Fabiana Hebert’s leather outerwear brand, Choiss, has one core focus: to create timeless outerwear, sustainably. It’s no secret that sustainability is sparse throughout the fashion industry; fast fashion brands and mass-production generate an inordinate amount of waste. Hebert felt that the lack of sustainability in fashion – particularly in outerwear – also cheapened the quality of the product. And as a result of her frustration, Choiss was born.
Choiss uses 100 percent certified materials and a production model that is made-to-order and made-to-measure. The brand yields less returns, less waste, and ultimately, a timeless, custom product that will ensure more wear. Choiss proves that by producing in small quantities and being more thoughtful about the production process, brands can reduce their carbon footprints and ensure a longer lifespan for our some of our favorite pieces.
We spoke to designer Fabiana Hebert about sustainability in fashion. Read her Q&A below.
What inspired you to launch Choiss?
I’ve always loved outerwear but I could never find a jacket that expressed my individuality in terms of design and fit. Why do we have to buy products that are imposed on us? Wouldn’t it be nice to be part of the creative process? After years of designing many prototypes, testing materials, and building a technology platform and supply chain, Choiss was born. The result was a made-to-order, made-to-measure brand which specializes in making outerwear with attitude, using a sustainable and modern approach to luxury fashion.
Why was building a sustainable line important for you?
The design and creation of garments can require the extraction of natural resources, manufacturing, transportation, and waste disposal at the end of their life cycle. As a garment producer, we have a responsibility to minimize the impact production has on the environment. The typical fashion retail business model (standard sizing, off the rack designs, volume returns) is antiquated for many reasons, one being the lack of a clear directive for sustainability.
What are the some ways you promote sustainability?
Our leathers and shearlings are 100% certified, following registered standards and protocols which require transparency, traceability and animal well-being. And with our made-to-order, made-to-measure model, inventory waste is minimal and returns are reduced (from the 25-40% estimated industry standard). Less returns mean less packaging, transportation and manufacturing costs. All of this also helps increase the product’s life-cycle and reduces the impact of replacement and disposal.
One of your certified skins is Pirarucu. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
PIRARUCU is the world's largest freshwater fish native to the Brazilian Amazon. The superior skins are developed using organic, chrome-free tanning technology. The skins are a sub-product of the food industry that come from sustainable management farms controlled and regulated by IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources).
Are there challenges on the production side with creating and maintaining a sustainable fashion line?
What we found is that many manufacturers require high minimum quantities per style to put into production while offering less than desirable work conditions for their employees. We committed to finding local factories that didn’t impose those high minimums and were also committed to the well-being of their workers.
What are the common mistakes brands make that cause harm to the environment?
Since the typical fashion retail business model (standard sizing, off the rack designs, volume returns) is antiquated, each step of that model is inefficient, and subsequently, can impact the environment. The whole process should be taken into consideration, from the source of the materials, paying attention to quality and traceability, to packaging and shipping. The fashion industry is challenging, but the responsibility is not just with the brands; it’s with the entire supply chain.
How can those mistakes be prevented?
[By brands] aligning themselves as much as possible with the right suppliers, partners, and collaborators that understand and share the same values. This is key to preventing mistakes and promoting sustainability. Though not necessarily simple, moving away from mass production and unlimited waste is also a start.
Your hopes for the industry?
I hope the combination of consumers’ views, brands’ growing self-awareness, and technology can shift the way we see, produce and consume products that are better for our future.
Portraits: Les Mauvais Garçons
Other: Vini Dalla Rosa