up with fast fashion that they're trying to say clothing recycling isn't going to solve the problem — that you should only buy clothing you can reuse and it's not disposable, which is true. We should all consume less. But telling people not to recycle their stuff is not going to make fast fashion go away. It doesn’t deal with the inevitable textile and trash. So, we gotta get that message out. Just don't throw your stuff away. Don't throw it away. Even dirty socks, holey socks, whatever. It can be broken down. That's what insulation is made of. That's what carpet tying is made of. That's what wipers are made of ... We're going to have to get you down here to Richmond. What are some trends you're seeing in the world of sustainability, other than what you're working on? I think everybody's sort of grappling with how to actually physically, scientifically upcycle materials — like grind them down into parts to reuse them again. There's some interesting science stuff going on behind that. I think that, more and more, fast fashion companies are trying to deal with their footprint. Whether they're green washing or doing it in an honest way is always sort of back and forth. It depends on the headline, you know. I just took a visit to Eileen Fisher's. They have an upcycling facility in Irvington, New York, which is really interesting. And I think more and more companies will probably start doing that, trying to resell and upcycle their lightly worn clothes. It's a whole design challenge in itself, and it's 197
really time consuming (and probably way, way less profitable than making something new). But companies are trying to do it, so it's interesting. Yeah. What has been your proudest accomplishment with Helpsy so far? Just getting involved with a company that is upcycling clothing, or collecting clothing and planning to upcycle, is really my proudest accomplishment. Because it means that I'm not just selling people new stuff. I'm getting to be a part of trying to address the problem holistically, and I'm really grateful and proud of that.
She's the only person I can really think of that was really, really early on talking about sustainability. Finally, how can people get a bin or get involved with Helpsy? Anybody can write us at email@example.com and talk to us about what we're doing. Check them out online at: helpsy.co Follow them at: @helpsy_
It's exciting when your business comes full circle, and you can close your own loop. That's the big goal at the end of the day with these regenerative businesses. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. And who are some of your biggest influences? I hate to say it, but I started with Helpsy because there wasn't anybody I was able to look at that was doing sustainable fashion in a really outspoken way. Even companies that were producing sustainably in the fashion space weren't talking about it, because it wasn't sexy or cool. So I sort of paved my own way. There have been a lot of people who have been on parallel paths with me, but I wouldn't necessarily say that there were particularly a lot of people that I could look to. There were early people, like Katherine Hamnett who was doing really cool stuff. 198
On Loving What You Have
Words & Photos Anita Vandyke
Clothing has always been my Achilles’ heel. There is something about putting on a new outfit that makes you feel like a new person. With the right dress, you are sexier. With the right jacket, you are smarter. With the right pair of shoes, you are finally fitting in. I associated a new outfit with a new life, almost like a costume change. With a change of outfit, I could become a new person. In my early 20s, working for a popular clothing store near my university fueled my obsession with clothing. My favorite aspect of this part-time job was the new stock that came in every week. I didn’t make much money, because everything I earned I spent on dresses, handbags and shoes. I grew accustomed to having new clothes every week. I needed a new outfit for every party (God forbid, I would be seen in the same dress as last weekend!). As I grew older and began working full time, shopping became a “treat.” I would buy something new if I had a bad day. I would buy something new if I had a good day. I deserved it. Happiness was only ever one purchase away. It all came toppling down when I arrived home one day and looked around. There were piles of clothing on the dresser, on the floor and a pile of unopened packages by the door. I could not find any more room for my stuff. With the unopened packages came a pile of unopened bills. I started to panic; did I pay the credit card bill last month? How will I pay everything off? I was surrounded by all these shiny new things. I was supposed to be happy, but I was more miserable than ever. That was the day I knew something had to change. I did what any sensible person would do and started to Google 199
storage solutions. Surely, if I had a nifty organization tool I could tackle my clothing problem. As luck would have it, instead of buying another vacuum storage bag, I discovered a concept called minimalism. Minimalism allowed me to embrace a life with less stuff, so I could make room for what truly matters. There are many definitions of minimalist living, but I chose to adopt my own. I wanted to live an unburdened life, a life that was not bound to any financial institution or corporation. Through applying the principles of minimalism, I realized I did not have a storage problem. I simply had too much stuff. My initial decision not to buy new clothing was based on economics rather than the environment. I needed to pay off my credit card debt, so I put myself on a 200
spending ban and pledged to only buying secondhand from thrift stores. I thought I would start this challenge by committing to just one month—little did I know it would last more than three years. It was not an easy start. I was used to scrolling through my Instagram feed and buying an entire outfit from ASOS. I had grown accustomed to having a new outfit every week. However, as I dedicated myself to the shopping ban, I began to see how much time shopping took up in my life. It had become a hobby — scrolling through online stores, browsing shops on the weekend, shopping as an activity with friends. For the first time in my life, I realized how consumption was consuming my time. The itch to shop did not cease overnight. But after the first month, I began replacing shopping with new hobbies. I started an Instagram account documenting my spending ban. I had more time to read, and I started educating myself on social issues by watching more documentaries. By no longer shopping, I discovered this newfound freedom. Over the next three years, my life transformed. In fact, it has changed beyond recognition. I went from being a maximalist to a minimalist. I went from a mindless consumer to a conscious consumer. I learned about the detrimental impact fast fashion has on the planet and opened my eyes to my relationship with “stuff.” And by altering that relationship, I ultimately changed my relationship with myself.
