Fashion Activism: Ecommerce & Community

by Celine Semaan Vernon

Join us today for an amazing panel at General Assembly:

INTRO TO THE NYC ECOMMERCE (FASHION) BRANDS COMMUNITY

New York City is a melting pot of communities of thinkers and makers. Our “Intro to the ‘X’ Community” event series will give you the inside scoop as well as the tips and tricks you need to break into the respective community.
Have you ever dreamt of creating a successful business, but not known exactly how to do it? Join us this week for an evening that will give you an exclusive opportunity to hear firsthand how three impressive female founders got their innovative and inspiring companies off the proverbial eCommerce ground.
And if that’s not enough to entice you, the event will kick-off with a mini POP-UP SHOP featuring wares from THINX, The Brave Collection, and Slow Factory! Network and enjoy free smoothies from Lulitonix before we break into an intimate panel discussion with these rising eCommerce rockstars.

Filed under: activism community fashion general assembly panel

Green is the new denim (take two)

by Celine Semaan Vernon

This post is referring to "Green is the new Denim" written by Vanessa Friedman.

The magic combo Pharrell + Adidas + Parley = Green Power

Adidas announced that it had signed a five-year “seven figure” contract to team up with an organization called Parley for the Oceans, which was created to publicize and tackle the problem of ocean plastic. Credit via Parley for the Oceans

The Information Age and open data has made the reality behind fast fashion and mass productions and encouraged mass consumption impossible to deny or ignore (especially after the Rana Plaza factory collapsed). We have reached a new level of awareness and of internet connected consciousness. Large companies now invest in green strategies and review their ethics as everything is now in the transparent culture of the web.

From reality shows exposing fashion bloggers to what goes on behind the scenes of their favorite disposable fashion items to this startup selling $2 T-shirts to expose the reality behind cheap garments, the message is clear: someone has to unfortunately pay the price and the system we have in place currently protects the most privileged in a given situation. The garment workers pay the expensive price of cheap labor.

A few weeks ago, Sarah Maslin Nir wrote a poignant essay about the Price of Nails exposing the not so glamorous Nail industry in New York city with heartbreaking interviews describing the real situation workers are living under. This article went viral at the time when most of us were very much looking forward a nice Mani-Pedi before sandal season. This information brought light to the mass and awareness about the price of luxury. There is no such thing as cheap luxury. But we have been conditioned to bargain and pay the lowest price possible to get high quality products — this always goes with a bigger cost: human conditions or the environment.

This is why we exist. This very reason. There is a way (hardest road, I agree) to chose to manufacture goods that are both fair-trade and eco-friendly at the same time without compromising detail, design, quality or craftsmanship. The cost is higher but the bigger cost and overall risk on the Planet is way lower. Because things take time to be made and have an inevitable impact on the environment. This is our very mission. To grow our product offerings sustainably, with the least impact on our planet with always the most respect for our workers.

Filed under: fashion fashion activism green slow fashion sustainable

Everyday is Earth Day

by Celine Semaan Vernon


This is not a Manifesto. This is in honor of Earth Day + Fashion Revolution Day. 
Once upon a time, the first humans were beginning to adapt and survive on Planet Earth. In a short amount of centuries, humans took over the Planet and began to manipulate their environment. Today, we realize that Earth's resources aren't infinite but finite. This is a picture of the last rhino alive. 


And over here is an image of the last Eastern Cougar. 
From the New York Times article declaring it was extinct;

Either way, the “Eastern” cougar as such is no longer with us. Any recent sightings in the cougar’s historic range, which stretched from eastern Ontario and Michigan eastward to Maine and southward to Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri, were actually sightings of its relatives, the Fish and Wildlife Service said.

“It’s extinct,” said Mark McCollough, a wildlife biologist with the agency’s offices in Maine, referring to the official determination by his agency.

“But it’s not?” he was asked.

“But it’s not,” he confirmed. “It may well return to part of its range.”

 

 

So we believe in change. We take a stand and believe that a) things can last, and we make it our mission to have everything part of Slow Factory have meaning, utility and come from natural fabrics and paper so that it can bio degrade not harming the planet. b) things can be made consciously and we can chose to change our behavior towards consumption and consume wisely by contributing to a network of good causes that will - at the end of the day - make a positive change in this world.

 

Join us in our efforts to preserve our planet with the WWF.

