Known for its statement reworked denim, Kiev-based label Ksenia Schnaider is spearheading the sustainable fashion movement in Eastern Europe. MOJEH.com caught up with Schnaider to find out how.
Why was it important for you to create a sustainable fashion brand?
To be honest, initially it wasn’t our goal to have a sustainable practice and even now our main mission isn’t to be sustainable. Instead, sustainability came naturally to us. It’s really hard to ignore everything that’s wrong with the fashion industry, so now it only makes sense for us to keep it going and to make a conscious effort not to waste resources.
The denim industry has one of the worst ethical and environmental footprints in fashion, how are you combating that?
Our denim production is divided into two: the reworked line and the new denim. The reworked line is kind of self-explanatory, we rework vintage pieces, which involves going to a flea market, unstitching the original pair by hand, washing the fabric and creating something new from it. In one year we upcycle around five thousand pairs of old jeans in-house. For the new denim line, we work with ISKO, the only denim mill in the world that has been awarded the prestigious Nordic SWAN Ecolabel and the EU Ecolabel.
As far as we’re aware, you’re the only fashion brand from Eastern Europe that has been advocating for sustainable fashion, why do you think that is?
There are other designers, like RCR Khomenko who are working with used materials in Ukraine, but our voice is much louder now thanks to press and celebrity support.
How do consumers respond to your sustainability efforts?
When we first began, we were afraid people wouldn’t buy our jeans if they found out the fabric was pre-used. But in just two years, the market has become so different that now there are customers who are willing to invest in a piece just because it is upcycled.
What other brands do you most respect for driving sustainability initiatives?
Stella McCartney, Re/Done and Eileen Fisher.
How do you feel about fast fashion?
Fast fashion is wrong on so many levels. First of all, think about the resources that are being wasted each season. The high street shop counters are restocked every couple of weeks, if not more frequently. As a result, the quality of the products is much lower, which means you are compromising the higher quality, more durable clothing and the earth’s environment to have the flexibility to change your look every couple of weeks without damaging your personal economy. I think that’s deeply wrong.