Sustainable clothing may be all the rage at the moment but is not easy to produce as established sustainability pioneers can vouch for. Entrepreneur Kate Fisher spent three decades building strong relationships with fair trade factories and heritage artisans in the heart of India and Nepal to maintain the quality, environmentally friendly and ethical production of her clothes. In August 2021, Fisher launched her elevated line, Wvn, the newest evolution in her sustainable fashion journey.
All clothes are designed at the head office in California, the raw materials are sourced from India, and the clothes then manufactured at small, family-run factories in India and Nepal that Fisher visits personally. Currently, there are three Wvn lines consisting of a ready-to-wear collection; ‘Essentials, a line of basics; and activewear line ‘Movement.’ FashionUnited spoke with Kate Fisher, founder of Certified B Corporation Synergy Organic Clothing and Wvn (pronounced ‘Woven’).
Wvn started in August 2021, still very much during the pandemic. That must have not been easy?
Yes, this certainly was a challenge. In fact, we had initially planned the launch of Wvn six months earlier, in February, but due to delays, we had to postpone to August as especially samples and development in India was affected by shipping delays. On the other hand, Covid has slowed down the usual pace a bit and less is going on, so I feel there were fewer distractions.
What has been the response so far?
We have had a good response so far with customers commenting on our beautiful clothing, packaging and messaging. And as the last season of Synergy Organic Clothing approaches, past customers will also be on board with Wvn; it is a process.
What was your main motivation for rebranding Synergy Organic Clothing?
The time had come to give the brand a new direction as it was more connected to the younger part of myself. It is a more casual brand while Wvn is more upmarket and speaks to the modern woman.
The beginnings of Synergy Organic Clothing were quite adventurous - you started by selling clothing and accessories from India and Nepal at Grateful Dead concerts in the States and at Whole Foods markets.
Yes, I was quite enamored by the adventure aspect of it, travelling to India and Nepal frequently and selecting pieces I thought would be appreciated in the States. It was also a sharing of traditions from Asia in the States and being the conduit between the two.
There were some custom made pieces as well?
I started with readymade clothing but also wool jackets, handknit sweaters and accessories from Nepal. Then I discovered the beautiful fabrics of Pushkar, Rajasthan and created patterns with the masters there who helped turn them into clothing. Many of them were made from sari fabrics, which had a fancy look to them and were more festive wear. Over time, the taste changed and I focused on organic cotton, a material I love, which is more easily wearable on a daily basis.
That is the keyword - cotton is not really the most sustainable material, even organic cotton, given the high amount of water it needs to grow. Any plans to try out different materials in the future?
Yes, certainly, we also work with Tencel, Modal and wool but I just love the feel and versatility that organic cotton provides. In addition, all our materials are GOTS certified and the organic cotton is sourced from small, family-run farms in India. The co-op model of cotton sourcing means that everyone from the farmers to the factory producing our clothing has a seat at the table, and weaves a positive thread in the tapestry of our business.We are also looking at more innovative technology as provided by Eon where customers can scan clothing to see where it came from.