Looking to shop more sustainably? Whether you’re in the market for baby blankets and bibs, beachwear or fashions, we’re spotlighting a few of our favorite brands and shops that are putting their best eco-foot forward. Here, they talk to us about what they’re doing—and why it matters.
Siyana Huszar, the co-founder and creative director of Marcella, a line of timeless women’s fashion and accessories, including everything from dresses to bags, talks to us about the origins of the brand (there’s a first date involved!) and how they’re empowering girls around the world.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE BRAND—WHEN DID YOU FOUND IT AND WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT?
My co-founder (and husband) Andy and I officially left our corporate jobs in early 2017 to pursue Marcella full-time, but the brand feels like it’s been a part of us for much longer. We actually first connected on our similarly passionate approach to women’s empowerment over a first date, which has continued to be one of the main inspirations behind what our now 65-person global team does. In short, you could say that Marcella had already been born by the time the bruschetta arrived during Andy’s and my first dinner together!
WHAT ROLE DOES SUSTAINABILITY PLAY IN YOUR DESIGNS?
Sustainability is factored into every decision we make; indeed, it’s one of the four foundational “pillars” of Marcella! From the timeless (not fad-driven) design aesthetic and its versatility, to the largely eco-friendly materials we use, to our “just-in-time” small batch production process, to the sustainable wages and benefits with which we compensate our (mainly female) production workforce, at Marcella, we carefully consider how best to approach every step to ensure we can be a positive force for change in the global fashion industry (and world at large).
Something that you don’t hear much about but that is one of the most harmful aspects of the fashion industry is overproduction and the waste that comes from the unsold products being made and then being burned or sent to landfill. We’re proud to say that we’ve been able to scale a production method at Marcella that ends with our selling over 99 percent of what we make without ever resorting to liquidation pricing or landfill, a uniquely sustainable number among our competition and one of which we are supremely proud. That’s the beauty of how we’ve built Marcella; we’ve been able to talk through and plan for every step along the way with our team to make ours a brand that is as sustainably and ethically conscious as possible.
WHY IS SUSTAINABILITY SUCH A CORNERSTONE OF THE BRAND?
For us, sustainability is more than about just solving for overproduction or unwanted products, the side effects of which have led the fashion industry to be the world’s second largest polluting industry. It’s about our belief that what we wear everyday can make us that much more connected to the one planet we have, hopefully leaving it beautiful and plentiful for the generations to come. How can we promote the advancement of women and girls globally if we might be contributing to a future that can seem so bleak? Every facet of our brand (price accessibility for designer quality, ethical production, sustainability and social impact) feeds into each other to design not only a fabulous end-product line but hopefully also a better future. In both our hearts and minds, we believe that it has to be about more than just fashion at the end of the day!
YOU’RE ALSO GIVING BACK IN OTHER WAYS. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE SCHOOL DAYS PROJECT AND WHY IT’S AN IMPORTANT INITIATIVE FOR YOU?
Our main passion at Marcella has always been the desire to advance women and girls globally. While we strive to do that across every major aspect of our brand through our “Four Pillars” approach, our central social impact initiative, the School Days Project, is the beating heart of our inspiration.
We work with a powerhouse partner, the global NGO, CAM- FED, to support girls in Sub-Saharan Africa—a region where poverty excludes millions from education—to go to school, learn, thrive and lead. With every design we sell, Marcella sponsors three days of school for an unprivileged girl, covering everything from school fees to uniforms to menstrual pads to allow her to attend school. To date, since the program launch in April 2021, Marcella has covered over 780,000 school days and counting!
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PIECES FOR SPRING/ SUMMER?
We’re so proud of our new Spring/Summer ’23 collection that it’s hard to choose just a few! Our team has been particularly in love with the Darcey top, Olympia bolero, Racine dress, and our Tulla heeled sandals. They’re all so versatile, and we believe they represent the theme of [this year’s] collection, “Metamorphosis,” especially well.
