EARTH DAY // This Is The Way We Live Now
When I opened KAIGHT in 2006, the idea of being concerned about how, where and from what your clothing was made was considered “cute” — a sweet and naive approach to a behemoth industry known for encouraging consumers to buy more, more often. The reaction when I talked to customers or friends about eco-friendly or sustainable fashion was generally one of confusion: What was eco-friendly fashion and why would or should anyone care?
The answer to the first question is relatively straight-forward: Eco-friendly products are made with organic or sustainable fabrics in a way that has minimal impact on the environment. The is a little more complex and personal. Why I care begins with a journey that started more than 15 years ago.
I spent my last semester of college studying marine biology and nautical science on Cape Cod in a small town called Woods Hole. The final six weeks of the semester was spent aboard a 152-foot tall ship called the Corwith Cramer. Seventeen students and 8 crew members lived together on this ship — at sea. My personal space consisted of a 6 foot by 3 foot cubby. It was where I kept all of my belongings — clothes, journals, toiletries. It was also where I slept.
My "room" on the Corwith Cramer
I had come to Woods Hole from Boulder, Colorado where I had shared a two-bedroom, creekside house with a friend. In Woods Hole, I lived with eight other students in a house on the SEA Campus. The arrangements in Woods Hole were meant to prepare us for the close quarters we would share aboard the boat. And it did, mostly because I was so excited for the adventure the next six weeks promised that this new communal arrangement did little to dispirit me; I simply thought, “This is how we live now.”
I learned a lot during those six weeks. I learned how to use a sextant; I learned how to plot a course on a chart; I learned how to measure pollution levels and how they impact marine life; I learned everything there is to know about cephalopods. I also learned how powerful Mother Nature can be, and how truly incredible our planet really is. Most importantly, though, I learned how to live with less.
That experience was a huge influence six years later when I decided to open KAIGHT. I sought to source products that had been created with minimal impact on the environment. The collections I chose were made mostly with organic or reclaimed textiles and were made with a minimal carbon footprint. Nearly nine years later, I continue to source the best in sustainable fashion, while considering a broader more holistic approach: Denim is made with minimal water waste in a closed-loop factory; 65% of our collections are produced a subway ride away in New York City’s Garment District; the KAIGHT Basics collection is made from GOTS-Certified Organic Textiles and low-impact dyes. The focal point of my mission continues to be less is more: timeless design that is not only well-made but that looks and does good.
The answer to the question “Why would or should anyone care?” is this: We care because fashion is the second largest polluting industry. We care because our waterways and oceans are being contaminated with dyes and plastics. We care because of tragedies like Rana Plaza make it impossible to not care. We care because this is how we live now.
Today, Earth Day, I honor the gifts that Mother Nature gave us and hope that we can continue to enjoy them. As climate change, workers’ rights, droughts, natural disasters and water shortages continue to make headlines, it’s important to acknowledge that everyday is Earth Day, because this is how we live now.