Is it possible to create an eco-friendly label?
Lika Volkova, the designer behind SANS clothing line says no. The result of a new clothing line is, of course, more clothing. When all is said and done, this means that more factories are running, more trucks are transporting, and ultimately, more waste is being created.
Organic cotton? Well, it just another myth. Cotton — organic or not — requires excessive amounts of water to produce.
Lika urges us to stop using “green” and “sustainable” labels and rethink clothing production instead. The result would be making things a little bit better and move incrementally towards greener design. In Lika’s opinion this includes using both organic and synthetic fabrics.
Based in New York, Lika and her partner Alessandro DeVito have created the SANS clothing line in order to explore what “a legitimate path to the future” would be like in terms of clothing design and sustainable production.
Lika moved to the US from Russia at 17 and started an independent line called ANTILIKA in New York several years later. After her first runway show, Lika realized that her interest was not in the fashion world’s system of brands, marketing, and the spectacle of shows.
In fact, she sees large-scale shows contributing to the industry’s overall carbon footprint as professionals fly around the world multiple times a year to see presentations, which today could be seen online live.
ANTILIKA concentrated on small, personal collections that experimented with shape and practicality. “I was really interested in making things for certain reasons that weren’t necessarily fashion,” she says. “I was interested in what comfort meant. For example pants could be comfortable for the legs, but not comfortable for the mind.”
ANTILIKA featured almost exclusively synthetic fabric. Neoprene, a synthetic rubber used for sneakers and wetsuits, was a main component.
“I was trying to make things that didn’t look like clothes,” Lika says.
Many of her designs are driven by her unique notion of functionality. Lika explains, “I, for example, am neurotic and I always need to do something with my hands. So I made clothes for people like me — you could change the shape according to your mood. ”
Lika joined forces with Devito to form SANS in 2006 in an attempt to produce more eco-friendly clothing that would appeal to a wider audience.
“Alex showed me some eco-brands, but they all looked the same,” says Lika, “there was nothing about them that said it could be a legitimate path to the future.”
The first SANS collection was about the American basics – jeans and t-shirts, which Lika re-worked for their “practicality”. She made jeans with pockets for drinks, the scarves turned into handbags and dresses had two sizes built into them. The collection was created out of the newest organic materials available at the time, like soy fabrics made of tofu by-products.
However, the use of organic materials is only a part of SANS’ interest in sustainability.
As Lika states, “Just substituting artificial fabrics with natural ones is not going to be the solution… it’s more important to come up with different values about clothes.”
One of the biggest problem in the world of fashion is that of over-production. In response, SANS has introduced downloadable patterns on their website.
Lika explains that providing patterns cuts down on carbon intensive mass production and distribution. Instead of mass producing a garment that gets shipped throughout the world, people can buy a pattern (prices range from $6 to $25) and either create clothes themselves or bring it to their local tailor to create it for them. The idea is that the garment is made locally.
“When you have a piece that you made yourself, you relate to it differently. You value it differently.” says Lika.
Perhaps a garment would not be easily thrown away to be replaced by a new one, had it been made by our hands.
For further reading on SANS check out EcoFashionWorld