Category Archives: Eco-Conscious Design

A Tutorial in Zero Waste Design

You have all probably been hearing chit-chat about Zero Waste Design—I know I have—so I figured I would investigate and try to clarify what exactly it is.

Mark Liu's Zero Waste Fashion

A great info-savvy website, The Vine, happens to be doing a special series on their fashion tab that investigates different methods of eco and sustainable fashion. The first piece highlights and defines Zero Waste!

As you can tell from its name, the goal of Zero Waste is to prevent waste from occurring in the process of creating a garment. But according to The Vine,

“In commercial factories when garments are cut around 20% of the fabric is wasted through scraps. Zero Waste designers are using technical and conceptual advances in pattern making, producing garments that use all of the fabric selvedge to selvedge.”

Timo Rissanen

Although other countries such as Australia and New Zealand have been working on Zero Waste techniques far before we have caught on in the US, our country has been making strides. Timo Rissanen is New York’s first professor of sustainability and he has integrated Zero Waste into the curriculum at Parsons The New School of Design .

With such amazing sustainable innovation like this, the question of sustainability cannot be left unanswered. I can’t wait to see more and more fashion school students emerge as designers with the tools and the education to create a more environmentally-friendly fashion industry on a healthier planet.

If you are interested in learning more about Zero Waste, check out the first international Zero Waste exhibition, “YIELD: Making Fashion Without Waste.” Rissanen is working on it with Holly McQuillan, a Zero Waste expert out of New Zealand. The exhibit opens in New York this coming September.


“Runway to Green” Designers Announced!

Yesterday I was so pleased when I came across a tweet from the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) that said “Participating #Runway2Green designers have been announced!”

I had just written about’s coverage of this spectacular event in fashion, and I was eager to find out which designers would be taking part to lend a green hand to help such an outstanding cause.

For those of you who are just as excited as me, take a minute to sneak a peak at the list of designers who have been confirmed to donate or create for this year’s Runway to Green!

Alexander Wang, Balenciaga, Burberry, Derek Lam, Diane von Furstenberg, Gucci, Jason Wu, Manolo Blahnik, Marc Jacobs, Marchesa, Marni, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, Osklen, Prada, Pringle of Scotland, Rachel Roy, Rag & Bone, Stella McCartney, Thakoon, Timex80, Tommy Hilfiger, Tory Burch, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Talk about a star-studded list. Now that I am in-the-know, I cannot wait to see the exclusive garments and accessories!! March cannot come soon enough.

Vogue Highlights “Runway to Green”

I usually start my day with breakfast and blogging. Aside from updating ‘Fashion That Gives Back,’ I love getting up to date with all the fashion news that seems to happen overnight!

Some of my favorite reads include the eco-fashion greats such as Ecouterre, Ecco*Eco, Goodlifer, and EcoSalon, as well as mainstream fashion sites such as Refinery29,,, and TheCut.

What makes me most ecstatic is when these two streams mesh—-for example, just last week covered Runway To Green in their Style Ethics column—and honestly it was the first time I had ever heard of this amazing program.

Set to launch in late March, Runway to Green has gathered some of the fashion industry’s best and brightest in an effort to raise money for the environment.

So far about 25 fashion brands have been recruited to create an exclusive item or donate a piece from Fall 2011 as part of a curated collection to be sold in select stores around the world.

Runway to Green, which funds the National Resources Defense Council, has made a vow to include only those designers who have or will be making a commitment to take on and learn about sustainable practices developed by the NRDC’s Clean by Design project.

According to,

“everyone from Yves Saint Laurent, Manolo Blahnik, Alexander Wang, and Burberry have jumped on board. A percentage of the proceeds from the sale will go directly to Runway to Green.”

The program kicks off alongside Christie’s “Bid to Save the Earth” event in NYC, with an A-list party hosted by Vogue, Salma Hayek, and the Rockefellers.

Not too shabby, eh?

The 2011 Observer Ethical Awards Are Here!

By now you are probably sick of looking at all the pink and emerald green dresses that showed up on the red carpet this past Sunday at the Golden Globe awards. With about a month until the Oscars in late February, there is something else to think about in the realm of sustainable fashion…..


