Posted by steven yatsko | August 20th, 2019

CFDA finalist Collina Strada is making clothing more conscious
The industry is finally catching up with the always eco-centric designer

It just so happens designer Hillary Taymour has found herself and her brand, Collina Strada, at that elusive intersection when personal vision aligns perfectly with cultural discourse. Like a magnifying glass in the sun, Taymour has been fine-tuning the positioning of her CS since 2012. Come 2019, newly announced as a finalist for CFDA’s Fashion Fund, her brand seems its most concentrated––and the industry has turned to face the direction Taymour has always stood: towards sustainability. The eve of New York Fashion Week upon us, she will soon be showing her Spring Summer 2020 collection on September 8th, so Collina Strada’s eco-conscious backstory is best exampled by her previous two collections. For “Radical Transparency,” the title of her Resort collection and an unofficial design mantra, the designer collaborated with photographer and longtime friend Charlie Engman to harp on the environment-first message, such as a graphic print of Engman’s “Sistine Tomato” images. Not visible though: a majority of the collection is made from deadstock fabric, a carryover concept from her Fall 2019 collection, styled by Heathermary Jackson, and those before that. That show was introduced with an address from environmental activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, imbuing a narrative of eco-empathy just before her collection made of 75% deadstock fabrics and natural dyes made its way down the artsy, family-lined runway; family referring to the patchwork of creative personalities that make up Taymour’s social circles. Both collections served both as crowning points and points of action––admitting through them: more can be done still when it comes to lessening her own carbon footprint.

From Athens, Georgia, Heathermary Jackson phoned her friend and Collina Strada designer to discuss the matter for Models.com. Read their conversation below accompanied by images featuring her Fall 2019 collection.

Photographer : Steven Yatsko for Models.com
Stylist : Heathermary Jackson
Sittings editor: Quan Nguyen
Make up : Ai Yokomizo
Hair stylist: Shinya Nakagawa

Model: Massima Desire

HILLARY: I think Xiuhtezcatl [Martinez] is super cool. It’s crazy how young he is and how professional he is. The presence he has really makes you want to be different and change. There’s something super empowering about him as a human and being so young and so for a cause that it’s a blessing to have him at the show in general. I’ve been seeing him at events and he’s always so lovely and very positive, in general, even tough we’re not winning this battle, obviously.

HEATHERMARY: It’s just so important to have young people like him and Greta Thunberg

HILLARY: Yeah. They’re probably the most inspiring things out there right now, really, that I have on my little world of social media feeds.

HEATHERMARY: How did you find him [Xiuhtezcatl]?

HILLARY: I’ve been following him for a while. I saw his first speech when he was six on YouTube go viral and it was so cute and I was just like, “Oh, I need to work with him.” I saw him just starting to come up more and more on my radar. So, I just emailed him a blank email to his website and they were like, “Yeah, sure.”

HEATHERMARY: I was just saying something to my kid before… actually the same thing, I was like, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

HILLARY: Exactly.

HEATHERMARY: Yeah.

HILLARY: This whole collection I’ve just tried to use deadstock materials and repurpose things and that was the vibe just in general: to teach people. With the show we gave out little cards that just taught you how to do better during your day with single use plastic or how to start buying better for your house and just the small things that really do add up and make a difference.

This whole collection I’ve just tried to use deadstock materials and repurpose things and that was the vibe just in general: to teach people.

HEATHERMARY: So many people say, “Well, we’re not going to make a difference, I’m just one person.” That’s another thing that I talk to my kid a lot about and anyone that will listen to me: the small things that we all do, really do make a difference. I noticed this in our personal household trash, what a difference that I’m making just with the decisions that I’ve made and having a compost and separating everything I could. It does make a difference, the little things that we do.

HILLARY: Eventually if we can actually make that a huge interest of consumers, then the stores will start to buy different.

HEATHERMARY: That’s what I’m hoping. I mean that’s the thing that is the most frustrating, because I’ve pretty much gotten rid of I’d say 90% of single use plastic out of my live, but the problem now is the certain things that you just can’t get that aren’t in plastic at supermarkets. So the big people that are producing all the stuff and packaging everything in a million different types of plastic and containers––that’s what needs to change.

