Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on March 22, 2010
When it comes to ethical fashion, it doesn’t get much cooler than Social Atelier. The LA-based T-shirt line can be found at the most desirable shopping addresses, both physical and virtual. With an opinion on everything — from Barbie’s vitals and the war in Iraq, to AIDS and global warming — they’re not afraid to speak the TRUTH. Their signature big bold fonts will be as permanently etched onto your retina as they are on their buttery soft 100% organic cotton tees. We caught up Social Atelier co-founder and co-designer, Andrei Najjar.
Sarah: How did your label come about?
Andrei Najjar: Social Atelier was born out of a need to create awareness for social issues in the world. Fashion is our handwriting for this.
Sarah: Why did you decide to become a green designer?
Andrei Najjar: I think we didn’t intend to be a “green designer,” but rather thought, “why not?” If there are fabrics available like organic cotton and bamboo, we should use these and do everything we can to help the world out.table width=”550″ border=”0″ cellspacing=”0″ height=”5″>
Sarah: What’s your inspiration?
Andrei Najjar: Dreamers — people who shift paradigms.
Sarah: If you had to describe your work for someone who hasn’t seen it, what would you say?
Andrei Najjar: In-your-face, socially active graphic t-shirts with a NY-noir street look.
Sarah: Top three fabrics and why?
Andrei Najjar: Bamboo, bamboo, and bamboo. It is very sustainable, can be raised with fewer chemicals, and has antimicrobial properties. Also, it is incredibly soft.
Sarah: Is it more challenging being a green designer than a regular designer?
Andrei Najjar: I do not think so. We do not actively position ourselves as green designers, but it is also a key element of the production process. For us, it’s just sort of a standard to be green. It’s how the world should be.
Sarah: When did the environmental bell ring for you?
Andrei Najjar: We live in California, where the eco-consciousness movement is very active and supported. But I remember how hot I thought the summer of 2006 was and how important it was for me personally to become even more eco-conscious.
Sarah: What environmental achievement are you most proud of?
Andrei Najjar: We are trying to make the company as paperless as possible. This has been challenging in dealing with large retailers, but we are hoping they move toward this as well.
Sarah: Top three green sites and why?
Andrei Najjar: Greenopia, MySpace Impact, and G Living Network. All fuse style with substance, which is what we are about.
Sarah: Top three green products and why?
Andrei Najjar: Earthwise reusable shopping bags, our stuff, and concentrated eco-laundry detergent.
Sarah: How do we get the average American to embrace green?
Andrei Najjar: Speak loud and do it in a way that is well-digested to the American public. I think the days of unbathed hippies have evolved to very stylish green expressions.
Sarah: Whose fashion sense do you most respect and why?
Andrei Najjar: There are too many to list here. They range from Tim Hamilton and Corpus to more established players like Tom Ford and Diane von Furstenburg. All have stood for something.
Sarah: Where do you shop?
Andrei Najjar: American Rag in LA is my hands-down favorite for both vintage and modern gear. I also like Target.
Sarah: What items would make up your capsule wardrobe?
Andrei Najjar: A v-neck, slim jeans, black Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, and maybe a fedora or some hat.
Sarah: Will all fashion be sustainable in the future?
Andrei Najjar: I do hope that more companies follow the lead of players like Patagonia and work toward recyclable clothing. There is so much new production of clothing each year that is unnecessary. I would love to see a world where you could turn in clothes for new ones that are reconstructed from old ones.
Sarah: What’s in current rotation on your iPod?
Andrei Najjar: Augustana’s album.
Sarah: What’s your mode of transport?
Andrei Najjar: I love my Prius.
Sarah: What are you enjoying eating?
Andrei Najjar: Sushi
Sarah: How do you chill out?
Andrei Najjar: We do a lot of events, so when I chill out it is usually in the gym completing the mind-body-soul link.
Check out Social Atelier’s line here.