Hello! This is Sarah Corley from Fashionable Conversation, with another Eco Interview!
How often do you get to wear something that is rooted in a greater cause yet stylish enough to be in Vogue? New York-based label Mika Organic proves that raising environmental awareness and encouraging action can be both fashionably possible and full of fun!
Known for screen-printed fabrics inspired by nature and animals, Mika Organic does more than celebrate nature; the brand is also focused on taking care of it. Through the sole use of organic materials, Mika’s founder and designer Mika Machida has proven, with each collection, that simple silhouettes can be made loud and fabulous through literal design details.
Mika, you are the designer and founder of the innovative eco-friendly label, Mika Organic. Before we dive into the unique designs that define Mika, we want to learn more about you! So please start off by telling us a little bit about yourself:
My name is Mika Machida, and I am originally from Nagoya, Japan. I moved to NYC in 1999 to study graphic design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and that’s where I found the life-changing art of silkscreen printing! I spent quite a lot of time in the screen-printing studio rather than at the computer lab during my school days.
Apart from a required sewing class in junior and high school in Japan, I have never studied fashion design or clothing production. My designing started as an effort to save some money buying and time looking for things I wanted to wear. I began by making my own simple and fun (funky) clothes, and then I discovered silkscreen printing, which naturally led to printing on my original clothes. I never thought I would have my own clothing line back then, it’s funny how things turn out…
Also, I still do graphic design because I don’t see any separation between any creative fields, so I just keep doing what I love to do.
How did Mika Organic come about?
I started selling some of my handmade clothes at a small boutique in the lower east side of Manhattan around 2002. The store was called “ The art fiend foundation,” and everything in the store was one-of-a-kind and very beautiful. It was through this boutique that I met many wonderful designers, including the storeowner Johanna Hofring, who inspired me as I developed my own designs. Johanna renamed the boutique “Ekovaruhuset/House of Organic” in 2006 and set the new store policy to only include sustainable and organic items. Around that same time, I studied a lot about the impact of the clothing industry on nature, as well as how to live a sustainable life. It really changed my thinking and made me understand the importance of choosing sustainable and organic. When you know the facts, you never go back and make the same mistakes again.
What ideologies and eco-friendly practices are central to your brand and how do you remain true to them?
Everything has to be organically + sustainably made.
Occasionally, I use non-certified yarns from very small-scale farmers as exceptions. Knowing that it’s expensive and takes a long time to get organic certified, I speak to them and get to know the process of how the yarns are produced and processed, and then I buy the yarns directly from them.
Both your spring/summer and autumn/winter 2010 collections include screen-printed fabrics of beautiful things in nature, including land animals, tree trunks, sea life, and more. With each collection, you creatively transform these lovely screen prints into dresses, tops, and skirts, often with especially interesting details (like fringe for a horse’s mane).
Can you tell us more about your designs, what makes them special, and where their inspiration comes from?
I get inspirations from the beauty of nature, the amazing details of animals, and how animals live their lives naturally + sustainably. But the inspirations are endless. I try to go beyond printing animal or nature designs by making clothes in a way that allows the person wearing them to enjoy “being” part of the inspiration. It’s more fun that way!
It’s becoming more difficult to separate Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter, simply because of the relationship between a material’s characteristics and the design itself. To me, it’s better to have the freedom to consider design + idea first and not to think so much about the season.
In this fast-changing society, it is my hope that human life can return to a more natural and sustainable way of being, so I use my clothes to send out messages to people, especially those in urban life. Examples include my Aspen Dress (“Protect the Forest), Whale Dress (“Protect Marine Life”), and Elephant Top (“Save the Elephant”). In addition, part of sales are donated to help protect endangered species of the world.
What garments do you enjoy making the most and why?
I enjoy all! But when ideas get successfully transformed into the garments, that’s the most shining and rewarding moment of all.
What should we expect from Mika in the future? Can you tell us about anything you have in the works right now?
I traveled to Ethiopia and Kenya last year, and I am still processing the inspirations I got from the trip. It was such an amazing place, and it really changed my life…
Also, I am going to the Amazon jungle in Peru at the end of April, so I am looking forward to getting new inspirations from this upcoming trip!
Check out: www.mikaorganic.com
Hello! It’s Mallory again, and I have some handmade fashion for you today from me & oli. I’m completely crazy about everything in their line, as the fabric used to construct the garments is covered in original illustrations. Wonderfully unique, and totally awesome.
Hey y’all! Katy here from Dirty Hems bringing you another installment of N.E.E.T. D.I.Y.!! If you haven’t caught on yet, make sure you keep an eye out every other Friday for a D.I.Y. post from your’s truly!
For the latest project, I’m going to show you how super easy it is to change the look of a basic straw hat with items you probably have laying around on the floor of your closet! This is more of a D.I.Y. ideas post than an actual tutorial, and I really hope it helps you see that all of your accessories can do more than they seem to!