fast the fashion life cycle had become. I learned about the poverty of garment workers, that the price of a fast-fashion garment does not take human and ecological costs into account. I had opened Pandora’s box, and I could not ignore what I had learned. Not buying anything new for three years started with a Google search, but it became a search for a more meaningful life. I chose, then and there, never to buy anything new again. Shopping was no longer a soothing balm that I turned to whenever I had a bad day. Consumerism no longer consumed my time. I had escaped the cycle of work, spend, debt. And I felt liberated. Style is still a passion of mine, but fashion is not. Fashion is fleeting and based on profits. Style is timeless and based on creativity. I learned that I could express my creativity and show my style without excessive consumption. I have embraced slow fashion and also a slower lifestyle. I have not bought anything new for over three years, but I have finally bought back my freedom. Anita Vandyke runs a successful Instagram account (@rocket_science) about zero waste living. She is currently writing her first book ”A Zero Waste Life: a thirty day guide” to be published in June 2018 by Penguin Random House, Australia. For more information about the author, visit anitavandyke.com.
I finally understood how excessively 201
Melanin and Sustainable Style
The idea of sustainability has been around long before the term was adopted in the Western world. Traditional craftsmanship and modalities, such as being mindful of the Earth and treating communities with respect, have been rooted in the heritage and history of cultures of color for generations. Much of sustainable fashion today is re-learning how to cultivate the ethical production methodology of indigenous cultures, while still adhering to modern Western ideology. Today, the African diaspora is flooded with amazing sustainable designers who have adopted a cocktail of skills from their ancestors and other cultures of color around the globe. The pulse of sustainable fashion is founded on culture with a heartbeat of melanin. Far too often, we see a lack of positive representation in a space that is inherently for and by people of color, pre colonization. So many amazing eclectic and luxury brands founded by people of color need to be elevated within the sustainable style realm. Bloggers, editors, creative directors, models and everyday people should be looking to more brands by women of color so that eventually those brands can simply be recognized as amazing sustainable fashion designers, period. The following are just a few of my favorite black-owned sustainable fashion brands.
