And no, I’m not talking self-conscious (let’s say ciao to those days, shall we?)
With New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018 coming to a close, all I have to say is, “Wow.” The usual high-fashion suspects took over the runway, but this year there was a definite uptick in brands promoting sustainability, eco-friendly designs, and charitable business models. Names such as Eva Longoria, Rosario Dawson (Rent, anyone?) and perhaps the biggest black horse of them all – Gina La Morte.
A part of NYFW’s “Nolcha Shows,” a platform held for independent fashion designers to showcase their designs, La Morte stood out in particular. Maybe it was the fluidity of the dresses, the faded pinks, creams, browns, the ease of the silhouettes; or maybe, it was the fact that her designs incorporated deconstructed ribbons of Indian sari silks. As a seven-month resident of India, it certainly hit a soft spot.
In pictures – soft, dusky pastels, mostly in pink, strips of ribbons glittering with metallic threads and gems.
“Layers of the most beautiful hand-dyed recycled sari silk ribbons with torn edges, made from survivors of domestic violence in India supporting their transition.”
I sat upright in my chair (a real morning feat, I tell you) and bolted to direct message. “I must get in contact with her.”
La Morte was thrilled. “I love India!” she exclaimed.
Fashion was always the dream for La Morte. After working for ten years in styling, outfitting celebrities for the likes of Oprah Magazine and People Stylewatch, she turned to journalism and created America’s first sustainable fashion publication, Boho. She had certainly made a name for herself, but it was then that she realized she wanted to use that name to create something. La Morte saw an opportunity to make a difference, to have a voice – so it was here that she fused her two passions: styling and helping women succeed.
A torn edge. A dusky silk ribbon. The glistening of a metallic thread. For La Morte, this was all the inspiration she needed to create her brand: “Trade,” by Gina La Morte. These recycled silk sari ribbons became not only the foundation for design, color, and texture of the collection, but they also became a way for her to support the women she was so desperately wanting to help.
Taking into account the entire design process, La Morte focuses on sourcing materials that can be re purposed. For now, her designs take inspiration from India and Italy but are made locally in New York City. She explained to me how every step of the design process benefits women and families in need – from directly supporting the victims of domestic violence in India to the families of the women who sew the bags and clothing.
Though her charitable business model doesn’t come without its fair share of struggles – because while the idea of everyone being paid a fair wage is certainly ideal, many people have yet to come to terms with the fact that this quality will result in more expensive garments.
Which had me thinking: is fast fashion on its way out?
“Absolutely!” says La Morte. “NYFW was a huge success because it was so well-received. People desire products with purpose. The mentality of fashion being disposable is over and out of fashion.”
I agree. But while this concept is certainly taking over the western world, we have a ways to go in places such as India and Southeast Asia.
“How can we convince people globally that sustainable fashion is the future?” I pondered. In a country as large and populated as India, we should not be breeding excess. How can we convince people to stop consuming more and instead focus on repurposing what we
After her recent success
during NYFW, I wanted to pick her brain on all of these thoughts.
It starts with recognizing the importance of being a conscious consumer. That includes all aspects, namely fashion. It could be taking a recycled shirt, and transforming it into something new – a bag, for example. Or perhaps, patching up an old pair of jeans. For La Morte, it’s about preserving history and pieces of the past, and crafting them into something beautiful.
“If you want to be a fashion innovator it’s not always about rejecting the past and putting that in a category of passé, but rather embracing history and finding a NEW way to represent the old and the new…together.”
It won’t be an immediate shift. The change will be gradual. But what can happen if we start today?
Keep Giving in Style!