December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Our fourth annual edition of Holiday Bytes is finally here! Please click the image above to view the PDF. All of us at MBF Trend Consulting wish you happy holidays and a joyous new year. This is our last post of 2010. See you in the new year!

December 8, 2010

December MBF Favorite Picks

You know the holidays are almost here when Starbucks is serving up their sugary seasonal drinks, cashiers are cheering "Happy Holidays" as you pay for your groceries, and parks all over NYC are once again filled with unique hand-made goodies for their annual gift markets.

Here in New York City, the holiday season is just getting started!

This month, we celebrate our favorite picks with our top ten eco-friendly gift guide. Whether you are looking for a gift for your co-worker, mother, your significant other, (or even a special treat for yourself!), this list is something for everybody!

Happy Holidays from MBF!

Priti NYC polishes are completely non-toxic and made without toluene, dibutyl phythalate (DHB) and formaldehyde. Completely safe for children and moms-to-be, this is the go-to nail polish for all of your holiday festivities! Buy a set for your girlfriends -- it's sure to add the perfect sparkle to any outfit.

Weekend Bag, EcoAlf

Made from 100% recycled materials and 100% recyclable, EcoAlf's new line of eco-friendly accessories are tres chic! This weekend bag is perfect for your winter get-away.

Made from organic wool, using an environmentally friendly boiling process and low environmentally impact dyes, these shawls make the finishing piece to any winter look. 

Pamper your skin and stay moisturized all winter long with Saaf's organic super hydrating body balm. 

Track Bike, Horse Cycles

Horse Cycles is a one-man custom bike shop located in Brooklyn, NY. Offering custom made bikes locally, by hand, and with unlimited possibilities, these beauties are sure to give you a ride of a lifetime.

Kristen Coffin's online Etsy shops sells beautiful recycled jewelry, using recycled silver, gold, and jewels. Real twigs are often casted in her work, producing unique one-of-a-kind work. 

Loomstate partnered up with Keds to make these military-inspired boots. Constructed of an organic canvas upper, recycled rubber lug outsole, and nickel free eyelets, with a faux shearling liner and Loomstate print, these sneakers are sure to keep your toes warm and fabulous!

Add one of these simple but cute tags to each of your gifts this season! Made of 100% recycled duplex chipboard, make all of your greetings stylishly eco-friendly.

Bobble Water is a must for any of your friends who still do not have a reusable water bottle. Available in different colors and sizes, buy a whole set for your friends and family!

Each pillow is hand-woven by a Moroccan woman using organic wool made from antique carpets. As each are individually made, each pillow is unique and slightly different. The Berber Euro pillow, featured above, is the perfect accessory to light up any room!

December 1, 2010

The Future of Cheap Labor, "A Focus on China" (Part 1)

This is the first of a two-series blog focusing on the latest developments of China. Please stay tuned for the follow-up blog post: East Meets West, Part 2 of "A Focus on China."

photo via:

Without a doubt, China is the country of 2010. With their spectacular economic growth just within the last thirty years, they have already completed large improvements in their infrastructure, redesigning buildings, airports, and streets. So as the standard of living has been raised, a quickly growing upper and middle class have followed suit. Hence, a focus on growing the domestic Chinese market is, and has been, on every smart businessman's mind.

Some of you may remember our blog post a few months back in regards to China's growing fashion scene and Hermes' new strategy of creating a special brand specifically for the Chinese market. We briefly discussed the expectation of a new niche of stylish Chinese individuals with an increasing demand for luxury fashion and Chinese-based designer goods. We speculated major changes within China; and since then, the country has always been on our radar. So today we follow up with an updated post with our latest thoughts and what to expect.

photo via:

As the Chinese economy continues to boom, factories all over the country have been on strike requesting higher wages and better working conditions. Just google search "Chinese factories strike" and you are sure to end up with dozens of articles linking multiple companies recently affected by their workers demanding double, or even triple the wage they used to receive for their hard labor. Foxconn, the world's largest electronics contract maker, made headlines as a string of suicides among their workers became public. Since then, Foxconn, along with many other factories increased their workers' wages by up to 66 per cent.

photo via: USA Today

As China now stands as the second largest economy in the world, their manufacturing industry is changing rapidly as workers will no longer accept the poor working conditions and low wages they used to receive for the last several decades. As a result of higher production costs, many companies who were once so dependent on China's low production costs have either relocated their business to alternative countries who can provide lower costs, such as Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, and multiple South American countries, or increased their product prices and/or altered the designs. For retailers sourcing cotton, it also does not help that the price of cotton rose almost 80 percent since July and prices are expected to remain high.

