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The Brooklyn label talks about working sustainably and taking transparency to a new level.

Whether it’s culture, knowledge or contacts – fashion has a funny relationship with sharing. Through local production, supply chain transparency, university lecturing and designer-artisan partnerships, Study NY’s Tara St James’ has made her practice all about it. This week, we spoke to the Brooklyn-based designer and tutor about sustainability, transparency and the importance of asking your industry peers for help.

What are your design influences?

– I’m influenced and inspired by a lot sources: music, art, people on the street, movement, craft; however my primary inspiration always comes from sourcing and developing textiles. It is my favourite part of the process and where I start every collection.

You have an impressive all-round approach to sustainability. What aspect or process would you like to explore more?

– Thank you. I’ve discovered that it’s impossible to do everything sustainably, there’s always going to be a conflict of some sort, but I’ve tried many different strategies in order to discover which work for me, which I’m most passionate about and which resonate with my aesthetic.  The ones that seem to have stuck are zero-waste pattern design, organic and natural fibers, transparent supply chains, recycled materials / upcycling textile waste and convertible / seasonless styles. Of course I’d like to explore all of this further, but I’m most interested in examining my supply chain and communicating my transparency more.

You also tutor fashion students at FIT on sustainability. If you could give them one piece of advice, what would it be?

– One lesson I wish I had learned earlier on was not to be afraid to ask for help or admit when you don’t know something. The industry, at least in New York, is very sharing and wants to support itself. I’ve been given some great contacts by my vendors when I’ve reached out and asked for help, and in return I’ve shared contacts with them when it was appropriate.

What are you imagining for Study NY next year?

– As mentioned above, I’d most like to explore my supply chain, which is my plan for 2017, in order to trace back as many of my fabrics and fibers as I can, all the way back to the farm and share that supply chain with my customers. Transparency is my new catch phrase.


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