(RE)designing with Lanni Lantto: Interview

Lanni Lanto Draped See Dress

photo: Yin Tang

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.


Lanni Lanto XL Blazer

photo: Yin Tang

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.


Lanni Lanto Design

photo: Yin Tang

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.♥

For more on redesigning check out some of Lanni’s videos. To see more of Lanni’s work click here.

Hear This, Drink This, Wear This

By Lacey Rutter

Sometimes a song that puts you in a trans euphoric state of mind is a good thing.  “Your Drums, Your Love” by AlunaGeorge does that. There’s been hype around this UK duo since they dropped “You Know I Like It” over 2 years ago.


Hear this:  AlunaGeorge- Your Drums, Your Love, a smooth blend of bass, synth and R&B. A personal favorite from their much anticipated debut album which came out last week.


Drink This: Manhattan, a cocktail that, if you have more than one, can put you in a different state of mind.

Manhattan Drink


  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish

Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes and stir well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.

Wear this: Mariah dress by Frock LA

Mariah Dress Frock LA

This sexy bamboo jersey dress is perfect for an unpredictable night, full of Manhattans.  Get it here.

How To Make Sustainable Fashion The Norm


A sustainable model for fashion– The Guardian

In Sustainable Fashion News…

Gucci Ecologically Traceable Bag

Gucci’s Ecologically Traceable Bag

Eco-fashion: Why green is the new black for Gucci

Sustainable fashion design: learning from Denmark’s example

Group Has Plans for Sustainable Fashion District in NYC

Wal-Mart and H&M Suppliers Pay Workers at Closed Cambodia Plant

Friday’s Eco Fashion Pick: Alabama Chanin

Alabama Chanin
Alabama Chanin represents all that’s good about local, eco-conscious fashion. Based in Alabama, this company has a few facets and could be better described as a lifestyle brand. First, there’s the delightful collection of easy-to-wear women’s clothing, made with fun prints and solids. The clothes aren’t driven by time-sensitive trends. You’re not likely to see them duplicated by Forever 21. They’re individualized items that are full of depth and personality. Why, you ask? Each garment is completely handmade by local artisans who work from home. Some garments can take 3 weeks to make or up to 3 months, if you’re looking for a wedding dress. They are cut, sewn and painted especially for each customer. The clothes are made of new, organic and recycled materials. They use lean method manufacturing. That means that the garments are made to order so there’s minimal excess. When you buy an item of clothing from Alabama Chanin, your piece is infused with love and care from the artisan.
They also offer a basics wardrobe. The pieces are seasonless. They include maxi dresses, tank dresses and wrap skirts done in basic blacks and browns. You can wear them now or 10 years down the road. They’ll always be chic and elegant.  Their denim line is made from organic cotton grown in Texas, spun into yarn in North Carolina and knit into fabric in North Carolina. How’s that for made in the USA? Their wholesome organic approach also travels into a home goods line, which is 100% organic.
My Picks:
Alabama Chanin Anna Jacket

Anna Jacket

I love Anna’s Garden Long Coat. It’s beautiful. Long coats in black are the most versatile. It fits the torso and flares gently at the waist, for a look that is universally flattering. The entire coat is hand stitched. I can’t even wrap my mind around that.
Alabama Chanin Polka Dot Wide Neck Dress

Polka Dot Wide Neck Dress

My second favorite item is the Polka Dot Wide Neck Dress. Perfect for Spring and Summer, this dress looks so easy to wear. Just slip it on with some flip flops and enter your warm weather fantasy.
Alabama Chanin is a lifestyle brand for the eco-conscious woman. Click here for more.

Friday’s Eco Fashion Pick: Minna


by Tabitha St. Bernard

Eco Luxe can be described as eco-conscious clothing that is high-end. Minna has defined eco-conscious clothing. Each Minna garment is hand embellished. The clothing is made from sustainable, organic, recycled and locally produced textiles. She uses environmentally friendly production techniques as well as zero waste pattern cutting techniques for each garment. Located in London, Minna strives to support the local economy in as many ways as she can. She uses locally made fabrics and has a boutique in London. Because her clothing is so well made and beautiful the appeal is far-reaching. Her line includes Bridal, Ready To Wear and Childrenswear clothing.  Minna has appeared in Vogue, Elle and Bazaar, to name a few. Here are two of my favorite pieces.


Minna Nelly Dress

Nelly dress

During Springtime, everyone needs to have a cute white dress. The Nelly dress is so that dress. It’s a forgiving fit and looks so comfortable. The length is just at the knee so you don’t have to worry about troublesome thighs. Pair it with sandals for warmer days or some boots for a gone-country vibe. I love how modest the neckline is. No need to worry about undergarment issues. Your standard strapless bra will do.
Minna Butterfly Dress

Butterfly dress

I LOVE the colors on this print. It is so Spring! The long sleeves make it easy to wear even on chillier days. I also love the silhouette of this dress. It’s just a super comfy dress that you can layer as you wish. Throw on a denim vest for a more casual vibe. If you want to make it dinner ready, try a black or even a white blazer and roll up the sleeves to expose a bit of the dress fabric.
For more on Minna click here.

Sustainable Fashion: Timeless or Trendy? A Must Event! Jan 17th

Sustianable Fashion Timeless or Trendy Green Dress

Sustainable fashion has been gaining popularity in recent years. But where is it heading and is this a passing trend or a lasting change?

Columbia Business School presents a panel discussion on the future of sustainable fashion, the challenges of designing sustainably, and reaching the mainstream fashion retailers and fashion lovers.

The panel consists of:

Christa Dowling, Global Cultural Advisor and Journalist, Author, Former Editor-in -Chief, Conde Nast/Vogue, Germany
Yael Aflalo, Founder and CEO, Reformation (designs from repurposed fabrics) www.thereformation.com
Sass Brown, Acting Assistant Dean School of Art and Design, FIT, Author   www.ecofashiontalk.com
Raz Godelnik, Adjunct Professor at CUNY, the New School, and University of Delaware;  Founder, Hemper Jeans, an eco-fashion jeans company using hemp www.hemperjeans.com
Gretchen Jones, Eco-Fashion Designer; Project Runway Season 8 Winner  www.gretchenjonesnyc.com
Catherine Tyc, Filmmaker  (working on sustainable fashion documentary)  http://swapthemovie.wordpress.com/
Event Details:
Date: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Time: 6:00 – 6:30 Doors Open and Early Networking
           6:30 – 8:00 Program
           8:00 – 9:00 Reception and Fashion Alley
Location: Chadbourne and Parke LLP, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 23rd Floor
Cost: $25 for CBSAC/NY, NYBSC, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Members, and students, $40 for non-members

$60 for all walk-ins if space is available.

For more information and ticket purchase click HERE.