An Interview with Alyssa Couture of Alternative Fashion

Alyssa Couture is designer /owner of Eco fashion brand Alternative Fashion. Read more about Alyssa Couture and her sustainable journey. 

Alyssa Couture, Founder of Alternative Fashion
Photo credits: Christian J. Kunsch

How did you get interested in ethical and sustainable fashion?

I care about the fashion industry as a whole, and all things fashion in general. It is the the non-ethical and unsustainable part of the fashion industry like the trafficking, slave labor, and unfair trade, among other things that are a cause for concern. It is clearly an epidemic that on a collective stance, needs to be balanced out. My interest of healthy fashion has evolved and progressed over time, quite naturally.

photo credit : Christisn Kunsch

What makes slow fashion better than fast fashion?

There are different ways of valuing clothing, and there are an array of interpretations of what slow fashion vs. fast fashion is about. To some, ready-to-wear designers like Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel would be considered fast fashion. However, Chanel ready-to-wear is clothing made of quality, and therefore can be considered as investment pieces. The lifecycle of that piece of clothing will outlast cheaper products. Most fast fashion is to the commercial chain stores like H&M, Zara, Forever 21, Target, Etc. Most of us can agree, that the value of these products are much less, yet due to many financials budgets, this product is much easier on the wallet, and has more affordability when it comes to a person’s monthly income. The fast fashion trend is most popular, because it hits the poor and middle classes. So, it’s not a matter of convenience, it’s more of a necessity in many cases. Contemporary brands play an important role and become a middleman in terms of creating an important niche for the budget-conscious and will also balance out some of this slow fashion vs. fast fashion extreme. Slow fashion is more expensive, and investment pieces. Fast fashion throw-away clothing does not live more than half a year to a year without becoming damaged and unwearable.

Slow fashion additionally pertains to having a more minimal wardrobe and taking better care of our clothes through mending, and laundering with care. Fast fashion in terms of the relation with the seasonal trend are giving trends a poor reputation. We are now determining trends as part of a fast-paced culture that constantly creates trends to instill more buying power. What is happening is that our world is evolving at a more heightened speed, and our fashion industry is attempting to keep up to speed with the pace of our cultures and lifestyles, and the planet’s own maturity. Trends are valuable in the way they can be holistic cycles that represent the times. When we change our clothing, or evolve our style, we are moving and growing along with the trends.

photo credit : Christisn Kunsch

The Pythagoreans, the Neoplatonists, Aristotle, and the Stoics, William Wilberforce, Baron Erskine created the ancient thought about animal rights. Jeremy Bentham, the founder of utilitarianism, discussed the suffering of non-human animals. Peter Singer argues for non-human animal rights too. The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and others work to support animals and work to enforce their rights. Some fashion manufacture processes violate animals’ rights. What is the importance of animal rights, especially in an ethical and sustainable fashion context?

It is entirely important to keep animal products at a minimum, and focus on plant-based fibers. Not only is animal-based products predominantly inhumane, it’s sincerely a health hazard with allergies that form from them. Many slow fashion, investment pieces are luxury goods made of furs, skins, and leathers. They require much less maintenance, and overall can outlast many substitutes made of these non-vegan materials. This is where our ‘plant-tech’ fashion needs to become more pronounced. ‘Plant-tech’ is a term that I say to illustrate new and advanced materials made from plants, that can perform equivalently or are substantially more advanced to animal products. There are several new materials that are being slowly introduced, yet we still need to provide and produce more options, and most importantly in the luxury good market. Much high-fashion is the most influential fashion of our life, and all other sectors of fashion are below Haute Couture, and Ready-to-Wear.

photo credit : Christisn Kunsch

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 is very common to hear that the Fashion Industry is the 2nd most polluting industry in the world. What people do not hear is that the 1st most polluting industry is the oil industry. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry because we are using oil to produce and generate the most popular petroleum oil-based, synthetic fibers that dominate. Fast fashion is synthetic fashion. We cannot slow down, our cheap, synthetic fashion production until we discontinue the production, of disease-forming, polluting, and traffick-producing fiber. Petroleum fibers are not only destructive to the earth, they are unhealthy to wear on the body. Synthetic fibers are made from oil. Fossil fuel is an oil derivative from underneath the earth, formed over time that is highly condensed and acidic in nature. Plants are breathable which is another way to create more oxygen and is a way to protect our earth, animal, and human life.

photo credit : Christisn Kunsch

How can ethical and sustainable fashion contribute to the long-term sustainable future for the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the environment?

