Stewart + Brown Answer Your Eco Questions!
Earlier this week, we asked ecofabulous fans to write in with questions for Karen Stewart and Howard Brown of the incredible eco fashion brand, Stewart + Brown. We received some great questions, and the pair have done their best to bare all. We’ll be drawing a random winner for the brigit tank dress shortly, but in the mean time, read on for answers. A big thank you to Karen and Howard – you’re both such an inspiration in the industry!
Ashley: Treehugger names you the “best green casual brand” – are there any future plans to design formal attire?… would love it!
S + B: Yes, we are working on a few more formal looks for Spring 2011. Stay tuned…
Jennifer: What’s most rewarding about working in the eco fashion industry?
S + B: The most rewarding thing is probably the simplest – piece of mind and a sense of purpose; and that’s in the sense of knowing we have committed to being part of the solution and not part of the problem both with our personal and professional lives.
Celine: What is the most eco-friendly material that the clothes are made out of?
S + B: That’s a good question and a tough one to answer. If you are speaking of clothes and body cover in general then I’d have to say something fabricated from naturally felled plants and woven together with like-minded fiber so that when it is beyond its lifespan it will naturally decompose… see Robinson Caruso. Otherwise it would have to be something fashioned out of an undyed or unbleached hemp or organic fabric and sew with a similar thread.
Rebekah: Has the brand’s increasing popularity strengthened or made it more difficult to operate ethically?
S + B: Another great question. Our success has made it much easier to operate ethically as we have more leverage with the vendors/ partners that want to work with us.
Carolyn: Is nature the number one thing you look to when drawing for inspiration?
S + B: Yes, nature is measure, model, and mentor. We love design and Mother Nature is the best designer ever… untouchable!
Kate: Where are your materials produced?
S + B: I assume you are asking where our fabrics are sourced? Currently, the majority of our fabrics – almost all of our organic cotton, are sourced right here in the USA. The rest come from Australia or New Zealand – merino wool, Magnolia for our cashmere, and some other organic fibers from Japan and Portugal.
Nicole: I’m interested in knowing an favorite sustainable fashion tips?
S + B: The best sustainable fashion tip we can give you is to conscientiously consumer and always be yourself! On a more specific note, mix and match vintage with current fashions, uniquely accessorize, and remember that comfort is king… if a certain look is awkward or uncomfortable then go back to the drawing board. We don’t believe in “form over function” but rather a union of the two.
Karissa: What have you learned being an eco-savvy company in a society where most citizens don’t think to look twice at the ingredients in the consumer products they use and buy?
S + B: Because there are people who do not conscientiously consume it only means we (me, you, and everyone else on “the green team”) have a lot more work to do in educating them as to why they need to get with the program and be part of the solution.
Sasha: What are the biggest challenges you have faced in producing products made out of eco-friendly materials that are manufactured in a sustainable manner, and how have you overcome these obstacles? (I LOVE your company!!)
S + B: Thanks for the kind words. To adequately answer your question we’d need to write a book and maybe we will someday. There are many, many challenges running sustainable sourcing and production programs. If there is any one thing that it always seems to come back to, it’s “money” or, in the case of the “sustainable supply chain” that we depend on. We are small-time operators and so are most of our vendors. No one we deal with is getting rich doing this and credit (the fuel of the business) is pretty much non existent up and down the supply chain. This makes it very difficult to operate and gives an enormous advantage to those companies that are well funded (the status quo) which also, in almost all cases, are the biggest exploiters of resources and labor (i.e. “the problem”).