One of the leading fashion names trailblazing the sustainability movement is the Japanese-inspired womenswear brand, Eileen Fisher.
Starting in 1984, Eileen Fisher was influenced by the timeless effect of the Japanese kimono, staying consistent throughout centuries. In more recent times, it was the men’s two-piece suit that has become an everyday article of clothing, similar to the kimono. Fisher wanted the same effect for womenswear fashion in Western culture, and there the brand was born. As part of my LIM class, I had the pleasure of listening to Amy Hall, Vice President of Social Consciousness at Eileen Fisher, speak about her career with the brand and the path they’re taking to make the industry more sustainable.
Regardless of the trend moving towards being eco-friendly, “the fashion industry is slowing down on sustainability,” Hall said. Not only does sustainability mean treating the Earth with respect, but “also thinking of the impact on humans in the supply chain. The goal is for longevity for our species,” she continued. Eileen Fisher has even gone the extra mile and held themselves to the higher standard of adding an extra component to the Triple Bottom Line, calling it the Quadruple Bottom Line. Originally referencing planet, profit, and people, they have divided “people” into two entities: internal and external.
Eileen Fisher is a Certified B Corporation, joining the group of companies dedicated to combine purpose and profit. The collections have stuck to natural fibers, mainly cotton and linen, also incorporating wool and silk. In addition to creating the product sustainably, the product’s life cycle must be sustainable too for everything to be worth it. Merchandise that is returned to the store, and cannot be resold, is either used for its fabric for another piece, or is turned into art. While waiting in the Eileen Fisher offices, I hadn’t even realized the couch I was sitting on was upholstered by what once was clothing. The collar of a shirt was visible on the pillowcase. Throughout the showroom were multiple art pieces, made up of clothing that was repurposed.
Finally, Hall left us saying that, “it’s consumers that drive fast-fashion.” Meaning it isn’t just up to the companies to stop producing, it’s up to us to support the companies that are responsible in their production processes.
Eileen Fisher isn’t only a trailblazer for others in the fashion industry to follow, but also their customers.