More and more high-end, sustainable fashion boutiques are popping up all over the internet, allowing those who will buy new to buy better. There’s Modavanti and Ethica, which both allows shoppers to pick and choose from the issues that matter most to them — would you like your bags vegan, fair trade, or local?
Newly established boutique rêve en vert doesn’t make you choose. They hold all their designers and brands to high standards, defining sustainable fashion as:
1. Locally produced and manufactured
2. Made from organic, recycled or up-cycled materials
3. Engaging with artisans and traditional means of production
4. Free from toxic chemicals and un-natural dyes when possible
5. Made utilizing fair-trade practices and ethical working conditions
We had a chat with founders Cora Hilts and Natasha Tucker about what turned them on to dreaming in green.
RF: Did you have a specific statistic, event, image or ‘aha’ moment about how the fashion industry needed to change to become more sustainable?
Cora: I had become concerned about the fashion industry after learning about the damaging effects of the textile and manufacturing sectors in my Master’s degree in sustainability, and I was reading Lucy Siegel’s book, To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? There was a story within that really resonated. A journalist was heading into Primark and she saw a young girl come out with five bags full of clothes one of which she dropped onto the street. Rather than stop and pick it up, she left the bag with its cheap contents spilling out onto Oxford Street. This sort of disregard for fashion and the processes behind it sparked a real desire to create change in the fashion industry, with a respect for people and the environment as well as a call—back to lasting quality and style.
RF: Natasha, since you’ve spent time on an organic farm, what are your thoughts about the food industry in comparison to the fashion industry, in terms of becoming more sustainable (and local?) Will it be more difficult for fashion to reach similar standards?
Natasha: I think the food industry provides a great model off of which fashion can base itself in terms of moving towards sustainability. I think that the main difference, and the difficulty for fashion will be that people seem to have very opposing views about what goes in and what goes on their bodies. People are hyper aware of the health implications of eating badly, but most people don’t know that only 16 out of 1600 dyes are approved by the EPA as sound for human and environmental health. I think that once people begin to be more educated about aspects of fashion such as this, then consumptive behavior of fashion will also begin to change.
RF: And how have both of you changed the way you shop over the years?
Cora: Living in Paris for five years, I began to appreciate the French model of dressing—which often means having fewer pieces which are more beautiful and crafted. I quickly realized that I often reached for the same ten or so items in my closet that I considered the most beautiful and suited to myself. It became very easy to neglect high street shopping for the occasional purchase that I adored. Also, I appreciate a shopping experience that is pleasant and more tailored, something we are trying to cultivate with rêve en vert.
I naturally grew towards wanting less in quantity and instead wanting fewer really unique and special pieces
. I have definitely moved towards appreciating the quality in great craftsmanship and this is something that really resonates with what we are striving for in the work of our designers at rêve en vert. All of the attention to detail and the fact that you are getting something that is much more unique as it cannot be mass-produced really makes you feel proud of owning and wearing something. I think the story behind things is something I have grown to love and you don’t get that from high street brands.
RF: We are all about the stories behind our clothing at Refashioner. What are the stories behind your own favorite pieces of clothing?
Natasha: I was given a pair of fabric shoes from my grandmother that she used to wear in the 60s. She has always been a style icon of mine, and I know how much she loved them, so to be given these meant a huge amount. I think the passing on of pieces like that is such a beautiful thing and I really want to be collecting pieces I can do the same thing with.
Cora: I have a neon silk dress from the Brooklyn-based designer Helena Fredriksson that is so beautiful—it drapes perfectly and the color is eye catching whilst being completely elegant. Also, my godmother gave me her vintage suede trench coat from the 70s that has a pink silk lining that I wear all the time. Wearing that makes me think of her, and I believe it has classic style.
RF: And your favorite pieces on reve en vert right now?
Natasha: I have a beautiful pair of Shwood sunglasses that are a real statement piece. They are handmade in Portland, Oregon with as little manipulation to the wood as possible. There is an amazing intersection between production and nature created as a result and you can tell they are crafted with great care and attention to detail.
Cora: The Berlin-based designer Isabell de Hillerin’s SS13 collection is all wonderful in my opinion, mainly because of the chic cuts and incredible hand-crafted detail, thanks in large part to her weavers in Moldova and Romania, where weaving is still truly an art form. Her cream blazer with shoulder detail is a particular favorite of mine.
Our favorite? This Helena Fredriksson Box dress, produced in our very own New York. Some green dreams really do come true.