Sass Brown. She is a researcher, writer, blogger, designer, educator and the Acting Assistant Dean for the School of Art and Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York. Her book, Eco Fashion is the Bible for anyone with interest in slow design and handcrafting. Her newest book, ReFashioned, features some of our favorite designers, including 2ETN and Piece X Piece , who are using upcycled materials in their designs. We are pleased to discuss the new book and the future of Eco Fashion with the Queen herself..SASS BROWN.
THE LBM: How did Eco Fashion and Upcycling become your passion?
SASS: I think it was a natural progression for me as a designer, one in retrospect that makes a lot of sense. As a young designer I had always been conscious about waste. I shared a studio with a number of other designers, and always seemed to be playing the role of the recycing police with them. I donated all my fabric scraps to a kids school for craft lessons and a local hand made paper maker. After my business closed, I worked as a designer merchandiser for some large Canadian and US brands, and ended up hating the industry. My escape became teaching, which through a conference in Brazil, introduced me to an inspirational women’s cooperative, and the dye was cast. I went on from there to volunteer, work and then advise craft based cooperatives and emerging designers in the creative industries in a number of developing countries, which combined with travel, has been one of the great passions and pleasures of my life.
THE LBM: How do you think Eco Fashion could become more of a force in what most would consider mainstream fashion?
SASS: This is a difficult one, as the transition of ethical design to the mainstream industry is not going to be an easy one. You cant simply replace fast fashion and cheap imports with mass marketed eco fashion. Every part of the supply chain from earth to dirt needs revising, including consumption, which by default is a major part of the problem. That means changing lifestyle patterns that are ingrained, and that is never easy. So many things have to happen to make fundamental changes to what and how we produce as well as how we consume and discard. That said many of those things are well underway with a host of mostly small emerging designers showing the way and taking massive ethical strides in how and where they produce. There is also a growing number of consumers invested in making changes to the way they live, as well as the way they consume. The ultimate issue is taking responsibility for your choices, especially where you invest your hard earned dollars. We vote every day with those, and too often we are supporting a system that is taking advantage of people and damaging the ecology. In the developed world, there is no longer an excuse to spend without knowledge, know who and what you are supporting.
THE LBM: How did you choose the designers featured in your newest book ReFashioned?
SASS: A combination of existing knowledge, synchronicity in meeting new designers and the need to be global in coverage. I am fortunate that I travel widely, and I make it a point each time I do, no matter the purpose of the trip, to spend a little time researching and discovering the uniqueness of the creative industries in that locale. Inevitably a book has a certain structure, which ends up making certain choices for you just to keep chapter lengths even, or geographical representation relatively balanced, while covering a breadth of techniques, processes and styles.
Your favorite virtue? HONESTY
Your idea of happiness? WAKING UP LYING NEXT TO THE ONE I LOVE
If not yourself, who would you be? ITS ACTUALLY A WHAT, I HAVE DECIDED THAT NEXT LIFE I WANT TO COME BACK AS AN OAK TREE, GROW VERY OLD AND VERY SLOW, WITH MY BIGGEST CONCERN BEING A DOG PEEING ON MY ROOTS!
The natural talent you would like to be gifted with? A SENSE OF HUMOUR
Your favorite motto? YOU MUST BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD