Since its launch of The White Shirt Project, NY-based fashion line Tome has been among the pioneers of ethical fashion.
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Can you give us the history on the White Shirt Project? How did it come about?
We first began our inquiry into sustainable and ethical fashion with the launch of our first capsule for the White Shirt Project in 2014. The White Shirt Project, now in its fourth iteration, supports Katie Ford’s foundation, Freedom For All, which fights human trafficking and slavery. When we began our partnership, Katie asked us a few questions: “Is everyone involved in making your clothes paid well? Is there anyone being coerced? Anything that does not meet industry standards?” It forced to really examine our process and visit our factories.
What are some of the ways in which you keep your commitment to ethical practices?
Ever since we started working with Freedom For All, we have examined our internal practices, worked on reducing waste and using local and renewable resources. Choosing from sustainable fabrics is an obvious first step but production choices are a big part of the puzzle too. We’ve since visited every single one of our factories, sharing meals with the employees to get to know them better. We’ve found that most of the people who make are clothes are women—mothers and grandmothers. We think of our periodic check-ins at these factories as a way to monitor our supply chain practice and safeguard the women who work for us.
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Can you give us some insight into your design process?
We never want to compromise our vision, so we’ve done extensive research on different production methods and materials. We’ve found that there are always sustainable options out there, even it it’s not always immediately obvious. For instance, this season, we wanted to create a gorilla “fur” look as a direct translation of our inspiration, Guerilla Girls. We worked with ethically run women’s collectives in Peru where they use sustainably sourced alpaca and successfully developed a sweater to recreate the fur-like look.
Will there be more projects like The White Shirt Project in the future?
Sustainability already runs top-down in our business, and we’ll continue to innovate on different ways we can approach sustainability. What we truly wish for is that sustainable and ethical fashion become an industry standard in the near future. There’s still a lot of education that needs to happen but we’re hopeful.
Who is the Tome girl?
Favorite Tome moment thus far?
This is a hard question to answer. Every time we hear from a woman that our clothes make her feel good, like herself, that is the ultimate validation.
What is your ultimate goal for Tome?
We hope to help make sustainable and ethical fashion become the standard. We want people to know that there are always sustainable solutions out there, even if they might not always be obvious.