What, if any, are the requirements to be considered a sustainable fashion brand and how does one go about building an eco-conscious business? These are questions we've been thinking a lot about lately and are excited to chat about this Friday at our last panel event of the summer.
Eager to get the conversation started, we asked 4 of our panelists to share why they chose to make sustainability a part of their business ethos.
Sustainability came into my design sphere while working for large corporations in New York and Los Angeles and seeing all the waste that is created through the design process. When I started my brand 5.5 years ago I knew that I wanted to do things differently.
Whether it’s fabric and trim sourcing, hiring employees, sample creation, collection building, garment rebuilding, etc sustainability is at the forefront of each process.
It isn’t easy and sometimes it comes with major challenges but staying true to our philosophy for the betterment of the environment, our employees and consumers continues to be fruitful over time.
When I started designing I didn't think about the impact clothing had on the environment or the workers making it. Over the years I started to hear buzzwords like "sustainability" and "green" surrounding products from big brands, and I started to get curious what it was all about. However, it wasn't really until the disaster of Rana Plaza that I woke up to the devastating impact apparel/fashion is having on the world. It made me change my view of the industry in a deep way; it changed the way I shop, design, and collaborate.
I used to call my brand "sustainable", but no longer do because making more clothing is never good for the environment no matter how you do it. Instead I refer to my approach as ethically aware because I do my best to consider the environment every step of the way by fostering a process of slow, small-scale, local production. I take this approach because it feels like the responsible thing to do as a designer.
Sustainability became important to me when I started working in corporate fashion, and I saw the true dark side of the industry. From cheap labor to knocking off small designers, I knew there had to be a way to thrive in fashion, without decreasing someone else’s quality of life or depleting the earths resources. It is important to me to make my margins fair, so Everyone has access to small and sustainable designers, and one day the consumer will question why certain garments are so cheap. It’s important for me to make small strides towards sustainability in my business every day because every element of being a fashion designer has some sort of environmental burden attached to it. It is my dream to be able to do my printing solely on existing fabrics, without having to create new fabrics.
To be totally honest, I grew up in a very remote part of the California redwoods with parents who preferred an "off the grid, off the land" lifestyle -- so I was raised to be acutely aware of man kind's impact on the natural world from a very young age. That said, sustainability as a concept and way of living has actually become way more palpable to me now that I am a mother. Before having my kid, I certainly went through the motions and made sure to follow good practices as often as possible, but something really shifted when he was born and I became intrinsically aware of the impact of my generation. I shame to think that he will grow up in a world with less resources and less verdancy because of the negligence of the era before him and I experienced a renewed sense of purpose in the realm of sustainable efforts in every facet of our household, business, and social existence.
Wanna hear more from our panelist and learn how to build a sustainable fashion brand from industry leaders who have made sustainability their ethos? Join us next Friday, August 24th and learn what conscious responsibility means for brands and consumers today