Eco-friendly fabrics have come a long way in recent years and so has Susan Woo, who began her namesake environmentally conscious clothing line in 2009.
Feted with the 2013 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award for sustainable design, Woo said she feels like she’s hitting her stride creatively and has been handed the tools to put her creativity into action.
“When I first started, all the organic fabrics were the most simple, easy, plain fabrics in the world,” she said. “Now, I have been given a much greater palette to work with.” RELATED STORY: The Las Vegas Scene >>
Strong on tailored pieces, Woo’s fall collection features pencil skirts, dresses, blouses, pants, shorts and jackets out of organic cotton and wool, natural silk and leather in black, gray, white, cream and burgundy.
During a year in which fairy tales are being retold on the big screen (“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” and “Jack the Giant Slayer”), Woo said the inspiration for the collection was a damsel in distress who, instead of waiting for a man to come to her rescue, saves herself.
“It has a romantic element to it, but it is not girly or feminine,” she declared.
Powerful females play a constant role in Woo’s work. Every season, she said, she envisions making clothes for a woman she calls Jane Bond.
“She’s so capable and so self-assured,” said Woo.
That female archetype crosses boundaries, and Woo insisted her clothes do, too. “I honestly feel that the collection is more for a spirit than a certain body type or geography,” she said. “It is about this woman who is very confident. There is a real edge to it.”
Woo describes her green approach as a bonus to shoppers, not usually the sole reason they buy her line. However, she is committed to her design process and production being as sustainable as possible.
Woo’s devotion to sustainability started at an early age. She recalled her parents were careful about what they put in and on their bodies. Organic food and makeup were household staples.
“I never grew up drinking soda. I joke they were juicing 20 years ago. They were so ahead of the trends,” she said. “I realized so much of it worked its way into my subconscious. I try to live a very healthy lifestyle.”
Woo’s personal experience is important to her brand. “I really wanted it to be something personal, not just an aesthetic. If you look at the luxury brands and the brands I have worked at in the past, it is about lifestyle. You have an emotional connection with the brand,” said Woo, who toiled at Louis Vuitton, Derek Lam and Chanel before going out on her own. “People who buy the collection really appreciate the story behind it, whether they agree with the eco aspect or not.”
Skirts, blouses and coats have been strong sellers for Susan Woo, according to the designer. “I love a great coat. I will spend money on a great coat. It is a passion of mine,” she said. “Everybody wears a black coat, but you want something special.”
Woo has sold her line, which is priced at retail from $120 to $945, in just a few boutiques, including Bhoomki in New York and Atelier 360 in Greenwich, Conn., on purpose.
“We had talked with department stores, but we weren’t ready. I am a big believer in walking before you run,” said Woo.
But the brand is spreading its wings. It is selling abroad and is even considering entering a department store. Although the deal isn’t done, Woo said, “It is really catering to a certain clientele, and it is more of a boutique [line]. That intrigues us because it would be a comfortable fit.”
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)
@heriethpaul and @gracebol have a moment on the @victoriassecret fashion show 2017. See every look from the runway on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo) #wwdfashion #victoriassecret #VSFashionShow
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia