Zady is setting a new standard for sustainable fashion. The company, which is spearheaded by Maxine Bédat and Soraya Darabi, began with a grand vision: to combat the fast-fashion craze by providing a platform for companies that care about timeless style and solid construction.
Since its inception, Zady has quickly evolved into one of the world’s leading fashion brands for the conscious citizen-consumer. I recently sat down with Bédat to talk sustainability, the brand’s new partnership with actress Emma Watson and what’s in store for the future of fashion.
Zady launched three years ago and it feels like an entirely different company because a year ago we went into our own clothing line. We started with the idea of telling the stories behind our products and have held on to that idea to this day.
I’m from Minnesota. In my childhood, I saw the way that things were sold to me – from big shopping malls to Target, which is headquartered there. It was all about consumption.
Then, I started working as a lawyer in Tanzania. This was the first time I was actually able to see the way that products were made. I felt so connected to the process. I fell in love with the process. I saw artisans who knew from memory how to weave the most beautiful baskets. This was the inspiration behind Zady, telling the story behind all of our products. Once we know their stories, we’ll find a deeper connection to them.
We took clues from Whole Foods and how they launched this conversation about food. They made this great destination connecting us with our food. We started to learn more about the fashion industry. We learned that it’s the second most polluting industry in the world. We learned that 98 percent of its women employees weren’t making a living wage. Nobody was talking about these things.
That became our impetus to do things in the right way. What would that look like? Not just slapping the word on it.
The word ‘sustainability’ is thrown around a lot these days to the point where it becomes meaningless. Our collection, The New Standard set out to apply science to what sustainability means. To many, it’s like 10 percent organic cotton and 90 percent polyester and they’re calling it sustainable.
We don’t use the word sustainable when we talk about fashion. That’s because we want to move away from the distinction between fashion and sustainable fashion. There is starting to be a change to the way we put value to clothing. We can move in a direction in seeing value in the process of clothing.
We want to help the industry move in that direction, beginning with design. One hundred billion new pieces of clothing are produced each year. The average woman is wearing an item of clothing only seven times before getting rid of it. So much is produced without any thought to the longevity.
Everything we do is slow and considerate in every way. Instead of focusing on trends, we keep the collection tight. We’re only producing what we’re really excited about and want to wear.
From the very beginning, we’ve always talked to the modern woman. We designed for the modern woman. When we started to ask ‘who is this modern woman?’ Emma Watson was at the top of our minds. As a celebrity, she uses her platform to do something really remarkable. She’s thoughtful, smart and has a classic style. (Not to mention, a UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador)
We saw that she was already wearing some Zady pieces and asked her for a meeting. She said this issue was really important to her and we discussed the connection between fashion and feminism. Making women feel insecure and as if consuming more will make us feel whole, while on the other side of the world there are women making our clothes who aren’t being paid a living wage. As women consumers, we are the ones who are in control of where our planet goes and can say enough is enough.
We designed a collection inspired by her beauty inside and out. We developed a mood board of women throughout history who have always stood for something and have used their platform for good. From there, we designed a capsule wardrobe for women who want to feel like themselves. We wanted to create pieces that women can wear to work, on the weekend, or speaking at the UN.
We continue to get excited about sharing this knowledge that we have and sharing the stories, building that very human connection. And, as we continue to evolve aesthetically, we will only share products that inspire and feel like they are reflections of ourselves.
We want to change the language used in speaking about fashion, we use the word consumer. To us, the word consumer is too focused on consumption. I am not a consumer, I am a citizen – a human being. As a human being, what am I going to purchase? As a woman, what am I going to purchase? That can change the conversation – where we have a sense of humanity beyond the simple purchase. If we can change the language we can change the future.
When I first started thinking about what to pack for my #PowerTrip to New York the key word was comfort. If I was going to be sprinting around the city from fashion shows to meetings and drinks with friends, I needed a pair of cute, cool and comfy kicks. Lucky for me, my Veja sneakers arrived right on time.
Paris based brand Veja has the sustainable sneaker game on lock. These gold Esplars are named after a Brazilian NGO which brings technical support to the organic cotton farming families the company has worked with in North Brazil since 2004.
I paired my comfy kicks with a comfy faux suede dress from Forever 21 (don’t judge me, I’m not perfect!) and a vintage clock printed button down top. I decided against the matching shorts.Hey, it was the 80s.