Six years ago, the Observer Ethical Awards began showcasing designers, fashion houses, and retailers, with a serious commitment to sustainable fashion. This year the fashion and accessories categories, which have been called the “green oscars,” are being sponsored by (UK).

According to Vogue UK fashion features editor Jessica Bumpus,

“This year boasts a judging panel that includes model Lily Cole, actor Colin Firth, blogger and owner of Eco Age Livia Firth, director of sustainable fashion at London College of Fashion Dilys Williams, co-founder of The Body Shop Gordon Roddick,”

Model Lily Cole

and of course the writer herself!

How awesome is that?

Luckily, the deadline to participate is March 11th, so if you are looking to show off your sustainable skills you do not want to pass up this awesomely-green opportunity!

Enter here.

Image Fest: Stewart + Brown’s Ventura Gem

Last week I visited Stewart + Brown designers Howard Brown and Karen Stewart at their Ventura studio. I got a sneak peak at what goes on behind the scenes, and let me tell you, it was awesome!

As sustainable fashion pioneers with a Patagonia-inspired past, the designing duo is completely transparent, with nothing to hide. Best of all they are completely sustainable! So for all those out there who want to know how to set up a successful, environmentally friendly fashion company, I would suggest following in Howard and Karen’s footsteps.

Enjoy the photos! (which were all taken by my amazing boyfriend Taylen Richards)


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A Sustainably Chic Outfit For Any Frigid Winter Day

Lately I have been struck by some amazingly crafted, totally fashionable garments and accessories from some of my favorite sustainable designers and I just couldn’t help but piece together a fabulous outfit for any chilly, winter day.

I know how frustrating getting dressed can be this time of year. Often the freezing cold temperatures force you to put on the same go-to sweater, pants, and boots that you have been wearing all winter long.

Put an end to that habit by checking out this fantastically chic look that will not only keep you warm, but is 100% sustainable!

Clockwise from Top Left:

Lulu Frost Mesh Necklace With Deco Clip, $125, available at Kaight NYC

Feral Childe Crater Tee, $125, available at Kaight NYC

Heidi Ackerman Pant

Stewart + Brown Eliza Thermal Cardigan, $408, available at Stewart + Brown

Cri de Coeur Allison Open Toe Wedge, $375, available at Cri de Coeur

Bye Bye Organic Denim, Hello Sustainability

Let’s face it. Green Fashion is no longer a mystery. Like its sister initiative in organic food just a few years ago, Green Fashion is on the rise. A boundless number of eco designers, editors, advocates, and entrepreneurs, are all hard at work as they try to bridge the gap between mainstream and eco fashion. So when I came across a New York Times article entitled, “Organic Jeans Take a New Route,” I couldn’t have been more pleased.

Not only was I excited by the topic of the article, which explains how the sudden disappearance of most organic denim labels has been replaced by larger sustainability initiatives, but I was beyond thrilled that the article was in such a widely read and super credible publication like the New York Times!

NY Times writer, Alexandra Zissu, explained that while some smaller denim lines were closed out due to the recession and a crowded market, other more fortunate brands have chosen a new focus.

“Factors now being considered include water use, dye impact, soil health, labor issues, and fair trade.”

Zissu spoke with LaRhea Pepper, the senior director at Textile Exchange, a nonprofit organization that focuses on spreading the importance of organic agriculture. According to Pepper,

“There has been a paradigm shift; it’s about water, toxic waste, scrap on the cutting room floor. Across the board we see companies figuring out how to do the right thing, do it in a way that’s economically viable, move the agenda forward, and make a difference.”

In my opinion this is what the sustainable fashion and green fashion movements are all about. It’s actually nice to see and read about the redirection of the fashion industry’s green effort from the creation of solely organic denim to instead be spread across a label’s entire design platform. What do you think?

***Zissu also made it clear that while most jean companies now refrain from using organic cotton, several lines are still available at Kaight in NYC.

You can read the rest of Zissu’s article here.

Image Fest: Start 2011 Right With A Visit To SAVA Fashion

Just before the new year I went to visit SAVA Fashion in Philadelphia. After speaking with the line’s brilliant designer herself, Sarah Van Aken, I just had to plan a little road trip to see her beautiful garments and the store in which they are housed.