With the new labour laws and the need to provide competitive production prices, there is a rising trend of factories relocating from their coastal locations to central China. In 2009, there were 90.8 million migrant workers in the coastal eastern part of China, a drop of about 8.9 per cent from the previous year. The number of migrant workers in western China increased by 35.8 percent, reaching 29.4 million, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China. In the past, the eastern coastal cities were the driving force of the economic development. However, as factories continue to move more inland, many workers no longer have to live in migrant workers' dormitories and can easily commute to work on a daily basis. As most factory workers used to travel more than 2,000 kilometers away from home and lived apart from their families, the relocation to move inland is a drastic change to thousands of people's lives.

So what does this all mean for those of us in the fashion circle? As production standards raise, does "Made in China" hold a new perspective? As retailers have been doing business in China for decades, the quality of Chinese-made goods have steadily increased. As it already has proper infrastructure, it is in much better condition in comparison to other Asian and South American countries. Some are looking to develop in Africa, but it will still be years before getting things up and running. And as many companies are finding cheaper alternative in these countries, Chinese made goods are considered more reliable.

Honda workers on strike, photo via: Wall Street Pit (LA Times Photo)

This change also brings up the future of cheaply made clothes and it's lack of sustainability. How long will retailers continue moving their production from one country to the next? China is not the only one in protest as there were a quiet but steady increase of strikes all over the world this past year, including India, Vietnam, and Cambodia, just to name a few. Retailers cannot depend on cheap labor as a long-term investment and must rethink their profit margins. And as we live in a more transparent society, there is a social and environmental responsibility that these large conglomerates must uphold. Expecting workers to work long hours doing monotonous routines with very little pay is dehumanizing, treating the worker more like a machine rather than a human being. The production systems of the 90's are out of date and will not work in the times of today.

Foxconn employees, photo via: Wall Street Pit (Bloomberg photo)

The increased price for production and labor is only a small fraction of what is to come over the next several years. As China continues to reconfigure their manufacturing businesses, the future of the world's production system no longer remains the same. Hopefully, these adjustments will allow an improved quality of life for many of these factory workers. The only question is, will we, as consumers, be able to accept this change?

November 23, 2010

Geek and Chic

photo via:

When interested in scoping the latest fashion trends, Google is probably not the first place of choice to pop up into your head. Unless you are using as your search engine, it probably has nothing else related to your next season's wardrobe.

However, Google has shocked the online community last Wednesday, circulating lots of buzz with their new e-commerce website As if their own online search engine, Gmail, and Youtube wasn't enough to manage, they have now taken a dip (or more like an Olympic dive) into the pool of the fastest growing categories on the Web - apparel, accessories, and footwear.

Similar to existing online shops like Shopstyle.comRevolve Clothing and Retail Therapy, which have all been around for some time, allows consumers to create their own shops with real merchandise to buy. However, what is unique about is that these shops can be shared, creating a new world of social networking in the e-commerce world. Celebrities, designers, and even bloggers have already set up their own "boutique" so consumers can shop and dress like their favorite style muse or brand, whether it's the fashion house Marchesa, American designer Diane von Furstenberg, actress Sarah Jessica Parker, TV reality star Olivia Palermo, or bloggers Susie Bubble and Rumi Neely. For those who are more trend driven, boutiques can be explored through a refined selection of trends, ranging from Classic, Romantic, Street, and Boho. Using the same lingo as Twitter, you can "follow" these boutiques and keep a list of your favorite shops.

photo via:

Google has a huge advantage over other mega sites like Amazon and Ebay, which have both been trying to improve their apparel sector for years. It is much more understandable to consumers to go to Google's for a $1,000 designer dress rather than Amazon and Ebay, which are more about finding you the best deal for your dollars. is less interested in finding you a money-saving purchase and rather much more interested in giving you a new, exciting shopping experience. With Google's popularity and the more or less blank attachments to (in comparison to Amazon and Ebay), they have a clean starting ground with millions of eager online consumers.

photo via:

And to go above and beyond, also just launched their free iPad app with user-friendly interface, making today's iPad shopping as close to the real deal of browsing clothes on an actual clothing rack. Greeted with a welcoming chime when you launch the app, it is similar to the sound you hear upon walking into a shop. All about imagery with very little text, storefronts can be browsed by a flick of the finger. 

