Given the myriad of eco-conscious and affordable closet options available in 2019, the real question is why fill your wardrobe with anything but Mother Earth-friendly garments? On that note, meet Ética, a new ethically-made denim label hailing from Los Angeles.
Launched just this year by fashion industry veteran and co-founder Chelsey Santry (who co-founded contemporary women's label Patterson J. Kincaid), Ética ranges from $105 for a linen-blend button-down shirt, $124 for high-rise flared crops, $135 for kimono-inspired dresses, and $155 lace-up high rise skinny jeans and boxy trucker jackets, and $165 for vintage-inspired stretch denim jumpsuits, to name just a few. In addition to traditional women's fits, the brand also offers no-gender silhouettes.
Though L.A.'s known as the denim manufacturing capital of the world, the socially- and eco-conscious brand decided to do things differently—starting with the factory and washhouse it chose to work with in Puebla, Mexico. The label opted for its south-of-the-border team at Hera Apparel because of their commitment to investing in energy-efficient machinery that drastically reduces water and energy waste.
The result? An eco-conscious collection ($85 to $175) of denim made from deadstock fabrics—a process that requires 99% less water, 70% less chemical usage (thanks to dyes and softeners derived from botanical ingredients and laser technology used for finishes), and 63% less energy when compared to competitors. The stones used in washing continue their lives as bricks used to build low-income housing and factory water is filtered and used for farmland, and the brand itself is a member of environmental advocacy nonprofit organization 1% For The Planet and also participates in community initiatives with Tree People and Friends of the Los Angeles River, among others.
It doesn't end there: When your order arrives at your door, you'll find packaging made from biodegradable bags derived from plants, hang tags made with soy-based inks and 100% recycled paper and seed paper (which will grow wildflowers when they're planted), and 100% recycled fabrics for labels.
We recently sat down with co-founder Chelsey Santry to find out more about how her mindful new label is challenging the denim industry, what she loves about her manufacturing
Given your extensive professional experience in the fashion industry, what were some of the things you were seeing that inspired you to create an ethical brand?
I wanted to stand for something that helped to change people's perspectives on how denim could be made and ultimately do something good for mankind and the planet. It started simply with a belief that things could be done better and for a greater good without compromising the overall design of the product.
What inspired you to specifically focus on denim?
I actually started in the denim industry. My mentor, Gene Montesano, founded Lucky Brand
What were some of the things that drew you to Hera Apparel, your manufacturer in Mexico?
I've known the owner, Agustin Ramirez of Hera Apparel for over five years. Agustin and Hera are extremely passionate and committed to investing in cutting edge technologies and machinery that allows us to bring truly sustainable denim to the market. Their years of experience within the premium denim market has helped us not only create premium and fashion-forward styles but to do them with the least impact as possible.
They also share our vision for the ethical treatment of employees, giving back to the community, and having end uses for all waste that is created during the manufacturing process. It was a natural partnership and we are very proud to say we are exclusively manufactured by Hera Apparel. They are like family to us.
How did you connect with your creative director?
I was a creative director for a long time before taking on the co-founder and COO position at Ética. We decided not to fill the creative director role here but to bring on a very strong design director. Sage Matthews [who has previously designed for Levi's at Guess?] is amazing and a very strong leader and visionary within the denim industry. She and I connected during a trip to our factory in Puebla, Mexico and bonded over our shared passion for making denim that was less environmentally harmful, more sustainable but still fashion-forward.
How does L.A. inspire your brand?
We pull inspiration from all over the world but mostly from researching new ways of developing and producing denim in a more sustainable way. From fabric to dye processes, I believe L.A. is definitely in tune with how the clothing industry impacts our world and is one of the cities stepping forward to try to do things differently. [Business-wise] we also pull inspiration from other brands we admire that have been shaking things up and doing things that are less harmful to the planet. We are all part of a movement to do better.
What are some of your favorite Ética pieces right now, and how are you wearing them?
Well, I could go on and on about this one.
Where do you envision the brand in the future?
I believe we will be one of the big denim brands that will show consumers that you can not only feel and look amazing in a pair of jeans but also feel good about buying them. We are pushing no-gender denim as well as using dead-stock fabrications and cutting-edge treatments including botanical dyes within our collection. I envision us as leaders in the denim industry constantly questioning the norm and shaking things up. Our goal is to challenge the traditional way denim has been developed and manufactured in the past.