The finishing touch was this gold bib necklace which was ethically made in Nairobi by Sustainable brand Soko. I am a huge fan of their jewelry and sell it from time to time in the shop. This easy breezy outfit was perfect for hopping around the city checking out great ethical designers.
photo credit: Van Gorp Photography
What if we could make a shift from “take-make-waste” to a fashion world where there is no waste? What if we could make fashion circular? This is the question H&M is posing to a new generation of fashion innovators.
The brand recently put out a call for early stage ideas that present new circular approaches to reinvent the fashion industry. This means changing the way garments are designed and produced, shipped, bought, used and recycled by utilizing disruptive technology or new business models.
The Global Change Award offers five fashion-preneurs the opportunity to share a €1 million grant and get access to a one-year innovation accelerator provided by H&M Foundation, Accenture and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Diana Amini, the Global Manager for the H&M Foundation about how this opportunity is a game changer for the future of fashion. This is what she had to say:
DIANA: As the population of our planet heads towards close to 10 billion by 2050, every industry will need to dramatically increase innovation to safeguard the environment. At H&M Foundation, we don’t think the transition to a circular model within the fashion industry is happening fast enough, and as a non-profit Foundation we have the opportunity to act as a catalyst for positive change. H&M Foundation drives different initiatives to improve the living conditions for people and communities around the world.
Our connection to the fashion industry, and the fact that the overall impact it has on our planet is quite heavy, made us start thinking about different ideas and concepts to spur innovation. This is how the Global Change Award was born. It is at the earliest stage of innovation that we as a Foundation can provide the much needed resources, access and skills to make the biggest difference. After receiving over 2,700 innovations from 112 countries the first year, we know there are a vast number of great ideas out there but we also know access to capital, know-how and business support is scarce and many great ideas never get to see the light of day. We want to find those game changing ideas and give them the support they need to make a difference.
DIANA: From last year’s winners we see that things which would have taken years have now happened in months. They are performing advanced trials and pilots with different partners in the fashion industry, H&M being one of them, as well as quality testing for commercialization and scaling up. It’s important to note that neither H&M nor the non-profit H&M Foundation take any automatic equity or intellectual property rights in the innovations, as we want to influence the fashion industry as a whole.
DIANA: We want to see a fashion industry that operates within the boundaries of our environment, that has transitioned from the take- make- waste model to a model where resource loops are tightened and valuable materials are recovered at the end of a garments life. A shift to a circular model can help to create flourishing, resilient economies in healthy environments with restored natural resources.
The circular economy may be the biggest revolution for how we organize production and consumption in our global economy in 250 years. This applies to all areas of the fashion industry, and to achieve this goal it needs to reinvent itself: how to design, what materials to use, how to dye, cut, sew, ship, sell, own, use and dispose of fashion. New technology, business models and materials can make this possible. This is where we see that the Global Change Award can act an important catalyser for change.
DIANA: During the last year, H&M Foundation has committed 7.5 million USD for programs related to refugees. In addition to supporting UNHCR’s efforts to secure education for refugee children, we will start a collaboration with the nonprofit tech organization REFUNITE and their online portal, enabling refugees to reconnect with lost families and friends through their mobile phone, computer or the organizations free help lines. They collaborate with large telecom companies in each country enabling them to create a service free of charge.
Our project with REFUNITE is focused on Pakistan and will, in addition to the portal and call center, also launch a Voice Response Platform, enabling illiterate women to access the services. This is an innovative organization addressing challenges in new ways. At the Foundation, we really look forward to this partnership and what we can achieve together.
By: Joi M Sears
Americans spend over half a billion dollars a day on clothing. Imagine what the world would be like if just half of that amount was spent on only sustainable, ethical and eco-conscious brands. Conscious consumerism is based on the idea that every dollar is a vote. By leveraging our collective purchasing power, we can economically influence global companies to become more socially responsible. We can drastically change our planet simply by being more conscious of what we wear, how it is produced and what we do when we are done with it.
Conscious Commerce is an experiment in living (and shopping) with a conscience. It is the brainchild of American actress Olivia Wilde and partner Barbara “Babs” Burchfield. “This is our attempt to be useful humans,” they explain in a welcome letter written on their website. “Maybe if we all take small steps in the right direction, we can at least avoid being the assholes ensuring total world annihilation.”
