Slow has never been so chic. Designers, even those at the largest fashion houses, where punishing speed is the norm, are pushing back against the pressure to deliver new products at an ever-faster clip. Alessandro Michele, the magpie designer of Gucci, is feeling the burn. In his notes for last month’s show in Milan, he implored attendees: “Resist the mantra of speed that violently leads to losing oneself. Resist the illusion of something new at any cost.” That’s a message plenty of up-and-coming designers are spreading, too. Often they’re forsaking traditional retail schedules and creating staples made to last and, often times, available year-round. Here, a look at some who are leading the charge.
Elizabeth Suzann: Southern Star
Elizabeth Suzann started her namesake label in the spare bedroom of her Nashville apartment, where she cut and sewed every garment. The company has outgrown such humble roots (WWD reported that it reached $1 million in sales after a little more than a year in business), but it has kept its less-is-more ethos. With quality workmanship (everything is still handmade in Nashville) and an aesthetic suggestive of a younger Eileen Fisher, it strives to promote “mindful consumption” through its seasonless basics.
From left: Elizabeth Suzann linen trench, $365; silk crepe midi-dress, $295; raw silk broadcloth tee, $155, and silk crepe tapered pants, $225; at elizabethsuzann.com.
Dear Frances: Step in Line
In just three years, the British footwear label Dear Frances has won a following that includes Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Sienna Miller, as well as industry accolades. (The founder Jane Frances won an award for design excellence from the British Footwear Association.) Yet despite its rapid rise, the company remains dedicated to the concept of slow fashion. Each piece is handmade in Italy, and although the label introduces some new styles each season, the core of the business remains its collection of best sellers.
Dear Frances block-heel ankle boots, $550 at dearfrances.com.
AYR: Green Jeans
For AYR, a label introduced in 2014, the concept of slow fashion is baked right into the name, which stands for “All Year Round.” The company specializes in made-to-last basics in luxe materials. (Think: cashmere crew-necks, camel-hair robe coats.) Aloe jeans, its latest edition, are a mid-rise style made in Los Angeles from high-quality recycled cotton, and washed using just one cup of water (which, in turn, gets recycled to water the in-house laundry’s garden!).
AYR Aloe cotton jeans, $295 at ayr.com.
The Library: Members Only
The Library, a project unveiled this week by the environmentally aware Brooklyn company Slow Factory, may sell clothes, but it aims to be more than just a clothing label. Unlike the usual e-commerce store, the Library has a membership fee of $250 per year, which entitles shoppers to a piece from the collection and access to 10 eco-events organized by the brand. The first capsule collection, out now, includes ethically produced denim jackets, pants, tunics and dresses inspired by classic styles from years past. The idea is to build a community that supports sustainable fashion, and looks good in the process.
The Library Power Suit denim jacket, $665 at thelibrary.eco.
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