Brands that truly encapsulate the meaning of sustainability are few and far between but there are some that truly make their efforts evident throughout their entire operation. When looking for eco-conscious labels that also epitomise “trendy fashion”, however, the numbers once again wane. Yet, there are the exceptional few that manage to combine both sustainability and stylish design in a bold array of curated collections and limited produced garments that put a fashionable stamp on sustainability. FashionUnited has brought together some of these fashion-forward brands making statements in the green sector, with circular production methods and thoughtful ethical strategies.
Spanish designer Sonia Carrasco has always been very open about her production process since the launch of her brand in 2019, regularly emphasising the importance of transparency in design. Her knowledge of tailoring and craftsmanship can be attributed to her time at Alexander McQueen and under Phoebe Philo’s Celine. Now via her own label, Carrasco looks to highlight a progressive circularity, working with a mix of recycled, vegan, organic and deadstock fabric, much of which is hand sourced in Italy, Portugal and Spain. Its values extend to the manufacturing process, for which the brand partners with Fundació Ared, a Spanish organisation that helps mostly women from prison or social services get work, which provides a Barcelona-based team to work on the collections.
Carrasco’s efforts to eliminate as much waste as possible from its production were also present in the brand’s most recent AW23 collection, which came as an extension to the previous season. To create the line, entitled ‘Sex and Crafts’, Sonia Carrasco partnered with LVMH to upcycle fabrics from their houses, while also implementing both organic and recycled cotton. A message of societal impact was additionally evident throughout, offering up what the brand said was “a fresh perspective on the sexualisation of women in fashion and the arts”, turning the notion of the male gaze on its head and redefining what it means to be a sexualised woman. Artistry in the designs was just as important, however, with the brand studying three different techniques – curved, piece-over-piece and oversized fitted – to apply to each garment to create three distinct styles.
Points of sale
While Sonia Carrasco is stocked in various European and US retailers, its presence is most notable in Asia, where it is present among a number of countries. In Thailand, the brand is stocked in Bangkok’s Exhibity Co, while in Vietnam it is available in Labels. Meanwhile, in Japan, Carrasco is housed at the likes of department store Isetan, Pilgrim, Relume, Heliopole, Babylone and Visit For. In the West, the brand is present in London’s Selfridges, Munich’s Ansary and the US’ Modiste and Curve. Sonia Carrasco also operates its own e-commerce platform.
Sonia Carrasco’s prices vary depending on the item. While its tops average at a price of 422 pounds, its bottoms typically sit at around 345 pounds. Its jackets and blazers come in at a higher price range of between 692 pounds and 1,357 pounds, meanwhile its dresses can be found online for around 850 pounds.
French brand MaisonCléo was launched in 2017 by Marie Dewet as a ready-to-wear label that looked to contradict the booming fast fashion industry. Five years on, Dewet has established a “handmade to order brand”, offering garments made in deadstock fabrics. Each item is produced in the brand’s workshop in northern France, utilising surplus materials sourced from the leftovers of French couture houses and factories. In a further bid to remain completely transparent, Dewet introduced a new initiative to MaisonCléo last year, through which it now issues receipts for clothing that detail the total cost of production, covering everything from the fabrics used to the marketing fees to the manufacturing process. The move looks to ensure that customers are aware of the brand’s profit margin and what costs come with purchasing ethically-produced clothing.
For the most recent AW23 season, MaisonCléo took to Paris Fashion Week to exhibit its latest collection in a runway show. The 35 look line drew inspiration from the French phrase for love at first sight – “coup de foudre” – with pieces that looked to reference the lightning strike between two people falling in love. This could be seen in the numerous use of hearts dispersed throughout the pieces, spotted in both belt buckles and oversized embroidery. This season also saw the brand hit the refresh button on a number of its signature garments, with the likes of knitwear receiving updated cuts.
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MaisonCléo works in limited runs through its own site, but does occasionally team up with other retailers to launch exclusive, limited edition collections that incorporate its eco-conscious values. While it has worked with the likes of Selfridges, Net-a-Porter and Opening Ceremony on past collaborations, it most recently partnered with Printemps Haussman and Centre Commercial on collections for the current seasons.
On launching the brand, Dewet aimed to offer luxury items that were also affordable, meaning MaisonCléo’s retail prices are on the lower spectrum for the sector. While its dresses sit in the range of 150 to 300 pounds, its tops and knitwear can be found at prices between 150 to 250 pounds. Its bottoms – trousers, shorts and skirts – come in at a wider range, with prices between 140 to 520 pounds. Its jackets and coats also hold affordable margins, with the lowest sitting at 160 pounds and the highest coming in at around 520.
Founded by designer Jacqueline Rabot, Rabôt is centred primarily around the use of locally sourced, deadstock vintage fabric, something it has carried throughout each of its tightly curated collections. The LA-based brand was launched in the wake of Covid in January 2020, forcing Rabot to work remotely and outsource manufacturing to a seamstress in the city. Despite everything, the obstacles presented at the beginning of their journey pushed the creator to double down on her sustainable beliefs and ethical practices, and they continue to exhibit made-to-order collections, each produced in small production houses.
Rabôt’s most recent collection, the Tie Dye Capsule, consists of seven pieces including tops, dresses, a romper and leggings. Each of the pieces once again are designed and sewn in LA, and utilise locally sourced materials – for the most part, polyester and spandex. Running alongside the collection, the brand is also using its platform to highlight LA-based, female creatives, from directors to visual artists, sharing details on their projects via social media and their own website. Each of the individuals are captured in photoshoots sporting the brand’s latest collections.
Points of sale
Rabôt currently has wholesale deals with a number of multi-brand retailers across the US, including California-based Fred Segal, Lisa Says Gah! and Isalis, as well as Assembly in New York and Felt in Illinois. The brand’s only listed stockist in Europe is Vasquiat, a Spanish membership platform for pre-ordered collections.
For its latest collection, Rabôt offers up a modest price range. The two tops in the collection sit at 185 and 215 dollars, while its romper is also 215 dollars. Its leggings are at a slightly lower price of 160 dollars. Meanwhile, the brand's three dresses sit between 250 and 395 dollars. Next to clothing, Rabôt’s accessory range, which includes silk scarves and sleep masks, have prices between 30 to 100 dollars.