The first thing you need is a hat! I picked up this basic straw hat at a thrift store for $1, can’t get better than that! And if you prefer a different style, go for it! Fedoras, trilbies, bonnets, wide-brimmed…it’s all going to work if you put your personal spin on it.
And there’s some ideas! Necklaces, scarves, brooches, belts, you name it and it can probably go on the hat. Now like it says on the last graphic, it is SO easy to attach items to the hat in a way that can easily be removed. A basic needle & thread, a few stitches here and there, knot the thread off and ta-da! When the mood strikes, all you have to do is snip the thread and start all over.
Have fun trimming your hats! If you do a post in your own blog with a D.I.Y. hat please link in the comments, I’d love to see!
‘Til next time! ♥
N.E.E.T. is about sustainable, organic, natural, vintage and fair trade fashion every day! Here’s what we’re loving on Earth Day 2010…
1. Platform Brogue £125.00 Where @ fashion-conscience.com – Made under a fair trade scheme in India.
2. Julie Park Dress $280.00 ParkVogel @ beklina.com – Uses organic cotton grown in Australia.
3. Bubinga Sunglasses $210.00 iWood Ecodesign @ greenwithglamour.com – Made from eco-sustainable, exotic wood veneer (+ celebrate 20% off sitewide at greenwithglamour.com with code: EVERTHING20).
4. Metal Raven’s Feather Necklace $38.00 verderocks.com – Repurposed and strung on vegan hemp cord.
5. Turquoise Classic Skinny Jeans $82.98 Monkey Genes @ ascensiononline.com – Made from 97% organically grown cotton + 3% lycra, for comfort.
6. ‘Festival Gitana’ Nail Varnish $12.50 pritinyc.com – Priti NYC polishes are all completely non-toxic and the brand regularly collaborates with other socially conscious companies and charities.
7. Fabric Belt $98.00 Kristen Kahle @ kaightshop.com - Made of vintage 1960s’ German cotton fabric.
8. ‘Mixed Greens’ Soap Bar $8.00 nostalgiaorganics.com – Created from organic, biodynamic or wildcrafted botanical, fruit and nut oils and presented in 100% post-consumer recycled paper.
9. Medallion Earrings $30.00 save-the-manimals.com – All pieces are handmade by a team of no more than three craftspeople and leather scraps are recycled and reworked within the Manimal family.
Because “ethical doesn’t have to be ugly!” – Eco-friendly shoes, handmade with vintage fabrics, by London-based designer Kitty Cooper
What’s up N.E.E.T Readers! Jeanee, the N.E.E.T Beauty Blogger, here with an Earth Day treat…
Kiehl’s gives back for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, 2010.
Jeff Koons, Pharrell Williams, Julianne Moore and surfer Malia Jones, “Friends of Kiehl’s,” are striving to donate 100% of proceeds of the limited edition AÇAÍ damage-protecting toning mist to support the Rainforest Alliance. Up to $200,000 from the sale of this product will be donated.
Each celebrity contributed the collectors bottle label design.
The AÇAÍ damage-protecting toning mist is 100% organic. With daily use it helps protect cells from destructive effects of oxidation. Improves the look of radiance and rejuvenation to skin , tightens pores, and clarifies and balances skin’s texture.
Buy one today to support the Rainforest Alliance. Happy Earth Day!
Please email for more info on pricing/artwork: email@example.com
Hi again N.E.E.T readers! It’s Renee Anne here again with another dose of Art & Design goodness! I am always on the hunt for pretty ways to store my art & craft bits and pieces and one of my favourite ways to keep things looking neat (ha!) and pretty is by using vintage floral tins. The perfect thing about them is they always seem to match, in that mis-matched sort of way. Get creatively organised with these pretty vintage tins!
Clockwise from top: Floral Tray $10.00 littlebyrdvintage.etsy.com, D-78 Tin €10.00 alltheluckintheworld.nl, Vintage Biscuit Tin $15.00 havenvintage.etsy.com, Vintage Floral Oval Tin $12.00 ThisOldeStuff.etsy.com, ‘The Beryl’ Round Tin $25.00 AUD twinset.com.au, Decorative Vintage Tin $12.95 PatinaVintage.etsy.com.
For today’s collection of handmade goods, I’ve found some beautiful jewelry featuring rough cut stones, as rough cut stones > clean cut stones, in my personal opinion!
