Tag Archives: sustainable

Monday’s Musing…on a Tuesday

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A few months back, we were obsessing over Carrie Mathison’s choice of accessories. A cross-body bag didn’t seem like the smartest choice for a CIA operative in Pakistan, especially when she’s being chased by bad guys. But we’ve let that go, as we’ve noticed how fabulous a cross-body bag would look with our Nordic Spring styles. Once again, Carrie, you were right.

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Alas, we have to wait many months to see how Carrie’s wardrobe choices and love life evolves. Fortunately, House of Cards is now available on Netflix! We can throw down our books and binge watch five episodes at a time, as one is meant to do, regardless of wake-up time and other more serious obligations.

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And as we watch House of Cards, we can’t help but analyze Claire Underwood’s wardrobe. If anyone has a uniform, it’s this first lady. Claire is much more high fashion than Carrie, natch (no pant suits in sight)…but her style also lacks a comfort that could benefit the busy days and nights of WOPOTUS. Maybe Claire wouldn’t be so darn mean and conniving if she weren’t packed into a tight, unforgiving pencil skirt?  Perhaps the scheming would stop, or lessen a bit, if Claire was wearing the Alter Ego jumpsuit and daydreaming about her more innocent days as a Harvard undergrad?

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We can see that Claire loves a very well-tailored garment, and that won’t change. But with all that back-stabbing, manipulation, running around the Capitol and – literally — running…we think Claire should incorporate some HEUCY sustainable jersey into her life. It would accommodate her active lifestyle much better than those stiff dresses and tight blazers. And we think the environmental lobbyists would go crazy over her eco-friendly fashion.

HOUSE OF CARDS

Here are our top 5 picks for Claire, just in time for Spring and the cherry trees abloom.

DateNight

The Date Night in feather print. Lots of allusions to eggs and feathers in episode 2. Again, we won’t go there…but we do think the print would look FAB on Claire and could be perfect if she decides to escape D.C. again to visit an old amour. This dress is so easy to pack and it doesn’t wrinkle. (Remember, last time, she didn’t even change clothes. This could fit into her Celine bag).

Alter EgoClaire-Underwood

The Alter Ego in gray bamboo microstripe. Gray is such a House of Cards color…and this jumpsuit is perfect for lounging on the White House couch, lobbying senators for that coveted UN appointment.

Weekender

The Weekender in Indigo. We can’t wait to release this style very soon (stay tuned). Once campaigning starts, Claire will need this dress. She’s obviously very disciplined about what she eats…but chicken wings and donuts are part of the job when want red state votes. (I come from one, so I’m not judging). A little looser fabric around the middle can’t hurt when the photo-op snacking starts. Sorry, Claire. But it must be done for the sake of the country.

ProblemSolver

The Problem Solver. This dress is great for women like Claire, who love to run and who always have problems that need solving. She could throw this on after a jog around the Mall, and quickly pop into Hector Mendoza’s office to tell him what she really thinks.   A “hothead”, Mr. Mendoza, would not wear a cool dress like this.

Burnout

The Burnout. We haven’t finished Season 3 yet (don’t tell us the ending!), so we’re still placing bets on what happens. I’m thinking Claire finally has a crisis of conscience and she decides to run off to the Greek Isles with her ex-amour, the cute photographer.  A Mediterranean diet and lots of sunshine could do her a world of good.

Which leads to a spin-off…the photog is actually a CIA Operative who has had a fling with Carrie Mathison. A Claire/Carrie face-off would be phenomenal, don’t you think?  In jersey, of course.

xx,

The HEUCY Team

A Recipe for Following Your Passion…And Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Ali Cayne

Today we’re profiling HEUCY Gal Ali Cayne, the founder of Haven’s Kitchen — an amazing cooking school, food shop and event space in New York City.  (Which, coincidentally has some seriously decadent Valentine’s Day gifts including CHOCOLATE GANACHE DULCE DE LECHE CAKE FOR TWO and tons of other delicious items and classes available online if you still need to get something for your sweetie, to go along with your HEUCY Date Night dress.  Just sayin’…)

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Anyhoo, back to Ali.  She founded Haven’s Kitchen while she was in the midst of a major life change. She had just started to get her Master’s in Food Studies, and was moving downtown with her five kids. She had separated from her husband, whom she married when she was 25, and was starting a completely new chapter in her life. Ali was bravely moving out of the comfort zone of a very familiar existence, into unmarked territory.

Her idea for Haven’s came about organically. Ali always loved to cook, and was often teaching cooking classes to friends and friends of friends who loved her food. Ali thought, why not make this into a business? The premise was to teach cooking that comes from intuition, while using fresh, sustainable and delicious ingredients.

