3 Chic Sustainable Designers
Via Vogue Gone are the days when eco-friendly fashion meant hemp necklaces and vinyl shoes. Now it’s easier than ever to find chic, luxurious clothing that’s responsibly made—i.e., with natural fabrics, fair labor, and clean production practices. Conscious designers are becoming more transparent about their supply chains, and there are entire shopping websites dedicated to supporting ethical fashion choices. Love cashmere sweaters, silk dresses, and crisp button-downs? What about velvet robes? There are environmentally friendly alternatives for all of those—and they’re probably even better than what you’ve got. Below, read about three of the sustainable designers we’re keeping our eyes on this season. Datura by Stefania Borras It feels like online-only brands are a dime a dozen these days, but Datura was there first. Back in 2012, designer Stefania Borras launched the label with a vision for chic, seasonless clothes in natural fabrics that could be worn from day to night. Think of them as elevated basics but with unexpected details: There are velvet robes in shades of rust and ivory, dresses that can be worn with or without silk sashes, and slouchy judo pants. “The inspiration behind everything is nature,” Borras explains. “From the fabrics to the colors to the locations for our campaigns, I always try to connect nature with urban life.” In lieu of traditional collections, Borras introduces new capsules every few months and stocks a group of core items. Everything is produced in small batches, which cuts back on waste and leftover materials. “We see what works and what doesn’t before adding more stock,” she says. The clothes don’t cost a fortune, either; prices range from $200 to $600, a result of her online-only model and local production methods. We’re particularly keen on her brand-new linen pieces, including a mid-length shirtdress and knotted skirt. Plyknits by Carolyn Yim Female entrepreneurs run in Carolyn Yim’s family. Her grandmother was a couture seamstress for Christian Dior and grew it into an esteemed family-run business, teaching Yim everything she knew about textiles along the way. “One day, I was rummaging around her atelier and came upon the most fantastic, thick, creamy sweater. It had to be at least 60 years old—but it was still in perfect condition,” she says. “I couldn’t find anything like it anymore, so I did some digging into the fashion industry.” She found that the way we source and manufacture clothes has changed drastically—no one knows who makes their sweaters anymore, and natural resources like wool have suffered as a result of desertification and overgrazing. So she launched Plyknits, “luxurious sportswear” crafted from the most high-grade, responsibly sourced wools. There are cable-knit cashmere sweaters with contrast trim, reversible robe coats, and cashmere leggings that you can order in two different weights: 50 grams or 330 grams. With slimming front seams and slits at the ankle, they’re basically the perfect winter pant—and you can feel good about wearing them. “At every step, we try to choose the most sustainable choice possible,” Yim says. She only uses recycled or dead stock yarn, for instance, and her family-owned manufacturers knit fully fashioned (rather than cut and sew) to reduce material waste. Considering “new” cashmere yarns are actually coarser and lower quality than vintage and dead stock fibers, even the $1,000 sweaters on the market now likely aren’t as soft and fluffy as Yim’s. Zady by Maxine Bédat Maxine Bédat launched Zady in 2013 as an e-commerce destination for sustainable products—think Clare V. handbags, Deadwood jeans, and Veja sneakers. But Zady also has its own collection of “essentials,” like cotton T-shirts and ultra-cozy sweaters, and Bedat recently expanded their in-house offering to fill out a complete wardrobe. Now you can add a long-line wool coat, Japanese button-down, or gabardine trench to your collection, and she’s introducing piqué polos, silk shirtdresses, and cropped wool pants later this month. “Traceability” is a key part of Zady’s mission, so the production process of each item is outlined in detail on the site: For instance, the cotton for the Japanese Gathered Blouse was harvested in Izmir, Turkey; woven in Nishiwaki, Japan; and custom mother-of-pearl buttons were added in Grassobbio, Italy. With prices ranging from $36 for a T-shirt and $450 for a coat, taking a step toward a wardrobe of chic, minimal, and sustainable clothing is rather affordable—and what’s cooler than knowing exactly how (and where) your clothes were made?