HILLARY: Yeah.

HEATHERMARY: I’m noticing things that are happening slowly, but it need to happen a bit quicker.

HILLARY: Exactly. I think especially with stores like Whole Foods and stuff if they can really focus on that. Erewhon does a pretty good job of it. (Erewhon refers to a grocery store in Los Angeles)

HEATHERMARY: I mean Trader Joe’s, I speak to them when ever I go in there, because you go in to buy some celery and it’s packaged in a plastic bag or there’s a cucumber shrink wrapped in a plastic bag. I just don’t get it, I don’t get it.

HILLARY: So then this next collection I did with Charlie Engman, we collaborated on, which was super fun. We basically used more stock materials. I found this place called Swatch On, who can print on that stock fabric for me, which is super cool.

HEATHERMARY: That’s great.

HILLARY: Just the little things to make a difference; we’re going to use EVERYBODY.WORLD T-shirts, which take all the cotton waste from the industry and make T-shirts out of it, which is really nice.

HEATHERMARY: That’s good.

HILLARY: All those little things, but at the end of the day, we’re such a small brand, I just want it to be a guide for others to do better.

HEATHERMARY: I think people like you and the other few people that are trying and making it about that in the show and the presentation and having people speak like you did and really showing people walking with reusable bottles and containers and all of that kind of thing, is sending a message and it has been noticed. The more that we do it, the more the people post about it, the more the people talk about it and make it a conversation, hopefully the pressure’s just going to come more and more on the big people and they will start being better.

HILLARY: Yeah, hopefully or they start to hire people like us to do that for them.

HEATHERMARY: That would make sense, wouldn’t it?

HILLARY: Yeah. If they could have an authentic voice, holler at us.

HILLARY: Then this next collection, down the runway, I’m starting to make a few pieces of clothing that won’t be for sale, that are using all the materials that are in my studio already from my past collections and fabric swatches, because we just collect so many swatches and so much fabric and this and that. So I just want to use those pieces and make them into something beautiful.

We just collect so many swatches and so much fabric and this and that. So I just want to use those pieces and make them into something beautiful.

HEATHERMARY: I like that idea.

HILLARY: Because not everything has to be for sale and the point is, everything on the runway isn’t always for sale anyways. So lets just make a cool show.

HEATHERMARY: That’s quite across the board, really. I feel like the bigger brands now are showing things and then waiting until they get enough orders. Everything’s on pre-order. Then, I think, if they hit a target of who needs to order something, then they’ll produce something. It means that you’re not producing stuff and having it not sell.

HILLARY: These are going to be very cute pieces that no one can have. We also started doing vegetable dyes with my tie-dyer, to kind of eliminate chemical waste. She’s really sweet and she makes them; I don’t know how she makes them.

HEATHERMARY: I wonder if she gets all of the reject vegetables and things. My friend just started doing that. There’s a delivery service and, I think it’s every week, you get a box of vegetables. Twenty bucks and it’s all the stuff that gets rejected by all the supermarkets.

HILLARY: Paige and I tried to sign up for that, but they won’t deliver it to us in New York.

HEATHERMARY: You know what? I’ll send you the name…this one definitely does deliver to New York, because she lives in Brooklyn.

HILLARY: Cool.

HEATHERMARY: They don’t do it here though, in Athens, unfortunately, but they do have a farmers market here and they have also an online farmers market thing you can do as well. Which I think I’m going to do to, because it’s impossible to go to the supermarket and not get something in plastic.

HILLARY: I know, it’s crazy. but little by little…

HEATHERMARY: Yeah and I think it’s talking to people. In fact even me talking at Kroger down here to the people who want to give me plastic bags, I’m just like, “No, I’ve got my bag.” “Oh, you can’t fit all of that in there, I’ll just give you a plastic bag as well.” I’m like. “No, no I can fit it all in there and I have a car outside, I can just put it in the backseat.” I don’t need plastic bags, none of us need plastic bags.

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