Words Dominique Drakeford Photos Timohty Smith @timothy_smith_ 202
Studio One Eighty Nine @studiooneeightynine Studio One Eighty Nine is an awardwinning, luxury, ethical brand founded by actress and activist Rosario Dawson and fashion powerhouse Abrima Erwiah. The entire collection is handcrafted in Ghana using traditional techniques, such as hand batiking, to truly create uniquely luxe pieces while paying fair wages to local artisans. Photo by @annamorgowicz
Remuse @remusedesigns This Australian-based brand creates handmade designed pieces inspired by Earth. Her collections have Afrofuturistic influences that have been a driving force for her cultural aesthetic. In particular, this designer explores the cosmic beyond â€” a worldly place which has informed the designs, silhouettes and use of colors. Photo by @kikimklean
Chan & Krys @chanandkrys Chan & Krys is a collection of stylish and sustainable separates and accessories focused on texture and comfort. This brand is inspired by menswear and draws from elements of the Bay Area and New York, where each of the co-founders reside. Photo by @nohypeplease
Printed Pattern People @printedpatternpeople Printed Pattern People partners with artisans around the globe to provide printed leisurewear that complements women's desire for exploration and world travel. With a plethora of oversized, draped pieces, the brand looks amazing on all body types. Photo by @alldaedae
Paige Dawkins @bypaigedawkins Luna Soul is a locally made fashion brand that will definitely add chic, minimalist pieces to your wardrobe. Inspired by southern roots with a boho-chic vibe, this brand believes in slow, ethical production inspired by worldly travel. Photo by @bypaigedawkins
Yemzi @yemzi This London-based designer sources natural fibers, azo-free dyes and GOTScertified fabrics for all of her products. Using paints and sketches to inform bold design, Yemzi digitally prints exclusive fabrics by West Africa and the diaspora. This brand also hosts design workshops to teach teenage girls design skills and help them to channel their creativity into a successful career in fashion. Photo by @anna.pluskota 204
Mixed Color @mixed_color_ This brand creates experimental collections of handmade textiles with all-natural textiles, such as raw silk, certified organic cotton, hemp and linen. Mixed Color pecializes in 100 percent natural dyes, such as madder root, cutch and osage orange, with an inspiration of culture and nature. Photo by @dominiquedrakeford
Chelsea Bravo @chelseabravo_ This unisex deigner based in the U.K. makes thoughtfully crafted pieces inspired by art, environment and abstractness. Believing in working alongside the environment, Bravoâ€™s designs feature contemporary urban minimalism. Photo by @chelseabravo_
Sindiso Khumalo @ sindisokhumalo Sindiso Khumalo is a South African designer focused on creating modern, sustainable textiles using strong graphic prints that create the perfect pieces to stand out among the crowd. Her uniquely vibrant voice speaks to Zulu and Ndebele heritage and continuous African storytelling. Photo by @trevor_stuurman 206
Tabii Just @tabiijust Tabii Just is a women’s empowerment brand focused on much-needed zero waste basics with a subtle Trinidadian twist. With a mantra of responsible production, Tabii’s seasonless dresses are fun, flirty and great for any occasion. Photo by @tabiijust
Aliya Wanek @aliyawanek Aliya Wanek is an Oakland-based label focused on handmade quality, craft and functional pieces for women who love American monochromatic classics. Wanek’s pieces have a hint of Japanese inspiration and a minimalist aesthetic that is simply beautiful. Photo by @aliyawanek
Lemlem @lemlemnyc Lemlem is a luxe, made-in-Africa brand focused on helping women artisans thrive. With a wide assortment of styles — such as dresses, tunics, jumpsuits and cardigans — investing in multiple pieces from this designer is essential. Photo by @lemlemnyc
Words Sam Barnes 208
The Rise of Regenerative Textiles
For as long as humans have been getting dressed, the way they went about it has been changing. "Bark slippers, old man?" I imagine a young nomadic herder taunting. "Never heard of mukluks?" These incremental changes happened at the convergence of necessity, innovation and an omnipresent sense of ritual significance. Fashion â€” be it for work, religion or pomp â€” is woven deep in the weft of every human society, from Gobekli Tepe to Harajuku. It is the means by which the immaterial id of a tribe, a generation or a whole civilization is made physical. And in our culture of material, we unsurprisingly have far too much of it. According to EcoWatch, the fast-fashion industry is the worldâ€™s second-dirtiest economic sector, just behind oil and gas. The demand for cheaply made, cheaply retailed and cheaply discarded clothing is only accelerating as fringes of the consumer economy extend to include the billions in developing nations like Brazil, China, Indonesia, and Mexico. Many of the textiles used, such as nylon, spandex, acrylic and polyesters, are non-
Photo Suzanne Lee via Designboom
