A Deep Dive Into Sustainable Materials with Sarah Nimptsch of By The Sun
Today we talk to Co-Founder of By The Sun, Sarah Nimptsch on the inspiration behind the brand and the intentional choices behind the materials they use in the collection! By The Sun was co-founded By Sarah Nimptsch and Kelsey Robinson Cook, see Kelsey’s recent editorial on By The Sun & her sustainable lifestyle!
“Natural materials are wonderful, but what we really need to bring to focus is not just how the material is made, but what transpires in the aftermath. Can this fiber replenish the soil it came from? Will this fabric be compostable once its life as a piece of clothing comes to an end?”
– Sarah Nimptsch
First of all, can you tell us a bit about what made you want to create By The Sun?
The creation of By The Sun dates back to when I had just graduated from high school. I opted out of going to college and instead took the time to zoom out and gain some perspective on what truly brought me happiness and fueled a passion in me. After some serious thought, I kept returning to the same topic – fashion.
Fast forward to a couple of years down the line, I was working as a production assistant for a prominent LA brand. I learned to love the process from conception to collection. However, throughout that process is when I learned the true reality of fashion; the wasteful and unethical protocols that are considered daily norms. I left that job with a complete understanding of my purpose on this Earth. Creating a brand that is not only sustainable but ethical.
Kelsey and I became close friends largely because we both had very similar tastes in just about everything, including our genuine love for our planet. We would chat over a glass of wine and get so worked up about the fashion industry and would then dream about one day starting our own line.
One of those chats led us to putting together what we would want our first collection to be. Next thing you know, we’re in Bali making it happen.
What was the basic ethos of the line?
Ethics over everything, timelessness, and forever embracing the feeling of being By The Sun.
“Ethics over everything, timelessness,
and forever embracing the feeling of being By The Sun.”
– By The Sun’s Ethos
How did you own day to day style and materials you like to wear influence going about picking the fabrics that would make up the line?
Kelsey and I both lead lifestyles very much centered around the sea & the sun, which reflects highly in our fabric decisions both aesthetically and functionally. For example – the first pieces we launched were created out of a fabric that displayed this beautiful, natural, wavy texture. The Capri Button Down and Palma Pant physically are reflections of the ocean, and they are the perfect pieces to be worn by the ocean.
Bridging our muse in a way where it is represented both tangibly and functionally.
Can you tell us a bit about the fabrics you have ended up using? (A break down of each would be wonderful here!)
We were extremely fortunate to have found a team that fully grasped our vision of sustainability and ethics. Kelsey and I came to our initial meeting with a set of standards and guidelines that we needed to have when sourcing. Choosing local vendors was of the utmost importance, cutting out any emissions caused by air travel. Each swatch presented to us was a fabric originating naturally, organically, or through regeneration. We ultimately chose based on look, feel, and quality. Our Off-White textured fabric is constructed out of hemp & organic cotton – both of which give more than they take from our planet. Our Sur x Palma set is crafted lovingly out of viscose. Local vendors produce the biodegradable fiber in sustainably managed forests.
Do you think using natural materials is always the best option – why or why not?
Natural materials are wonderful, but what we really need to bring to focus is not just how the material is made, but what transpires in the aftermath. Can this fiber replenish the soil it came from? Will this fabric be compostable once its life as a piece of clothing comes to an end?
Any material that can give once it has taken is the best option.
Would you ever love to work with a certain material that you haven’t incorporated into the line yet?
So many! We’re just getting started on our journey. Our dream is to see a day when all materials that are used within the fashion industry are in some way sustainable. We’re both very much looking forward to experimenting with fabrics and materials and hopefully being able to extend a helping hand toward a fully sustainable future.
And how did you find the factory to work with? What sort of criteria did you want to have them connect with that reflected your own ethos?
Having previously worked with factories in Bali, I knew that they were the front-runners when it came to ethical fashion standards. So we started our search there! We chose our team based on the fact that they not only aligned with our own standards, but they surpassed them. Our team sources factories that abide by their own special set of certifications. They conduct a thorough inspection, ranging from safe working conditions to the overall happiness of each soul that steps foot into the factory. Going beyond that, our team awards factories with additional badges of honor. Categories like Women Founded, Family Owned, LGBTQ, Giving Back, etc. The wonderful women of our factory who produce By The Sun support & generously give back to their local orphanage.
For anyone looking to dress more ethically, what advice would you give them to look out for in terms of the material composition of what they may be considering purchasing?
The best form of ethical shopping is repurposing a pre-loved item. But if you can’t find what you’re looking for in a thrifted item, the following best materials are those that are either recycled, natural, organic, or biodegradable. Avoid fabrics like polyester, cotton, and nylon. There’s so much power in choice, and we are beyond lucky to live in a world now where we have the choice to purchase a sustainable alternative.
Finally, what does truly sustainable fashion look like to you?
Truly sustainable fashion to me is placing a spotlight more so on the ethical side of the process. Brands can claim sustainability, but at what cost? Top-tier working conditions, fair living wages, and obtainable timelines – these are the standards that need to be accounted for when claiming sustainability.
Words by Sarah Nimptsch @sarahnimptsch