Swimwear might not be the first thing you think about when it comes to sustainable fashions, but Hannah Todd and Ainsley Rose, co-founders of Londre, which offers swimwear, dresses, tops and more, are proving that notion wrong. Here, they tell us more about it:
WE’D LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT HOW LONDRE WAS STARTED—WHEN WERE YOU FOUNDED AND WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION?
HANNAH TODD: Londre was dreamt up amongst the sandy beaches of Sayulita [Mexico] and brought to life through our pas- sion to pioneer sustainability into the swimwear space and encourage women to feel powerfully seen. With this motivation in our hearts, we set out on a mission to create the most flattering sustainable swimwear on the planet, despite only having Google as our main source of knowledge. The first steps included long road trips out to fabric warehouses to scour through different layers of woven buttery textures until we found just the right ones. (Working our way through a couple of duds, I can tell you from experience, not all sustainable fabric is created equal.) Second steps involved this carefully selected fabric being stolen from an initial misaligned manufacturer, but despite this setback and our textile going missing, our drive to bring this project to life remained. We launched in 2017, with our minimalist swimsuit in black and white, and it is still our biggest seller today, six years later. We are deeply grateful we stuck it out.
WHAT SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES DO YOU INCORPORATE IN YOUR BRAND AND DESIGNS?
AINSLEY ROSE: As a company, we think about sustainability from a 360-degree perspective. This means not only the materials we are using, but the packaging it’s shipped in, the people who are sewing the garments and all the way down to the water being used to create our tex- tile. We work with an OEKO-Tex 100-certified factory, which means that our factory uses the least amount of water possible in production and the water that is used can return into the system, free of any harmful chemicals or metals and is PH balanced. We also like to think about sustainability from the perspective of versatility. If you can buy one item and wear it multiple different ways, it saves you from purchasing more than you need. Our pieces are designed with this in mind and I personally love to wear our sport scoop top as a sports bra or a crop top.
IN WHAT OTHER WAYS IS THE COMPANY HELPING THE PLANET?
HT: We believe that every action has an impact and it’s our duty to make a difference in any way we can. Sustainability, for us, has been a core value since day one and we are deeply grateful to our community for supporting us in this greater vision. Through their belief in us, we’ve been able to replant three coral reefs, upcycle over 1 million plastic bottles into our time-less pieces, remove 5,000 pounds of waste off the Pacific Northwest coast and donate to initiatives such as the NAACP, Surf Rider, Indigenous Climate Action and more. At Londre, every day is Earth Day because all that we do is rooted in relationships: with our team, our community and our beautiful planet.
WHAT PIECES ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT THIS SEASON?
AR: We’re currently working on a very exciting collab with an SI rookie, launching end of May. This collaboration is a tangible embodiment of the wonders of women—the shapes her body can make and the duality of softness and strength within her being. We’ve partnered with Camille Hunt, a New York-based artist, to capture the essence of this message and move it beyond the canvas and into a powerful creation.
This spring’s launches have been filled with new prints, colors and some versatile new styles. I am currently pregnant and love wearing our Everywhere skirt (at right) with our bandeau top in Fresh Cut green with a blazer or a jacket on top. The low-rise nature of this skirt gives my new shape lots of flexibility and this color keeps me energized and vibrant.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR LONDRE?
HT: We’re incredibly excited to be exploring more R&D (research and development) in the sustainable textile space. Last year we launched a plant-based suit made from castor beans, which aligns with our vision for a plastic-free future. We’re excited to continue exploring plant-based fabrics born out of a more circular economy that continues to celebrate all women and our planet.
With a new storefront on Elm Street in Greenwich, Timo & Violet, which launched in January of this year, offers earth-inspired, eco-conscious blankets, bibs, bathrobes and more for babies and kids. Owners Ronit Weinberg and Erin Jensen give us a look behind the brand.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT TIMO & VIOLET AND THE INSPIRATION BEHIND ITS LAUNCH
RONIT WEINBERG: Timo & Violet offers timeless, consciously crafted children’s linens that honor nature, spark wonder and are inspired by the natural world around us. We believe that creating a brand with positive objectives and a strong sensibility is essential.
