From Tamu’s no spending challenge to our spotlight on innovative sustainable fashion brands, we here at ATPB feel the importance of creating a more positive impact in our world. Words like “eco-friendly”, “sustainable” and “green” are the buzzwords du jour for every marketer and PR person in the industry, but there is very little information explaining what these terms really mean. I wanted to sit down with an expert to chat about what it really takes to run a successful sustainable fashion brand, and what we as shoppers can do to have a more conscience approach to consuming.
Enter Sofia Shannon, the creative director behind the incredible green line AMUR. With retail partners like Moda Operandi and a whole host of celebrity fans, including notable sustainability champion Mena Suvari, AMUR is making waves with their whimsical feminine designs and innovative fabrications. We sat down to chat with Sofia about everything from what the name AMUR means to why, after 10 years in the industry, she chose to create an ethically-sourced fashion line and what some of her greatest challenges have been along the way. So read on, Pretty Birds!
Can you tell us a little about your fashion background? How did you get your start and what drew you to working on a sustainable line?
Over the course of 10 years working in New York with various brands, and learning about the terrible effect that fashion has on the environment. I decided I wanted to create clothes that reduced the impact that our industry has on the world.
Where did the name AMUR come from?
AMUR stands for “A Mindful Use of Resources”, which is how we try to approach all design decisions. We try to remain conscious of our choices regarding the materials we use to make the garments. We focus on making the best decisions based on the potential impact our product would have on the environment.
What were some of the challenges you faced early on (or still face) working on a sustainable brand?
The biggest challenge for us is sourcing. Specifically, one of the hardest developments was our lace. It’s a fabric I’ve always liked working with and finding an eco-friendly option was one of the greatest challenges we’ve taken on. We couldn’t find anything in the market that was done in a conscious way, so we had to develop our own. After reaching out to different mills around the world and connecting them with various yarn suppliers that focused on developing textiles made from recycled PET (which comes from plastic bottles), we were successful. Everyone thought we were crazy. But after begging and insisting, we convinced them to give it a try.
It was very exciting, because no one else was doing it, plus we were able to custom design our own patterns. Creativity helps you find new and alternative solutions to the way things have been done in the past.
Take us through your design process. Where do you find your inspiration, source materials, produce your products, etc…
Inspiration comes from many sources; it can be a trip, a film or a museum exhibition.
I start setting the mood by choosing the colors and the prints while at the same time we start our fabric development, which is very time-consuming. Once we have defined this first step, I start sketching and developing samples with our pattern makers and manufacturers.
If you could describe the aesthetic of the brand in three words what would they be?
Feminine, happy, bold
What are some of the way that you use social media to spread the message about sustainability?
Social media is a great platform for us to communicate directly to our customer. We try to keep them informed about the materials and the story behind each piece we make. We have also partnered with some influencers that focus on sustainability, and that has been a great way to get our message out there.
What tips would you share with someone wanting to educate themselves on consuming in a more sustainable way?
Buy less, buy better – focus on quality and the things you truly love. Take care of your clothes. Look at the labels inside the clothes. Find out what materials are used. Choose to support brands that are on a path to sustainability. Renting platforms are a good option too.
What are some of your favorite pieces from your current collection?
The Lana gown in the rainbow stripe print is my favorite item. It is done with 100% recycled materials and it’s so bright and fun. I can’t wait for warmer days to come so I can wear it.
I also really like the Noah top – it’s our draped bustier made in 100% organic cotton.
What’s your vision for the label moving forward?
I see AMUR growing a lot in the next year, developing new fabrics and expanding into new categories.
If you had one tip on how to live a more stylish life what would it be?
Be true to your personal style.