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Brazilians Build Business While Battling Nature’s Foes

Early this year, Oskar Metsavaht, the designer and founder of Brazilian beachwear and casualwear brand Osklen, gathered together a group of biologists,...

Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Green issue 10/30/2007

RIO DE JANEIRO — Early this year, Oskar Metsavaht, the designer and founder of Brazilian beachwear and casualwear brand Osklen, gathered together a group of biologists, environmentalists, designers and artists to launch the e Institute, a nongovernmental organization promoting sustainable development in Brazil.

The e Institute has two main components: the e-brigade and e-fabrics. The e-brigade promotes eco-awareness with a T-shirt line featuring slogans such “Clean Energy” or “Fight the Enemies: methane, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, HFCs, PFCs, and sulfur hexafluorides.” The shirts are sold in Osklen’s 40 Brazilian stores, and part of the profits go to finance the e Institute. The e-brigade also has sponsored community-service events at Rio de Janeiro beachfronts to remove litter and replant native beach vegetation.

The e-fabrics component compiles a catalogue of eco-conscious companies and distributes it within the fashion community to help put local and international buyers in contact with eco-friendly producers.

The e-brigade and Osklen this year teamed up to kick off the Amazon Guardians campaign to use fashion to promote environmental awareness. As a tool for the campaign, Metsavaht created an eponymous winter 2007 collection that sold in Brazil in the first half of this year and now is selling at Osklen’s eight foreign stores, including one in New York. Clothes in the Amazon Guardian collection have Amazonian themes, such as prints of Indian headdresses, birds and tropical trees.

“Some years ago I realized that I could use Osklen, not just to sell clothes, but to change attitudes by promoting environmentally sustainable practices,” said Metsavaht. “After all, we are all guardians of this planet.”