5 NEW LABELS REDEFINING SUSTAINABLE FASHION
Fashion is not the first that might come to mind in discussions about sustainability. Fashion itself can exclude a mindful lifestyle that is committed to longevity, consciousness and awareness of consumption in general. With its seasonal approach, trends and changing aesthetic ideals it is often considered an engine of supercapitalism, shallow and superficial. Equally, sustainability used to be something one would hardly associate with being fashionable, or an expression of next-level design: sustainable fashion has not always been cool.
But as awareness of climate change, scarce resources, human rights and our ability to shape the future through our own choices grows, an overdue change has permeated fashion. With designers turning towards sustainable production, organic materials and craftsmanship, fashion is witnessing a revolution that will alter how fashion is approached. As Li Edelkoort recently predicted in her fashion forecast for 2018 in Berlin, recycling waste and leftover garments will be one of the focuses in fashion, from deconstruction to reconstruction. Designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney already work on the principle sustainability – for instance, already 53 percent of Stella McCartney’s SS17 collection is ethically and sustainably sourced. McCartney has a full-time team of sustainability specialists that research the impact of the company’s activities, finding ways of using less water, dyes and power, as well as putting new developments into place.
The revolution might still be quiet, but taking careful baby steps in the right direction can and will change fashion fundamentally. Up-and-coming fashion talents and labels are proving that both sustainability and style can set the tone and merge powerfully.
Founded in 2013, Parisian born Faustine Steinmetz built her luxury fashion label on a belief in craftsmanship over trends. After studying at Atelier Chardon Savard and Central Saint Martins, as well as working for Jeremy Scott and Henrik Vibskov, she launched her label with recycled and crafted denim. With her fresh approach to the fabric, she presents breathtaking showpieces such as 60,000 Swarowski crystals embroidered on jeans, monogrammed denim jackets and artificially draped transparent fabrics transforming her models into graceful underwater creatures.
With regards to sustainability, Steinmetz told Vogue: “At first I really set out to be a sustainable label, but I came to the conclusion, when I was doing my research, that nothing is sustainable. You can only be responsible, really.” Addressing the fact that purchasing fashion, how sustainable and ethical it may be, is still an inevitable act of consumption, Steinmetz does her part to reduce the impact on the environment. She works with artisans from Burkina Faso who hand weave and hand dye recycled materials, as well as with the Spanish eco-sustainable denim factory Royo.
Fonnesbech was first established in 1847, relaunched in 2014 by Celina Fonnesbech who represents the family’s sixth generation. As a reaction to the fast-paced hunger for the new, the Copenhagen-based brand strives to create a timeless, long-lasting wardrobe made from exquisite materials with a sustainable perspective. A minimalist, architectural approach to silhouettes and colors, plus an aesthetic that mixes feminine and tomboy elements define the label’s style.
“To us, sustainability is a deliberate choice. A choice to try to find the most sustainable way in the valuechain. For example in the design, the material, the production method etc. This is not always easy as sustainability is a very complex issue. This is also why we came up with the 5 symbols that you can find on our website and on the clothes. The symbols illustrate how the particular item is responsibly made. For example if it is organic, recycled, gentle on the skin, fairtrade, or made in EU,” says Celina. The label embodies an intelligent take on functionality that can be worn season after season, which is also an essential point of sustainability. Working with organic and recycled fibers and certified sustainable European producers and manufacturers, the label guarantees fair working conditions and fewer CO2 emissions, as well as high quality and certified fabrics.
“It is our mission to lead and inspire a sustainable way to be fashionable,” says the Los Angeles-based label Reformation, one of the most sustainable brands in the U.S.A. Created in 2009 by Yael Aflalo, Reformation’s collections are made in downtown L.A. as well as in cooperation with responsible manufacturers in the U.S.A. and abroad. Using efficient and eco-friendly technologies, and minimizing waste, water and energy, the label has established a transparent, super sustainable and ethical manifesto, from tracking the environmental footprint of the company and each product (called RefScale), insights in their factory standards and retailers, to fabrics and supplies.
Working with organic and sustainable fabrics and repurposed vintage clothes, Reformations designs contemporary, light silhouettes that pay homage to the feminine figure. From the first sketch to the final garment, the creation process takes one month due to Reformation’s concept of designing clothes to wear right now. Looking for the perfect cut takes up a large part of the design process, in order to guarantee that each garment can fit all women. The Reformation designs are a modern reworking on the 70’s aesthetic, with feminine wrap dresses, blouses, and flared trousers featuring floral and gingham prints. And since Riri, Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss wear the label, we don’t need any more reasons to love it.
Botanica Workshop is a lifestyle brand founded three years ago, focusing on lingerie and loungewear made from organic and sustainable materials by local artisans. With their simple yet natural approach to lingerie and beauty, Botanica Workshop has a lot of famous fans, such as Kirsty Hume, Julie Delpy, Karen O., Linder Sterling and Nathalie Portman, who wore the lingerie in James Blake’s “My Willing Heart” music video.
The Los Angeles-based label uses organic cotton and silk, recycled nylon and low impact dyes made by hand within the USA, reducing waste and energy. “Mindful local sourcing, sustainable manufacturing, and eco-friendly operations policies are central to our company’s ethos. Domestic manufacturing has enormous potential for fostering innovative production on a small business level. The general concept is wide-reaching, bringing these values to the market as well as supporting small local manufacturers and artisans, creating opportunities for local talent along the way.”
“It is no coincidence that Christy Dawn’s way of doing business closely resembles that of a dressmaker living in Placerville, CA a hundred years ago. It’s my intention to create vintage inspired pieces that speak of quality and craftsmanship.” Established by Christy Dawn, who grew up in the aforementioned Placerville, the label creates modern bohemian dresses that have an authentic 70s feel. The vintage silhouettes and materials make the garments both unique and timeless, pieces that you can just throw on and go.
As an upcycling brand, Christy only works with deadstock fabrics, the left-over fabrics of other brands who overestimated their needs. Christy rescues these and turns them into new items. Due to the small rolls of deadstock materials, most of the garments are hand-made in batches of only one or two, making each piece a real individual creations.
Featured image courtesy of Botanica Workshop.