advances in material science with ingenious ancestral techniques. A movement to regenerate the textile industry is well underway on every continent. Some of the new materials come from surprising places. The fermented-tea beverage kombucha has exploded in popularity in the past decade — growing from a tiny niche in the health-nut world to a global commodity with a 2 billion dollar annual market. Many, including this kombucha-brewing author, have wondered what to do with the weighty, water-resistant SCOBY (that’s symbiotic community of bacteria and yeast, to the uninitiated) that accumulates as you brew. biodegradable polymers (aka crude-oilprocessing byproducts). Those textiles, along with their packaging, compose a plurality of the infamous five gyres of oceanic plastic pollution. Organic textiles have issues, too, from the obvious (lambskin leather is not much fun for the lamb) to the subtle (cotton is traditionally grown in arid regions, and requires over 700 gallons of water to produce enough to sew one t-shirt — not to mention the pesticide residue that washes into waterways). There are litanies written on the toxic outcomes of leather tanning, denim processing and 8,000plus chemicals used in the commercial manufacture of the 400 million square meters of fabric churned out annually by the worldwide textile industry. The way out is through. By meticulously examining supply chains and shifting trends in demand, entrepreneurs, designers and industrial giants are stitching together new
Leipzig-based startup Scobytec has been exploring the process of manufacturing industrial-grade leather out of this bacterial skein. Their prototypes have won numerous design awards and, as of February 2018, they have begun to manufacture their SCOBY on an industrial scale in Canada. Shoes, coats, belts, hats and any product that demands leather can be made just as well from this new material. Worldwide, the demand for animal leather continues to grow. Leather is not just a byproduct of animals raised for their meat: Care2 reports nearly 10 percent of a cow’s value is derived from her skin, making CAFO-style abuse more feasible thanks to the secondary revenue that the leather creates. Though most is made from cowhide, goats, sheep, pigs, alligators, llamas, alpacas, horses, kangaroos, snakes and elephants are also subject to the privations of this deranged industry. The operations, concentrated in India, China, and Bangladesh, are staffed by people who have few alternatives and little education, 209
and who labor under unimaginably dangerous and toxic conditions. If even a small segment of the global leather trade could begin using alternative, cruelty-free sources, the scales could tip. That’s the rub with fashion: Trends ebb and flow according to mostly inscrutable whims. Tastemakers, be they mega-designers, media stars or teenagers on social media, wield undue and unpredictable influence over trends. One 3-second Twitter clip is sometimes all it takes to jumpstart a movement, while millions of dollars in advertising don’t tip the scales at all. On London’s Savile Row, a global nexus of design and influence, one house in particular is breaking new ground in regenerative materials and has oriented its project to a more ecologically conscious place. Over the past 20 years, Stella McCartney, daughter of Beatles-legend Paul, has grown her U.K.-based line into a leading brand. A lifelong vegetarian, she creates couture that is explicitly cruelty-free, using recycled oil-based synthetics like nylon and polyester and renewable materials like hemp, bamboo and soy. Those materials espouse a design philosophy of "circularity," based on three principles: 1) design out waste and pollution, 2) keep products and materials in use and 3) regenerate natural systems. Her collections have gained worldwide notoriety and are carving a channel for regenerative consciousness to flow into the mainstream fashion world. So long as we remain in the age of plastics, our challenge as consumers is not in avoiding them (though there are countless 210
ways to mindfully reduce). Instead, we must figure out what to do with them once their intended function has been fulfilled. Upcycled couture, therefore, is crucial to the evolution of global regenerative culture. There are dozens of labels presently diverting plastics from the waste stream and turning them into value-added clothing and accessories. BottleTop Fashion, for example, crafts aluminum soda tabs into high-fashion bags, while Elvis & Kresse, craft couture out of fire hoses, parachutes, traffic cones and coffee sacks. The ethic of reusability is concentrated in the locales that bear the brunt of global plastic pollution: Indochina, Africa, and Latin America. Despite the abundance of textile manufacture in those regions, the income and resource disparities that the capital system creates leave many working from scraps. The genius of third-world designers cannot be overstated, turning shoddy plastics into beautiful, durable, functional clothing and accessories. As with much of contemporary culture, the memetic move toward regeneration will be led by those on the margins. Those who, at the convergence of beauty and necessity, made the most of their circumstance, breathed meaning into would-be waste, and brought on fashion’s next wave. Samuel Barnes is a writer, multidisciplinary artist and founder of the Regenerates, a community at the crossroads environmental activism, ritual and celebration. He is presently pursuing a masters in environmental science at the Columbia University Earth Institute, organizing art happenings of every kind, and practicing herbal alchemy at his home in Brooklyn Heights, New York.
Unique accessories that empower artisans, the planet, and most importantly, you. Check them out at: chicmc.com Follow them: @chicmadeconsciously Chic Made Consciously represents style and sustainability. We put a strong emphasis on designing beautiful, stand out pieces that have a positive social and environmental impact. Each piece is upcycled from tires and fair trade made in Bali, Indonesia. By repurposing tires, we transform waste and divert what would otherwise end up in a landfill. There is a lower carbon emission, energy and water usage compared to leather. Unlike the traditional "make, use and dispose of" model, we do all that we can to ensure that nothing hits the landfill.
