Fashion is not always described as the most sustainable industry. Many of the best-known labels have yet to implement the green practices that are now permeating much of our lives. But there have been noticeable gains; more and more fashion designers are aware of sustainable options for creating and distributing garments. This knowledge is spreading, and what was once an underdeveloped, niche market is now swaying the entire fashion world. It is pushing people to source and sell responsibly and to understand the effects of production practices.
For New York Fashion Week, starting February 7th, where we will also present the collaboration between smart and Jeremy Scott, we assembled a group of fashion designers and labels based in New York who have adopted this forward thinking approach.
In a Williamsburg warehouse, this brand got started integrating recycle billboard material into messenger bags. Then developing into a visionary line, they are dedicated to environmental preservation and sustainable design.
Throughout its existence, the company has made its bags, t-shirts and clothing in factories with environmentally friendly practices. Select clothing is made with organic materials, and t-shirt design collaborations support organizations with a mission to conserve, like Prospect Park in New York, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Recycle-a-Bicycle and Friends of the High Line.
Australian-born, Brooklyn-based designer Belinda Pasqua is the creator and designer of The Sway, a handbag and biker jacket collection hand crafted from high-quality, upcycled leathers.
Each piece in her collection is made using high-quality, excess leathers that are hand cut into new, useable shapes to minimize waste. This leather is sourced for repurposing from a factory that makes motorcycle accessories and is powered using advanced alternative energy sources.
All of their hangtags and packing materials are made of recycled paper and cotton fibers. The linings they use are also 100% recycled cotton fabric, printed with the brand’s signature, Aboriginal-inspired ‘Boomerang’ print. The Sway additionally helps the planet by supporting the development of micro economies in poorer countries.
Samantha Pleet’s eponymous label intertwines the modern and mysterious but doesn’t forget to use organic materials whenever possible. Since its debut in 2006, her designs have made become international favorites among creative girls. Musicians like Beach House, The Dirty Projectors, and Au Revoir Simone adore them.
Suzanne Rae is a women’s ready-to-wear line for the progressive, modern woman. Both feminist and feminine in her design philosophy, Suzanne Rae Pelaez uses traditional garment construction and experimental draping and patterns. As an extension of this ethos, she also puts an emphasis on local production and sustainable fabrics. The fine and natural fabrics used are often the product of collaboration with local artist. With them, she creates unique prints for each collection and supports local industries by making all samples in-house and with 100% of production done in New York City’s Garment District.
FERAL CHILDE is an innovative womenswear line by design duo Moriah Carlson and Alice Wu. Each piece in their collection has been designed with sustainability in mind—from the choice of fabric, printing and dyeing treatments, to details such as buttons and trim. Their studios are located in both Brooklyn and Oakland, but manufacturing is centralized in New York City’s Garment Center.
FERAL CHILDE goes one step further that many sustainable designers and allows any customer to request information about their sourcing and manufacturing techniques. They ship with recycled materials whenever possible and extend sustainability into their own practices, rather than just the finished product, by limiting their use of plastic bags and hangers, reusing these for future production cycles.