Monday night was about sustainable fashion at Tesla’s style night hosted by Remedy.
by Nevena Rousseva
LA based Lanni Lantto is not a designer. She is a (RE)designer. Her approach is unconventional, as was her route to fashion- starting out as an environmental and social activists in Washington D.C. The premise of her designs is using pre-existing materials, like clothing she finds in thrift stores to breath new life into them as redesigned pieces. Instead of sketching designs she uses an actual garment as her canvas and lets it guide her to creating a new piece. This way she creates zero new waste and actually keeps garments out of landfills. Her goal is to take upcycling mainstream and change perceptions about the concept.
On September 9th Lanni will be participating in Tesla’s Style Night where through her redesigns she will explore the transformation from petroleum-based transportation to electric vehicles. I caught up with her about redesigning, her philosophy, and the challenges facing her and the fashion industry.
What’s your favorite part about redesigning clothing?
The creative process, being able to conceptualize the potential of the transformation of one object into something else is very exciting. Then being able to tell people what it is made out of and in their reaction seeing that they just saw that same potential and knowing that now they are forever changed. Even if it’s the tiniest of rethinking, at least I was able to affect them by showing them what is possible.
You were an activist before moving to fashion- why fashion?
Yes, I was born an activist in that I have always been very sensitive to the injustices around me. We live in a culture that degrades women and destroys nature. It may seem that these things are separate but I believe they are very much related. Fashion doesn’t have to be so superficial; it is a wonderful vehicle of change. It’s all about the message we convey through this medium; and my message is about rising above the bulls*it to a higher truth.
What’s the higher truth?
The truth is that we all are beautiful as we are. You don’t have to do anything to become beautiful nor does a flower, – it just blossoms into what it was always meant to be. Making a connection between our personal self-worth and the value of our natural resources is a big first step.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the fashion industry today?
Long-term sustainability, limited raw resources, and ethics. The fashion industry has gotten itself to a very greedy stage; create as much as possible as fast as possible while making as much money as possible. The results have been devastating considering this is a trillion-dollar global industry; toxic chemicals, immense water waste, Co2 pollution, landfills overfilling with last season’s trends, low wages and inhumane working conditions. We are so over-fed by ready-made fashion that we don’t even know where our clothes are made or even HOW they are made! I ask people all the time, do you know how your shirt was made? Do you? Redress Asia made a great video that shows a shirt’s lifecycle.
Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve redesigned?
I’m currently working on a piece that tells the story of our transition from the mindset of industrialization to ‘ecolization’ (I may have just coined a term!). There are so many layers of symbolism that are possible through the art of clothing; color, texture, history – along with the actual materials like car parts, employee tags from the River Rouge plant, voltmeters – all these things tell a story without words.
What are you finding to be your biggest challenge right now?
My biggest challenge is patience. I have so many ideas on how to bring upcycling mainstream that require collaborating with other people. There is a lot of integrity behind this mission so it’s about waiting for the right people to show up at the right time. Which I am confident they will.
What’s one other thing in the world you’d like to see get redesigned in some way?
There is a global movement happening, where as a species, we are evolving to a new level of thought and action. We are seeing the negative consequences of how we have designed our lives over the past couple hundred years and we’ve realized this is not working for the planet or us. We are redesigning our future in all areas (from green architecture to gift economies) based on ecological principles- working in harmony with our surroundings instead of dominating them. I see fashion redesigning as one part of a whole in our awakening to a better future.
Where did you grow up?
In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, surrounded by woods and Lake Superior. It takes about 3-7 hours in any direction to get to a “major” city so it’s easy to be connected to nature. It’s a harsh place to grow up 8 months out of the year (cold climate and heavy snow) but we tend to become very resilient and resourceful as a result.♥
Click here for full report
by Nevena Rousseva
Sustainable fur? Sounds dubious, but after talking to the unconventional designer Peter Williams, you like me, may think it is possible. I’m not talking about mink, sable, or chinchilla, but seal and sea otter fur. It’s not the type of fur that usually comes to mind, and this new designer doesn’t procure it by going to a wholesale furrier and buying the hides. His way is a little more old fashioned.
Peter Williams is half Yup’ik Eskimo and half European blend from Alaska who hunts seals and sea otters. He hunts the animals for food and uses the hives to make vests and other products under his company Ata. For him hunting is not a sport, it’s a way to connect spiritually to his Alaskan roots and ancestors.
Alaskan natives have had a relationship with the marine animals for over 7,000 years. Many of the natives would put the hides back in the ocean after hunting because of the cost to ship and tan them. Peter however saw the potential of the hides. Creating clothing with the hides is a way for him to share his culture and craft with the outside world and support his community.
Normally sea otters and seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. However Alaska natives are exempt because they have a spiritual relationship with the marine animals, which play an important part in the preservation of their native culture. For this reason only the natives can hunt seals and sea otters and work with the fur. Peter sees the animals he hunts as an extension of himself in the form of food, clothing, religion, art and culture. He doesn’t take advantage of the animals by hunting more than he needs. After each hunt he performs the ritual of giving the animal its last drink of water and thanking it for its life. This creates a bond between him and the natural world.
