Much of sustainable design is focused on producing new products in line with the cradle-to-cradle concept but, with so much clothing in landfills, the most compelling applications are those that reclaim and reexamine found materials. San Francisco’s latest eco-fashion launch, Piece x Piece, illustrates how a new response to climate change can be the catalyst for truly smart and innovative design. Created from discarded fabric swatches, the finished limited-edition garments are at once fresh and timeless, a testament to the beauty and possibility inherent in embracing change. We talked to Piece X Piece founder, Elizabeth Brunner, about her new line and what the future holds for responsible fashion lovers.
What are your views on the current state of the eco-fashion movement?
“I think the eco-fashion movement is headed in a good direction in terms of availability and getting more attention. On the West Coast and, in SF in particular, I think more people have eco-fashion in their wardrobes and it’s slowly becoming the norm, which is great. Fast fashion is a hard habit to break because everyone loves a great deal, myself included! But at the same time, I think some people are finding the sparkle of fast fashion fading because it’s generally not original – by any means – and people are craving individuality and want something that’s made well, which usually equates to spending a little more money.”
What about the so-called eco-fashion paradox – when we have so much already, how can buying more create a profound engagement with clothing that can transform and inspire change?
“That’s a tough question but one that I actually thought a lot about when I was studying fashion because I have such a love/hate relationship with the industry. Fashion is a form of expression and it’s really the only way to communicate without saying a word – that’s what I love about it – it’s very creative. It can also be frivolous and superficial but that’s not something you can change peoples minds about. It has to be an observation you make on your own. Then it becomes less about “stuff” and more about substance.”
What do you think the “mantra” of the woman looking to dress more sustainably should be?
“Quality not quantity. If you buy clothes that are well designed, fit you well, and are made well, whether it’s made of organic cotton or not, if it stays in your closet for years over – that’s a form of sustainability that I can get behind.”
Who do you imagine as your customer?
“I hate to give any description of my “customer” because I think it’s very limiting. All I’ll really say is that I make clothes that I love and I hope others love it too.”
Describe your personal style?
“I dress very simply when I’m working because it doesn’t make sense to wear stiletto boots and mini skirts while I’m digging through boxes or cutting out patterns. I have a very easy sense of style and don’t like anything super fussy, so I tend to wear darker tones and accentuate with color. I kick it up a notch or two when I’m out socially, and I hope I’m expressing confidence with ease.”
Tell us about some of your favorite pieces from the line.
“The Cubic Crop is one of my first designs where I knew I was on to something. I created it on one of those days when nothing was coming out the way I wanted it to and I just took a break stepped back and I realized I was trying too hard. I wanted to make something fun and different that was easy to wear and I think I did. I wore this recently with a white tank top underneath, a blazer over it with jeans and boots and I felt really pulled together.”
“The Local Sparrow dress was the first hybrid design in my collection because I use a new fabric on top and pieced the entire bottom. I thought this would make the dress easier to wear but still be eye catching. I love this dress because it’s youthful without being age specific. Pair this dress with some simple black platforms and you’re done!”
“The Skylark wrap is my “piÃ¨ce de résistance” because it truly was a labor of love to complete the first one! This skirt is completely pieced and is cut on the bias for fullness and to give it a nice drape. Everyone who has seen this skirt in person loves it because you can really appreciate all that went into it. I also hand stitch some of the swatches to make it even more special. It’s a wrap skirt also, with a high waist, which accentuates the smallest part of your figure. It’s a great look for Fall/Winter! I wear this with a simple tank top or v-neck t-shirt. You don’t want anything to compete with this skirt so it’s best to keep it simple.”
Where can we find your pieces?
“They are carried exclusively at Wear Something Rare in San Francisco.”