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Our Unique Approach to Sustainability

What Sustainability Means To Us

By Co-Founder Cora Hilts

This week, I had the privilege of launching a specially curated pop up of Rêve En Vert designers at the Shop at Bluebird here in London. The pop up, Stories, is a spotlight of our brands and their unique approaches to sustainability – from innovative modes of production to making use of materials that would have otherwise gone to waste, we have covered a broad spectrum of new ways of creating fashion.

 

It was during my talk with Eco Age at the launch party specifically that I started to think about how my unique approach to sustainability has evolved since starting Rêve En Vert four years ago. Back then, people told me I was crazy to consider sustainability becoming a serious consideration in the luxury sphere. It’s too complicated, too much is swept under the rug, people don’t want to think about dirty things when it comes to beautiful fashion, and so on and so on. But now sustainability is not only a part of luxury fashion, it seems to be something of a buzzword.

 

You may have seen the £350 Vetements tee shirt with the quote “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money“ or the vast majority of high-end designers putting “FEMINIST” slogans all over their products. I have done some digging into these products and most of them have been made on conventional cotton with no traceability and ridiculously high price tags on these simple designs. Whilst I strongly concur with these sentiments, the likelihood they were made by women producing below minimum wage is high yet as consumers, and especially as women, we are expected to wear these with pride and feel as though we are doing our part to send a strong message to the world about our stances. It seems we still have a bit of a way to go in terms of clarity as to what sustainability means, though a lot of companies are now utilizing the word when it suits.

 

My biggest concern as a co-founder of this company that has always had sustainability at its core is how we remain authentic in this new world of ethical trendiness. On one hand, I’m thrilled so many people are now talking about it and considering it in fashion. On the other hand, I’m concerned consumers are becoming more and more confused as to what sustainability actually means. So I think it needs to be clear what our stance is and will remain to be and I wanted to take a bit of time to reiterate this to those of you who could not join us at Bluebird.

 

Rêve En Vert was founded with the knowledge that people love fashion and should be able to consume it, but that it had to be done very differently than it has been over the last two decades. That means there will be sacrifices by some who love a bargain – fast fashion, no matter how you spin it, is unsustainable by nature and “conscious collections” and recycling schemes end up accounting for .3-.5% of company – and changes for those who want consume luxury products but don’t bother caring about where their £2,000 coat was made or where the materials for it came from.

 

Rêve En Vert was meant to sit in the middle of these opposite extremes of fashion, a well-curated platform of fashion that was priced fairly but not so low that it could be consumed rapidly. Our tenets of sustainability were defined in the olden days and remain the same now: organic, remade, local and fair. You can check out our definitions of those tenets in detail at our Ethos page. We vet all of our designers to high standards and can provide certification of their factories, their materials and their labour forces.

 

Behind the scenes, we are working on removing plastic from our logistics to the greatest extent possible and discouraging our designers from using it. We use UPS carbon neutral shipping and donate to Trees for the Future to offset the inevitable emissions of running an international business. Our studio runs entirely off solar energy. Every effort is considered to maintain an overall atmosphere that lends itself to practicing what we preach. Our unique approach to sustainability is to build a company structured upon ethics so we never have to turn things around. Of course there will always be room to improve and that’s where we learn not only from our designers, but also from creating our own line with a mind-set of zero waste, minimal carbon footprint and the most ethical sourcing we can facilitate.

 

Our beliefs has always been that consumers need not sacrifice style for ethics, that we can wear beautiful clothing without the fear of making the world less beautiful in the process. At the same time we believe that education, responsibility and accountability should be pushed to the forefront of the fashion industry. We will continue to do this so long as we are Rêve En Vert.