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​This Sustainable, Gender-Fluid Clothing Label Was Born At A Rave In Queens

Designers
Photos by Daryl Oh

HECHA / 做 will take you from the office to the club

Welcome to The Green Scene. Twice a week during the month of April, we're highlighting the designers and brands working to make the world of fashion and beauty a greener, more sustainable place. The brands to support are the ones making a difference; check back every Tuesday and Thursday to meet your new favorites.

It's not often that a line of rave-friendly clothing is versatile enough to wear to the office as well as to wherever you may find yourself dancing later that evening (err, or the next morning). And when it also happens to be sustainable and ethically produced? Well, sign us up.

HECHA / 做 was started by two friends, Luz Fernández and Ting Ding. The now-business partners first met through a mutual friend while living in Berlin in 2013, but it wasn't until they both found themselves in New York City in 2016 and attending the same raves—including one in Ridgewood, Queens—that the idea for HECHA / 做 came to be. "The collaboration made a lot of sense; Luz would use her artistic expertise to drive the creation and production aspects of the brand, while Ting would be on the back end focusing on the marketing and commercialization of the product," they tell me. "Together, we approach the fashion industry with a fresh set of eyes that allows us to think and do things outside of pre-established systems."

The line is small and simple, with launches spread out over the course of a season, consisting of two garments at a time. Currently, the brand boasts a unisex, hand-painted pair of overalls and a matching jacket, as well as an athleisure-inspired turtleneck and legging.

While these pieces are apt for any rave that you'd find Ding and Fernández attending, they are also meant to be much more versatile and functional than that. "Our hope is to bring about an awareness that extends beyond fashion and the material object," they tell me. "Streetwear is often considered a token, or collectible branded object, rather than a reflection of everyday life and personal culture. As seasoned ravers, we consider the importance of being able to jump from a work environment to the club or art space."

The name represents both Fernández and Ding, by incorporating the first languages they each learned to speak, serving as a tie to both of their origins and cultural backgrounds—as well as the act of labor and physically making something: "Hecha" is the feminine form of "made" or "created" in Spanish, while "做" is the Chinese character that means "to make" or "to produce."

"Since fashion often disassociates itself from the less glamorous aspect of the production process, we felt that it was important to link the labor or production to the brand," the two tell me.

For Fernández and Ding, sustainability was an important aspect of HECHA / 做 from the very beginning. "We figured if we weren't going to be conscientious about what we do, then why do it at all?" they say. "We, as a society, are all moving too fast and in a way that's not sustainable for neither ourselves nor Mother Earth." They cite capitalism and its continuous need for expansion as a part of the problem, saying:

HECHA / 做approaches things with empathy by recognizing that everything and everyone has value. By hand-painting the fabrics and taking the time to explain the ideology behind the garments, we hope to add value and give our consumers a chance to build a relationship with the object, rather than overwhelming them with the false illusion of choice. The idea is to slow down HECHA / 做's involvement in the rapid cycling of fashion seasons by creating items that are made well—and with added value—to increase each piece's longevity in order to reduce waste.

However, HECHA / 做's sustainability aspect goes beyond just a slow fashion cycle and products that are built to last. All of its hand-painted garments are made of a hemp-based material. "Hemp is a sturdy plant that consumes four times less water than cotton and does not rely on the use of herbicides or pesticides, making it gentle on the earth," they tell me. The ink used for each piece is water-based, non-toxic, screen-printing ink. All activewear is made from recycled polyester, which not only reduces environmental pollution by keeping it out of landfills, but it cuts back on fossil fuel and energy consumption and decreases CO2 emissions.

In terms of production, the brand supports local businesses, allowing Fernández and Ding to be present in the process, making on-site visits and having on-site meetings, and to oversee quality and ethical working conditions.

And it will only to continue to grow from there. "Being a sustainable brand is an ongoing process of observation and experimentation that never ends, and we're continuously improving along the way," they say. "Sustainability is a broad and generic term with no consistent standard or definition. We take a more holistic view on it and consider many aspects along the production chain to define our practices. Every detail of the fabric-to-garment-to-utility is considered."


"Being a sustainable brand is an ongoing process of observation and experimentation that never ends, and we're continuously improving along the way."


In addition to sustainability, the brand strives to create products with "empathy-driven gestures"—and the founders believe all brands should be taking these measures in order to resonate with today's consumers. "The meme 'There is no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism' rings true, more or less, calling out how we are all roped into complicity with brand standards," they say. "If brands wish to resonate with the growing market of customers who are more aware of their consumption, then companies should, and ought to, move toward sustainable practices. Any brand that sympathizes with their consumers will push for an 'empathy-driven' business model, focused on transparency and re-standardization."