Each piece is intricately hand cut by a collective of local Balinese artisans in order to preserve their culture of arts and craftsmanship. We are happy to work with this developing nation and offer the community an opportunity for sustainable employment. 211
â€œI don't want to add to the mess,â€? Claire Brandon tells me over the phone. Brandon, 25, is the founder of Delta Vintage, a vintage store run entirely on Instagram. Inspired by the blues music of the Mississippi Delta and built upon sustainable practices, Delta Vintage aims to make vintage shopping approachable and uncomplicated. Secondhand shopping is a regular practice for those living a zero waste or sustainable lifestyle, as it allows customers to buy items that are already in the waste stream, support local businesses instead of fast fashion and save money. An Instagram vintage store takes the practice to a new level, eliminating the whole rummaging-through-the-racks thing. Instead, customers can simply follow Instagram shops and browse the "racks" as they scroll. So, how does an Instagram business operate? After Brandon sources an item, her roommate Mamie Heldman photographs it. Brandon, who works in marketing in New York by day, posts photos on Delta Vintage's page, captioning the post with the item's specs, size, materials and price. When a follower wants to buy something, they comment their zip code, and Brandon direct messages them an invoice. "I really wanted to interact with the customers and be able to talk to them and get to know them, rather than having a website or something that kind of removes that personalized interaction," Brandon explains.
Words Sophie Hirsh Photos Mamie Heldman 212
Delta Vintage has no website, no storefront, no warehouse. As of February 2018, its Instagram page boasts a humble 500-ish followers. While other Instagram stores go
out of their way to reach a wider audience, by using hashtags, creating a website, etc., Brandon is quite content with her small arsenal of followers. It allows her to get to know them. "I really wanted to focus on understanding my customer," Brandon says, adding that she has not done a real press push since launching Delta Vintage in August 2017. She likes the under-the-radar nature of it all, even though it is counterintuitive to running a business. So instead of typical marketing strategies, she hopes to grow her fanbase more organically through community events. She had a booth at Lightfoot Market, a sustainable market in New York, during the holidays, and she plans to set up a stall selling clothes at blues concerts during her next visit to Nashville. Something else that makes Delta Vintage stand out is its concern for sustainability. Brandon sources clothing by digging through warehouses where secondhand clothes are available by the pound. Sometimes she gets donations, and occasionally she shops in vintage stores. But when she does resell pieces from curated shops, she never marks up the prices. "I just don't feel good about doing that," she says. When it comes to sourcing, Brandon says she is focused on "inclusion, diversity and all sizes," which is evident in her connection with her customer base. She pays attention to her followers' styles, keeping an eye out for garments that would suit them. Furthermore, Brandon fills every order by shipping with completely recyclable paper and cardboard. Delta Vintage's business cards are printed on recycled
paper, and Brandon is considering making Delta Vintage T-shirts by embroidering the company's logo onto vintage tees, instead of ordering new ones. As the Instagram-only business model continues to grow, so will the epidemic of waste in the fashion industry. But Brandon's simple and sustainable approach is combating that, and maybe other businesses will soon take a page out of Delta Vintage's book â€Ś I mean, Instagram. You can follow Delta Vintage on Instagram at @delta_vintage.
The Polyester Problem
The world is consuming polyester clothing at an astronomical rate â€” 60 percent of clothing on todayâ€™s market is made from plastic-based materials. Historically, cotton dominated the apparel market. But as land became more expensive, and the price of cotton increased, polyester outpaced its competitor. In 2014, nearly half of all U.S. imported apparel was made from synthetic fibers, and that number continues to soar.
