INTERVIEW: STYLING ON NYC + ELENA BOBYSHEVA
1. What first propelled you to becoming more focused on sustainability and animal welfare?
I've always been an animal lover and therefore I am passionate about animal welfare. When I became a vegetarian, I started to research a sustainable, cruelty free way of living that I could apply to all areas of my life, not just my diet. I think clean livingis a lifestyle worth considering since we only have one planet and humanity is using resources of five planets. It was only natural that I applied my own deeply held values to the heart of my business. I do not use fur, leather, or skins in any of my designs and my label's sustainability efforts range from eco-friendly packaging, to ethical sourcing, to textile recycling.
2. Can you explain your in-house cut-to-order business?
With the in-house cut-to-order business model, we only produce what is ordered, therefore not over-producing garments or using more resources than what we need. We offer production runs of my collections in sizes 2-10. However, when any piece from my collection is desired in a size not pre-graded (sample pattern sized up or down), we can make it custom for the client. If a customer would like to discuss custom options, they can use the contact form on our website. We also accommodate rush orders. We are very customer focused.
3. What exactly does this do for your business and how does it affect the consumer?
Since everything is hand-crafted in-house in a limited run, the customer receives the highest quality garment that will last them beyond just one season. Additionally, we do all of our sample making in-house, where we have numerous fittings with fit models to check proportions and the garment's wearability. This ensures that the customer receives a garment with a high-quality fit.
Historically, an item of clothing was not produced until a customer ordered it. Now, the industry has moved toward mass offshore production. These fast-fashion pieces are presented to consumers at inflated prices to account for probable markdowns as time and excess supply devalue them. Short product life cycle has many unwanted consequences such as more clothing going to landfills, fuel consumption, more usage of natural resources, and exploitation of low cost labor. With our ready-to-wear collections, every piece is hand-crafted using traditional dressmaking techniques so when our clients receive their product, they know that it came from a clean company that is quality-focused.
4. How can the fashion industry as a whole move forward in sustainability?
Industry leaders need to have the courage to be more transparent and put ethics and sustainability first, and profit second. This may come off as a bit naive but second to oil, fashion and textiles is the most polluting industry in the world. Every stage in a garment's life threatens our planet and its resources. For example, it can take more than 20,000 liters (over 5,000 US gallons) to produce 1 kg (2 pounds) of cotton, equivalent to a single t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Businesses need to consider their vast environmental impact of their operations.
5. What is one of the biggest challenges you face as a business that has such a focus on environmental consciousness?
Material is hard. Sometimes it has been difficult sourcing the textile that I want and still have it be eco-friendly. Using sustainable fabrics and eco-friendly packaging can also cost up to 70% more because there is more time and labor involved. We absorb that into our margin. We don't price the product up.
6. Do you believe that every business has the ability to become more environmentally conscious?
Absolutely. I think that it is every business owner's responsibility to at least try and explore their options on how they could make their business more sustainable. Whether you are in the tech industry or fashion, it's your responsibility as a business owner to build a clean business and relay that importance to your customers.
7. The designs in your look book are simple with a twist. Where do you get your inspiration from?
The starting point varies for each season but one of the first things I focus on is textiles and the silhouette. I like creating stories to center the collection around. Creating a narrative with a heroin allows me create a range of garments within one collection but still keep it cohesive.
8. Why do you lean towards minimalism?
To me, minimalism is the epitome of being modern. I do not like excess or clutter or unnecessary things. I don't believe in over-consumption or being overly materialistic. Having a minimalistic aesthetic to my label, is directly correlated to my company's sustainability manifesto.
9. Some of your designs incorporate strong pops of color. How do you pick what color you use?
I select the color scheme just by my intuition. I don't ever follow trends. I just design what feels right and what feels authentic to me.
10. What kind of woman do you design for?
I design for the woman that loves fashion, enjoys dressing up, and appreciates quality.
She is somewhat of a collector of special pieces. To her, her wardrobe is like an art collection. At the same time, she cares about animal welfare and the environment. She prefers for her product to be made ethically. Overall, I just want to make women feel attractive and confident in their own skin. I realized the power that clothing has over one's confidence when I was very young and to me clothing is almost a way to transform yourself into the woman you want to be.
11. If you could pick any celebrity to wear one of your designs, who would it be and what would they wear?
Christine Centenera in the white and dove grey geometric mini skirt with the white georgette pleated underskirt from SS15. It sits at the low hips for a boyish feel but it's still very feminine.
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