I was very impressed! The store is very welcoming and the garments are all so colorful and unique. I was so excited by the hang tags, which explained the sustainable elements that went into each garment.

Check out the photos below—and don’t hesitate to follow your desire to book a trip down to Philly! It is well worth it!

***There are more after the jump!

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Q&A With STUDY’s Tara St. James

If anyone is on Twitter these days, you are bound to come across some pretty intriguing tweets from STUDY NY, whose creator is the awesome designer, Tara St. James.

Tara has got some great stuff in the works and I couldn’t be happier, as she is one of my favorite sustainable fashion designers. With amazing style herself, there is no surprise that her line is out of this world. Luckily I got the chance to sit down with her and chat about her design genius. Check it out below!

1. Can you tell me about how you started?

“I started Study a year ago, so it was launched in September 2009. But prior to that I had another brand called Covet, which also was sustainable but in a lower price range. It had a much larger audience and a wider variety of products because it was financed by a larger company based in Montreal. It got to a certain point where they were tightening their belts and wanted to cut back on the sustainability aspect of the brand and that was the most important thing to me so I just sort of went off on my own and decided to start my own brand.”

2. How did you come up with the name for the line?

“I didn’t want something to be static and solid and I am constantly learning from this industry so I wanted a name to evoke what I decided to do with the brand, which is review and basically study a different process of production or manufacturing every season. So every season I look for a different aspect of the industry itself and try to examine it and try to implement it in the most sustainable way that I can. So for Fall 11 I am actually doing sweaters in Bolivia which I have never done before. I did some knitwear last fall but it was very basic knitwear, where as for Fall 11 it is going to be more elaborate. I am very excited about it. If it all comes together it is gonna be great, we’ll see. Sometimes there are compromises that you end up making that aren’t the greatest.”

3. What does sustainable fashion mean to you?

“Well for me it is about creating a product that does as little harm, despite the fact that its a new product, to the environment and to the people making it as possible, while creating jobs or using a renewed resource. I think the word sustainable is very easily adapted to a lot of different philosophies, for the most part good but sometimes it is a little loosely translated as well, which can be dangerous.”

4. That being said, what goes into the creation of your garments that makes Study sustainable?

“I don’t use one main philosophy in the brand. I try to examine different versions of sustainability when I am producing, which means that I produce some of it locally here in New York and some of it in India in a fairtrade factory. Some of the textiles, mainly the ones used in New York are recycled from dead stock or vintage and than the ones that I use in India are the newly developed ones that are usually hand woven silks and organic cottons. Those are woven by a women’s Co-op, called Women Weave in India. Than I am also starting to use some yarns that are alpaca, so it is not necessarily classified as sustainable but they are being hand knit in Bolivia by another co-op of women so that is more the sustainability of a whole population and the economic aspect of it rather than just the environmental aspect, which I think is important as well, combining both kinds of things and trying to do little bits here and there.”

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Tree Hugger Gets Schooled In Sustainable Fashion

I am usually not one to enjoy staying inside all day, but with the crazy post-Christmas snowstorm that hit NYC, I have had a lot of time to catch up on all my favorite eco blogs and websites.

I came across this really great post on Tree Hugger entitled, “Sustainable Fashion Lessons From Put This On, Billykirk, and the Late William S. Burroughs.” Anyone who follows sustainable fashion knows that Tree Hugger is out of this world and always on their A-game, but this time they really knocked it out of the park.

I was very much intrigued by the post, especially the personal commentary of author Chris Tackett,

What’s the Sustainable Fashion Lesson? To me, sustainable fashion means investing, editing, and caring. Invest in quality craftsmanship, good materials and classic designs that can be work for years. Edit what you have so you don’t need a lot of space to store it all. And care for the things you keep so they will last.”


That is definitely some quality advice—and I completely agree. It is not about pushing the “green” or “eco” label, but about delivering truly amazing, yet conscious fashion. Furthermore, I know that some of my favorite eco/sustainable designers (i.e. Tara St James, Gretchen Jones, Caitlin Mociun, Samantha Pleet, Feral Childe, etc.) are putting forth a great effort to provide beautiful, one-of-a-kind garments that make it beyond easy to follow Mr. Tackett’s suggestions.