Monday, January 31, 2011

The NOW Showcase designers brought a bit of eclectic luxury to SoEthic

Jenifer Miller of Mission Savvy an Eco fashion boutique in WV teamed up with The NOW Showcase and journeyed with the crew to Paris for the So Ethic Pret a Porter Show. Here is what she had to say.

One prediction that was impossible to make prior to arriving in Paris was how exactly US based ethical brands would blend with resident European brands at SoEthic.
I mentioned previously that in speaking with local boutiques in Paris I understood two things: 1) Most (except one) choose to not brand themselves as “green” or any cousin form of the word & 2) do not intentionally seek out ethical designers for their collections.
It's difficult to steer clear of the perpetual comparison to NY market. After touring SoEthic the first day this popped into my mind: maybe their reaction to ethical designs has something to do with what is available to them?
Let me just preface this first by saying that this is merely a personal perspective and a reflection of a personal sense of what my consumers want and in no way is meant to degrade any European label I encountered. Differentiating is not degrading, it's understanding how they all compliment each other under this same ethical brand.
My drafted conclusion is that the NOW Showcase designers brought a bit of eclectic luxury to SoEthic that was missing.

Alex Bell and Shira Entis, the lovely, vibratious designers behind Fleabags, a high end and successful collecion of totes, explained to me that while their collection is
created with organic and reclaimed materials “being environmentally conscious is only part of the story,” says Shira. The concept behind the look and development for a particular market is another part of the story. It is essential that their collection be merchandised with other high end collections. And if the buyers are not going to voluntarily seek out SoEthic they may need to reconsider their future approach to showcasing. “But this is something we could have never known, you always have to give something a shot once and then you learn. Coming as a group with NOW was the right move for us this trip.”
The same can be applied to the other designers that joined NOW in Paris. This is all feedback NOW will consider when traveling abroad next season. How can seemingly more high end, ethical, US based brands integrate internatinoally under the umbrella of the “green” label.
So who were our neighbors? Here's some of the best of!
What was really interesting were the number of fair trade brands such as Samomaya (Andes), L' Herberouge (Madagascar) and Bibico (India and Nepal). All of which work with communities to support artisan craft. It's relatively easy for US based boutiques, like myself, to fill racks with “Made In the USA” mindset. The diversity and quantity is available to us and it's a great marketing statement to use.

However, seeing for the first time these fair trade garments up and close and really listening to how personally invested these labels are with on-the-ground production is comforting that “Made In India” or whatever the country is actually OK. (See interesting article by Amy Dufault on Eco Salon “Is The Made In China Backlash Racist?”)
Overall these fair trade brands bring in collections heavy in wool, alpacha and mohair because their livelihoods revolve around the humane farming of these animals for clothing. Hence the large quantity of sweaters at SoEthic in all styles for the Fall season!
Locally produced brands included the sophisticated label KAMI which has been around for 20 years and Eros & Agape with its very southern France feel. These were my two favorites.

Monday, January 24, 2011

NOW designers enter international market

Taking this first step abroad outside the comforts of NYC, where a collaborative of designers have grown exponentially the past three years, the NOW Showcase begins to clear a new path for ethical designers internationally.

At the moment NOW's select group of six US based designers have joined a Paris showcase called So Ethic within a larger showcase called Prêt à Porter - complimenting an expanding collection of European ethical designers who have supported So Ethic for the past several years.

“Alliances among designers and collaborations with other companies is the foundation of NOW” says co-founder Eileen Moran. “It is how and why we started three years ago.”

Two days in and with a consistent flow of buyers from all over the world, NOW designers are reassured that this trip is the link connecting current success in the US with the potential for growth. A potential obtained by expanding the horizon of sales opportunities internationally.

Heidi of Heidi Roland was anxious to “see what is happening in the fashion pulse of the world. Paris has pushed me to the next level with my collections, to really look at who the brand is, to thoroughly research product sourcement and become an expert.” Heidi has always had plans to travel to Paris when her collection, but she emphasized the appeal of joining the NOW designers and anticipates new discoveries in this journey that will benefit her in the long run.

Dana Ayanna of ARTAYA has been developing the presentation of her jewelry collection since 2004 and now, just in time for Paris has an appearance that she knows works really well. “Keeping it simple using aged and antique wood pieces against the bold colors of the jewelry” is the secret she says. Seven years in, Dana knew she was ready to go international and will continue to benefit from the alliance of ethical designers at NOW.

While the advantages of traveling and showcasing together have played into the designers favor this season, skepticism on the buying end still needs some convincing.

