Getting To Know Amour Vert, The Company All About Green Love

As a model, I get to work with so many different types of companies. That’s what I love about my job, I’m a chameleon and I get to change for every brand to represent their image the best I can. From dream wedding dress companies to haute couture and Ready to Wear, it’s beautiful to see behind the scenes and what often goes into making the clothes and the images to sell them. On the flip side, this is what opened my eyes to the sometimes wasteful nature of our industry. A lot of the times, I can feel firsthand the difference between a product that was made with love and one that was made to disintegrate to potentially fuel the overconsumption nature of our economy. I am however a firm believer in working with those who we wish to inspire. It’s not about working against the companies that “aren’t doing it right” but by inspiring them to change and be better! And sometimes, I’m lucky enough to work with companies that I TRULY believe in, like Amour Vert. It was an absolute dream to shoot with a company that is so in alignment with ODM/ODC and our values. Scroll down for my interview with Emory Cooley from Amour Vert and see for yourself why the Model Activist group is obsessed with this company!

1. Tell me a bit about how you got connected with Amour Vert. What’s it like working for them? 

I studied Fashion and Textile Management in school and took a course on sustainability. After taking the course, I was shocked at the corruption within the industry. Upon graduation, I knew I wanted to work for a brand with a larger vision at hand, and I found Amour Vert. I moved from North Carolina almost 2 years ago to join Amour Vert in their quest to change fashion. 

It’s been an amazing experience working at Amour Vert. My co-workers have become close friends and the office has amazing energy. Teams collaborate frequently and ideas are shared and formed throughout the office and between teams. We have a company-wide meeting every Monday and every Friday there is a family-style lunch. When you work for Amour Vert, you’re a part of a family. 

2. What are some of the core values to Amour Vert and how does the company ensure they’re sticking to them?

Our core values are to be sustainable in everything we do. From the factory to the fibers, we are sustainable. We stick to this by having transparency and close relationships with our mills and factories. 

3. I love the fact that the company partners with artists on limited-edition prints. I especially love the print you just did with Buckley for Women’s Day! Tell me a bit about this process and some of the collaborations the company has done in the past and what you have coming up in the future.

We work with value-aligned women to develop prints. The collaborative process is between our design team and the artist. The prints are developed based on the season, designs and story we have planned for the collection they are designing into. 

We have had so many collaborations it’s difficult to speak to all of them, but most recently in March, we partnered with Kate Miller from Elworth Studio. She developed our Mojave Floral print which we love! We will definitely continue this program in the future, while also developing in-house prints. 

4. Tell me a bit about the fabrics Amour Vert uses. They’re so incredibly soft it’s hard to believe they’re sustainable!

We partner to use fiber blends to create new exclusive fabrics that are fashionable, durable and of course, sustainable. We are excited for our exclusive Tencel and Modal blends for the spring season. Tencel comes from eucalyptus trees and Modal comes from beechwood trees and both are created in a closed loop process using sustainable yarns and are biodegradable. We have brand new fabrics from each of these fibers to look forward to this spring.

5. I love the fact that 97% of the clothing is made near the San Francisco office. What’s the importance on producing locally and what are some of the advantages of being so close to the factories? 

Producing locally allows in-person conversations, which we believe are crucial and allow for creative minds to collaborate together. It also allows us the opportunity to touch, feel and see the softness and drape of the fabrics.

6. I also love that you showcase the women in your community who live and breathe the Amour Vert ethos. Tell me about some of these women and why you’ve chosen to highlight them in some of your campaigns

In January we launched the “It’s Not About Us” campaign, it’s a campaign that has no end date and will continuously highlight women who live the ethos of Amour Vert. We believe models are more than a pretty face, and we want to give them a platform to tell their story. 

7. What are the criteria for choosing like-minded companies like Agolde denim, Vitamin A swim, Veja shoes, etc. to sell on the site?

We partner with companies that share the same sustainable and ethical standards. That means these companies are aligned in their values. We work hard so that our customer can shop online and be effortlessly sustainable. 

8. In your opinion, what is the most unsustainable part of the fashion industry? What are you doing to combat this?

There are so many aspects of the fashion industry that are unsustainable, but something that we like to focus on shifting is fabric production. We work with only 100% Certified Organic Cotton (only 1% of the world’s cotton is grown organically), and natural fibers that are produced in a closed loop process, such as our signature Modal, and Tencel. 

These fabrics are not only better for the environment and the farmers, but also for every person working with them along the supply chain, and eventually the customer who purchases and wears the piece. In terms of ethics, we ensure that the factories that we work with respect to their workers by providing safe and clean work environments, a living wage, reasonable hours and breaks. This shouldn’t be unique in the fashion industry, but sadly it is. 

