Clairity

Clairity: I Got Covered In Stars At Slow Factory, A Brand Using Fashion Activism To Help The Planet

"Everything you make returns to the Earth as food or poison."

Clairity is a series introducing readers to new fashion and beauty products from brands our host, Claire Peltier, believes in. These products not only help readers look and feel good, but have a positive impact on the world, the environment, and hopefully the user's self-image, too.

As a New Yorker, life comes at me fast. I walk fast, drive fast, shop fast, talk fast, eat fast — you get it. 

So, after hopping off a bustling L train into the busy Brooklyn streets of Williamsburg, I was pleasantly surprised to find a minimalistic studio decorated with plants, a few key scarves and jackets, and a sign with the words "Everything feels so peaceful from here" written in cursive on a photo of outer space. 

I had entered Slow Factory — a fashion brand that aims to be slow, figuratively and literally, by producing a collection of sustainable pieces. The tranquility of the brand's studio was a welcome change after being immersed in the city's whirlwind of activity, but slow fashion is about more than physical pace — it's about fair production that isn't harmful to the environment while taking the time to use fashion as a platform for activism. This is especially important given that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world. 

Slow Factory's founder, Celine Semaan, created the company with the idea that "fair trade is not enough, and that fashion is activism." True to this sentiment, all of Slow Fashion's clothes are made with eco-friendly, clean materials, with proceeds going toward various non-governmental organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). 

Slow Factory's manifesto makes it clear that activism through fashion is important because our clothes directly connect us to each other and our environment: "The Universe belongs to you, and you belong to the Universe. You are made of stardust: your teeth, your bones, your brains. The Earth is you, and you are its momentary living thought."

"Everything you make returns to the Earth as food or poison. Make things that last, and mend them with care. What you own is already on its way back to the Universe."

As a way of representing this connection to the environment, and specifically the universe, Slow Factory features imagery of nature on its garments. They are most famous for their Italian silk scarves with high-resolution digital images from the NASA archives. These space-inspired garments are then sectioned to various collections that support different causes.  

For example, some of those NASA scarves are part of the We Are Home collection, which reminds us this Earth is our home — all our homes. For this reason, we must not only protect the environment but the people that live in it, too. The We Are Home collection is focused on protecting people seeking refuge, and proceeds from the scarves go toward funding "an education initiative in support of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, through the work of ANERA and UNICEF."  This collection is particularly close to Semaan's heart as she herself was a refugee in Canada after fleeing Lebanon with her family at just 3 years old. 

The We Are Home collection is just one of many produced by Slow Factory to support a specific cause. 

For instance, the Petit Atlas collection benefits WWF. Semaan told me this collection is meant to "infuse environmental responsibility with empathy and respond to the alarming reports about the state of our Earth."  Instead of having images of outer space, these scarves feature volcanos, islands, land and oceans.

The Women Who Inspire collection from Fall 2016 celebrates women behind great scientific progress, and features a scarf with an image of Hedy Lamarr, an actress and inventor who helped develop a technology called "frequency hopping" to combat the Nazis in World War II. Its principles would later be used for modern-day Wi-Fi, CDMA, and Bluetooth technology.

Semaan believes consumers have the power to demand a change within the fashion industry, and hopes to empower them through her garments. 

"Fashion creates action, and action creates a movement," Semaan told me. 

I left Slow Factory with a sense of calmness that day, but I'm also filled with creativity and inspiration, and the sense that we can all make a difference if we just try.

"Dare to make. Dare to question. Dare to live with respect, compassion, and empathy. Slow down. Look at the big picture."

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