When I saw that the CFDA, an organization Senza Tempo is not a member of by the way but one that I follow as most in fashion do, finally published a set of guidelines on sustainability I wasn’t really shocked to learn that I was mostly there in terms of my business model. After all, Senza Tempo was launched with a more traditional way doing business in mind which is inherently sustainable since it’s all about buying few items and buying better items. It’s about producing ethically in the United States. As a North Carolinian and wanted to do my part to bring manufacturing back to the U.S.
Here are the CFDA’s guidelines and how Senza Tempo stacks up:
Creativity: How you can make the world better through design
This starts and ends with the entire philosophy behind the brand. The name Senza Tempo means TIMELESS in Italian. I chose the name because I only offer timeless silhouettes. Styles that were in style 50 years ago and that will be 50 years hence.
I also choose to produce garments only using natural fabrics. I never use polyester, a petroleum derivative. Polyester is neither luxe nor environmentally friendly. Natural fabrics are also key to the garment’s timelessness as they last longer than man made fabrics.
Environment: Air, Chemicals, Energy, Waste, etc…
Without stating the obvious, the environment is complex. Thus, I do my best to simplify and streamline my supply chain where ever possible. I use fabric suppliers that are near my factory when possible to reduce shipping (why ship a similar fabric from across the country or the world when it can be found from a supplier around the corner and can be walked over?) Production items go from the factory to a warehouse to client’s homes.
The entire line is about reducing waste and creating a product that clients will keep in their closet forever. This is the entire reason for launching the line.
Where I continue to work to improve and part of this depends on upstream suppliers is on finding more sustainable textiles. This has been a challenge. As a small brand, I often have to take what I can get, but I’m confident that the market is moving in the right direction even in the luxury space.
People: Employees, Suppliers, Customers, Culture
I started researching Senza Tempo when the Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh. Before then, I had no idea about the abuses in the fashion industry and I was a successful and educated person (two masters degrees and a career on Wall Street). I simply didn’t know. It was the industry’s dirty little (actually big) secret. That news only strengthened my resolve to have an American made luxury brand — I didn’t want to be a part of that system. I grew up in North Carolina and watched all the textile and other manufacturing mills slowly slip away from the state after NAFTA. I studied economics in college and then spent my career in global politics in foreign exchange. Southern factories never had the skills to do the luxury quality I wanted, but I knew I could get it done in New York or Los Angeles and I was determined to do so.
As an economist, I also understand the multiplier effect of having domestic jobs. It’s so much more than about ethics or patriotism. Or about the quality control the factory provides because they have as much pride in the produce as I do and quick turnaround that domestic production provides my brand — two huge advantages that have saved me a fortune. It’s about economics plain and simple. I might be a designer and entrepreneur today, but once an economist, always an economist.
Governance: Company Culture, Financial Model
Sustainability is just good business. It’s efficient when executed properly. And that efficiency ultimately finds its way into lower costs for clients when there is less waste.