Bridgett Artise uses the familiar concept of eco-friendly fashion to launch the first bold idea of a Sustainable Fashion Week

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Broadening the scope of the fashion world, Artise showcased emerging sustainable designers with a fresh new idea in a post-pandemic world—go virtual to merge green thought, safety and forward-thinking creatives. 

Stringent criteria for being a part of the fashion world has been the name of the game for a very long time. But, trailblazing fashion designer, professor, author and founder of Sustainable Fashion Week, Bridgett Artise, offered something different that could possibly change the way we look at the fashion industry forever.

Sustainable Fashion Week put on a series of showcases and talks highlighting the idea of eco-conscious fashion on a virtual platform. Launched on YouTube in mid-September, the channel and subsequent social media featured a wide mixture of designers—from students, to nascent architects of threads, to celebrity and international designers and vintage collectors. 

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Kicking off the event was Newark celebrity designer Marco Hall, plus fashion designer Tyrone Chablis, and Arlinda McIntosh of Sofistafunk. To push against the mainstream, at Sustainable Fashion Week, there were no height or weight parameters. Anyone was eligible to participate, all they had to carry was the confidence to be seen. 

“In the high end magazines or fashion week, the models that we see are not the people we’re around . . .Everybody is slim, everybody is above height and lily white,” says Artise.

. . . .

The inspiration of this fashion week is owed to the House of BAV, an extension of Born Again Vintage, a sustainable fashion brand. 

To get designers involved, part of the incentive was to produce a fashion show every year. It was at that point Artise realized, there were no sustainable fashion weeks. “If it wasn’t for the store, I wouldn’t have went down this rabbit hole,” says Artise.

Partnering with Rick Davy, co-founder of Sustainable Fashion Week, presider over Fashion Week Brooklyn and founder of BK Style, a non-profit that focuses on building fashion entrepreneurship in low income communities, Artise’s goal was to get viewers to relearn without realizing it. “I think sustainability is something that we all know and is natural for us,” says Artise.

Artise’s methods of deconstructing, reinventing and recycling haven’t received push back from the mainstream fashion industry. In fact, it is common knowledge within the market for designers to encounter buyers who ask for samples, yet fail to follow up in supporting them the following season. Artise has often encountered similar depictions of her designs in stores. “Us newbies, emerging and indie designers, have all been ripped off by the big conglomerates for decades,” says Artise. Sustainable Fashion Week on the other hand can be imitated but never duplicated. With designers from every level of the fashion game, Sustainable Fashion Week has tapped into the underground of the fashion world.

Bolstering upcycling and reinvention

Dress by celebrity designer, Marco Hall.

Sustainable Fashion Week promoted eco friendly vendors and philosophies, not only because it is fashion forward, but also because it reduces the amount of pollutants in the air.

Highlights of Sustainable Fashion Week featured vendors such as Spartan Made, who crafts durable bags, face masks and accessories in a solar powered trailer. Another designer, Vintage Cartel AZ, aims to source and curate unique vintage garments. While Rice Love, works within a mission to eradicate global hunger through the selling of eco friendly bags and using the proceeds to feed families in need. 

Another vendor, Magpies & Peacocks, Inc. a non-profit dedicated to the collection and sustainable reuse of post consumer clothing, scrap textiles and accessories. Lastly, Terina Nicole Hill, author, designer, and founder of Jypsea leathergoods, featured a line of luxe leather home goods, hand bags and jewelry, made primarily with recycled skins.

Broadening the scope of the fashion world

Accessories by Magpies & Peacocks

The uniqueness, creativity and freedom that stands behind vendors’ choices to remain sustainable, shows that fashion can save the planet rather than kill it like it has been doing for decades. The fashion industry is the second largest pollutant in the world to the oil industry. Every year millions of garments are discarded as consumers’ buy fast-fashion styles for a new wardrobe. 

Sustainable Fashion Week vendor and designer, Hill, recounts a myriad of issues brought on by America’s hasty habit of discarding clothing. “Each of us throws away 60 lbs of unwanted clothes a year,” says Hill. 

These clothes end up in landfills, which according to Hill takes years to break down because of the fibers the clothes are made of. Incidentally, the sunrays cause the clothes to emit fumes that we’re breathing, causing cancer and damaging the ozone layer. Not to mention we’re running out of space for landfills. 

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Next is the issue of exploitation. As a matter of fact, most of our garments are not made in the United States. Due to labor laws and the demands for livable wages, benefits and a safe working environment, most clothes are made in developing countries or districts in other parts of the world. For this reason, most fashion designers and big brands aren’t willing to hire garment makers in the US because it’s just not cost efficient in capitalism. So they would rather have their garments sewn in China and Malaysia, where all they have to do is pay for the labor. “You have that cute dress you only paid $40 for, but someone is suffering . . . someone has only been paid $2 to make that dress for you,” says Hill

As reported during Sustainable Fashion Week’s launch, companies like Zara, H&M and Forever 21 have turned fast fashion into big business. Granted some people may feel incapable of upcycling their wardrobe, Hill encourages consumers to purchase their clothing from a designer who upcycles to cut back on the amount of clothing that goes into landfills. “It’s something any of us can do with the tools we have right now,” says Hill. 

Though most consumers don’t know about sustainable fashion, Sustainable Fashion Week gets the message out there in an easy way. In the words of Artise, “Consistency always prevails.”

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