Why I Went the Sustainable Route

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by Eve Emanuel, owner and founder of More Than Just Figleaves 

Having always been a purist at heart, I have held onto many pieces from my own wedding 30 years ago that have become vintage in their own right. I cannot part with them and sometimes use them together with contemporary pieces. They were lovingly made in Europe during the eighties, when quality fashion was purely the accepted norm for any consumer. They have stood the test of time.

When I began my business in 2015, Quality workmanship and timeless fashion in order to achieve long lasting wear-ability were my two top priorities. This is in its own right a form of sustainability! 

For if a garment fits well is made well and is timeless, there is no need to fill your closet with piles of disposable fashion trend items that land up in the landfill the following season.

As I set out on my treks around the Manhattan garment district, I was dismayed at the pile of leftover fabrics and scraps (totally reusable) that were going to end up being dumped. Such a shame I had no place to store them or I would have housed them and never had to buy fabric ever again!

Another thing that happens in the industry, and I have experienced this first hand, is that there may be a slight design glitch that is fixable in a run of clothing. If it does not sell, the clothing gets “dumped” again or sent to a discount store which could hurt an up-and-coming brand.

I have found tremendous satisfaction in using existing pieces and changing them into a new upgraded up-cycled style. Such as adding longer pockets into a skirt, recreating facings or adding new fabric to cuffs using scraps as detailing.

In Sep 2016 I signed up for 2017 KCFW . As it loomed ahead, I examined my room full of fabric leftovers, the thought of paying for a whole slew of new fabrics was cramping my brain almost as much as the fabric I owned was cramping my space!

Hence came the idea to create the collection for the show using solely the fabrics that I owned in my workroom! There were squares of fabrics with shapes cut into them, some small yardages, and scraps. 

And somehow a weight was lifted off my shoulders as I started to piece together and create anew from these pieces of fabric. It was kind of liberating.

I partnered with jewelry designer Erin of ep design, an artist in her own right and she created a line of jewelry from all her old copper pots and pans and used her own leftover materials from her studio. 

Our up-cycled collection all came together seamlessly in a very global vision of color and texture. The looks were each unique, the fabric scraps telling their own story.

I invite you to take a look at the result of our work, both at the show, here.

In September this year we took the looks onto the streets of NY at NYFW Where the rawness of each piece was highlighted and appreciated for their wearability and streetstyle appeal.  

Another motive of putting the looks to the streets was to test the reaction of the public and fashion minded street photographers. And guess what?  Our “fringe dress" got featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine as one of their jaw-dropping street style photos from New York Fashion Week. 

This triumph illustrates the power of today’s fashion consciousness where fashion is taking a turn away from the mass production of yesteryear (phew!) and concentrating on the unique creativity and thought that goes into producing something unique inspired by such values as function form and sustainability. 

 

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