ERIN JENSEN: Aside from the sustainability aspects, the true personality of Timo & Violet lies within the exclusive artwork. For spring 2023, we partnered with Aurélie Baudry Palmer, who recently created illustrations for HRH The Princess of Wales.
RW: We feel honored to have gotten to work with her. Each Timo & Violet spring pattern was created from original watercolor artwork and inspired by naturescapes and animals we found whimsical and reflective of the Timo & Violet spirit.
EJ: The name Timo & Violet means to honor nature and it’s our hope that by caring for nature, connecting with different cultures, and cultivating style in products that we can make the journey a little more beautiful.
IN WHAT WAYS IS SUSTAINABILITY INCORPORATED INTO THE DESIGNS—AND WHY WAS THIS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
EJ: . We prioritize using natural and organic fibers, with nearly 100 percent of our fabrics being organic. Each fabric is ethically sourced and produced with uncompromising standards, ensuring that all textiles are organic, all workers are treated fairly and no harmful products nor packaging touch the production process.
RW: As mothers ourselves, it was of the utmost importance for us to create a brand that promoted eco-consciousness. Not only are our products produced sustainably, but we hope that Timo & Violet pieces will be passed on to younger siblings or friends, pro- moting circularity.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PRODUCTS FOR SPRING/ SUMMER?
RW: While all of our products lend themselves to year-round use, we especially love the bathrobes (above) and swim ponchos (opposite page) for the summer months.
EJ: Yes! They are perfect at the pool, beach or after running through the sprinkler in the backyard.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE BRAND?
EJ: We are really thrilled to share that we will be launching our full line of bedding in May 2023. The line will include a crib sheet, crib quilt and crib pillow—all in the various Timo & Violet prints.
If you’re looking for one place to shop for a variety of sustainable designs, Darien Sport Shop is your go-to stop. Here, CEO Gina Zangrillo gives us the inside scoop—plus some of her favorite pieces for spring and summer.
HAVE YOU NOTICED AN INCREASED INTEREST IN SHOPPERS CHOOSING ECO-FRIENDLY FASHIONS—AND, IF SO, WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?
I think we’ve certainly seen a shift in our clients paying more attention to how our products are sourced and made, without a doubt. Being eco-friendly is just far more top of mind in all aspects of our lives than it used to be, which is a great thing, so it’s only natural that an increased awareness and curiosity has translated into the realm of fashion.
HOW DOES DARIEN SPORT SHOP CATER TO THIS, PARTICULARLY WHEN IT COMES TO CUSTOMER SERVICE?
Well, our green shopping bag has become somewhat of a staple for us, and they’re spotted everywhere. We recently shifted to using a reusable material instead of the paper of a few years ago, which was a no-brainer for us. We even stopped making red holiday bags in an effort to conserve and just encourage our customers to reuse their bags each time they visit us. We’ve also used an eco-friendly Smart Car for all our local deliveries. You can spot it around Darien and New Canaan almost daily!
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE SUSTAINABLY MINDED BRANDS IN THE STORE? ANYTHING STAND- OUT THIS SEASON?
My favorite sustainable brand that we carry is Frank & Eileen. They are a care-free, casual laid-back lifestyle brand that’s perfect for transitional months. They use ethical and sustainable manufacturers, use all-natural materials, and they are also women-owned and operated. The Wicklow pant and Kinsale pant are two of our bestsellers and their No. 1 shirt is the Eileen shirt that we carry in several colors and patterns. We also sell brands like Veja, which uses raw materials to make their sneakers, and Fair Harbor, which uses recycled materials for their swimsuits.
ANYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW?
Darien Sport Shop has been and always will be looking to improve our sustainability practices, and we look forward to expanding our assortment of sustainable partners each season.