Combining the latest trends of social media, online shopping, and the idea of the curated, is a product of what consumers are demanding today. It is a genius concept of combining something new with the familiar, making it an excitingly fresh concept that is completely adaptable to today's culture. Using language and visual layout that is now second nature to most of us, this site may quite possibly be a huge indicator of where the retail industry is headed next. If you are like many of us here at MBF where we use Google's Gmail for email, Blogger for blogging, and Youtube for videos, you may be asking yourself "How dependent have we become to Google?!"

November 16, 2010

Fashion's Global Collaboration With Sustainability

With no universal standards and practices in the vast and rapidly growing field of eco design it now seems designers and corporations alike are helping set the parameters for the finer points of eco design. 

Eco design, especially fashion, have often been relegated to niche projects rather than mainstream products, but corporations like Lexus are trying to bring eco fashion to a broader audience. The interplay between fashion and sustainability is a mutually beneficial relationship. Fashion is one of the easiest mediums for consumers to make a positive impact on the environment. Likewise, fashion and style is what moves consumers to consume whether it's a car or the clothing themselves-we all desire things that are in vogue.  

With this understanding, Lexus, in partnership with the CFDA launched the Eco Fashion Challenge. A panel, including CFDA's executive director Steven Kolb and eco-friendly label Loomstate co-founder Scott Mackinlay Hahn, selected Monique Péan, Costello Tagilapietra, and Maria Cornejo who were awarded $25,000 and will have Lexus' backing to produce their Fall 2011 show. Maria Cormejo, who is not expressly known as a sustainable designer, apperance on the list begs the question: What exactly does Lexus consider eco fashion? Lexus and the CFDA requirement was clothing that was "at least 25 percent sustainable or uses 25 percent sustainable materials." The designers were also judged on their business strategies and overall commitment to the environment. The Lexus' Eco Fashion challenge is just another building block in their 'hybrid  lifestyle' seen on their recently launch site

Emma Watson let it slip last week that she'll be collaborating with Alberta Ferretti on a organic clothing line due sometime early next year. While no name was given to the collection, the clothing is said to be inspired by the classic style of 1960's fashion icon Jane Birkin. While this is the first foray into sustainability for the Alberta Ferretti label, Watson was selected primarily based on her previous work with U.K. company People Tree

image src: people tree

The genesis of her collection for People Tree began with Watson's frustration at the lack of  fair trade and organic clothing for people her age. Watson's popularity and fan base, from her role in the Harry Potter movies,  brings a younger market to sustainable fashion. Her collection entitled "Love from Emma" featured easy, summery separates that could be mixed and matched and 80% of the collection utilized organic fair trade cotton. Since 2001 People Tree has had a deep investment in fair trade and sustainable design. Last week they were even awarded with the title of Most Sustainable Brand by WGSN at their Global Fashion Awards. 

Indeed People Tree seems to have some of the most rigorous requirements and definitions in eco fashion. To insure the clothing they produce meets the correct fair trade principles they are counseled by 50 Fair Trade groups in 15 countries. As seen in our video interview with a People Tree representative they produce their collections in Bangladesh,India and Nepal with half of the collection composed of organic cotton while the other half showcases the skills of the artisans in the countries the pieces are made. 

November 11, 2010

Green, Green, Everywhere...

MBF Trend Consulting's very own Creative Director and Founding Partner Manuela Fassbender was interviewed by 4FashionAdvice where she gave her view on the future of fashion which lies in eco and sustainable design. Here at MBF we believe in sustaianable fashion with more, as Fassbender says, "transparency, honesty, integrity." 