The duo recently partnered with H&M to launch a Conscious Exclusive pop-up shop in Times Square. The actress-turned-humanitarian is also the face of the S/S Conscious Exclusive campaign, which celebrates the work of artisans all over the world. “The H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection doesn’t compromise on style. It’s a collection of pieces that I want to wear, and that are all made from sustainable materials. It’s how fashion should always be,” Wilde said.
Click here to read more via Triple Pundit…
On April 4 H&M, along with Conscious Commerce co-founders Olivia Wilde and Barbara Burchfield, hosted a preview at the company’s gorgeous Fifth Avenue showroom to introduce the new Conscious Exclusive collection. The event was intended to not only highlight H&M’s ongoing sustainability efforts, but also shed light on the retailer’s global garment-collecting initiative with the launch of its first World Recycle Week campaign.
H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection features clothing and accessories made entirely from sustainable materials. The ultra-luxe collection — which takes inspiration from the archives of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, located in the Palais du Louvre in Paris — is probably H&M’s greenest and most glamorous collection yet. It’s also the most innovative.
From cat-eye sunglasses made from plastic bags, to a pair of high-fashion flats made of eucalyptus bark, the products are chic, beautiful and revolutionary in terms of construction. “H&M is really investing in sustainability through their Conscious Exclusive line,” actress and Conscious Commerce co-founder Olivia Wilde said. “They’re proving that sustainability doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re sacrificing style.”
New to this year’s collection are three wedding dresses, one of which was lit with fiber optics to showcase the craftsmanship and design specially created by Paris-based Korean artist Tae Gong Kim. Approximately 750 pounds of recycled clothing from H&M’s global Garment Collecting initiative was repurposed and on display as art installations.
The purpose of the #WorldRecycleWeek campaign is to urge consumers to join the movement to close the loop in fashion, by encouraging them to recycle unwanted garments at their nearest H&M retail store. The first company to launch a global garment-collecting initiative, the fashion juggernaut is on a mission to reduce textile waste and give old products a new life.
“This campaign is encouraging people to change the way they think about disposing their clothes,” Wilde explained. “This is significant because when we think of fast fashion and big companies like H&M, we don’t think of them putting the emphasis on thoughtfulness when it comes to disposing garments. We think of them as being wasteful. H&M is tackling this issue head on by saying, we want to change the way we manufacture, change the way you shop, change the way you care for your items and change the way you dispose of them.”
The brand has set the ambitious goal to collect 1,000 tons of clothing from customers between April 18 and April 24 and even brought on pop star, M.I.A. to lead the cause. The British/Sri-Lankan rapper dropped a track and video called “Rewear It” to fuel the effort.
“World Recycle Week is about embracing important environmental issues such as the landfills, and highlighting a global movement,” M.I.A. said. The video features an eclectic cast of interesting influencers and inspirational people from all over the world who have a strong personal style and passion for sustainability.
H&M has launched five consecutive eco-fashion collections and has unveiled a series of innovative sustainability efforts over the years. And yet, despite doing everything in its power to build a greener brand, the company still gets hit hard with negative feedback from the sustainability community.
Some H&M skeptics question the timing of the campaign, accusing the brand of “stealing the thunder” from the Fashion Revolution, a grassroots movement which promotes transparency within the fashion industry. Although the campaigns, which each run during Earth Week from April 18 to April 24, are pushing for a more sustainable fashion future, their missions could not be more different.
The Fashion Revolution, which was founded by Derbyshire hat designer Cary Somers and ethical clothing maker Orsola de Castro, was born off the heels of the Rana Plaza disaster that claimed the lives of over 1,100 garment workers. The campaign focuses on issues like living wages and worker’s rights by spotlighting some of the most exploited workers on the planet. It invites supporters to wear their clothes inside-out and ask brands, “Who made your clothes?”
World Recycle Week is geared more toward the environment. It offers consumers the opportunity to turn textile waste into new products. As much as 95 percent of clothes that are thrown away can be used again. H&M has partnered with I:CO to close the loop, and is actively working to alleviate one of the biggest threats to our planet and its resources.
De Castro considers the fact that the two campaigns will take place during the same week “disrespectful,” the Guardian reported . “We’re remembering the carnage, not staging a carnival where people go around dressed in fashion waste,” he said.
But my question is: Why must we conflate the two issues? Can’t we all just get along and build a more sustainable future that is kind to people and the planet? While it’s true that H&M might have a ways to go when it comes to fulfilling its promises to promote fair living wages, the company is committed to increasing wages for at least 60 percent of the garment workers in its supply chain by 2018.
