Sustainability was the underlying message at Wednesday’s Fashion for Peace presentation at Spring Place.
Before the event got under way, participating designers Norma Kamali, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Mara Hoffman and Mimi Prober posed for photos with the Isha Foundation’s Sadhguru, who supported the event. In honor of the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth, the foundation is considering the importance of natural farming and food, eco-friendly model housing, and environmentally friendly textiles. “We’re here to show we can do the same things a little more gently and peacefully,” Sadhguru said.
Hoffman said the takeaway should be the need for collaborative efforts and working toward mission-purpose creation. “At least that’s our philosophy with it — being able to lend hands in an industry that more often than not polarizes itself,” she said.
Earlier in the week Hoffman was honored as a Champion of Sustainability by the company Repreve, which produces a fiber made from recycled plastic bottles that the designer uses for her signature swimwear. “The work that we’re doing is constantly trying to find less harmful ways of every approach from the ground up.”
Having gotten into sustainability after 15 years in business, she understands how overwhelming rethinking manufacturing and all elements of production can be. And increased price points is another consideration. “It can become a paralyzing idea to actually shift. You can make small changes, but it takes huge commitments. When you invest in low-impact fabrics and factories, you’re going to be paying for that. So you’re either eating that or bringing that to your customers,” she said. “For larger companies, it can even feel more intimidating, but it’s necessary.”
Mukherjee, who has collaborated on capsule collections with Christian Louboutin and a limited-run home one with Pottery Barn, has focused on sustainability and Indian textiles in his collection for 20-plus years. His hope is to bring back all the archived textiles and handwork that has been slightly eclipsed. Having shown during New York Fashion Week in the past, he expects to look West again for expansion.
Americans have been seeking him out, after he dressed Priyanka Chopra for her second wedding to Nick Jonas. The designer has outfitted many brides over the years, including Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, who married Ranveer Singh at Lake Como in November. Mukherjee said, “While a lot of brides have Bridezilla moments, she was very easy and she really enjoyed her own wedding. She was almost like a guest at her own wedding. She had a lot of fun, she let her hair down and she was quite easy to work with.
“I don’t want to be immodest about it, but we are probably India’s strongest wedding brand. Priyanka’s wedding probably helped to concentrate the business, but it was still a strong business before her wedding as well. It brought us a lot of international attention. Because of Priyanka’s and Nick’s wedding, I’m getting a lot of inquiries from people who want me to design their wedding clothes and many of them are mainstream Americans, not even Indians,” Mukherjee said.
The designer had only worked with Chopra once before. “She said, ‘Look, I’m getting married. Would you do my clothes?’ I said, ‘Why not? That’s what we do.’ It happened very quickly,” he said, adding that only one fitting was needed. “She wanted to wear red. She said, ‘You know I’m a jeans-and-T-shirt girl who likes to wear sick shoes. I’m a fun girl. While I want to wear something traditional, it should also be modern and reflects Indian craftsmanship but is also global. Because of the man that I’m marrying, I don’t want it to be overly Indian. I want it to be something that can be understood by people from a much wider audience.’”