It seems that everyone these days is trying to go green with varying intentions. 
image source: nyt
The New York Times reported that in San Francisco they recently passed the country's first Healthy Nail Salon Recognition ordinance, now the city must publicly identify nail salons that use products with harmful chemicals. On the heels of this, Kim Pham has opened the Nova Nail Spa one of the first 'green' nail salons in San Francisco. Pham grew concerned about the harmful effects the chemicals in polishes and top coats she was using could have on her health; prompting her to use environmentally friendly products like 'vegan' polish and organic lotions. She says the appeal of an eco salon is that "healthy is different for the customer." Here at MBF we wonder just how much an 'eco' mani-pedi goes for?

image source: stella show management 
While green salons are born from genuine concern for one's health, not everyone has such pure green intentions. We spied this morning an ad for The Pier Antique Show and Fashion Alley, which is coming to New York's Pier 94 this weekend, which markets the show as: "Hot Shopping That's All Green & All Recycled." The organizers for this show are using people's growing concern for the environment to not only manipulate their interest but also their wallets. They even go as far, on their website, to call antiques "Luxury Recycling" and calling you to "buy vintage" in order to "go green." 

From nail salons to antique markets and fashion, it's easy to see sustainability is on everyone's mind. Read more of Manuela's thoughts on eco-fashion and the rest of her interview here.

November 4, 2010

November MBF Favorite Picks

In this month’s picks we focus on the digital interventions currently occurring in fashion. Digital media allows for an intersection between a wide array of media forms from music to film and fashion.

1. Burberry Acoustic 'Idiot' by Life in Film

Burberry has been the forerunner of bringing fashion into the digital age. They broke into social media with their street style site ArtoftheTrench and now have Burberry Acoustic, a group of beautifully filmed performance videos created by Burberry. Creative director Christopher Bailey wanted to “put together an incredible group of ongoing acoustic sessions from some of the finest talent coming out of the U.K. and bring them to the broad global Burberry audience." In this video by the British group Life in Film they perform their song ‘Idiot’ in the streets of Milan ending their acoustic set in the Burberry men’s store.

2. has solved a problem plaguing eCommerce since its’ beginning-the lack of dressing rooms. The ordering of incorrect sizes and subsequent returning of products raises overhead costs for eCommerce retailers. solves this by being a virtual fitting room for online clothing retailers where online shoppers can see which size of clothing fits them best, before making their online purchases. How it works is a robot mannequin, which can replicate over 2,000 body shapes, is created from your measurements, from there you are able to see the true fit of the clothing as it looks on your mannequin body. See the robot mannequin in action in the above video.  

3. I-Ella
image via: iella
I-Ella is an invitation-only marketplace where members can edit their wardrobes and shop celebrity closets while making a positive social change. Members are invited to not only share their closets-but buy, borrow, swap or lend clothes to other members.

4. LOUD Radio
image via:
Veteran American designer Tommy Hilfiger has launched his own digital radio station in partnership with THE HOURS ENTERTAINMENT and Goom Radio. The radio station LOUD, which will stream online will also be available in 18 countries and in 9 languages, is to promote Hilfiger’s new fragrance LOUD for her and him. Tommy Hilfiger have also contracted U.K. indie pop group The Ting Tings to create a signature track for the scent. The song called “We’re Not The Same” was played when The Ting Tings headlined a LOUD concert in Berlin. You can listen to the LOUD station stream live at the Tommy Hilfiger website.

5. ShopItToMe
image via: shopittome
 ShopItToMe is an online personal shopper that keeps track of sales occurring online. Members specify what categories interest them, from clothing to accessories, as well as their sizes and ShopItToMe scours the web to find related items for the best price. The service works in two ways, one based on the members preferences they send personalized email alerts with their picks and all sorts of goodies like markdowns, secret promotion codes, and VIP sales evens. Similarly you can also search through deals that are relevant through their Shop It To Me search service.  They currently have over 3 million subscribers and make over 2 billion product recommendations every month.

6. Plum Willow
image via: nyt
Plum Willow is an “online social shopping experience” targeting the tween to teen market. Visitors of the site can share inspiration with friends, build their own dream closet, and buy clothes through the site. What makes Plum Willow unique is they employ High School interns, part of their target audience. Instead of designing what they believe their audience wants, by making their audience part of the design and decision making process, they have a more effective site.

