As I mentioned when discussing Mullet philosophy, having the best of both worlds is more tangible than you may think. Ethical and sustainable clothing that’s also chic? Qu’est-ce que c’est?
Oui. It’s possible and you can thank Jesse Syswerda, designer extraordinaire behind Eenvoud for this astounding feat. Her take on style is more refreshing than Sonic Happy Hour in July. I’ll keep this introduction simple because that’s what Eenvoud is all about. Beautiful simplicity smack dab in the middle of this hectic world. Her collection is like a meditation center in Times Square. Much needed calm and ease within an industry that moves far too fast and produces way too much. Without further ado, here’s Jesse’s take on all sorts of life-related things:
Tell me a little bit about your vision behind Eenvoud.
I started Eenvoud because I love minimal, contemporary design; but I couldn’t find options that I knew were made sustainably and ethically and that were at the right price point. At the time, it seemed like my only options were to shop from ethical luxury brands like Maiyet or to buy organic cotton yoga gear. I couldn’t find the beautiful, wear-anywhere pieces that I wanted, so I decided to create them.
Where did you draw inspiration for the first designs?
Honestly, I’m not exactly sure. They’re all garments that I wanted in my wardrobe, but couldn’t find. I’ve been working on getting this first collection launched for quite some time, so the designs had a good long while to formulate in my head.
Let’s talk about the current fashion industry. You mentioned some frustrations in your Kickstarter campaign. What are your main concerns?
Essentially we’re making way too much stuff way too quickly and there is a cost. If you’re curious in learning more, The True Cost is a great documentary that just came out on the state of the fashion industry.
I’ve heard many women say that, although they would love to shop more ethically, they just can’t afford not to shop at those cheaper “fast fashion” stores. Do you have any advice for shopping sustainably on a budget?
Yes. I think Everlane is doing something incredible. They have beautiful, ethically made basics that are very reasonably priced. However, the most sustainable option there is is to shop at vintage shops. You can find some amazing clothing for just cents – even less then at fast fashion stores.
Personally, I’ve noticed that sometimes there’s a bit of a disconnect between price and quality. Some relatively expensive brands are actually poorly made. What do you typically look out for in terms of quality while shopping?
The number one sign of a well made garment is the fit. If the garment doesn’t fall right (or doesn’t feel right) on you, then it most likely means that the company rushed through production and that it’s poorly made. The feel of the fabric is another tell-tale sign. If the fabric feels dry or otherwise not nice, it’s probably really cheap and really bad for both the environment and for your skin.
What are some of your favorite brands?
I don’t buy new things very often, but when I do they’re usually from Everlane or The Reformation. I love looking at the e-commerce sites La Garconne and The Line, but very rarely do I buy something at a contemporary price point. If I do, it’s something I intend to own for a very long time.
As the designer of your own line in New York City, you must know how to handle stress very well. Any advice for those looking to jump into the fashion industry?
Haha. I’d like to think that! I do still get stressed out every now and then, but I’ve found some ways to manage stress that work really well for me:
-I start my day slowly. Every day I wake up, make warm water with lemon and then sit in bed and mediate for 15 minutes with the Headspace app. This really sets the tone for my day and allows me to do things slower and more consciously.
-I don’t try to do too much at once. I keep a list for every aspect of my business and life, and choose a few things to focus on every day. If I start to feel rushed or stressed, I try to take a step back and remember why I’m doing this. There is no rush. Only the rush that I make up in my head.
-I take a breather. I get out of the city for the weekend, go for a long run on the river, cook dinner with friends or go see an afternoon movie. I’ve found that the work that I do while stressed out is never good work – your stress shows up in what you create.
I do recommend that anyone looking to jump into the fashion industry find a mentor. Find somebody that knows what they’re doing and that can hold your hand a little bit. It will help you immensely.
You went to Parsons! What was the most unexpected element of going to design school?
That I didn’t need to go to design school! Parsons was an amazing experience. I learned a lot about garment construction and made some wonderful friends. However, in retrospect I could have gotten by starting my own business without design school. A lot of the skills that I learned are now outsourced to others such as my pattern maker and factory.
What’s been your summer go-to look so far?