It’s high time we discussed the undisputed frontrunner of sustainable fashion.
“We don’t want sustainability to be our edge. We want it to be universal.” —Eileen
Eileen Fisher started designing clothes in order to solve an issue many of us face: she was having trouble getting dressed. She kept imagining clothing that could easily go together: simple shapes, beautiful fabrics and colors, and proportions that lent themselves to seamless outfit options. In 1984, without even knowing how to sew, she set out to make this vision of simple dressing a reality.
Since then, her initial four shapes have expanded into a full-blown collection with some pretty ambitious goals. Enter Vision2020:
100% organic cotton and linen, wool from humanely-raised sheep on sustainably-managed farms, Tencel instead of rayon, and recycled polyester instead of virgin. Less water, less carbon, and less fabric waste on the cutting room floor. Committing to bluesign certified technologies for responsible chemical, energy, and water usage and collaborating with other brands to increase demand for responsible dyes. Following their supply chain back to the beginning and ensuring all participants are treated fairly and empowered to voice their concerns along the way. And finally taking back your well-loved pieces to resell or recycle into raw materials for future collections.
Overwhelmed yet? Continue reading
Mary Katrantzou’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection is one I won’t soon forget. Never before had a collection so captivated my attention: the details were impeccable, the designs like nothing I had ever seen before – a rarity in today’s fashion world. I was completely in awe of her work. Chalk it up to my age or to a lack of exposure in the world of fashion, but I had never experienced this level of appreciation for a designer. Maybe for the icons that are no longer with us, but not for anyone from the modern fashion world.
It wasn’t long before her work was being replicated at every level of fashion retail. Her digital prints enabled copyists to take her designs straight from the runway and churn them out in a matter of weeks, beating Katrantzou’s own designs to market. Last year, she commented on how commonplace such imitations had become, saying “It became something you saw everywhere…I felt the need to move away.” Continue reading
Lately I’ve been thinking about the concept of artisanal craftsmanship. Right now, the fashion industry loves the word “artisan” – it seems to be everywhere these days. The more I see it, the more I wonder: what does artisan mean? What qualifies someone’s work as artisanal? As I mulled these questions over in my mind on a bumpy NY-bound flight, I happened to notice my seat-mate’s coffee cup: when “artisan” shows up on an Einstein’s to-go cup, we need to have a talk.
My first step was to consult the experts, Merriam and Webster:
: a person who is skilled at making things by hand
: one that produces something in limited quantities often using traditional methods
May I elaborate a little? Artisans are masters of their craft. They have studied and honed their skill to a point of expertise: they are PhD-level makers. They have not turned to mechanization of tasks, and they do not cut corners in order to decrease costs, save time, or enhance profit margins. Continue reading