This is another one of those stories that seems like science fiction, but is actually reality. Retail, distribution and manufacturing are on the verge of rebirth because of a revolutionary emerging technology: 3D printing.
Guest Post by Taisa Veras
While most designers are designing collections with celebrity ‘it girls’ in mind, Beulah London’s designers, Natasha Rufus Isaacs and Lavinia Brennan, are designing with the women suffering in the human trafficking trade in India in mind. Philanthropy runs in Isaacs’ family history; her great-grandfather was the Viceroy of India, was appointed to oversee the Indian Chamber of Princes, and was in favor of helping India find its path to self government. After traveling to India with Brennan in 2009, Isaacs became even more involved in helping the country.
There has been a lot of talk about fashion’s movement into “green.” From H&M to Puma, brands are finding ways to implement practical change. Noting the importance of carrying out more responsible practices into their business and design models, fashion labels are brainstorming to come up with the best way to embrace green while still remaining true to their brand as well as being profitable. It’s not an easy thing to do, but in order to make any change, the first step is to define and understand the many different ways to embrace “conscious fashion.”
When it comes to manufacturing apparel, the fashion industry is a state of turmoil. Several decades ago, China changed everything by becoming the go-to place for fashion labels to have their collections produced from the first pattern to the hangtag at a very low cost, positioning itself as the leading provider of the “full package deal” and setting the tone for the next thirty years of industry practice.
Let’s face it, going “Green” is a fad trend followed by cosmopolitan residents of the hippest cities in the world. Sustainable design and eco conscious practices have crept into many areas of our lives. For the fashion industry,
Dvarim-Tovim is a beautiful line of necklaces, rings and accessories by Yael Uriely. Uriely uses recycled materials and makes everything by hand. The result is a feminine and whimsical collection of jewelry and other accessories that is full of DIY charm.
Uriely’s decision to use recycled materials isn’t a passing fad from the growing green fashion movement. Based on a farm in Israel, Uriely lives with and for nature, and she keeps herself and her brand connected to the fashion industry with a blog, Polyvore account, Facebook page, Twitter account, and Etsy shop.
Intrigued with her story and her gorgeous jewelry, we interviewed Dvarim-Tovim’s Yael Uriely to ask her about what inspires her work and how the environment helps her in the creative process.
FMM: What inspires your line, and what’s the process of designing and making your jewelry and accessories like?
Yael Uriely (YU): My designs have a very soft, romantic look, yet are highly sophisticated and unique. In my designs I try to combine vintage and modern materials, turning them into fantastic artwork. My inspiration is drawn from various styles; the Victorian era, the baroque era and the new age.
I was always intrigued by passing eras; I often find myself observing jewelry, clothes and other fashion items. In my creations, I try to revive them. My objective is to merge design with social and environmental consciousness in order to provide stylish, functional, and durable products that people will love to own. All products are made from recycled, organic, or earth-friendly materials.
I enjoy creating jewelry from recycled fabric, vintage fabrics and vintage buttons and beads. I find them mainly while visiting flea markets and co-operating with fashion companies. My work is 100% handmade. It allows me complete creative freedom and design flexibility, as well as diversity in colors, size and textures.
FMM: Your pieces are handmade, using vintage buttons and other recycled items. What made you decide to work this way, and what kind of connection do you feel to the “green” movement?
YU: The raw materials I use are as eco-friendly as possible. The fabrics I use from fashion companies are environmentally considerate. They require fewer amounts of chemical materials such as silicon and chlorine when created.
I also use a lot of vintage lace and crochet in my designs. I find them in flea markets and upcycle them into something new like necklaces or shrugs. I try to keep my designs as “green” as possible. My house is my studio; I live on a farm surrounded by nature. This is where I chose to live and create; close to my family dipped in the country landscape I love.
FMM: Are most of your customers international, and how has the Internet affected the way you run your business?
YU: I use the Internet to get the widest exposure I can. Using all the above gives me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and to keep them updated in new designs.
Online blogging gives my products an exposure to a variety of people all over the world. My favorite blog is an Israeli blogger name Nalula; she is writing about shoes and Israeli fashion designers.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has enormous of benefits for companies, and it’s currently making headwaves in the fashion industry — reforms which are long overdue. But how, exactly, is corporate social responsibility related to the real life practices of your brand or company?
First of all, let’s look at the term itself – “Corporate social responsibility.” What does it mean? Well, CSR asserts that organizations, companies, and individuals should try to minimize negative outcomes and maximize positive outcomes — human and environmental impacts that cover all aspects of production, consumption, labor, and so on. That means stockholders, manufacturers, customers, distributors, packaging, materials, etc. are all taken into consideration.