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Coincidentally, I was one of the first people to “beta test” Haven’s Kitchen, at a private cooking class a few years ago. It was pretty awesome. We made chicken pot pie, from scratch, and drank copious amounts of red wine while churning béchamel sauce and rolling out pie crusts. I felt like I was in the middle of a Nancy Meyers film (if you’ve been to Haven’s, you’ll know what I’m talking about). We laughed a lot, and learned that chicken pot pie could never, ever be called “low fat.” But the bigger picture was, who cares? It was freezing outside, we were learning from a literal “top chef” (who has since moved to Nashville to open her own restaurant) and we were having so much fun. Not surprisingly, Haven’s has slowly, but surely, taken off since then as New Yorkers’ favorite “place to reconnect with food, our community, and each other.”

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We’ve asked Ali to share some of her seasonal “non-recipes” with us, which are perfect for the HEUCY Gal on the go. Those will come soon. In the meantime, Ali has some priceless advice for anyone who is thinking about starting a new career, or choosing a new path in life…or doing something completely new and unusual on the side.

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#1: Start learning the thing that you find interesting.

Ali has always loved good food, and cooking, so she decided to get a Masters in Food Studies. This led to a major “aha” moment, when Ali was tasked with finding an internship as part of her course curriculum. Not being a “millennial,” and having five kids at home, Ali thought it would be quite difficult to find an employer who would hire a thirty-something intern. But she swallowed her pride and reached out to the woman who was running the Education Station at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. The woman met with Ali, and immediately handed her the keys to the Education van when she found out Ali had five kids. She said, “If you are currently parenting five children, then you can clearly handle this job.” That internship was a turning point for Ali, because many of the people on her tour would correspond with her afterward for thoughts and advice. It helped give her the confidence to open Haven’s Kitchen.

#2: Don’t separate who you are and who you want to be. Figure out who you want to be and go for it.  

Ali had been a wife and mother for almost 15 years, but didn’t start Haven’s until she was in her late thirties. She also pointed out that Edith Wharton didn’t write her first book until she was 40, and Julia Child didn’t become “Julia Child” until she was 40. We have our own timelines, and there’s always enough time to pursue your passion.

 #3: Don’t be intimidated by the creative process.

It’s so easy to assume that some people are just born talented. This may be partly true…but success is also due, in large part, to hard work. Ask anyone who has published a novel. So if you want to write a book, or paint a picture…or pursue any type of creative endeavor, don’t assume that you aren’t talented enough to do it. There’s a lot of elbow grease and patience involved.  And the first step (not to sound cliche, or anything) is to start your project.

A lot of this is easier said than done, especially for those of us with millions of balls and responsibilities in the air. But it’s incredibly inspiring to see a HEUCY Gal like Ali, who has managed to recreate her life and successfully do something every day that she really loves.

Oh, and did we mention that Ali is currently dating a younger French man?  Follow your dreams, gals.

xx,

The HEUCY TEam

Here Comes the Sun…and Something New!

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The sun has finally reappeared here in New York, and it’s making us think of plants…and a cool brand we met at Northern Grade HER this past weekend.  It’s called Gamine, and was started by Taylor Johnston, a horticulturalist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.  Taylor found that there wasn’t any stylish and durable workwear out there for women who are really, i.e. literally, getting their hands dirty…so she created Gamine.  Everything is manufactured by the King Manufacturing Company, the oldest cut-and-sew factory in the United States.  Love this, and Gamine’s transparency.

Our sustainable jersey is definitely versatile and you can seriously live in it (for instance, I wore my Perfect Ten yesterday while putting our Christmas tree up, and while vacuuming the millions of tiny fir needles that appeared, at meetings, then to a holiday party)…but if you are looking for denim, specifically, that will withstand a TON of wear and tear — this is it.  And it’s cute.  And it doesn’t come in pink, natch 🙂

Taylor and her husband are incredibly nice and we loved meeting them.  Check out their site to learn more about Gamine and what’s next (the dungarees are on back-order but you can add your name to the wait list).

If you want something sooner (we get it), Gamine has collaborated with Jungmaven, the LA-based cult brand that makes eco friendly hemp + organic tees, to create a work shirt.  Could be a great gift for yourself or someone you love.

xx,

The HEUCY Team

Spinning (Eco-Textiles) in Los Angeles

58 days until launch

Like Soul Cycle, spinning (eco-fibers) locally can help you breathe better. The HEUCY debut collection will be using two ecologically sound natural fibers derived from wood – Tencel and Modal (both certified sustainable by Lenzing) for our base fabrications. Our garments made from these fibers are going to make you look and feel tres chic while also minimizing the fashion industry’s impact on the environment. Here’s why –

Tencel is made with wood pulp from sustainable eucalyptus tree farms. Tencel textiles are created through an award-winning closed-loop process using milestone technology producing a fabric that is 100% biodegradable and certified by the International Forest Stewardship Council.