In large companies, big changes take time. However, H&M seems to be taking the necessary steps toward creating a more sustainable brand. When asked if fast fashion can ever be truly sustainable, an H&M representative told TriplePundit, “We’re trying to figure out the same thing.”
Photo Credit: Photos by Brian Ach/Getty Images for H&M (used with permission) / Fashion Revolution
We’re gearing up to launch our new eco-fashion campaign which will inspire fashion lovers everywhere to be more conscious about the choices we make as consumers. In addition to community based arts programming, workshops, events, panel discussions etc. that address the concept of Environmental Justice, we will create a series of Eco-Fashion lookbooks to be distributed online. We hope to prove that eco-fashion is not just for granola eating hipsters and people that wear socks with sandals, but a movement which promotes an ethical lifestyle for Free People everywhere.
Ethically made in Chicago, these Tapered Boyfriend Jeans offer a slimmer and more feminine take on the traditional boyfriend jean. Dress them up with a pair of super high pumps, or be comfy in a cute pair of flats. ($172.00)
This super soft white tee has a deep v-neck and adds a feminine touch to this bold blue look. ($38.00)
Feeling extra Knotty? Not a problem when you’re wearing this Out of the Blue necklace, a bold and complex original knot that is as lightweight as it is stunning.
This item is ethically handmade in New York. ($145.00)
Long gone are the days of plastic, boxy backpacks heavy with keychains. The backpack has made a comeback and it is lightweight, convenient, and even stylish. This recycled cotton canvas version looks breezy and cute paired with a simple sundress or some denim cutoffs.
Features a hidden side zipper pocket with cell phone inner pocket, secure and easily accessed by user while backpack is being worn. Matte silver hardware, and tuck clasp closure on top flap. Reinforced bottom boot and taped seams for added durability. Grommeted drawstring top closure makes cinching bag easy. Adjustable straps and interior pocket. Comfortably holds a 13” laptop.
Ethically manufactured in China. ($42.00)
Ear cuffs have been around for centuries, but they have just taken on a new and exciting life. Now they’re the ultimate fashion statement, and the Norbert Ear Cuff is no exception. Features 5 small tear shaped crystals arranged in an arc that makes for a mesmerizing accent to any ensemble.
14k Matte Gold Plating. Ethically made in Los Angeles ($100.00)
I was recently contacted by the lovely people at Brilliant Earth and asked to create a series of looks incorporating their conflict-free/ethical/eco-friendly jewelry line. I was overjoyed, as I am a huge fan of their brand and their mission to cultivate a more ethical, transparent, and sustainable jewelry industry. So.. in the spirit of #allgreeneverything I assembled these looks featuring all eco-conscious designers and brands. It is my hope to inspire fashion lovers everywhere to be more conscious about the choices we make as consumers. Check out the looks and “if you like it then be sure to put a pin on it” (see what I did there…)
1. Tuxedo Jacket by H&M | 2. 18K White Gold Luna Ring by Brilliant Earth | 3. Slim-Fit Pants by H&M | 4. Pachacuti Hat (via Master & Muse) | 5. Black and White Woven Top by H&M | 6. Elizabeth Smoking Slipper by Cri de Coeur (via Modavanti) [USE CODE: FREEPEOPLEINTL for 15% discount] | 7. 18 K White Gold Fairminded Bar Pendant by Brilliant Earth
1. “Ode to all Activists” Tee by Doortje Vintage (Amsterdam) | 2. Slim Fit Pants by H&M | 3. 18K White Gold Round Diamond Stud Earrings by Brilliant Earth | 4. Biker Jacket by H&M | 5. Rogue Moto Boot by Cri de Coeur (use code: FREEPEOPLEINTL for 15% OFF) | 6. Pimms Nail Lacquer by Butter London | 7. 18K White Gold Fairminded 2mm Comfort Fit Wedding Ring by Brilliant Earth | 8. Wink Mascara in Union Jack Black by Butter London
Vivien Dress + Leighton Dress by FROCK LA (via Modavanti) [USE CODE: FREEPEOPLEINTL for 15% discount] | 18K White Gold Pave Eclipse Diamond Earrings + 18K White Gold Pave Diamond Infinity Pendant + 18K White Gold Sienna Diamond Ring by Brilliant Earth | Margaret Vegan Velvet Platform Pumps by Cri de Coeur