I read an article by fashion writer Eric Wilson, who interviewed designer Brunello Cucinelli and asked why one of his sweaters cost $4,925 (and that’s just American dollars). The response was that Cucinelli believed full genuine quality came down to dignity. To Cucinelli, It was important that his factory workers who created the garments were treated as equals.
The Italian designer follows the concept of “humanistic capitalism,” where a large portion of the company’s profits are invested back into the community. He actually owns the factory where his four-figure cashmere goods are made. And, in those big numbers he factors in quality of life — he bought all the other remaining factories and closed them down to create a new parkland and orchards for the people of the small town Solomeo to enjoy.
He believes in the quote, “Beauty will save the world.” And while that sounds a little flowery, it is an interesting concept. Imagine if all retailers did what Cucinelli did? If Zara stop busting out low-grade fast fashion and instead, used the billions of dollars they make to produce quality pieces and use their profit to turn low-quality communities around? What a crazy idea. That factory in Ho Chi Min where the workers make $2/hour and work in poor conditions? Gone. In it’s place would stand a new building with safety inspections, cap work day hours, and perhaps, parks and greenery could be included in this package, because we all know these cities are polluted and air quality suffers.
Anyway, this post is really about the new sustainable path the fashion industry is going down. Everlane’s #DamnGoodDenim campaign is a good example. When Everlane decided to create its own denim, the company worked hard to suss out a factory that cut down on pollution. More often that not, denim factories were polluting the surrounding water systems with their toxic garment dyes and other pollution. The factory Everlane found, Saitex, identified these issues and worked hard to become as sustainable as possible. They use solar panels for the majority of their power, harvest rain water and use a filtration system to produce drinkable water from the denim dying process. The factory even has plans to build a facility to grow crops and use that clean water in the process.
I went to Everlane’s shop in San Francisco last fall and purchased my own pair of high-rise skinnies that I can’t believe cost only $68 (USD). They have four different washes that have that authentic feel, and I’m obsessed with the flattering fit and the way they actually keep their shape. Naturally, I bought two more pairs. I should also mention in case you aren’t familiar with the brand that they have the best selection of affordable basics and good quality Italian-made shoes. The Editor Slingbacks I’m wearing are a recent addition to my wardrobe, and I’ll soon be getting the Day Glove that I personally believe everyone should have a pair in their wardrobe.