Sustainable fashion is gradually gaining ground at New York Fashion Week. Meeting with two designers reflecting on their practices to make clothes with less impact on the environment.
During the pandemic, Emma Gage lost her fashion job. Two years later, she founded her brand Melke, a little thumb that made its debut at New York Fashion Week by betting on more sustainable fashion.
Emma Gage is originally from Minnesota. It is neither the first nor the only one to bet on the fashion niche, while the industry is singled out for its environmental impact.
“Now (…) everyone wants to have something to say about it”, another young designer, Olivia Cheng, 23, told AFP. Her brand, Dauphinette, which has become known for its jewelry and outfits made from real flowers, was presented for the first time on the official Fashion Week calendar on Sunday, February 13, at a restaurant in Chinatown.
Hemp, organic cotton, recycled fabrics, Emma Gage, 26, highlights materials that are not very harmful to the environment and her concern to buy from companies that respect human and social rights, stated on her website.
Maize “I will never say that everything is 100% sustainable and everything is perfect, because that is a lie”she warns, from her small studio in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York artists meet, like the murals that invade the streets.
Not even zero plastic
For example, “zero plastic” remains a target for the time being, because synthetic materials can still slip into recycled fabrics, the designer explains. These limits are an additional argument for creating “clothing that lasts and is made to wear”† And don’t spoil anything, like these bags made from scraps of fabric.
Far from voluminous and sophisticated evening dresses, one of her favorite models is a simple sweater, which returns to every collection, with embroidered motifs of flowers, fish and now sheep.
The sobriety it claims doesn’t stop it from being creative and sharp. His second collection, inspired by Red .’s Autobiography by Anne Carson, this color takes pride of place, often in dark tones, with many fringes reminiscent of lava flows.
For her fall-winter 2022 collection, she wanted to reminisce about a trip to an Irish medieval castle and her discovery of falconry, “symbiosis between two predators, man and bird”†
A fashion on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art-
As for Olivia Cheng, her presentation on Sunday, February 13, played on the codes of the male and female genders and still relied on old clothes and floral materials, preserved thanks to a resin that she promises is non-toxic.
But she also ventured into strange experiments, such as this set of ginkgo nuts or this dress studded with beetle wings, which she indicates is‘They weren’t killed for that’†
While they prefer local suppliers, neither of the two designers refrains from sourcing from the other side of the world. Emma Gage explains that she doesn’t want to cut ties with certain forms of craftsmanship that don’t exist in the United States.
The dilemma of more affordable fashion also arises with her brand, which sells to order. “I need others to buy what I buy so that prices come down”, she says. And to add that right away, there arises an issue of overproduction. She tries to solve part of the problem with a diverse product line, which comes down to the $75 t-shirt.
For her part, Olivia Cheng relies on her fruit and flower jewelry, some for less than $50. “For me, the key is to remember what mission we started with and how we can continue this story, without being trapped in some kind of delusion of grandeur”explains this daughter of Chinese immigrants, whose two dresses are already on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York, in the exhibition “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion”†