We are living in entropic times. Between a global pandemic, an economic downturn, and a mercurial war, fashion brands have fought to adapt to these evolving hardships and stay afloat. While producing masks, relocating production centers, and adjusting prices have become the status quo, the pressure to keep investing in sustainable fabrics, tools, and equipment remains. Because these tend to be far more costly, the synergy of these crises has challenged designers in ways never experienced before.
“It has been difficult to focus on our sustainable mission with all the current global issues disrupting everyone’s daily lives,” says Sandrine de Laage, creative director of French brand Oscar Massin. “We have seen the best and worst of humanity, and it makes us all think about the legacy we are leaving behind.” The relaunched maison, which revisits the brand’s centuries-old design codes using recycled gold and lab-grown diamonds, finds purpose in its climate-neutral mission. “We stay motivated if we can bring some beauty and joy into the world in a way that doesn’t cause any kind of harm to the planet.”
Mary Furtas, Ukrainian designer behind indie label CULTNAKED, agrees. “In the short period between the pandemic and the current war, we have made a little progress [on our sustainability goals], but the plan is way different,” says Furtas. “Our only option is to pivot, adjust and find other paths forward.” The label has moved its production from its offices in Lviv, Ukraine to underground bomb shelters in the same city—serving as an inspiration for all sustainable designers striving to persevere amidst cataclysmic circumstances. CULTNAKED’s operations remain in compliance with local labor regulations, providing safe conditions, normal hours, meals, and breaks for all of its highly skilled female seamstresses—and innovating with recycled materials at the same time.