Words & Photos Mary Bemis
China currently produces about 75 percent of the worldâ€™s polyester supply, which is expected to hit nearly 100 million
crude oil, so it is born out of an already environmentally destructive process. But the most pressing concern of polyester's environmental impact happens at the end of its life cycle. Every time a synthetic textile is washed, it leaches plastic into the environment. Up to 5 million tons of microplastics are released into the environment every year due to the washing of polyester clothes, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s report, “A New Textiles Economy.”
tons by 2020. That is triple the amount produced just three years ago. Given the current rate of consumption and the desire for cheap clothing, some estimates suggest that 95 percent of future syntheticfiber production will be polyester. Polyester was invented in the 1940s by Imperial Chemical Industries, but it is DuPont that should be credited for its explosion in popularity. Consumers in the ‘50s were sold on its wrinkle-free properties, while manufacturers preferred it because it was cheap to make and easy to blend with other fabrics. As textile manufacturing grew more advanced, so too did polyester's technical features. It now looks and feels more like a natural fabric, and it boasts a number of features that are accommodating to our on-the-go lifestyles. Polyester is made from coal and 216
Though investigations into the long-term impacts are still underway, it is estimated that the average European shellfish eater consumes as many as 11,000 microplastic particles per year. If we continue at this rate, MacArthur forecasts that there could be more plastics than fish in the ocean by the year 2050. Fortunately, the energy behind sourcing and developing alternative fibers is growing. Exciting innovations, like pineapple leather and fiber made from discarded orange peels, are hitting the market with an enthusiastic response. The Global Change Award, an innovative challenge hosted by the H&M Foundation, grants money to the most innovative ideas in sustainable fashion each year. And no material has been overlooked; past finalists have used raw materials, like grape skins leftover from the wine industry and even manure to create alternative fibers. As technologies continue to advance, we must also continue to find alternative source materials for the clothes we wear. At Reprise Activewear, we're working on both of those fronts every day, combining the latest technologies with innovative
material sourcing to help solve the fashion industry's plastic problem. In developing Reprise Activewear products, I chose to work with Tencel, a material made from renewable, carbonneutral crops (sustainably managed eucalyptus and beech trees) that make it completely biodegradable. Processing the wood chips into a silky fiber is closed-loop, which means that all inputs are captured and reused at a continuous rate. The entire manufacturing process also uses considerably less land, water and energy than cotton, and the fiber can be dyed using a low-impact dye process. Plus, Tencel has desirable properties for activewear that would typically require a multitude of chemical finishes: sweatwicking, odor protection, hypoallergenic and restrictive against bacteria growth. Consumer education is critical to fighting the apparel industryâ€™s plastic pollution problem. California recently proposed a new law that would require all clothing
containing more than 50 percent synthetic fiber to be labeled with a microplastic shedding warning. If the law passed, it would be a significant breakthrough in raising awareness about the damage caused by the widespread use of synthetic textiles and the importance of working with more natural materials. Before beginning my sustainable fashion journey with Reprise, I never really concerned myself with the materials used to make my clothes. But the more I learned, the more determined I became to find a way to take action. Iâ€™m excited by the progress already made, but it is going take a collective, industry-wide effort to elevate the conversation and demand a more sustainable supply chain. Reprise Activewear's Kickstarter campaign launched on April 3. Follow them at @repriseactivewear
RVA: Ethical Style Collective
Ethical Style Collective was created by five women in Richmond, Virginia, working toward a mindset makeover when it comes to the way we view our clothing and shopping. Our goal is to expose the everyday consumer to the often dirty and exploitative world of the fashion industry; help them understand how clothing is produced, sourced and consumed; and give them practical, useful ideas to start reshaping their relationship with clothing.
Words Rupa Singh and Ethical Style Co. Photos Sandy Swagger Jones 218
We encourage intentional shopping and conscious conversations around the fashion industry.
Who We Are Sydney @chicstripes
Personal stylist believing in ethical and sustainable fashion, timeless pieces and a creative wardrobe that reflects ones life, style and budget.
Seamstress with a major mission to live a low-impact life on the environment, who believes that repairing clothes is one of many ways to increase sustainability. Encouraging people to love the clothes they have and reduce mass consumerism.
Kelly @thegoodwearblog Ethical fashion blogger exploring ways to be a responsible and sustainable consumer through transparency, creativity and style dedicated to low-waste, sustainable fashion and thoughtful consumption. April @allawear
Rupa @lovethisrva Owner of @lovethisrva, a mobile boutique out of a vintage Airstream Trailer curating goods that do good by highlighting brands that place equal value in the design of their products as they do their social, environmental and economic impact.
Ethical fashion blogger who believes that fashion can and should be a force for good. Inspiring the modern woman to shop better without sacrificing style. 219
Our Thoughts On Our Relationship With Clothing Sydney
“Getting dressed should be easy. When you create a wardrobe that works for you, not against you, your morning becomes filled with ease, not stress. A sustainable wardrobe means pieces that are considered and purchased with intention.”