7. AhaLife
Welcome to AHAlife from AHAlife on Vimeo.
 AhaLife is a curated eCommerce site that focuses on one product at a time and invites their members to be a part of the selection process. Each day they showcase one lifestyle item and tell the in-depth story of the product, the designer, and the creative process. AhaLife is dedicated to bringing their customers a “one-of-a-kind experience every day” with a little help from their “global network of curators.” AhaLife taps into consumer’s preference for a more personal, curated recommendation based eCommerce experience that welcomes the consumer into the process.

8. H&M 'Design is Relevant'

H&M created several mysterious videos to tease their upcoming design collaboration with Lanvin. H&M invited the fashion masses to take guesses as to who the celebrity design collaboration was with. By engaging their audience in this way they created genuine enthusiasm and excitement for the upcoming Lanvin collection. After the designer announcement, H&M promoted the collection by putting out a truly surreal fashion film directed by Hollywood director Mike Figgis, which has been much buzzed about and dissected on fashion blogs.

October 27, 2010

In Times of Unpredictability...

Let's face it: the economy is unpredictable.

In one day, we may read from one source that the luxury market is improving; yet another will report news of closeouts and bankruptcies. We are living in difficult times and the future of our economy is as predictable as the weather these days here in New York City.

photo via: NY Times

So in order to stay afloat, everyone, from luxury brands to fast retailers are rethinking their game strategies. Today, the on-going trend among luxury brands is mass appeal branding. Just recently, Dallas-based luxury retailer Neiman Marcus opened a new line of outlet stores called Last Call Studio. Specifically located in suburban areas or strip malls that are not outlet centers, the stores will specialize in moderately priced goods aimed at the value-minded shopper who "may not have the reach level to buy the fine apparel that Neiman Marcus offers," says Wanda Gierhart, Neiman's chief marketing officer.

Instead of selling leftover stock from their department store lines, the store will focus on more affordable pieces from their existing lines that they already carry. In addition, they will also stock more heavily from their lower-end lines, bought directly from vendors. Unlike outlet shops, all of their merchandise will be in season and considered "new." And aware of the increase of online-shopping, they also launched an accompanying website earlier this month.

This new strategy is a clear reflection of the post-recession retail world. With an excess of unoccupied store front real estate and most traditional outlet stores having too little clearance merchandise to sell because retailers have cut inventory, Neiman's concept is one that works around today's financial circumstances. It also feeds into a market for the price-conscious shopper who still wants value and quality for their dollar. As much as it is a financial necessity, Neiman's new store concept is a smart response to today's economic situation.

Kinder Aggugini's moodboard for Macy's
photo via: NY Times

On the other hand, Macy's, a much more mainstream department store, recently joined the bandwagon of designer collaborations with plans to work with London-based designer Kinder Aggugini. The high-low concept is nothing new as H&M, Target, Gap, and Uniqlo have all already been doing such collaborations for years. However, it is a bit surprising that Macy's, a generally conservative department store, is collaborating with Kinder Aggugini, an edgy, rising designer, still relatively unknown in the States.

The collaborative collection plans to be sold at about 250 store locations, with prices ranging from $50 to $300. Attempting to offer more fashionable products, the collaboration hopes to attract more younger and trend-focused customers.

In times like today, brands must be strategic and wise in their decision making process. Even Uniqlo, the Japanese-based fast retailer, which had soaring sales this past year with more than 80 new shop openings since August, are facing financial difficulties. Due to poor product planning and supply chain management and marketing, the company has found itself in a downward slope.

The economy continues to affect the retail industry across all borders, leaving none unscathed. Although there is no bulletproof plan, creativity and smart decision making in a timely fashion proves to be only route for success.

October 21, 2010

The App Generation

With technology so completely absorbed in our every day lives, we can take a guess that most of our readers are iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android users. Maybe even some of you are reading this post with our app on your phone or iPad! But as tech-savvy we grown-ups may be, you may be surprised to find that your niece or nephew may be just as technologically advanced as you.

photo via: NY Times

In today's day and age, the latest toy for 1-2,- and 3- year olds is not a stuffed animal, Legos, or a Barbie doll. Just as adults have a hard time putting down their iPhones, kids are following suit. And now with thousands of apps aimed directly at young toddlers and children, our future generation is hooked on their iPhones years before we ever had our hands on them.