Sea otters are not endangered. Their population is healthy and growing. The sea otter fur is very dense, up to a million hairs per square inch. It is also one of the most luxurious furs in the world. The vest below is a combination of seal and sea otter. The top and bottom white fur is seal and the dark fur in the middle is sea otter. The back of the vest is wool. The reason for using wool is to make more vest with less marine animals and to keep the price lower. It takes approximately one sea otter or seal to make the front of one vest. Peter uses only the hides he has hunted. For this reason quantities are low.
For Peter hunting is a metaphor for life in that it’s unexpected and unpredictable. Interacting with the animal, working with it and eating it gives him a sense of identity. The whole process from hunting to a finished product takes a few months.
Ata products and Peter’s process are an example of sustainable fur because the animals are respected and only hunted when necessary, so there is no over hunting. This is vastly different from the horror stories about the killing of other animals for their fur.
If you want to know what it’s like to go hunting then watch this short movie of Peter hunting for seals. Just a warning there are some graphic parts.
For more on Peter Williams and the Ata products click here.
It’s that time of the year again! Fashion week is around the corner and that means new ideas, new styles, and new favorite pieces. In past fashion weeks, sustainable fashion has not made much of a splash, but that changing this year with Tesla’s Style Night. Remedy and Tesla are hosting a fashion show and party on September 9th, featuring an array of new eco designers.
Not to be missed. Get tickets here.
The first public fashion show at the Epic NY Landmark
by Nevena Rousseva
Many of us dream of being rebels at some point in our lives. A rebel breaks the rules, follows their own lead, and is always cool. Maybe in high school, maybe in college, or maybe even now. But for many of us the reality is we can’t be rebels in our daily lives. So enter Barcelona based clothing brand Rebel Root to give you a little bit of rebel. The core if the one-year-old company is sustainability and ethical production, but that does not mean that style has been sacrificed. In fact, the edgy clothing pieces will have you channeling your inner bad-ass as soon as you put them on.
I caught up with Eva over email about what her brand stands for, her inspiration, how she rebels in her daily life, and how they help protect the knowledge of artisans.
And for our readers Rebel Root is offering a 50% discount on all merchandise. See code below…..but first, read on!
What’s the concept behind Rebel Root?
Rebel Root is a new clothing and accessories brand, created in Barcelona for men and women. We have based all our work on Ethical Fashion, ensuring that our production and design chain respects and defends human rights and protects the environment. We have these principles in mind for everything, from production processes all the way to every fabric we work with.
What was your inspiration for the collection and what’s your process?
I usually listen to something on the radio that inspires me. During the creation of my last collection, I was captivated by “Colony Collapse”, a song by Filastine, who is a Barcelona’s based musician. I start by putting together all the ideas and concepts that I have with all the materials and fabric options at my disposal. After that I do a lot of sketching. For our collection we did hundreds of sketches. Once I have a clear idea of the designs, I meet with my artisans and work to make some samples. As soon as I get the samples I decide which ones will go into production.
On our website you can check the artisan who made each piece. Working with fair trade their standard of living has improved and they can now afford to save. Their work is appreciated and their name recognized.
Previous to RebelRoot you had a clothing line called the The Mystic Onion. Was that line based on, ethical fashion? If not, why did you transition to sustainable fashion with Rebelroot?
The Mystic Onion was a locally made brand. But I decided to take one more step, so I created RebelRoot. I am not only interested in how something is made, but also in the fabrics. I like to increase the capacity and wellbeing of the people and communities behind fashion.
Where is your clothing produced?
The clothing is produced all around the world depending on the product. The pieces made outside Europe have World Fair Trade Certification. Check this brief comparison between Fair Trade certified and standard producers.
Some of the fabrics are hand printed by Batik artisans in Indonesia. Made in Indonesia under very high standards of Fair Trade. The jewelry is made by our artisans with wood and glass beads techniques.
The editorial is very interesting- plants growing from people’s body parts, what is the idea behind it?
The name ‘RebelRoot’ is what inspired this concept. We all have a ‘Rebel Root’ inside of us that can come out. That, I imagined as a plant that grows inside of us, and comes out as leaves. It’s something that we grow; Rebels dreaming in a sustainable world.
We always envisioned ourselves as a company that would create products with a very strong foundation on values and techniques. That said, we wanted to do so whilst elevating the design and established looks that most times other fair-trade companies use. We thought we could apply a much more modern, casual and elegant style to our products, but still have them evoke their origins, techniques and artisans behind them. A foundation as a root, and a rebel as a style equals RebelRoot.
Do you rebel in your daily life? If so, how?
Nowadays we can buy many things, it’s easy and cheap. I try to think in every product that I buy. We still have the power of choosing, so we can be a conscious consumer.
What is the “protection of knowledge” concept?
It is key for us to support hand crafting throughout all aspects of our production chain. This ensures the future of the communities that collaborate with Rebel Root as well as allows them to make their own cultures known. We use traditional hand crafting techniques, on designs made in Barcelona.♥
To get some of these pieces click here. At checkout use the code ‘styleandthestartup’ to get 50% off!!
For more on Rebel Root and their commitment to ethical fashion click here.