A look from Baacal

“We have a responsibility to look at every single thing we do and what we put out there and what we create. Having been in the industry for so long, I wasn’t as aware as I should be,” said designer Cynthia Vincent. When she decided to launch a new size-inclusive brand called Baacal in November, she began educating herself and started with the basics, like questioning the use of single-use plastics for delivering cut fabric. “I told my fabric cutter I would make fabric bags for him to reuse each time. It’s the first of many steps,” she said.

Biggest achievement: “Can I say just launching the line was an achievement?” Vincent asked of her first direct-to-consumer venture. “Also, I exceeded my goal of using 80 percent existing stock or deadstock fabrics and trims. Everything you see on the site is upcycled, mostly overstock vintage fabrics and trims. Even the linings. For 2019, what I’ve done is 90 percent sustainable.” The only fabric Vincent had manufactured was a certified organic silk used for an evening caftan.

Biggest challenge: “I have not solved the issue of shipping yet. So how do I pack the garment when it’s raining? I’d have to use plastic.”

Is being sustainable cost-effective: “I thought from a business model it would be great, but honestly, it’s lost in the manufacturing process. You buy what exists, but you may want to make 40 or 50 of something but you only have fabric for 18, so you have to source more and do the processes again. It’s still worth it to me.”

If you could wave a magic wand: “I’d take that big island of plastic out of the ocean and build something with it. Maybe it becomes a hotel or a museum of trash to remind us.”