Log on to YouTube and you are sure to find dozens of parents uploading videos of their young toddlers fiddling with the iPad and iPhone. Apple's user friendly interface is so easy even a two year-old is able to figure out the functions after several minutes.

photo via: Lunchbox Review

Educational, creative, or purely for fun, there is an overflow of apps to keeps kids busy and entertained. Just check out Lunchbox Reviews, a website launched only a month ago, devoted solely to kids apps.

Some parents are advocates of the phenomenon, firmly believing that the educational apps are helping their children to learn faster and have seen proven results. The phone and iPad have also been key for some parents to make day-to-day tasks a little bit easier. Whether it is a long car ride or a restaurant dinner, the kids are too distracted by their apps to complain. But at the same time, these parents are also aware that too much time in front of a screen can be dangerous. Some have commented that it was a bit worrisome how addicted their children were to their iPad and iPhones. But with a controlled and limited play time, they still believe it is a huge advantage to their education and just a natural adjustment to the times of today.

On the other hand, there is also a lot of opposition as many parents argue that the phone is not a toy or a babysitter. Tovah P. Klein, the director of Columbia University's Barnard College Center for Toddler Development, worries that fixation on the iPhone screen every time a child is out and about with parents will limit the child's ability to experience the wider world. And as these children are in a critical growing process, many argue that this interaction can lead to severely stunted attention spans, reducing their experience to a very low level of brain function.

We are a bit hesitant about where we stand on this case as there are obviously pros and cons to both sides. We'll leave it to you to decide. However, one thing we are absolutely positive about is that this further proves our point that technology is the driving force of today. Technology will continue to impact all aspects of our culture, whether we think it is beneficial or not.

photo via: iTunes

As such, there is also a huge market opportunity for developers to expand technological concepts related to child development and education. Since last year, many college and graduate programs, including journalism, pharmacy, and medicine, have included an iPhone as a mandatory tool for classes. With the ability to practice interactive quizzes and download study-tool apps, the iPhone has now become just another added expense on the students' tuition rate.

photo via:

Furthermore, the Kindle and other digital books have also been tested as a replacement for heavy, expensive textbooks. However, students who experimented with replacing their books for the digital ones found themselves going back to the traditional heavy text books. Some have argued that books defined 'academia' for a thousand years and their education wouldn't be the same without it. Others simply preferred the ability to flip through pages and complain that staring at a screen all day strains their eyes.

Although there are still some imperfections with switching to digital, it is clear that our society is moving toward a more technology-based direction. With the education system now getting on board, our future generation will be getting a much earlier start.

October 14, 2010

Brooklyn's One to Watch: Titania Inglis

photo via: Titania Inglis

A designer for the modern woman, Brooklyn-based fashion designer Titania Inglis creates clothes that are experimental yet functional, perfect for strong, stylish women on-the-go. And now after three seasons, Ms. Inglis has established her signature style of effortless, essential, and cutting edge designs.
But what makes her collection a particular stand-out is her underlying element of sustainability. Using minimal waste and sourcing only organic fabrics and vegetable-tanned leathers, all of her pieces are conscientiously sourced and sewn in limited quantities in New York's garment district.

So last week, we caught Ms. Inglis for an interview to get an inside scoop on what life has been like for this rising talent.  

1. Please share a little bit about your background:

I grew up in Ithaca, New York, and started out as a journalist after college before going into design. I studied at Design Academy Eindhoven and FIT, and learned the ropes of running an independent fashion line by interning for Jean Yu, Three As Four, and Stærk before launching my own line.

2. Were you always eco-conscious?

In a word, yes. In elementary school, I won a prize for dreaming up a wide-mouthed monster that would live in the ground and solve the landfill problem by eating garbage and digesting it into dirt. These days, I’m trying to counteract disposable culture by making clothes conceived for a smaller wardrobe: versatile pieces to wear day or night, with silhouettes that are of the moment, but with classic proportions and quality designed to stand the test of time.

3. Which designers are you most influenced by and why? 

Ann Demeulemeester, for her androgynous classics with a rock ‘n’ roll edge. Stella McCartney, who’s helping to lead the industry in a more environmentally conscious direction, and who designs lovely yet practical clothes that women really want to wear. Maria Cornejo, for her pared-down aesthetic and interesting shapes. Phoebe Philo, whose latest clothes for Céline are simply, unquestionably perfect. The product designers Naoto Fukusawa and Dieter Rams, who distill form down to its most basic elements. 

