Clothing does not have to be the enemy of sustainable living. After all, even the most ardent of activists have to get dressed in the morning. Luckily, designers like Lia Kes exist to wardrobe them.
She recently teamed up with artist and fellow environmentalist Zaria Forman to launch a capsule collection available to shop Thursday.
Featuring Forman’s pastel renderings of melted arctic ice caps, the eight pieces chronicle global warming’s impact on one of Earth’s most fragile biomes.
“The whole project is an invigorating and powerful experience where the real value comes from the energy behind the process and not the commodity,” said Kes.
Prior to attending Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Tel Aviv, Kes was raised on Kibbutz Afikim in Israel’s Jordan Valley. The verdant landscape that surrounded her, as well as the commune’s devotion to preserving it, informed her relationship with climate advocacy. The designer builds on the artisanal techniques she learned in the Afikim workshop, applying these to a range of seasonless garments executed mostly in silk.
A longtime muse of Kes, Forman was given carte blanche on the designer’s most popular silhouettes. Their clean, sinuous lines heighten the visual impact of her hyperrealist work, which, in a spectrum of ultramarine, pits natural beauty against a harrowing reality.
This is most prevalent on a floor-length slip pieced together from patches of upcycled silk charmeuse. Raw edges fracture the dress’ surface, lending a rugged touch. For when contributing to a sustainable future requires a bit of elbow grease, there is a cotton twill jumpsuit with pockets big enough for gardening tools as well as a cropped organza hoodie, an oversized T-shirt and a coordinating pair of drawstring joggers.
Collaboration came naturally to Kes and Forman, as both women share a mutual understanding of how creative endeavors can drive social change. “Art plays a critical role in communicating the complex issues involved in the climate emergency,” said Forman who was the artist-in-residence aboard the National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica. “We need people and parties from all arenas to work together.”
In addition to the Kes e-commerce platform and Upper West Side boutique, pieces from the capsule will be available at a new location in SoHo, which opened March 5. By expanding her brand’s footprint in New York, the designer hopes to further engage a downtown clientele. “I am particularly excited about this new retail space as it will also become a locus for small events and special projects,” she said.
Prices for the Kes and Lia Forman capsule range from $295 to $925.