The words ‘luxury’ and ‘ethical fashion’ haven’t always gone hand-in-hand, but thanks to designers like Anita Arzé, the world of high-end conscious clothing is more accessible and lovelier than ever.
Inspired by the beautiful mountainside of the Andes, the rich colors and textiles, as well as the deep spirituality of the indigenous people, Bolivia is the common thread connecting Arzé’s designs to her native South American roots. From early childhood Arzé has been traveling from the U.S. to Bolivia to visit family, setting her up for future inspiration and success in the fashion industry. Although formally educated in New York City, the talented designer and artist cultivates a look of casual luxury that appears organically honed through her experiences and passion for her craft.
With Arzé’s mother introducing her to the creative side of things through painting and ceramics classes and trips to the museum at a very young age, coupled with her grandmother’s fine art skills and keen sense of style and finesse, both women helped to instill a passion for creativity, igniting the desire to make her mark on the world of fashion. In addition to her childhood, Arzé also derives inspiration for current collections from nature, architecture, geometric shapes, and by the art she sees. A true creative at heart, Arzé said “designing became a great platform for me to communicate my creativity and express my individuality.”
As natural and earthy as the countryside from which they come, Arzé’s spring/summer 2016 designs are not only dreamy, with billowy materials and a sort of airy lightness from the sheer weaves, but she also takes pride in her unwavering dedication to accountability. When asked why she chose sustainability over commercial manufacturing, Arzé responded by saying, “There was no choice there. I didn’t want to create just another clothing line. It had to have deeper meaning for me. It had to be socially responsible and sustainable. I care deeply about environmental and social issues.”
From the sustainable Alpaca fiber that’s sheared once a year, handpicked and separated into different categories of color and quality, to the pima cotton used for Arzé’s summer line, the materials play a momentous role in her collections. Because of her dedicated use of native materials, Arzé’s company is able to work with indigenous artisans, with close to 80 percent of them being women, many of whom are the sole providers for their households. This not only coincides with the company’s mission and core value of holding social and environmental sustainability to the highest accord, but also works toward the preservation of Bolivia’s strong heritage of knitting and providing job opportunities through this craft.
When women choose to shop her collection, Arzé wants them to “feel elegant, yet relaxed, fashionable and sophisticated while being comfortable,” and her spring/summer 2016 collection appears to achieve exactly that. With a grounded, yet ethereal quality that transcends commercial fashion, it’s difficult to play favorites, but we’ve managed to choose a few while leaving a little something to the imagination for when you do visit the Anita Arzé website.
Tom – The hand loomed long contrast vest pictured above is a beautiful addition to your spring and summer wardrobes. Throw it on over a camisole and skinny jeans, a slip dress, or even a light long sleeve to combat those chilly evenings – ethical fashion has never looked so good!
Richie – Another hand loomed piece designed for spring and summer wear is the beautiful and lightweight striped poncho shown in cream, black, white, and grey. This quick, no-fuss piece is elegant and functional. Pair with leggings, slacks, jeans, or even over the top of a maxi dress as a stylish and simple layer that’s suitable for warmer temps.
Alex – Fun, sheer, and sexy, this cut out tunic can be worn as a dress or with your favorite bottoms. For the daring, choose to layer the tunic over a bandeau top or lacey bralette, and for a more conservative approach, opt for a camisole or short slip instead. The cut out design is very of the moment, but the material and style is classic and timeless.
Luke – This sheer maxi dress is light, airy, and stands on its own beautifully. Wear this over a camisole-style slip and change the length for different looks. Pair with sandals, wedges, or booties, and have fun layering on the accessories – the possibilities are endless.
The ethos driving Arzé is that every dollar counts, particularly when putting them toward socially and ecologically sustainable products, like ethical fashion. It truly does make a difference. Share your thoughts with us on the EcoSalon Facebook page!
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Image of Models in Ponchos via Anita Arzé