1. The Breath of Heaven Salvage Necklace with Rough Amethyst Point $35.00 Sparrow Salvage 2. Single Crystal Necklace $45.00 Moth House 3. Lil Gold Rush Ring $95.00 Dollybird 4. Crystalline Sunshine Druzy Necklace $62.00 Clementine 5. Radial Clear Quartz Stalactite Slice Necklace $95.00 Brilliance Found 6. Green Garnet Studs $112.00 Lila Ruby King 7. Rocky Ring $70.00 Ach Ach Liebling 8. Raspberry Quartz Necklace $26.00 wonderwear 9. Stalactite Earrings $28.00 Savage Salvage 10. Palmwood and Fluorite Ring $95.00 Silvia De La Rosa Cueto
Hello lovelies! This is Sarah Corley from Fashionable Conversation, and I am your new Eco-Friendly Blogger here at N.E.E.T.! A few times a month, you can expect to see my chats with designers, as I will be bringing you an in-depth look into their brands. Get excited!
Kicking off this fabulous new series for us is Sublet Clothing, a New York-based brand that designs sustainable yet beautiful garments. The brainchild of Tara Eisenberg and Inessah Selditz, Sublet makes being green and socially responsible the fun and fashionable choice by using pretty colors, darling prints, and classic silhouettes as all their materials are eco-friendly. With a new collection ready for the fall, Sublet encourages others to join the sustainable lifestyle movement…
Let’s start with some introductions. Tara and Inessah, please tell us about yourselves:
Hello! We’re Tara and Inessah, the co-owners of Sublet. Tara is a New Yorker, born and raised, and is a fan of fennec foxes, any shade of taupe, and all social events (karaoke, brunch, and cheese parties especially). Inessah is originally from Okinawa, Japan, and loves graphic design books, warm gray, and potlucks. We have both been involved in making our own clothes for years.
The two of you started out as roommates, became best friends, and are now business partners. Can you tell us a little more about how this all happened and how it resulted in your brand, Sublet?
We met during the summer of 2005 through a Craigslist ad for a two-and-a-half-week sublet, which eventually turned into a three-month sublet. When Inessah graduated from design school, she moved up to NYC, and, over sandwiches one day at a deli, we decided to create a company together. We named it Sublet of course because that’s how we met, but it also kind of describes this transitional, creative lifestyle that we both gravitate toward.
Both of us are very independent people and are pretty resourceful. We like problem solving and have a love for chance and surprise. Plus, as individuals before starting Sublet, we both embraced a low-impact, sustainable lifestyle, and this helps make our brand successful.
What’s it like working with your best friend?
I think for both of us, it’s the same… it’s pretty cool. We’ve had our disagreements about things, like what font size to use or which shade of beige is right for our labels, but you’re always going to have that with another person. What has been great is that Sublet is ours, so at the end of the day whatever good things happen result because we figured it out together. Also, we always prepare a meal for each other whenever we meet, so that’s a nice bonus too.
What ideologies are central to your brand and how do you remain true to them?
At Sublet, we are focused on sustainability, creativity, and collaboration. We are always asking ourselves how we can do things better. It was definitely a lot harder when we first started out, but I think you just have to keep on trying to be better.
With our upcoming collection (A/W 10), it’s been really great because we hit all three points in an exciting way. We worked with some new materials (like tencel), created original prints for the first time (including a collaboration with Brooklyn-based artist Caroline Hwang for our Archimedes print), and photographed Annie Hart of Au Revoir Simone (one of our favorite bands) wearing our designs.
Sublet is focused on encouraging the sustainable lifestyle and taking care of the environment. How does the brand’s aesthetic represent your commitment to these standards?
Being sustainable isn’t just about using organic cotton or hemp, it’s also thinking of ‘things’ differently and trying to move away from the mindset that everything is disposable. This isn’t sexy, but at the heart of what we do is make functional garments that we hope people will love for a long time. We ride bikes and take subways and are always finding random things to take home, so if we’re wearing one of our items, we want something that’s not fussy – something you can actually move in. That girl who’s riding her bike down the street with too many grocery bags… that’s the girl we design for.
What has been your greatest accomplishment so far as designers and with Sublet?
Hmm…having Vogue call us directly?! I think honestly the best thing is that we actually went through with what we said we’d do that first day at lunch. It’s a challenging process to get everything to a point where you’re actually producing something. Also, there’s the fact that we’ve never gotten into a big argument, which is pretty remarkable since we can both be really stubborn.
Your newest collection A/W 2010 collection can be viewed online, and it reveals a genius mixture of the unexpected. What inspired your collection?
We were most inspired by the things we know and love: Sunday brunch with friends (also known as Bunday), math and geometry (one of the prints is based off a street-found book on the ancient mathematician, Archimedes), and bunnies (we can’t help it, we love cute animals).
What advice do you have for designers and fashionistas committed to being green?
Just start somewhere. It’s nearly impossible to be in a completely closed circle of sustainability, but we can all do our little part to help out. Start recycling your office paper, donate your extra fabric, and, if possible, look into ways to use sustainable fabrics and support local manufacturers. Test your fabrics and try to develop good relationships with your subcontractors. We still use the same sewers that we worked with the first season. They invite us to their parties and give us little sandwiches and candies when we’re waiting.
Check out: www.subletclothing.com