Ethical and sustainable fashion can help correct the issue of pollution, disease, and create healthier, more life-giving properties. With an eradication of plastic fashion, we can eliminate the vicious cycle of producing a material that is not biodegradable. Plant-based fibers are much more healthier for our earth and our bodies. If we discontinue the mistreatment of animals, and guide our industry into supporting and promoting more advanced ‘plant-tech’ fibers and materials, we build and do not destroy.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition invented The Higg Index. It assesses some products’ sustainability throughout the products’ lifecycle. The European Outdoor Group and the Outdoor Industry Association developed an index of products’ impacts on the environment throughout their lifecycle, the Eco Index. Large regions with serious attempts to implement standards and quantitative analysis of sustainability of products throughout their lifecycle. What seem like the importance of quality tests, or metrics, such as these and others?

Theses tests, metrics are very much important to keep people aware, and give more statistical data, for those whom need proof, over opinion. My work with Healthy Fashion Campaign, www.healthyfashioncampaign.com is an environmental action, public awareness campaign that is in its very new beginning. It yields its own guidelines, network, community, and database that will support both the conscious consumer, and the fashion industry professional. What matters most to me, is that we learn to share our vision of eco fashion, and not build traps that would keep the fashion industry as a whole at bay. Much of the “tragedy” sectors of the industry is simply playing a role in the collective consciousness, and it is what was passed down to us from generations. It started very rapidly in the 1930s with the invention of synthetic fibers, and it has only made more of a mess than what can actually take in presently. It’s a very heavy issue that has taken its toll with everyone involved. Healthy Fashion Campaign has plans and arrangements, to ensure ‘plant-tech’ becomes much more common, and to support the awareness of plant fibers as a therapeutic, healing modality that will liberate humanity, and the planet earth included.

What is Alternative Fashion?

Alternative Fashion is an eco chic womenswear brand founded, owned, and designed by me. We are stylish, ‘holistic-cycle’ trend driven. We cater to those who are both health-conscious, environmental activists, and up-to-date with current fashion and style.

What inspired the title of the organization?

Alternative Fashion is a company formed by my love for fashion. I have a serious passion for fashion, as cliche as it sounds. It’s my ultimate form of communication, and it speaks to me. Alternative Fashion is based from the word, Alternative, as “different’. We care about trends, yet we evoke the personal style of a person. It is also rooted from the concept of ‘Alternative Health’. Many of the alternative, natural food and herb remedies are relevant to the times, and bringing that holistic and, medicinal perspective of both food and fashion is important.

 

photo credit : Christisn Kunsch

What are some of its feature products?

We feature women’s clothing, that range, from loungewear, athleisure, to dresses and formal wear. Most of our fabrics are made with organic fiber, if not organic it is a plant-based natural fiber.

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

Our fabrics mostly consist of cotton, hemp, and flax. We’re always updating our fabric library, and we have plans of introducing several more versatile, interesting, and therapeutic natural fibers, some of which will be nettle, pineapple leather, ramie, banana, coconut coir, and tree bark to mention a few.

Water use in production is an issue. What is the importance of reducing excess water use in the production of fashion?

There are water-less dye houses that are using DryDye which interests me. I think water is an important element, and creates part of the alchemy of creating a beautiful fiber. When we use vegetable and plant-based dyes, the use of water I feel may be less of an issue. Collecting rainwater, and having water recycling machinery can be a few ways to reduce water excess.

photo credit : Christisn Kunsch

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

We are using natural plant-based fibers, that are biodegradable. The dyestuffs that are used on the GOTs certified and non-certified plant-based fibers are not made with 100% vegetable or plant-based dyes. I have created small-batch production of plant-based dyed fabrics for my designs, and it is the goal to be 100% plant-based.

Thank you for your time, Alyssa.

Thank you!

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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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