9. For someone new to the sustainable world, what are some key small steps they can look out for when shopping to ensure they’re investing in a good company?

We would encourage consumers to ask for transparency. Ask if the factories are sustainable, understand the fiber content. Customers should educate themselves so they can ask companies the harder questions that often times no one is asking. 

10. What are the next steps for Amour Vert? How do you see yourselves evolving in the next five to ten years?

To continue to grow, open stores and spread awareness about the importance of sustainable fashion, etc. 

A Sustainable Life- L.A. Edition

A month in Los Angeles...

I spent the whole month of May in L.A. this year and to say I was impressed with the abundance of sustainable/ethical/local brands based in the City of Angels is an understatement. While I was aware of the bigger, well-known companies like Reformation, I was time and time again pleasantly surprised with how many ethical options there were. While taking advantage of the fact I was a local for a month, I would occasionally window shop to check out some of the brands I hadn't heard of so I could feel the fabrics and ask the questions, who made the clothes, where the factories were and whatnot. But I decided to also take advantage of the fact that a lot of these companies were producing their pieces right there in L.A. I reached out to as many companies as I could, including the company that makes our ODM/ODC Sustainable is Sexy tees, and got a lot of positive feedback. Not only were companies willing to answer any questions I had but a lot were open to having me visit their headquarters and/or manufacturing warehouses. Transparency at its finest. 

To start, I headed to Groceries Apparel to see where exactly our tees are made and the production process from start to finish. They couldn't have been more open about the entire process which was incredibly important for me, in order to relay all the info to you guys, our customers! I met with the Co-founder of the company and his lead sales rep who told me all about the fabrics they use, where most of their materials are farmed, where their fabrics are dyed, how long they had been in this factory, what future design plans they have, and much much more. I was surprised with how much information they were sharing, especially since growing up I've been used to most companies withholding all this information. We are the buyers and we should be in the know about where everything is made and who all is making it. Why does it have to be so secretive? Groceries Apparel doesn't think so. Below are pictures of their staple tees and the factory where everything is sewn, cut, and sampled. 

Groceries Apparel

Made in L.A.

Pattern making, cutting...

Sewing and bagging away to be dyed at their nearby dye factory!

Next up, I got to meet with the talented visionary behind the L.A. apparel company, EVERYBODY.WORLD. Iris, co-founder of the company previously worked at American Apparel and took everything she learned from working there to create her own line of simple basics, ethically made in L.A. Iris was kind enough to invite me to her L.A. headquarters to talk about the company and how they came about. 

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Iris Alonzo

Co-Founder of EVERYBODY.WORLD

Differing from Groceries, Iris talked about her love of recycled cotton, a newer innovation they're working with to use the discarded fluff that gets wasted when you spin cotton buds into yarn. Oftentimes, this fluff is thrown away. Iris figured it's worth a shot using this as fabric, and therefore a lot of their tees and future products will be made with the "recycled" form of cotton, closing the production loop even further. The funny thing is, there isn't any right or wrong way. While Groceries focuses on organic fabrics, EVERYBODY.WORLD specializes in this recycled material and puts organics lower on their list of priorities. What I started to realize after talking with both companies is that everyone is doing what they can to be better and do better. While some smaller companies can't always afford organic cotton (a lot of the bigger corporations like H&M are buying all the organic materials which drives up costs exponentially), there's always a way to try and be better which is what EVERYBODY.WORLD is after. After recycled cotton, treating their workers well and working with their community is high up on their list of non-negotiables. A lot of their designs have been made through collaborations with people in their community. 

Prakash'a Perfect Sweatpants

Prakash Gokalchand is a 76-year-old spiritualist and chess enthusiast with classic, unassuming style.

The fact that they're collaborating with people in their community to find out what exactly matters to them and what they'd like to see in their ideal pieces of clothing is incredibly inspiring. Talk about giving back to their community!

Some more of our L.A. favorites!

L.A. Style

Below find some of my favorite sustainable pieces I wore throughout my L.A. trip... My Groceries Apparel tee, Levi's jacket I wore to the Eat.Drink.Vegan festival (reusable cutlery from Joseph.Joseph in tow for all the samples!) and the white blouse I found at the Venice Beach flea held on the weekend. Perfectly paired with my friend's gifted vintage Calvin Kleins! 

Suggestions?

Have a favorite sustainable/ethical/made in L.A. brand you'd like us to profile? Comment below, we're always looking to learn more!<3

The Production Process...