4. How do find inspirations for your collections? 

One thing I learned as a reporter was that inspiration is everywhere; the hard part is recognizing it when you see it. I draw mine from all kinds of sources: old movies, new architecture, vintage electronics, all the stylish girls pedaling around Brooklyn... and especially from my fabrics. With a sustainable collection, there’s a very limited range of organic fabrics available, so each season I’ll pick about 3 of the best I’ve found, and design my collection around those. For SS11, it was an organic cotton denim from Japan and an organic cotton-silk blend twill from Italy, both of which lent themselves to a sculptural, origami effect. I also try to incorporate at least one new natural fabric treatment technique into each collection; for the first, I experimented with rust dyeing, for the second, it was beeswaxing, and for the third, natural dyeing.

photo via: Titania Inglis

5. Please describe your typical work day. 

As a small designer, I support myself by freelancing at an apparel company in Midtown, so I have to squeeze in moments throughout the week to work on my own projects. First thing in the morning, I’ll get up and dash off some emails over breakfast before biking into the city for work. After I leave the office, I’ll run errands: some days I’ll stop by the factory in the Garment District that produces my clothes, other days I’ll pick up the latest print job from the little print shop that produces my lookbooks and hangtags. And before bed, I’ll be back on the computer, updating my website, working on lookbooks or press releases, updating my Facebook page. 

One thing I’ve learned about being a one-woman company is that the work never ends. Except for the sewing and printing that I outsource, it’s all me: sales, marketing, accounting, shipping, sourcing, production, even bike courier... And all the while, I’m constantly keeping my eyes open for inspiration for the next collection.

6. After three seasons, what has been the greatest challenge as an independent NY eco-
   conscious designer? What are the advantages?

The advantage is being in New York, with such a thriving cultural scene around me. I’m friends with quite a few other young designers, and we help each other out with advice and sometimes even late-night sewing marathons! The garment district is also a wonderful resource; it’s incredibly convenient to be able to buy fabric and zippers and get my patterns graded and clothes sewn all within a few-block radius. As a sustainable designer, I’m thrilled to have access to so many slow-fashion-minded organizations; for example, Earth Pledge has compiled a library of sustainable fabrics, while the new Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn is helping to revive hand-weaving, natural dyeing, and other traditional techniques.

The downside is that there’s a lot of competition here, so without a big PR budget, it can be tough to get your work out there. It’s really a matter of building the business step by step, season by season, relationship by relationship, and proving to buyers and editors one by one that I’m serious, I have staying power, and most importantly, that the clothes are worth their while.

7. Who would you love to see wearing your clothes?

Just to name one, Tilda Swinton. She’s already a muse to so many designers, but there’s a reason for that: she’s an independent spirit with a stellar fashion sense, and she’s so poised and intelligent, and beautiful in a tomboyish sort of way.

8. What is your favorite piece in your most recent SS11 collection and why?

The Reverse Dress, because it really epitomizes the values of my collection. I based it on the idea of an artist’s smock; I own a vintage one that only gets better the more it’s splattered in paint and dye. The dress is super versatile, since it can be worn front or back, day or night, layered or alone; it’s practical and easy to wear, with a simple closure and two pockets; the fabric (the Italian silk-organic cotton blend twill I mentioned before) is both gorgeous and eco-friendly; and it has a look that’s beautiful and tough at the same time.

photo via: Titania Inglis

9. Favorite places to shop:

Project No. 8 has a fantastically curated selection of avant-garde clothing. Tokio 7 is a great source of used clothing from major labels and local designers alike. The Chelsea Garage Market and Hell’s Kitchen flea market for vintage finds, including the cool botanical prints I spotted last week for my apartment. The Future Perfect in Williamsburg, which has a fascinatingly quirky selection of current furniture design.

10. Favorite places to dine:

As a slow fashion adherent, I love slow food, too. When it’s time for a real treat, my boyfriend and I head to the General Greene in Fort Greene, Westville East in the East Village, or Diner in Williamsburg, which all have incredibly delicious menus based around local, seasonal ingredients.
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