9 Sustainable Designers To Watch This NYFW

Making the industry greener, one dress at at time

We're bombarded with a stream of fashion-related images on a daily basis. As conscientious consumers, it can be overwhelming; how do we know where to best spend our money so that we're not only making our wardrobe better, but also purchasing in a responsible manner? With NYFW just around the corner, there's no better time to highlight some of the fashion brands that create with the well-being of the planet in mind and are invested not only in what kind of fashion we shop for but also in the future of a sustainable industry.

Sustainability isn’t just about designing collections with eco-friendly materials and sourcing organic or recycled fabrics; it's about creating garments that are built to last—both physically and style-wise. These serve a long-lasting purpose, namely, to reduce the number of clothes we buy. 

While this might sound like a sensible approach (particularly right now, when we have a presidential administration determined to deny the effects of climate change), it's surprising how few designers presenting at NYFW make an effort to use sustainable, ethical practices—at least publicly. But that's all the more reason to celebrate the ones that do. Below, meet the designers who not only create fashion that consumers will want to wear, but also the kind of clothes we can invest in and feel good about. 

Photo courtesy of Nicholas K

Nicholas K
Founded by Christopher and Nicholas Kunz back in 2003, urban nomad label Nicholas K is certainly no newcomer to the fashion game. The duo design collections that are versatile, transitional, and meant to transcend seasons, thus prolonging the life of each piece. “On a macro level, we strive to create products that are modern with longevity in aesthetics and construction,” says Nicholas. “Relevance many seasons later is how we define success.”

However, a movement toward furthering sustainability took time: “In the early years, our vision seemed at odds with the industry norm,” says Christopher. “As we matured along with the online customer, so too did sustainable partners in the supply chain.” 

Over the past few years, they have incorporated more eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, vegetable-dyed leather, Tencel, and more as well as developed a vertical relationship in order to reduce logistics, making it easier to oversee the sustainability measures of the factories used.

“Design is an innovate process that should always include sustainability,” says Nicholas. “I do believe there will be a point where designers will want more for themselves, their families, and the collective community. It’s human nature to be mindful, aware, and have a desire to contribute.”

“We encourage everyone to make incremental steps [toward sustainability]. We are all partners in our future,” adds Christopher.

Nicholas K will be showing on Thursday, February 9 at Skylight Clarkson Square.