Filed under: art conscious earth day fashion fashion revolution meaningful sustainable

The generation that made clothes last

by Celine Semaan Vernon

"People care more about trends now than they do about style. They get so wrapped up in what's happening that they forget how to dress, and they never learn who they are because they never learn how to take care of anything. So much of what my generation was taught regarding clothes was how to make them last. How to wash and care for them." – Fran Lebowitz


Filed under: advice care fashion inspiration

How the Information Age shapes Fashion

by Celine Semaan Vernon

Article Céline Semaan wrote for The Document Journal

 Céline and Laeticia Semaan, Montreal in the 80's

 When I was a kid growing up in the eighties, I had no idea that my fluorescent sneakers were made by actual people. It seems obvious now: that hundreds, if not thousands, of people were involved in the research, design, development, sourcing, manufacturing, shipping, marketing, and sales of every piece of corporate consumer goods. But to me they were just a symbol of my inability to blend in to the post-industrial culture of my refugee home in Canada. They were part of the mass-produced cultural alienation of urban North America, and yet I still couldn't comprehend how or why, no matter how identical my sneakers were to those of the white kids without "funny accents", I still stood out.   As I moved around the world growing up — first back to Lebanon at 13, then to Paris at 18, then to Montreal again in my twenties, and finally New York in my late twenties — I recognized two major themes in the ways that information technology has changed the way the world operates:

  1. everything is open   “Open” is a big word with a lot of implications, but I think it’s really important. The shifts that a drive for Openness brings are incredible. Access to information is Open. Communication around the globe is Open. Knowledge is Open like it has never been before. The “sharing economy” does actually exist. Governments and institutions are specifying open licenses to data and knowledge.

  2. everything is a remix   There is no copyright in fashion. You can trademark a logo (and people do!), but the garment industry is the only major industry where intellectual property is not a driving force or central concern. More than ever before, there is a strong recognition that “new” ideas are always built on previous ones. Designers and companies must stay ahead by innovating.  

how is technology changing fashion?  

There has been another major technological revolution that, when paired with these two ideas, has the potential to create a real cultural shift. It’s about moving manufacturing away from mass-production. We see it across all industries: music, film, electronics, manufacturing. As new technologies becomes cheaper and more accessible, the act of making becomes more open and democratic — we are seeing individual craft weave its way back into the fabric of everyday life.  

Now, I wasn’t able to put all of this into words as I was growing up and watching these changes occur, but I did grow up with ideas of openness, possibility, and playfulness, which I see as the positive side of what technology can bring to fashion. We can have an idea and combine it with access to knowledge of how to make the idea a reality, access to methods of producing high-quality goods, access to ways of communicating that idea across oceans.  

This is exactly how Slow Factory started. Shortly after NASA had joined Creative Commons, an organization I was very active in, I tweeted something like “Wouldn’t it be cool to print this [Hubble] image on silk?” I got such an encouraging response, that I decided to find a way to do it. There were two very clear, very different roads ahead. Make the scarves and mass-produce as cheaply as possible, and close my eyes to the human and environmental cost; or make something meaningful and use technology to play with the boundaries of commerce and individual craft.  

This had to be based on open: using NASA's open-licensed images made sense; this had to be based onethics: fair trade and eco-friendly are not marketing afterthoughts or stunt labels; this had to be based on meaning: real care and real craft at all stages of design and production.   As Slow Factory, a sort of culmination and synthesization of my observations and experience, has taught me, the biggest cultural and technological changes of this so-called Information Age have been around the value of knowledge, and the value of goods. Céline Semaan Vernon

Filed under: article fashion generation z internet kids milenial open data open source

As Seen From Above: What the Stars See (when we can't see the stars anymore)

by Celine Semaan Vernon

The Inspiration for our “Cities by Night” Collection

Our most recent collection of silk scarves is titled From Above: Cities by Night. These images of the USA, New York, Paris and London by night have been chosen not only for their beautiful renders of city lights as seen from space, but also to draw attention to all these lights burning so needlessly, brightly and endlessly.

Keep in mind, this is what our cities look like from above at night. We can see them from up here among the stars (in our Slow Factory satellite), but they completely obscure the vast beauty of the universe from all nearby earth-dwellers.

Other than the vast energy it takes to light our cities, suburbs and even countryside, there is a major issue of light pollution both for people and animals.

As Jake recently wrote to us, "Stray artificial light doesn't just waste energy and prevent us from seeing more stars, it also has negative effects on animals that navigate by natural light, it messes with our circadian rhythms, and it can reduce safety and security in cases of bad lighting design."

Check out The International Dark-Sky Association  and Cities at Night to learn more about the only non-profit organization fighting to preserve the night.