Yes, it can be quite challenging to monitor, adapt to, and respond to so many demands and obligations, but it’s well worth it. Not only is it ethical and helps you treat people and nature fairly and respectfully, but it is also just good business sense. Nowadays, customers are attracted to companies and brands that are socially responsible. Take, for instance, the green fashion movement. While it was once dismissed as a trend, it’s ability to stick around for so many years has proven that people want to do good and buy good.
Organic Exchange (OE)’s Organic Cotton Market Report sheds some positive light on green fashion’s growth; for instance, organic cotton apparel and textiles have grown enormously in 2009 — $1 billion’s worth, in fact. And it is not just the small, independent companies who are helping green fashion grow. Big brands like Nike & Adidas have also joined in on green fashion.
Not to be forgotten is the “social” aspect of corporate social responsibility. This means treating employees, customers, and others fairly, and it might also mean giving back to your community such as charity fundraising. Transparency and openness — that is, allowing people access to information about your company’s impacts, behavior, and initiatives — is also a key point.
So, while corporate social responsibility can be, well, quite a responsibility, don’t fret or think you have to do everything all at once. Small steps can be quite helpful in making your business more and more responsible for its actions. For smaller brands and companies, CSR is easily something you can build into your business — ensuring long term growth and benefits.
Guest Post By Greta Eagan
Eco-fashion is a term that is not only gaining recognition, but relevance. With 67% of North American consumers stating that they want to know about the socially responsible behavior of the brands whose products they purchase, ethical fashion is no longer just a new PR campaign, but a viable part of the changing DNA of fashion brands (statistic from the SHIFT Report, 2010). Last night, the first of many Source 4 Style Workshops kicked off a conversation and educational presentation on the game changers in the apparel industry.
Eco-fashion industry leader, Summer Rayne Oakes, has been an outspoken eco advocate for years, acting as a role model and spokeswoman for eco-fashion as an eco-model, consultant and author. Now, Oakes, along with business partner Benita Singh, have taken their fashion expertise and created a necessary resource for the evolution of eco- and mainstream fashion, Source 4 Style (S4S).
Launched last month, S4S, is a search and source website for the world’s leading sustainable materials. Pooling over 1000 textiles with 24 suppliers across 12 different countries, S4S is the first direct sourcing tool for sustainable materials of its kind.
The site itself is incredibly useful and an acting answer to many independent designers’ cries for help in their eco-conscious sourcing. Moreover, S4S is a visible indicator of what many bigger brands are already investing heavily in to privately create. Adhering to the Eco Index from the Outdoor Industry Association, S4S follows a rigid rating system that produces both progressive and cumulative scoring schemes and indicators for each listed material.
This is where things start to get exciting. The apparel industry has been struggling for years to develop a rating system or unified certification that suppliers and brands can subscribe to. Thus far, these efforts have resulted in self-proclaimed and unmonitored company lists as well as some 70 different foundation fueled certifications around the world. With the Eco Index, over 100 brands are contributing to the data driven open collaboration and sourcing to produce a calculated rating system.
The Eco Index identifies six areas in which brands can improve in their eco-initiatives to produce conscious apparel. These areas include: materials, packaging, manufacturing, transport, use and service, and end of life. By narrowing the focus to these areas, brands can tangibly begin to integrate eco practices. So where should brands begin?
Every brand should start by dissecting their already produced products and inserting them into the Eco Index to see where their ratings lie. Oakes suggests that brands be conservative and opt for the lower rating when details may be unknown, so that brands can compare their improvements more noticeably after greening their efforts.
Once a brand has its ratings, they should be transparent with their consumers and help educate them by posting the information on their website and hang tags. Brands who engage their consumers and invite them along for their environmental education journey will win their consumers’ loyalty and trust.
Additionally, brands are encouraged to take that sentiment one step further to crowd source their customers to see what designs they want, what issues are most important to them and how to help their consumers better understand conscious consumption. Following S4S’s model, brands can even devise editorial tabs to accompany products listed online to give the back story of where the product came from and how it is eco.
Laying the foundation for brands who are committed to eco-fashion integration, the S4S Workshop was informative and insightful. Any brand who is serious about conscious production should be in attendance for the next workshop. In the past year, Eco Index subscriptions have increased by 500%, sending a clear message that eco-fashion integration is not just a passing trend but demand that must be filled.
Workshops are scheduled every six weeks. Check the Source 4 Style website for upcoming events.
About The Author: Greta Eagan is a trendsetting fashionista with a conscience! A sustainable fashion spokesperson and strategist–she helps promote eco-fashion integration. Greta’s expertise is backed by eight years in the fashion industry with graduate work at the London College of Fashion and a Masters with a specialization in Sustainable Fashion from the University of Buckingham. Greta is the founder of Fashion Me Green, a sustainable fashion awareness project and style service. Read her weekly trending column on Eco Salon. You can also catch up with her on her personal blog, GretaGuide.