Another young fashion designer / ex-wall streeter, has tossed her self into the sustainable / organic fashion market. Christine Marchuska, A few weeks back we received an email tip about a new start-up designer looking to break into the Organic Green Fashion market, joining the established designs such as Stewart+Brown.
Fashion Designer Christine Marchuska seems to be having fun, as she shows off her new organic clothing line to her friends in New York.
Photography by Stefan Arni and his directing partner SIggi Kinski
This week we are lucky to have an exclusive interview with the founders of the fashion house SUST. With the seeds of their company planted in California, these two women, Marion McKee and Tristan Gribbin, have set out to make a mainstream fashion brand, with a green core. They are committed to designing desirable clothing, which looks and feels great, using only the finest 100% organicly grown cottons. They have even committed to having all their garments made in Northern California to ensure all workers are fairly treated, while receiving sustainable wages. Not your typical fashion company business model by a long shot. I guess they didn’t get the insiders handbook to creating a global brand on the cheap. You know the standard chemical / near slave labor production cycle. Isn’t that the right path to creating a main stream brand?
G Monkie: Tristan / Marion, your company is fairly new, only starting in 2008. When you jumped in to create this new fashion brand, what previous experience did you and how did you know what you wanted. to create?
Marion McKee, Co-Founder: I have fourteen years experience as an accessory designer with my own line Marion McKee Designs, which sells in specialty stores and boutiques across the nation. I also owned a skateboard/snowboard shop of street wear trends in the 1990’s in the heart of San Francisco’s Haight Street District. All my experience has stemmed from my love of fashion when I was in school and the merchandising and design classes I took in college.
Tristan Gribbin, Co-Founder: I have a background in theater and entertainment and have seen eye to eye with Marion on style since we’ve been friends in the seventh grade. When we were in junior high we were always sketching punk and new wave designs and passing them around in class! And then, when we were in high school we were Mods and that is still a heavy influence in our style and our designs for SUST today.
It’s always easy to identify fashion crimes. At least, in retrospect. Take for example the 1980s. Offenses were flowing thick and fast in the era of scrunchies, bubble skirts and ubiquitous shoulder pads. But one ‘80s item you definitely don’t need to be ashamed of is the Choose Life T-shirt. Made famous by the boys from Wham!, these tees are still so highly sought after that designer Katherine Hamnett decided to relaunch them, along with a host of other socially conscious slogans.
Only this time, they’re organic.
Choose Life was launched back in 1983, in the midst of a Thatcher-ite government and a Europe-wide proliferation of cruise and Pershing missiles. Choose Life encouraged us to choose life over war, extinction, and so on. Inspired by Buddhism, the slogan was not related to the anti-abortion lobby, who later appropriated the phrase.
Who is Blake Hamster? Is he a) a suave and sophisticated urban rodent; b) a B-movie star with an unusual skill set; or c) a creative collaboration by a group of designers, artists, musicians, authors and journalists from around the world.
If you guessed anything other than c) you’re probably on the wrong site.
Guided by firm set of aesthetics and ethics, this socially conscious collective produces, well, whatever they want. This time it’s shirts, but next time they say it could be “a collection of household wares with a twist to a magazine or an art-show”. Blake Hamster’s current release consists of the aforementioned shirts featuring eight designs/motives, four for each gender. The men’s shirts are made from 100% organic cotton whilst the women’s are further evolved by blending 78% organic cotton with 22% seacell, an innovative yarn with moisturizing and anti-inflammatory agents.
And yes, the dying process is all sustainable too.
What? Not enjoying my label-inspired writing style? Look, everything I want to say about Sam Elsom’s label is reflected in the gorgeous images on their website. I’m not exactly speechless. Just buzzing with buzzwords.
A Small Collection would fit right in at a MOMA as part of an avant garde art installation, but these eleven short videos actually showcase Austin-based designer Alyson Fox’s eco fashion line. Inspired by vintage clothing, Alyson decided to emulate that look using only sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, hemp and linen, and organic elastics and buttons made from fallen tree branches.
Designers Karen Stewart and Howard Brown liken their latest collection, One Day This Summer, to “youthful freedom and carefree fun; like the summers we remember growing up”. Ahh yes, I remember those summers…the annual family beach holiday as an awkward adolescent, dying a thousand deaths whilst dining with my parents and younger siblings at a family bistro….ahh, the memories. But, no. I think the duo is referring to far less cringe inducing summery thoughts like lemon sorbet, gingham picnic blankets and butterflies. Images that this latest Stewart + Brown collection evokes.
For newcomers to the green scene, Stewart + Brown have been described as “organic pioneers” or as one of the original “ethical fashion brands”. They could be the described as the “fashion police” — policing themselves that is, by adhering to strict ethical rules of fashion conduct. Through innovation and artistic endeavor, their aim is to reduce waste, improve efficiencies and “use as little of the earth’s precious capital as possible”.
What do you get when you combine a global financial meltdown with an extended Winter? Apparently, a shortage of fashionable outerwear. SANS remedies this with two new releases in their successful digital sewing pattern series. Easy to create and customize, the result is a unique piece that keeps you warm while supporting your local economy.
With basic sewing skills and a single needle sewing machine standing by, download the digital pattern, print, and then cut and sew your own piece using a worn garment or a remnant of fabric. For a finishing touch, a genuine SANS label will be supplied to complete the garment (mailed worldwide).
Perfectly Imperfect. When I first came across this sustainable clothing line, it sounded to me like something you’d find in an outlet mall. Imperfects. What a great idea, I thought, marveling at my own perspicacity.
“I’m the dark side of green,” says Jonathan JJ Hudson, designer of Noki – House of Sustainability. Which is weird because we here at G Living are also the darker side of green. Only we don’t look like that. By “that” I’m referring to a look that seems at home on the streets of Harajuku — shredded heavy metal tees, roughed up taffeta dresses, defaced brand labels like Disney, Adidas and Evisu, as well as cut-out argyle knee highs, pantomime wigs and painted germ protecting masks — all of which were on display at London’s Fashion East earlier this year.
Amidst the all excitement that surrounds socially conscious fashion these days, it’s easy to forget about the basic principle that either makes or breaks beautiful garments, green or otherwise — the cut. There’s no such oversight when it comes to Japanese design duo, Kaito Hori and Iku Furudate. Their Paris-based label Commuun has been presenting exquisite collections at Paris Women’s Ready to Wear Fashion Week since its debut in 2005.
Referring to herself as the “self-elected godmother of the eco-nerds”, Scandinavian designer and boutique owner Johanna Hofring is being modest. Clearly, she also has a sense of humor. An ethical designer (who isn’t afraid to spend weeks crocheting a single garment), Hofring helped her birth city of Stockholm along the path to sustainability by opening Ekovaruhuset “House of Organic Products” in 2004. Following her success there, Hofring opened a second boutique with the same name in NYC.
All of the clothes at Ekovaruhuset are made naturally, from organic materials that don’t use chemical fertilizers or pesticides and with a dyeing process that’s environmentally responsible. Hofring notes that there are a few exceptions “such as zippers, some buttons, threads and ink for printing… areas that have not yet been perfected. We are always looking for better alternatives and are thankful to hear from you about all organic solutions”.