Chloé creative director Gabriela Hearst talks about making fashion sustainable: “We are not perfect, but we are trying hard”

Read Time:6 Minute, 36 Second

Writer Fiona Sinclair Scott, CNN

When Uruguayan fashion designer Gabriela Hearst was announced as the creative director of luxury fashion brand Chloé in December last year, anyone familiar with her work knew that this meant that this 70-year-old French brand had changed – especially Considering that the CEO of the brand, Riccardo Bellini, has indicated that he wants to use this label in a new goal-driven direction.

Hirst has long been a thoughtful designer, dedicated to making beautiful clothes, but not at the expense of our planet. A few years after Hirst inherited the family ranch from her father, she launched the brand of the same name in 2015, an experience that shaped her commitment to sustainable development.

The control of the farmland where she grew up and the childhood memories of growing up off the grid have profoundly affected her fashion design methods: slow, small, and emphasizing handmade products. For example, many of Hearst’s leather bags are manufactured to order or in small batches.

Hirst has worked in New York for many years, and now she divides her time between the United States and France, designing collections for Chloé and her namesake brand. Although there are obvious differences between the two brands, her design spirit remains the same.

In an interview at the Chloé showroom in Paris, just a few days before she sat with the artist Dustin Yellin and 11 Madison Park chef Daniel Humm in the COP26 group, the designer publicly-and urgently-talked about fashion The role of the climate crisis in transformation has become what she calls “climate success.”

“I grew up on a farm,” she said. “Everything is used on the farm, so I learned practical skills for sustainable development there.

“We live in a (world) that overproduces what we don’t need,” she said, explaining that her three-point design approach focuses on fossil fuels, overconsumption, and the need to restore the environment. “What effect does this product have on these three points?” She said, this is one of the questions she asked when creating new clothing or accessories. “Is it water saving? Does it use less fossil fuel? Can we transport it by ship instead of airplane?”

This spirit is part of the reason why her clothes are so expensive: a handmade Gabriela Hearst cashmere cloak sells for more than $3,000, and a leather skirt (out of stock on the Chloé website) sells for $5,895. The price tag may seem too high, even for luxury fashion, but Hirst said she wants customers to think about it before buying. She wants her clients to see her design as a family heirloom or at least a lifetime investment. If you look at it this way, for example, a pair of boots that sell for more than US$1,500, if worn for 25 years, the cost of one year can be considered more palatable US$60.

At the Met Gala in September 2021, Hirst wore Chloé for actress Gillian Anderson.

At the Met Gala in September 2021, Hirst wore Chloé for actress Gillian Anderson. CEDIT: Arturo Holmes/MG21/Getty Images

“I always tell my clients,’Don’t buy too much, buy what you need, what you want, what you want to pass on.'” This is a mentality she learned from her mother. Her clothes are made of Made by a family tailor, it would take a lifetime.

Hirst is attracted to Chloé because it has an aesthetic that she understands. “This is natural to my vocabulary,” she joked, and this job must be given to her because she has the same name as the brand founder Gaby Aghion.

More seriously, the designer said that the opportunity to implement the research and development that she and her team at Gabriela Hearst have been conducting for years has inspired her. She wants to know, can she expand in a larger, more mature house? The answer seems to be: yes.

Since taking the helm of creativity last year, Hirst has created three collections for Chloé. Her first design was completed in two months, and the turnaround time was very tight. The 2021 Fall/Winter collection on display in March this year includes a collaboration with the Sheltersuit Foundation, a non-profit organization that makes coats for the homeless. From duffel bags to waterproof jackets to several zippered sleeping bags, the Sheltersuits of the charity’s namesake are made of recycled and unsellable materials. Hearst invited founder Bas Trimmer to the brand’s studio to make backpacks using similar spirit and some slow-moving materials from Chloé. The brand subsequently announced that for every backpack sold, it will make two sets of protective clothing for those in need.

As for the rest of the series, Chloé issued a statement claiming that “its impact-resistant materials can be considered four times less than last year.” Polyester and viscose fibers are eliminated, recycled or reused, denim is organic, and vintage bags are reused. “New is not always better,” Hirst wrote in a statement, referred to as “Gabi” in news materials.

Gabriela Hearst cheered the victory after his latest show for Chloé during Paris Fashion Week, where nearly 60% of the materials used were low-impact.

Gabriela Hearst cheered the victory after his latest show for Chloé during Paris Fashion Week, where nearly 60% of the materials used were low-impact. CEDIT: Christy Sparrow/Getty Images

The third series she designed for the brand is also the most recent series, and it was announced that independent craftsmen will handcraft more items than ever before under a new sub-brand Chloé Craft.

“Although the influence of Chloé Craft is inherently low, the challenge is to find ways to make mass-produced products more environmentally conscious,” read a statement that also details handbags and Nama sneakers (they are priced relatively (Lower) and other major products (how higher the quantity) has been improved to use low-impact materials.

Outdoor performances were staged along the Seine River in Paris, where guests’ seats were made of bricks by a French organization called Les Bâtisseuses (builders), which taught female refugees ecological construction skills.

Hearst stands out in an industry full of symbolism and “greenwashing”. Her motives are deep and personal. She said that no matter what her status in the fashion world, she is “a person, a mother who is worried about my children and other people’s children” to solve this problem.

A few years ago, a trip to northeastern Kenya with the British charity Save the Children gave Hirst a first-hand understanding of the human damage caused by the climate crisis. The severe drought in 2017 made the people she met desolate. She said it was these experiences that inspired her to use her platform to take action. “I see too clearly. If we don’t take action, what the result will be, I can’t ignore it.”
This chunky white knit dress is from the Chloé 2021 autumn/winter collection.

This chunky white knit dress is from the Chloé 2021 autumn/winter collection. CEDIT: Zoe Gertner/Chloe

Last month, Chloé announced that it had officially obtained the status of B Corporation, a rigorous certification process that assesses the social and environmental impact of a company-the first in the luxury fashion industry (though Hirst hopes it will not be the last).

The designer admits that despite the efforts she and her team have made, there is still a lot of work to be done. However, Hirst said, time is running out, and now is not the time to pursue perfectionism. “I believe everyone is nervous about doing things perfectly, but… we must be’good enough.’ You must be able to say, “We are not perfect, but we are trying hard. ”

“We are all trying to find a way to do business in the new economy, and if you don’t try to do this, you will be excluded.”

A few days later, in Glasgow, Hirst, accompanied by Daniel Hamm and Dustin Yelling, said to a small group of COP26 representatives: “It is artists and scientists, not politicians, that get us out of trouble.”

“To believe that something will happen requires originality.”

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