We did it!

We finally have some of our own product on the site... Nothing makes us happier than promoting the sustainable and ethical companies we love and trust, but we've always had the itch to create our own stuff and finally we can say we're making strides in the right direction.

The Start...

With the help of online accelerator program Factory45, we were able to seamlessly source materials, factories, suppliers, you name it, with sustainability and ethical production at heart. Shannon Whitehead founder of Factory45, collected everything she learned from starting her own sustainable company and decided to create an online accelerator course to help other passionate entrepreneurs in the eco-friendly world. For anyone with a desire to learn anything pertaining to sustainable production, this course is a gold mine!

We initially had plans to start ODM/ODC with our own line of off-duty model basics, but after some thought, we decided it was a smarter choice to focus on one piece and do it well. Enter the perfect white tee. Our hope is to expand on the wardrobe staple in the future, once we really get the hang of things.  

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The Perfect White Tee

Living in New York City certainly has it benefits, especially for those of us who work in the fashion industry. There are plenty of manufacturing options available, but trying to get your own products or garments made can get a little pricey, especially if you hope to do so in an ethical and sustainable way. That means we had to make a few compromises throughout this whole process, but regardless of that, we promise to continue being open and honest about our methods and practices. That is our main goal. 

If a company produces their clothes overseas but works with a factory that takes care of their workers and ensures proper wages, that's great! We'll promote that kind of work. If they use sustainable materials but may not be fully transparent about their factories, we'll still promote them, but we'll let you know they don't disclose the factories they use.

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When it came to deciding on the production process for our perfect white tee, we knew if if we were going to use cotton, we'd make sure it was organic. And since  organic cotton uses a vast amount of water to produce, we decided it was best to source the  material locally to ensure we weren't using an excess of water in addition to flying the materials overseas  and increasing our carbon footprint. Ethical production was also a big concern, so we chose to use a factory in Brooklyn, giving us the freedom to check in on the production process and meet the people who were making our clothes! By using organic cotton we compromised on water waste but made sure to use a factory that was open with us about their policies.

Surprises along the way...

In addition to chasing the perfect factory, it was important for us to get the fabric right. One thing we learned, though, was that it’s very hard to find a supplier who is open to working with a new company with low production minimums. Luckily, through Factory45, we were able to find a supplier in New York City’s  garment district who had organic cotton sourced locally from Texas. (I will note, however, that when I asked to learn more about the actual cotton farm, the supplier didn’t provide further information. The experience taught me to be more diligent about getting as much information as possible in the future, and I pledge to do that to my best abilities from here on out.)

Eventually, , we were  able to agree on a price that matched our budget and brought our sample yardage into the Brooklyn factory to do a sample T-shirt. Pro: we had this 'test' before we ran full production. Con:  I hated the fabric once I felt it in  t-shirt form.

So... what next?

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Rather than going back to the drawing board and buying more sample fabric, I decided to buy wholesale T-shirts  from Groceries Apparel, a company I already knew and loved. Groceries Apparel will remove their tags and add yours, and the best part about them is the fact they  are extremely transparent about their production process. They have lovely white tees that would rival any of your faves, they’re made with organic cotton and they’re manufactured at their factory in Los Angeles. A perfect match for the ODM/ODC perfect white tee!

We were also able to find a water-based ink printing company locally in Brooklyn along with sustainable fabric for our labels, sourced in Canada.

Sustainable is sexy...

The next phase in completing our perfect white tee was deciding on a design that would both promote the ODM/ODC brand and work as the perfect white tee you could wear with anything. We also wanted it to include a message people would be  proud to wear and support.

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Rather than using  our logo, as we've done in the past with water bottles and reusable straws, we decided to use the slogan "sustainable is sexy.” To us, this takes the "un-cool" out of sustainable clothing and is a catchy slogan that people would be excited to wear. With  our #sustainableissexy campaign, we’re hoping to take the edge off the eco-friendly discussion and  prove to our customers you can dress stylishly, sexily and simply, all with sustainability at heart.
 

With our t-shirts, you don't have to worry whether or not they were made ethically. You don't have to worry if they were made with sustainable materials. We will always be transparent about our practices and how we strive to better our planet. Along with that, we’ll tell you what roadblocks we face along the way and share how  we are constantly learning to be more sustainable and ethical without, of course, compromising on style.

 

Join our movement. Get the perfect white tee that will go with everything, will never go out of style, and is made with integrity, the ODM/ODC way!

#sustainableissexy

*Article edited by Julia Brucculieri of Untangledstories