Modal is extracted from beech wood which puts down very deep roots and is thought to be unbeatable when it comes to improving the soil. Beech groves are also completely sustainable sources because the beech tree multiply by “rejuvenation” – requiring no planting or irrigation. Modal is the most luxurious cellulose fiber – soft, smooth, silky and so light that you hardly feel it.

I was able to visit our wonderful fabric supplier in Los Angeles this week. Here are pictures of their facilities – they are spinning, knitting, treating, dyeing and finishing the fabric right here in the USA.

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Choosing the Signature Fabric

114 days until launch

Fabric choice is the most important and elementary choice in developing a garment (well, besides good taste). It literally is the thing that makes up the garment. The choice of fabric also defines the garment development process. It will determine the style lines and cut of the pattern. It determines which factory one chooses to make the garment.

So the HEUCY signature fabric is – drumroll please – Jersey! There are so many different types of fabric, but jersey is a natural choice for HEUCY after going through the following analysis.

Designers usually consider the following in choosing fabric:

  1. Does it look/feel good?
  2. Is it priced right?
  3. Can the minimum requirements for production be met?
  4. Is it on-trend?

So we considered all those factors, but in staying true to the HEUCY ideal of simplifying life with a versatile garment produced with fewer pollutants, we needed to also consider:

  1. Can it be handled and produced into garments at a reasonable price point in the US?
  2. Is it versatile in wear?
  3. Can it be washed as opposed to dry-cleaned?
  4. Is it made of eco-friendly fibers?

The fabric that checked all these boxes was Jersey.  So we sourced swatches from mills across the country and as well as from Canada.

fabric swatches
fabric swatches

Then we narrowed the choices down and requested test yardage from a handful of mills.

test fabrics
test fabrics

The test fabrics above all look the same you say? Well, they kind of do on-screen here, but they all have a different weight, different content, different stretch, different drape, different method of dye, different country of origin, different wholesalers.

So on to testing, testing, testing to determine the best jersey for the styles sketched and in development. Good thing I am Asian – I am good at tests.

Simplification Goal #1: Made in America

118 days until launch – 4th of July edition

made in korea
made in korea

(not these people – they were Made in Korea – like all good fashion items from the 70s and 80s)

I am an import (pictured above with my sister, I am on the left rocking out an outfit that would make a male Brooklyn hipster jealous) – landed in JFK in 1983. It’s not that I don’t appreciate products (or people) made in other countries.

But here are some things I have learned along the way. Hauling fabric and trim from one continent to another to test/sample and then to another to manufacture and then back to another to sell is 1) expensive and 2) involves lots and lots of fuel.

Places from which I have sourced fabrics and trim in my previous jobs: Italy, China, UK, France, Korea, USA

Places where I manufactured garments and accessories with these fabrics and trim: London, UK, Luton, UK, Zhejiang, China, Hong Kong, Portugal

Countries where these garments and accessories were sold: UK, USA, Spain, Italy, Japan

scientific map
scientific map

This my very scientific accounting of all the air travel the fabrics, trim, garments and accessories went through. But seriously, all this transport drives up the cost of these items sold to the customers (that’s you!) and it is killing a family of whales as we speak.

I am no expert on exactly how much damage all this moving things back and forth around the globe is doing (despite my four years of Patagonia wearing, recycled college issue insulated mug carrying days at Middlebury College, the hotbed of all things environmentally responsible) but I do believe that well-made chic garments can be made without doing so much harm.

Hello!

120 days until launch

Hello friends, family and other interested people out in the cyber world!

I am starting this blog to share my journey of building HEUCY – a new fashion label that aims to make effortless, chic, versatile and sustainable clothing.

I want to share this process of building the company and setting up for the launch of the official HEUCY website and webSHOP with like-minded clothes horses out there.  You might be friends & family (who have no choice but to read!) or someone who is curious about how one starts a fashion line.  The good, the bad and the often ugly behind the scenes look at how to get things off the ground.

I have been in fashion for 8 years.  I started out by jumping head first into my first label “s u w h a” after relocating to London from the U.S.  After 4 years of great ups (amazing stockists like Henri Bendel and Holt Renfrew, features in Vogue on both sides of the pond, sponsorship by the British Fashion Council) and downs (hello financial crisis of 2008) – I learned lots of lessons about the industry as the little engine that could.

Next up – I moved back to the U.S. and worked as creative director for Cynthia Steffe, an established contemporary womenswear label with wide national reach.  Again, I learned so much about the industry and this time as the big engine that can.  But after nearly 2 years, I hit the stop button – I felt the itch to build my own again.  This time, simpler and truer.

By building HEUCY I want to take everything I have learned and re-think and re-set the language of my design and create a more honest and transparent process.  SIMPLIFY – but let me tell you, simplifying can actually be very complicated (hence this blog to chronicle the saga).

The countdown portion at the top of this page is to make this as stress inducing of a process as possible.   Who doesn’t love a deadline?

Debut Collection Mood Board
Draft Sketches