NYFW Briefing: Designers spotlight their sustainable, responsible efforts

Welcome to Glossy’s New York Fashion Week newsletter, bringing you on-the-ground insights and analysis from straight off the runway. All week, we’ll be sending behind-the-scenes glimpses and interviews with industry members straight to your inbox. Sponsored by Shopify Plus. 

This week, fashion week designers are adding to the industry’s hubbub around sustainability and responsibility, no doubt in an effort to win over values-conscious consumers. 

Collina Strada, which has an embedded social justice ethos, continued to use the runway show as a platform when it showed on Sunday evening. The featured fall collection was made from natural fibers, including cotton and wool, and according to Hillary Taymour, Collina Strada founder, the brand intended for the show to encourage its audience to grow their own food. Attendees left with literature on how to educate themselves around eco-conscious food choices. Decor for the show included grass, soil and raised flower beds that were donated afterward.

“Sustainability has become a trend to sell clothes, and that is not what it should be about,” she said. “All brands should be striving to be sustainable and transparent at the bare minimum. The only synthetic fabric we ever use is deadstock, and I’m still undecided on if I care if a fabric is synthetic if it’s deadstock.”

On Monday, Australian brand Zimmermann acknowledged in its show notes the devastating bushfires that have ravaged its country, stating that the brand has donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery. Meanwhile, Stacey Bendet, Alice + Olivia designer and CEO, said that the brand labels eco-friendly clothing as a “conscious capsule collection,” and rely on recycled fabrics and manufacturing that uses renewable energy or reduction of harmful chemical dyes. Most of the leather in the brand’s collection is also faux, Bendet said.  The brand is also working with an artist to donate excess fabrics that could be incorporated into the artist’s work. 

Last year saw brands like Burberry and retailers like Macy’s renounced their use of real fur as irrelevant to today’s market. Still, fashion industry proponents of fur have argued it is a more sustainable fabric than petroleum-derived synthetic fur. Dennis Basso, who’s eponymous brand showed at Spring Studios on Sunday evening, is known for his use of fur and animal skins, which appeared as full-length coats and trim. He also incorporated faux fur into two looks, likely to appeal to his QVC customer. Basso, however, did not indicate that he viewed the aesthetic choice as an element of sustainability.

3 Questions with Stacey Bendet
Glossy talked with the Alice + Olivia designer at the brand’s fall presentation on Monday.

What does your design process look like?
I always start with color. With this collection, a lot of the design process began with the fact that I’m renovating an apartment right now, and I’ve been so absorbed in fabrics like tapestry and rugs. In truth, a lot of my collections are inspired by my life, such as what my kids are wearing. We create mood boards, but it’s so different every time; sometimes, one photo serves as inspiration, and sometimes it’s more a stream of consciousness.

Do you see Alice + Olivia expanding into beauty?
I see us expanding into makeup. As a brand, I like to be a lifestyle brand, and I like to provide women with everything she needs in her life, whether it’s workwear, evening wear, or everyday fashion. Alice + Olivia is a very feminine brand, and makeup is a part of that. Collaborations are also an opportunity.

How will you unwind post-NYFW?
I’m going to Florida from my mom’s birthday. She’s going to be 70, so it will be fun.  


Katie Holmes sitting front row at Zimmermann and, after the show, Candice Swanepoel having her photo taken outside.


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