Vogue’s September issue has dropped, New York Fashion Week is over and Fashion Month continues across the pond – it’s officially wardrobe season.
As models, celebrities and influencers parade down the catwalks with the latest fashion trends, some brands, including Patagonia, are racing to fight climate change, making the Earth their “sole shareholder”. But others, like fast-fashion retailer Boohoo, are looking to sustainability, hoping to lean on the help of celebrities to win over shoppers.
Kourtney Kardashian faced a swift backlash after announcing her collaboration with Boohoo a week before her collection launched on Tuesday with her New York Fashion Week show. The Poosh founder addressed the criticism, release a statement about the changes she hopes to make as Boohoo’s newest sustainability ambassador.
“I invite all experts who have ideas, suggestions … to contact me,” Kardashian wrote on Instagram Tuesday. “I want to help out and from my experience working with the team I work with at Boohoo, they do too.”
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As Kardashian’s older sister calls to help Boohoo deliver on its sustainability promise, many brands are taking action now and have been doing so for some time.
“When looking generally at how you can become more sustainable…you only have to choose one at a time,” said Barrett Ward, CEO of sustainable fashion brand Able. “You can’t try to pretend you do everything in the world.”
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Kate Spade makes ’90s heritage relevant and eco-friendly
Industry pressure to create innovative fashion collections every season can be counterproductive to limiting waste. Fashion houses such as Fendi and Kate Spade are reintroducing old handbag collections and renewing them.
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Kate Spade’s presentation at New York Fashion Week on September 9 included a reissue of Kate Spade’s 1993 Sam bag, one of the first handbags launched by the brand, an ode to its 30th anniversary.
While the 90s are all the rage, the old-but-new bag is even more relevant for 2022 with lasting improvements.
“There is (a) 100% recycled polyester shell, including the liner,” Kate Spade said. says Jennifer Lyu, senior vice president and head of design. She adds that the material changes made by Kate Spade “will encourage all sizes of businesses to participate in this great effort.”
“Having such a big company do this is important because we’re all fighting the vendor to be more innovative,” says Lyu.
Tom Mora, senior vice president and head of design for lifestyle categories at Kate Spade, says the durability of Kate Spade bags also lies in the longevity of the design – maybe the Sam bag at the back of your closet may be trending again.
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“People talk about how they’ve had Kate Spade bags for 20 (or) 30 years,” Mora says. “Some people give them to their daughters when they’re old enough and it’s a great story because it becomes like an heirloom.”
Rising handbag brand Vavvoune takes a second-generation approach to luxury
As old handbag brands resurface with their earlier designs for sustainability, budding brands are finding a way to create a “new level of luxury” using the remnants of haute couture.
Valérie Blaise’s Vavvoune creates handbags and leather goods from the unsold pieces that luxury brands use in their designs. Blaise says she got the idea when she was making her bags by hand as early as 2015 with expensive leather bought in New York and noticed how much trash was left.
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“Since I’m a small designer and don’t need to buy very large quantities of leathers, it (made) sense for me to reuse those unused leathers and recycle them into my design,” Blaise says of materials that have gone unused after the manufacture of a product.
Blaise leather sources come from leftover Italian leathers used by luxury brands such as Gucci and Jil Sander. Her second-generation luxury bags were on display in the Black in Fashion Council showroom during New York Fashion Week, introducing “a new level of luxury.”
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In the world of the sustainability trend, “vegan leather” is sometimes touted as an alternative to leather, but Blaise says “leather is durable”.
“It’s a by-product of the meat industry. And if we choose not to wear leather, guess what? There’s going to be tons and tons of skin left over,” she says. “Even if we stop eating meat here in the United States, what about the rest of the world?
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Blaise notes that some vegan leathers are made from plants, but adds that it “frustrates” her that some are also made from plastic.
When it comes to fashion’s march towards sustainability, Blaise says the industry needs to be more “thoughtful” and “innovative”.
“The only way to be truly sustainable is for everyone to walk around naked, which isn’t going to happen,” she says. “I also think that the consumer is also responsible.”
For Able, sustainability means fair wages
Premium brands often claim that durable products need higher price tags. Executives at Nashville-based brand Able say there’s some truth to that, but a brand’s practices need to be scrutinized, especially on the supply chain side.
On average, garment workers earn 45% less than a living wage, according to a 2022 study by the WageIndicator Foundation, a labor transparency organization. Fashion Revolution, a global initiative to fix fashion sustainability, ranked fast fashion retailer Fashion Nova and luxury fashion brands Tom Ford and Max Mara among the worst performers in its 2022 report for disclosure. of their policies on human rights and environmental operations.
Able offers obvious sustainable options with its clothing and handbag repair programs and a size exchange collection. But the brand also stresses the importance of paying apparel manufacturers a living wage for sustainability and the “slow fashion movement”.
Ward says well-paid workers often drive up the price of clothes, but Able’s Jen Milam warns shoppers about the high prices of some high-end luxury brands without workers seeing much of the money flow.
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“It’s worth asking yourself questions” and asking “thoughtful questions,” says Milam, the brand’s vice president of marketing and sales. “How are people in (the) supply chain affected by my purchase?”
The “Project Runway” Alum’s Sustainable Fashion Is DIY
Wanting to make your wardrobe more sustainable doesn’t always require paying a premium, especially for designers like Gunnar Deatherage, who create clothes from thrift store finds.
One of Deatherage’s creations, a runway-ready dress made from bed sheets he saved, was exhibited during New York Fashion Week for YouTube’s recycling event.
The “Project Runway” (season 10 and Allstars season 4) alum credits his passion for DIY clothing to his creative grandparents and “a very humble upbringing” and encourages others to try luxury looks a la house by offering its design templates on the subscription platform. Patreon.
“I think financially a lot of people are in more trouble than they’ve been in the past,” Deatherage says.
He notes that as luxury brands such as Schiaparelli and Mugler become coveted closet items, people are hungry to find economical and eco-friendly dupes.
“(If) I can buy something from a thrift store and turn it into something that other people will be happy and proud to wear. I think there’s a lot of power in that,” he says.
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