Blame it on my mom. She raised me to be an environmentalist. Reduce, reuse and recycle was sung to me at an early age. And I love it. It taught me to love this planet. I want to do all I can to treat it with respect and care for it.
When I dove into this clothing design thing, I had no idea what I was doing. I was fortunate enough to meet a good number of San Francisco designers in the early stages. They were all “eco” in some way. That rocked. I was introduced to various sustainable approaches. I tried a few and pick the ones that work best for me.
For my materials I like ones that are on their second life cycle. This could range from vintage finds in fabulous condition to an industry rejects (i.e. one shade of pink too light, print size off by a tenth of an inch, silly things like that). Instead of heading to the landfill, I sweep them up and bring them back to my studio.
I also try to save everything thing when it comes to bobble-bits and buttons. My pieces are all about the details. I need cool, funky stuff. I break away from traditional notions. Almost any chain you see was once a necklace. I use a lot of jewelry, in fact. It is one of the key elements that make my pieces one-of-a-kinds.
I maximize the materials, too. Main goal is that nothing goes to waste. If I come across an awesome fisherman’s sweater from Ireland that’s never been worn because it’s too darn hot at an estate sale, I can use it towards 3 garments. The arms will go towards a jacket and the body will become a shoulder wrap. The chest part will go towards scarves. And if there’s anything leftover, that will be cut up and used as pillow stuffing.
For the jacket and vest featured in this post I started with a vintage, Australian ski sweater (LOVE it!), a men’s zip-up cardigan, a remnant of wool that had a stain in the corner (which I didn’t need) and a wool scarf that still had its tags I found at Goodwill. For the details on the men’s sweater, everything used was from my stash of saved notions. I’m saving the sleeves from the ski sweater for a future piece. But the rest of the leftover were cut up into small bits (teenagers come in handy).
All this works great for Sutter Larkin, especially for Bilancia, my Burning Man line. When it comes to customs, I will break away from this approach if it means getting the perfect materials. If buying materials on first cycle is needed, I will buy from independent and local merchants.
Love yourself and love this planet. That’s what Sutter Larkin is all about.