Fashion students today are following the pattern of such high-profile designers as Nicole Miller by weaving sustainability into their creations.
Miller, who has a home in Sag Harbor and whose fashions have been worn by celebrities including Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Susan Sarandon, Angelina Jolie, Brooke Shields, Eva Longoria, and Sheryl Crow, has for years been conscious about the negative imprint the traditional fashion industry can leave on the environment. And for Earth Day this year Miller has created an exclusive pair of denim jeans with Eco Made technology, in which the fabric is derived from recycled water bottles and plant-based materials.
“I’ve always been passionate about sustainability,” Miller said in an interview this month. She adds that about 10 years ago her company introduced a line of men’s carbon neutral ties. “Flash forward to my recent fall-winter 2019 runway collections which was centered around being sustainable. I wanted to reuse existing garments to create something completely fresh. I upcycled some vintage men’s cashmere sweaters that I found, and the design team and I slashed them, tie-dyed them, and embellished them.”
Miller notes she has been working with vintage denim as well in her spring and fall pieces — cutting up the material to make pockets and using the old waistbands as trim.
“In Europe, I found a lot of recycled fabrics,” Miller says. “Europeans are much more aggressive with their recycling.” She says there are a lot of companies in the forefront of the sustainability effort. “I think a lot of it is just creating awareness, which is why I am doing everything I can to help spread the message. We created a pair of denim that is made of fabrics from recycled water bottles, an Anti-Plastic Tee, and I even played around with a plastic deli bag and made a top that is completely inspired by it.”
Ten percent of the sales of the tee, which has “Anti-Plastic” written across it, and Miller’s eco-friendly denim go to the Rocky Mountain Institute. She describes the institute as “a global think-and-do tank in Colorado that’s committed to scaling innovative clean energy solutions.” She adds, “They do great work and we’ve been longtime supporters of them and their mission.”
Miller says her sustainability efforts are also reflected in her Manhattan showroom.
“We are really focused on living and breathing this anti-plastic-sustainability message here in the showroom too,” Miller says. “We got rid of plastic cups and encourage the use of refilling your own water bottles and recycling.”
Miller says she believes sustainable fashion is the future of the industry.
“The dyeing process is tough on the environment as it pollutes the water with toxic waste from factories which gets leaked into our rivers and oceans,” Miller says. “There is so much water used and wasted during this process as well.” She adds, “I think everyone, including designers, should be conscious of their carbon footprint.”
Miller’s High-Rise Skinny denim ($99), created to commemorate Earth Day, and her Anti-Plastic tee ($75), are available on NicoleMiller.com.