An example of this would be its Make Techno Black Again hat project, a collaboration with the creative agency Grit Creative Group. "The hat celebrates the origins of techno and its roots in cities like Detroit and the African-American working-class experience," the founders tell me. "The Make Techno Black Again campaign is a project of canonical reinstatement, in which 20 percent of revenues are donated to Living Arts, a Detroit-based youth arts nonprofit. Giving back and creating social alliances akin to subculture are ways in which brands can keep up with their consumer's growing consciousness."

This summer, HECHA / 做's full collection will be available at Refuge Arts, a Brooklyn-based creative space, as a pop-up running from June 20 to 23. The pop-up will use the space as a "blank canvas" that will be painted, and thus "filled with context," by the brand's collaborators and fellow friends and artists of Ding and Fernández.

Not based in New York City? Head on over to the brand's newly launched e-shop, which runs with a slow-release strategy, dropping two new designs every few weeks. Each drop highlights and profiles a "creative-doer" from their local New York City community, styling the garments themselves in an environment of their choice.

Photo by Daryl Oh

Photo by Daryl Oh

Photo by Daryl Oh

Photo by Daryl Oh

Photo by Daryl Oh

Photo by Daryl Oh

Photos: Daryl Oh
Models: Aarron Ricks, Pauli Cakes, and Paul Bui

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Photo courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment/Netflix

We're shook and shaking our heads

Awards season is indeed on the horizon. Today the nominees for the 71st annual Emmy Award nominations were announced, crowning the best in television programming over the past year—from June 1, 2018, through May 31, 2019, specifically. For some performers, creators, crews, networks, and fans, this is a time for celebration and congratulations. For others, it's a moment of disappointment; or at the very least, an opportunity to complain a little bit.

Here are my snubs, surprises, and the nominations that I'm so excited about I could scream.

Snub: Tracee Ellis-Ross in 'black-ish'

Three-time Emmy nominee Tracee Ellis-Ross was not nominated for her role in black-ish, and I would like to speak to the manager.

Snub: 'The Masked Singer'

The Masked Singer might seem gimmicky, but it's actually really good and has shaken up the monotony of other singing competition shows. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough for the Emmy voters.

Surprise: 'Surviving R. Kelly'

I was admittedly surprised to see Surviving R. Kelly validated as one of the most impactful docu-series of the year. It has changed the conversation about sexual assault and grooming and added pressure to law enforcement to hold the singer accountable. It was nominated for Best Informational Series or Special.

Snub: Julia Roberts in 'Homecoming'

Julia Roberts stepped off of her well-established film actress pedestal to bring a PODCAST to life, and this is the thanks she gets? She killed it in Homecoming, and yet it didn't get a single nomination.

Surprise: Beyoncé's 'Homecoming'

Speaking of Homecoming, Beyoncé's Netflix documentary about her 2018 Coachella performance—which doubled as a tribute to HBCUs—was nominated for Best Variety Special. All she has to do is win this, snag an Oscar for The Lion King soundtrack, and put Broadway in her GPS, and Beyhive, we have ourselves an EGOT!

Snub: 'Gentleman Jack'

Gentleman Jack didn't get a single nomination. It hasn't even been a full month since Pride, and we're already shitting on gay rights. Wow.

Snub: 'Grace & Frankie'

I know that Grace & Frankie went off the rails a little bit this year, so I get the show being absent from the Best Comedy Series category. But for neither Lily Tomlin or Jane Fonda to be recognized just feels… wrong.

Snub: 'American Horror Story: Apocalypse'

Jessica Lange is that bitch and deserves her nomination for returning to American Horror Story: Apocalypse. But Evan Peters should have received some recognition for wearing that terrible wig while he played a Satan-worshipping tech bro; Sarah Paulson carried the show; and nothing but respect to MY antichrist, Cody Fern.

Snub: 'Haunting of Hill House'

Another horror series that deserved a chance this year was Haunting of Hill House. It was scary as hell, but also a great drama about a family dealing with grief and trauma. It could be that the Emmy voters were too damn terrified to make it to the end, though. Fair.

Surprise: Billy Porter in 'Pose'

Billy Porter got a Lead Actor nomination for Pose, and I can't think of anyone more deserving. I can't wait to see what he wears on award night.

Surprise: Jharrel Jerome In 'When They See Us'

It cannot be understated how much Jharrel Jerome deserves his nomination for Lead Actor in a Limited Drama Series. His performance in Ava DuVernay's When They See Us still haunts me.

Surprise: Kit Harington In 'Game of Thrones'

Kit Harington as Best Actor. IKYFL.

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