Do you ever think about where your garbage goes, beyond the rubbish bin? 84% of unwanted clothing in the United States alone ends up in an incinerator or landfill. (In Hong Kong, there are 253 tons of textiles sent to landfill DAILY. In North America, 10.5 million tons end up in a landfill each year.) The use of incinerators releases hazardous toxins into the air and damages our ozone layer. Textiles in landfills leach poisonous dyes and chemicals into the groundwater, which disrupt local ecosystems and harm wildlife- and at the rate things have been going for the past decade, these local ecosystems will snowball into widespread environments if we don't make a serious change. Everything is connected.
It can take hundreds of years for certain synthetic textiles to break down in a landfill. It wasn’t until our expansion beyond jackets that we realized we could (un)impact the industry in an even greater way by incorporating deadstock fabric into our garments- especially once we discovered that some fashion houses waste 15% of their materials by leaving them on the cutting room floor.
Many of these leftover textiles go straight to landfill, and to remedy this we obtain our fabrics from a 4-story warehouse in the garment district of Los Angeles which specializes in vintage, deadstock materials that other designer labels have left behind. We are infatuated with losing ourselves in the labyrinth of linen, cotton, rayon, and corduroy, etc. The space is so massive, we need to bring breadcrumbs to find our way out! To say that it's overwhelming would be an understatement. Somehow our point of contact, Sarah, seems to know exactly where every bolt of fabric is located like the back of her hand.
The quality of cloth we select is high, and the quantities available are often low. Because of this, once a finished fauxgerty piece is sold out, it might not ever be back in stock again in the exact same material. This is another reason why our silhouettes are as unique as you are! For example, when we debuted #TheAmberJumpsuit, there was only enough yardage to create 13 in chambray. We knew it would be a tight run and made it anyway, because who doesn't need to live in the perfect chambray? But, we also knew that our love affair with The Amber Jumpsuit wasn't over just yet. Sarah to the rescue! We can pull a swatch of any material, in any quantity, and she'll direct us to something similar that meets our specific requirements for production.
So it goes without saying that Sarah is, by default, one of the #GalsWeDig. Between massive towers of textiles, we got the chance to get to know a little bit more about her, and what changes she'd like to see in the fashion industry within the next few years. See below for our interview.
1. What drew you in to begin working in the textile industry?
When I was 3, we lived in a small apartment. My room became my mom's sewing room. I would wake up to her sewing away. She always made my clothes and involved me through the whole process. From picking out the fabric through cutting and sewing.
I have a favorite memory of her taking me to a “fabric by the pound” shop in Oregon. Piles and piles of fabric. I was small enough that she would throw me on top of a fabric mountain and say “pick out fabric for your outfits”. I laugh today because my job is to do the same. Not always for my outfits, but for a clients vision.
2. How do you remain inspired?
I love digging for treasure. Whether it’s vintage apparel or fabric. I still find a new fabric once a day here at the shop.
I have a background in visual merchandising and fashion design. I definitely bring these skills with me to work. I am able to hear what the client is searching for, see their vision and see what I can dig up to get them there.
Having the patience to dig for the perfect print (etc) is what keeps me inspired.
3. What are some of your most significant challenges, and how do you overcome them?
I would say that my most significant challenge would be dealing with others emotions. I’m super sensitive to the energy people put out. If I’m dealing with someone negative and difficult, I just need to count to 10 and take in a few deep breaths. A tiny moment of zen before I’m back in their energy orbit.
4. Coffee or Tea?
5. Do you have any daily rituals?
I have made a habit to wear sunscreen every day on my face. Even though I’m in the warehouse most of the day...the drive down, I feel parts of my face are still in the sun. Want to make sure I’m covered.
6. What can't you get enough of right now?
High waisted, cropped leg pants. I just love them so much!
7. What do you love the most about your city?
I love the variety of neighborhoods in LA. There always something to do, new restaurants to try out. My husband and I make an effort to try it do something new in LA we haven’t done before.
8. Best advice you've ever received. Go!
Exercise your talent.
9. What does a conscious consumer look like to you?
To me, a conscious consumer is a change agent. Someone who reflects their impact on the bigger picture of an issue. Whether it’s environmental, humanitarian or political. It’s great to see folks becoming “woke” by asking the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where and why) from the brands they purchase from.
10. What changes in the fashion industry do you hope to see within the next decade?
I love that I’m already seeing some brands aiming for less to zero waste and fair trade. This is amazing. What I would love to see, is toxic chemicals being removed from the fashion supply chain. The pollution from the dyes and such are so devastating to Mother Earth.