Another reason why I began Slow Factory is because as I have grown up, I can see less and less stars in the sky. Adding to it the fact that we traveled a lot and that I never really felt grounded or connected to a home, I felt the need to look at telescope and satellite images of the stars.

We are moving further away from feeling connected to our planet, to our world and even to one another as human beings. Slow Factory is an experiment and a way to raise awareness around these issues by celebrating science, our world and us as one.

Filed under: cities at night fashion light pollution nasa open data silk

Always Remember to Look Up.

by Celine Semaan Vernon



 

Take a moment to contemplate.

Dear Space Ship Earth,

We now have been roaming around you for a little more than a year. Our journey has opened our minds to something that astronauts describe as The Overview Effect. A sort of a shift in our understanding that suddenly becomes clear: we are floating in space, on a vulnerable yet strong and beautiful planet and we are in this together.

They say the main reason we went to Space was to be able to look at the Earth for the first time, this dynamic and alive place, that is glowing all the time. We needed to see it in order for us to understand it.

Recent scientific discoveries of Neutrinos from outside of our solar system are yet again a proof that the Universe is alive and moving. Another evidence that we are all interconnected. 

This is how astronauts celebrate Thanksgiving. Let us be thankful for being present and alive on one of the most beautiful planet in our Solar System.
This Radio Lab's episode is amazing, listen to it and stay amazed with the world we live in.

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xo

HAPPY THANKS GIVING EVERYONE!

<3

Filed under: astronauts astronomy blog post earth friendly environmentally friendly evolution fashion flying over the Earth nasa science

Featured on Scientific American

by Celine Semaan Vernon

Karyn Traphagen was the first to wear the Terra Modis dress at the ScienceOnline conference. Shortly after that, Glendon Mellow interviewed our founder Celine Semaan Vernon for the Scientific American blog!

  • Where does your studio name Slow Factory come from?

I imagined our store floating in space next to the satellites and printing directly from space :). We are also part of the Slow Fashion Movement which means we are a sustainable business, we almost print and make according to our demand, we run limited editions and sell out of them very quickly. Only after that do we start a new production with natural fabrics sourced from India from a socially and environmentally responsible company, and the garments are made between Montreal and New York. It’s not a fast-paced process. It takes time to make things right. And for the worms to make silk, it takes time too. :)

  • What’s the loftiest language you could use to describe the NASA and satellite  images being worn on clothing?

To me it almost spiritual, to wrap yourself with the Universe, with the Earth. The nature of the Universe facilitates meditation, I personally find peace of mind looking at these images. That is how it all started. And what can be a better way to remind ourselves of the beauty we are surrounded with? I believe this thought keeps us open-minded and kinder.

  • What’s the fastest, coolest soundbite you could use?

I’m not sure I understand this question..

  • Fair enough!  Besides I came up with one that’s now the title of this blog post. You describe yourself as a “Creative Commoner of the soul”. How important is it to you to get images out into the world that are under Creative Commons? Why wouldn’t you be more protective of the images?

Is there a point to try to lock these images down under a copy right license? They belong the to the World. Even if I tried to limit their use, I might only cause more harm both to myself and to culture. I believe that Everything is a Remix. In fashion, there are no copy rights, only trade marks on the Logos: the creativity in fashion, the trends, the culture and sub-cultures are so rich! In music the copy-rights are creating more harm then good, because now that we have entered the loss of the physical support for music, how do we monetize on it? There needs to be a new way to think about making money that is not based on limited the use. What inspires me is the act of generosity. That what is fuels science, culture and the arts in general. Why try to limit the use and therefore limit creativity? What good does this serve the humanity?

  • What image would you never put on a dress? (Personal aesthetic reasons, political, etc)

The image of war.

  • Karyn Traphagen is one of the great science connectors of our time. How important is it to you that the dresses and clothing spark conversations?

Without conversation, the dress doesn’t exist. That is how important it is to me to have it seen, worn, re-appropriated, styled, owned. Its story will be heard only when it raises enough awareness that we all shift our thinking from the mindset of using the Earth to respecting the Earth and reconnecting with its energy so that we protect it and slow down on the extraction of oil and tar sands. It is an alarm bell just like so many others. The more we ring them, the more they’ll be heard. As a humanity, and to reconnect with our surrounding and creating new ways to reuse energy. Science is the breath of progress.

You can read the full interview here.

 

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Filed under: art co-creation dress earth environmentally friendly fashion global warming interview science science life scienceonline scientific american terra modis valerie dumaine