sustainable fashion

Brand Focus: Vionnet

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The New York Times dropped a bomb on us earlier this month regarding the UN’s conclusion on the current climate change crisis. There was one key takeaway from the article, the change starts with YOU. As individuals, we need to step-up by making personal changes on how we consume so we avoid catastrophic consequences. The Times article quoted Myles Allen, an Oxford University Climate Scientist saying “It’s telling us [UN Report] we need to reverse emissions trends and turn the world economy on a dime”. On a DIME. Not some time in the near future -- instantly. It's all hands on deck now. But imagine how much quicker change would emerge if businesses also stepped up. That’s why we were thrilled to learn Vionnet is actually shutting down operations in order to completely restructure the company with ecological and social responsibility at the core of all decision making. They are going completely dark for a season or two, a decision likely to lose the brand a ton of revenue, but they are doing this for the greater good. The kind of attitude, fingers crossed, more companies will adopt. A.S.A.P. This reboot by Vionnet also comes with plans to nix fashion week presentations, a bold move, but we hope people will rally behind this heritage brand and support the positive changes they are making on behalf of the fashion industry. We certainly can’t wait to see these changes unfold.

Brand Focus: Eileen Fisher

Companies Doing GoodViolet Gross
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Eileen Fisher didn’t jump on the sustainability bandwagon, she’s been driving it!  Mitigating the damaging effects fashion has on our environment has been at the forefront of her business, unexpectedly forging an entirely new revenue stream. 

Without a doubt, one of the culprits contributing to the 25.5 billion pounds of REUSABLE textiles thrown away each year is, gulp, trends.  Fashion brands all over the world are selling you on the idea of newness, and we’re just as guilty for falling for it.  Eileen Fisher may not be one of the contemporary brands we vie after but we can certainly get behind her ethos of creating timeless, high quality pieces that will carry you from season to season and wish some of her junior counterparts in the industry followed in her lead. 

The Eileen Fisher company has two arms of sustainability, Design Work and Renew which allow the company to circumvent almost all waste.  Through the Renew initiative, customers have the opportunity to sell back there unwanted Eileen Fisher garments to the company for $5 a piece. You read that correctly, Eileen Fisher is paying their customers.  Over 4,000 pieces arrive at the company’s factory every week, validating that consumers are looking for options besides le garbage. 

The items are thoroughly inspected and either designated unsalvageable or re-sewn.  The re-sewn pieces are then used to make entirely new garments, or repaired and resold at reduced pricing. How’s that for responsible business practices (cough, cough, Burberry). The Renew collection alone is a $3MM annual business. 

I bet you’re wondering what happens to the unsalvageable pile?  We were too.  The Design Work team invested in something called a felting machine, which is primarily employed by the automotive industry.  For the price of one Hermes bag this machine helps the team recycle not only the unsalvageable garments but also the tons of scraps accumulating at its factories.  From this one ethical, non-profit driven decision the company carved out a new business in home goods.  Design Work uses the new recycled textiles to create large-scale works of wall art, accessories, upholstery pillows and other home furnishings.  The pillows are now sold ABC Carpet & Home while the wall works have been commissioned by private collectors, hotels, office buildings, museums and other corporate institutions. 

The next time you see an Eileen Fisher store, remember that she is the OG trend setter of sustainability.   

Somewhere over the Rainbow (Future)

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Have you ever strut into the shoe section at Barney's, grabbed a shoe and thought about what it took to MAKE that shoe? What it took to give that shoe it's unique color and shape? I bet most of you would nod your head no. Well, Salvatore Ferragamo will make sure you think about it now because one of Ferragamo's most iconic sandals is getting a sustainably sexy makeover. 

Rainbow Future represents the brands swoop into the eco-fashion market. The new platform sandal is a replica of the famed 1938 Rainbow Sandal created specifically for actress Judy Garland.  The unique shoe takes the term "Made in Italy" to a whole new level by literally employing Italy's spectacular natural environment to construct these distinctive sandals.  The Rainbow Future sandal requires hours of artisanship to complete and gains inspiration from the force of nature.  Rainbow Future's color platform is hand-finished in veritable wood and made with organic cotton.  Also, the leather lining is finished with no carbon dioxide emission or water consumption.  Other eco-friendly materials such as water glue, non-galvanized brass and recycled sewing thread were used in the construction of the sandal.  To top it all off, Ferragamo uses biodegradable cotton shoe bags and recyclable cardboard shoe boxes for the packaging. Pretty big deal! If other brands were to follow their lead it would greatly benefit the environment and the future of eco-fashion. Each pair of shoes will also be given a little bit of life; the shoes will be accompanied by a limited edition certificate that describes it's history and special characteristics. 

According to the fashion powerhouse, Rainbow Future has received an ISO 14067 certification - which will calculate the emissions produced during its making and compensate them through reforestation programs, making it a "carbon neutral" shoe. Already amazed? I'll keep going. Due to this, Ferragamo will now be backed by Treedom.  Treedom is a "Florence firm specialized in agro-forestry projects and in CO2 compensation." Through this collaboration, one orange tree will be planted for each of the 100 pairs of Rainbow Future's produced.  That's 100 orange trees! The label calls this "a precious symbolic gift from Salvatore Ferragamo to the clients who buy the shoe." What a package! Beautiful eco-friendly sandals AND a tree!

Rainbow Future truly honors the tie between Ferragamo's obvious commitment to sustainable development and the tradition of "Made in Italy".  You go Ferragamo! With only 100 of these babies being produced you better hurry and get yours, we may just beat you there! 

Making Old New Again

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The Museum at FIT launched their latest exhibition a few weeks ago titled "Fashion Unraveled". It is a beautiful celebration of deconstruction and repurposing.  We know you're as tired of the word 'repurpose' as we were of Despacito at this time last year, but this is not an exhibition trying to capitalize on the sustainable fashion movement.  This exhibit serves as a reminder that not too long ago, we relished that worn again and again (and again) look.  It's just a happy accident the theme of this show aligns well with the current conversation about consumerism in the area of fashion.  In creating Fashion Unraveled, what Colleen Hill, head curator, supports more than sustainability is the reconnection to what we're buying. Invest in clothes that mean something to you instead of the buy, try, dispose mentality brought to you by the fast fashion retailers. 

Hill features designers like Martin Margiela, one of the OG 'deconstructionists'. The Margiela Tabi boot, on display, was designed with the deliberateness of long-term wear and it distresses in such a way over time that keeps it looking current. Fashion Unraveled also represents designers like Mimi Prober who repurposes vintage clothing for new designs and Betsy Johnson who has a jumpsuit on display created from her ex-partners discarded rugby shirt. 

Another designer is Lamine Kouyate who uses his Malian heritage as a guidepost in how he designs.  He says "It's an African philosophy to use things up. You don't waste anything, but create new from old."  We're on the same page Lamine!  Check out Fashion Unraveled, open now through November.  Perhaps you'll be inspired to find new within the old in your own closet.