Compelling Designs from a Sustainable Business Model

Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin of Tome are two Australians who share an outstanding sense of what women really want to wear. Inspired by icons like Madonna and Pina Bausch, Tome’s creative leads have seen their business grow impressively since 2012, they’re also equally impressively committed to sustainable best practices.

In 2014, Lobo and Martin bootstrapped The White Shirt Project, an initiative that dedicates proceeds from sales of select shirting to Freedom For All; FFA works to end slavery and human trafficking around the world.

The following is a clip from an excellent NY Fashion Week SS17 interview with L&J Files:

You’re a part of the CFDA + Lexus Fashion Initiative, whose goal is to help brands to embrace and grow sustainable practices within their company. In what ways did you embrace sustainable and ethical practices for your SS17 collection?

T: Sustainability has become almost second nature to us at this point and it really runs top to bottom through the business. Choosing from sustainable fabrics is an obvious first step but production choices are a big part of the puzzle too. The single biggest commitment we make as a business is producing everything here in NYC under one roof which has a huge impact, especially in reducing pollution.

Does consideration for sustainability change the way you approach the design process, if so, how?

T: It’s more of a production consideration, to be honest. We try to keep the design as unfiltered and focused on our woman as possible and then move downstream from there. Where sustainability really comes into play is with fabric choices and how you choose to bring those designs into the world. Many people don’t realize that fashion is the 2nd most pollution industry globally after fossil fuels so the pressure is on to address this at every level of the business. One of the things that keeps us really efficient is producing everything here in NYC. When you have a closeness to the collection and an immediacy with production, you bypass a lot of wastage, especially transport costs, which can be huge for designers who produce offshore.

Do you have any advice for young designers who want to create beautiful collections that are sustainable?

T: Do your research. Sustainable solutions are 100% out there but are usually never presented to you as your first option. Keep looking, ask more questions and don’t compromise.