An Interview with Elisabeth Delehaunty of ELISABETHAN

Elisabeth was raised in New England to an Irish Catholic Family. She graduated from Dartmouth college in 1993 with a major in studio art. She had numerous costuming jobs before sge founded ELISABETHAN. Here is Elisabeth’s story.

Elisabeth at the Japanese Fashion Design 1980s-90s Exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. Photo credits: Elisabethan Facebook page

Tell us about family background – geography, culture, language, and religion.

I grew up in New England, in an Irish Catholic family.

Tell us about your story – education, prior work, and so on?

Graduated from Dartmouth College in 1993. Major in Studio Art. Took costuming classes in the Drama Dept. Had costuming jobs in college & after graduation that helped me get sewing & designing “chops”.

How did you get interested in ethical and sustainable fashion?

Little by little started with a love of fashion as a kid, an interest in sewing and making things. Started finding “raw” materials in thrift stores, either remaking existing garments, or buying garments for the fabric… the farther I got into to it, the more I realized how much waste there is in the fashion industry.

Upcycled Elisabethan fashion

What seems like the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion designers and companies?

If clothing manufacturing really is the 2nd biggest polluter it’s pretty obvious what the importance of ethical & sustainable designers & companies are— to save the world! i.e. we have to keep raising awareness fast fashion is helping to kill our planet.

What makes slow fashion better than fast fashion?

It’s a different approach to a timeless desire ever since the proverbial fig leaf, there has been a fashion industry. Humans care about how they look. Clothes and fashion are a way to communicate with the world something about ourselves…BUT AT WHAT PRICE. Is your self-expression worth people working in enslaved conditions? We need to take the long view invest in your self and your self-expression thru fashion & clothing, buy clothing for the long haul; buy pieces you know you will wear and love for a long time.

AND in doing so, honor the people who are making the products.

Elisabethan upcycled winter warmers

Climate change represents one of the biggest medium- to long-term threats to human survival in reasonable forms. The Government of Canada, NASA, the David Suzuki Foundation, The Royal Society, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and numerous others discuss this. Ethical and sustainable fashion relates to it. The reductions in hydrocarbon production from sustainable materials seem imperative sustain the further deterioration of the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the environment. What seems like the responsibilities of ethical and sustainable fashion companies in the prevention of climate catastrophe?

It’s such a daunting topic climate change—some days I can’t get out of bed for thinking about it…  the tricky part is to tell people to buy LESS but pay MORE for it… because otherwise all of the costs of manufacturing aren’t being factored in. We have to keep telling people the real story of fast fashion and hope they care enough to change their buying habits.

The Brundtland Commission Report described the need for sustainability. In that, we, the human species, need to meet the “needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” for long-term sustainability. Does this seem correct to you?

YES and YES and YES

Elisabethan upcycled skirt

What is Elisabethan?

Elisabethan is an eco-fashion house that encourages people to express themselves thru what they buy, wear, create & share.

What inspired the title of the organization?
Based on my name, Elisabeth Delehaunty, and a reference to the Elizabethan era in England when the arts flourished under a female monarch.

What are some of its feature products?

Women’s tunics & tops, skirts, girls dresses, fingerless gloves.

What are the main fibres and fabrics used in the products?

All of our raw materials are reclaimed/upcycled. We use post-consumer reclaimed fabric, i.e. second hand clothing, entirely as our raw materials… t-shirts and cashmere sweaters mostly.

Elisabethan upcycled tunic top

Who grows, harvests, designs, and manufactures the products of Elisabethan?

Our raw materials are upcycled/reclaimed. We cut and “combine” all of our pieces in house, then have or sewing done either by a woman-owned facility in Denver, CO, 250 miles from where we are located, or from a small crew of at home stitchers who live in our community.

Will the fibres and fabrics for the products from the company biodegrade?

They should – we use cottons, wools, and cashmere; all naturally derived

What topics most interest you?

Less stuff. How much do we really need, and how to address that with the economy of growth that is the accepted approach to business for most of the world?

The Triple Bottom Line defines three performance dimensions: the social, environmental, and commercial/financial. In contradistinction to the standard commercial/financial analysis alone, the Triple Bottom Line incorporates environmental and social performance too. Why should ethical and sustainable (and other) fashion designers and companies include the Triple Bottom Line analysis in individual and business performance?

Because money alone is overrated. To be fully rewarded in what we do, we need to consider all the factors and impacts of our entrepreneurial efforts. Anything less and we are just fooling ourselves.

How can individuals, designers, fashion industries, and consumers begin to work to implement those rights so that these vulnerable populations, women and children, in many countries of the world have better quality of life?

Stop buying cheap crap-it’s not worth it and it’s not really cheap—SOMEONE is paying the cost.

Any other work at this time?

We are working on an off shoot called “notion” —making kit versions of our designs and other items give people the opportunity to make it for themselves!

Any recommended authors or fashionistas (or fashionistos)?

eko-logic.

Elisabethan upcycled maxi dress

Any recommended means of contacting, even becoming involved with, you?

Email at duds@elisabethan.com, or FB is our most active social media outlet—we love to hear from other folks fighting the good fashion fight.

Thank you for your time, Elisabeth.

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About the Author

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping and gardening, and runs In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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