“Taking care of the clothes we own is one step in the direction of taking care of our planet, cultivating a more mindful lifestyle”
Kelly “We all make some sort of impact through what we wear. The more we learn about being aware as fashion consumers, the better all parts of this industry can be.”
Rupa “Finding value in the things we own will greatly change our attitude towards how we treat them”
“As consumers we have the ability to vote with our dollars. I personally have chosen to invest in brands whose environmental and social values align with my own.”
Places To Shop Ethically In RVA For us, ethically means a mix of locally made, sustainable fabrics, strong ethics toward environmental sustainability, fair wages or second hand. Vintage / Second Hand Commonwealth Vintage Tiny Space Rosewood Blue Bones Halcyon Addison Handmade and Vintage Ashby 68Home Rumors Bygones GoodWill Carytown Folking by A Girl Named Leney Designer / Luxury Consignment Clementine Baggio Consignment New / Sustainable / Ethical Na Nin Verdalina Yesterdayâ€™s Heroes Vintage Ten Thousand Villages Alternatives Shockoe Atelier Superfun Yoga Pants Love This Need Supply (offers some brands) Handymaâ€™am Goods
April @all_awear 221
What's Happening in RVA? Richmond prides itself on its local maker, entrepreneur and creative scenes. We care where our food comes from and how itâ€™s made; the farmers markets and restaurant scene are booming. We support makers, seeking out mindfully crafted, beautiful pieces. We are digging into the wellness of our bodies and minds. We are conscious of those less fortunate in our city and seek equal opportunity in terms of housing, access, transportation and schools. A new addition to our evolving conversations is around our clothing and shopping intentions. Ethical and sustainable fashion is becoming more relevant and is taking hold of our collective conscious in tangible ways. We have secondhand stores and vintage dealers in nearly every neighborhood. Our local boutiques focus on sourcing locally made items, and we are starting to think more about the overall production process. There are, of course, still gaps in our ethical clothing ecosystem. Currently, there are not many retailers that focus on new, but ethically or sustainably made clothing, and the consumer mindset has yet to change in regard to purchasing habits. We are fortuate to have Virginia Commonwealth University in our city, whose School of the Arts, Fashion Design and Merchandising program is ranked among the top in the nation and has earned global recognition. Kim Guthrie, a professor at the school says, â€œWe try to infuse as many aspects of sustainability as possible in both our design and merchandising curricula. We try to limit our studio waste by collecting fabric scraps to be recycled, 222
approx. 3,000 pounds of textile waste has been diverted from landfill since program inception in 2013 . The most exciting thing now is that students are coming in both more aware and more curious about how to produce apparel in a way that is better for the planet and for people. It is such an ideal time to incorporate more innovation and innovative thinking in the fashion industry.â€? Ethical Style Collective is excited to use our platform to bring awareness and education around sustainable fashion practices, highlight our local brands, makers and boutiques, and encourage our community to continue to request ethical and sustainable clothing options. Follow them at: @ethicalstyleco
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Global Fashion Exchange's mission is to empower consumers, ignite change and impact globally through innovative clothing swap events, curated talks and cultural activations around the world. What Is It? GFX is an international platform promoting sustainability in the fashion industry with inspiring forums, educational content and cultural events. Through interactive clothing swaps, GFX empowers consumers to take action for a better environment while they stylishly renew their wardrobe and save hundreds of thousands of clothes from going to landfill.
Contact us for more information: globalfashionxchange.org @globalfashionexchange firstname.lastname@example.org +1 (917) 525-3376 229
Build a better, more authentic brand. A forward-thinking, human-centered design and strategic marketing agency based in Richmond, Virginia. The Regeneration Co. solves complex communications problems using integrated marketing solutions. We apply the principles of systems thinking and human-centered experience design to marketing and communications. We work with small businesses and large corporations alike, providing innovative marketing solutions that look great and protect your triple bottom line. Our team of writers and designers have worked together for a decade building projects like this magazine. Our seamless partnership yields consistent results for our clients. We're more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Tell us abou your next project.
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Retail magnate Eileen Fisher claims that “the clothing industry is the second-largest polluter in the world, second only to the oil industry...
Published on Mar 30, 2018
Retail magnate Eileen Fisher claims that “the clothing industry is the second-largest polluter in the world, second only to the oil industry...