Yesterday I was visiting a number of boutiques in a popular shopping district in Paris and had an extended conversation with one boutique owner about the quality of ethical designs. She said to me that her experience with ethical designers is that they are more concerned with environmental responsibility than design. I'm not entirely sure what her experiences had been in the ethical world to form such an opinion but this is a perfect example of how the presence of multiple designers, independently strong in design can challenge those perceptions. Of course I offered her a personal invitation to So Ethic :)

“We select the designers from the buyers perspective and choosing a diverse and dynamic sampling of accessories, handbags and womenswear”, says Eileen. “For Paris we chose designers that were interesting, offering something different from what other designers are showing, but the designers also had to be prepared to sell abroad and handle all that entails (early production, shipping, taxes, etc).”

Joining forces in this new experience together allows everyone go through the learning curve together and ultimately saves time in the long run.

For Kelly of Kelly Lane Designs this international trip will help her develop her brand and test out the overall reaction to her collection in a new way. “I see this as an opportunity to better understand the ethical market in general,” she says and “the ability to try something new with the safety net of a group is priceless.” Kelly plans to make adjustments in her timetable of production from now on to accommodate an international market. Her designs can now be found in Rome and Paris.

Eileen comments that “we had a vision since the beginning to take our designers and the community to other cities and this opportunity presented itself at the perfect moment. We hope to expand our horizons, be inspired, share information, learn how they do what they do and join forces where possible.”

Stay tuned for more from Paris as we continue to further investigate the international ethical world from a designer and buyer perspective!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why people love NOW

Suzan Beers, our intern from the Netherlands joined our team last November. Working with NOW opened her eyes: "While I was finishing my Bachelors Communication and Information Studies I thought about how everybody just keeps on going. Students finish their studies and search for a job, just as people expect them to do. For me simply continue and start my Masters would be too easy. Besides, I thought I was too young to really decide what I wanted to study for my Masters and then go to work. That's why I decided to pack my bags and go to New York for half a year to study Fashion & Design. After some struggling I switched to Media & Art and started looking for an internship.

My ideal job would be a combination of marketing, communication, fashion and as international as possible, as I speak a lot of languages. Eileen crossed my path with the NOW SHOWCASE and I started to work in the eco fashionworld. It is fashion, with a little extra. You never know what you can expect and look where I am now: living with five inspiring, ambitious and very interesting ladies in a small apartment in Paris to show Europe how beautiful US eco design is. It's an experience of a lifetime and it changes the way I look at things. I love it."

Friday, January 21, 2011

NOW arrived in Paris!

The designers of the NOW SHOWCASE didn’t have much time to enjoy one of the most beautiful and lovely cities of Europe. After arriving in Paris it was time to get things ready to role! At their own risk the designers of Fleabags, JAI & JAI Activewear, ARTAYA, Kelly Lane, Heidi Roland, Ailin and Origin 23 took a couple of metro trains, packed with suitcases full of their fall 2011 creations. The trip to Porte de Versailles was an adventure on itself.

Florence, the coordinator of So Ethic, gave us a warm welcome in Hall 7. And after a long day we magically transferred the cold white space into a cozy, natural area full of the most beautiful sustainable and organic bags, clothes and accessories.

To get a bit of a feeling about how it works getting our ambitious and excited ready for a trade show, of course we have some pictures. NOW get that champagne popping! We are totally ready to make our debut in Paris!

Friday, January 14, 2011


NOW co-founder Eileen Moran of Origin23 Showroom saysI first attended this Prêt à Porter Paris in '08 and was impressed with how many incredible designers were there from so many countries showcasing ‘their take’ on ethical fashion, especially England, such as Ciel among others, but was curious why there were not more eco designers from the US on display at that time. Since starting up NOW Showcase in NYC 3 years ago and since my last visit to this show in Paris, the US community of designers committed to working fairly has grown exponentially... its amazing to see. The designers we invited to bring with us are a fresh and dynamic sampling of what the US has to offer right NOW”

Eileen Moran
NOW co-founder and founder of Origin Twenty Three

What is in the future for NOW? PARIS

First-ever partnership of NOW Showcase at So Ethic Prêt à Porter Paris

With a mission to promote US designers SoEthic Prêt à Porter Paris has invited a handful of designers to participate in the Fall 2011 show next week!

Featuring 6 up and coming US designers from NYC, DC, Pittsburg and Philadelphia who are all showing Handbags, Jewelry, Women’s Ready To Wear, Outerwear and Accessories lines for the first time in Paris.

NOW that's a good start to the year!

Looking at the NOW...

On the terrace at one of our NYC shows.

There are always treats and surprises for you when your in with The NOW.

Ace Marketing sponsored these eco-friendly notebooks that we gave away at the last show! Did you get one?

NOW Collaborations....

NOWSHOWCASE usually occurs during NYC Market Week, alongside D&A, Coterie and Train. Last season, its 5th, for the first time ever, The Train, The Box, and Rendez-Vouz collaborated with NOW Showcase in a rare NY Market Week partnership in the Terminal building opening the flow of attendees to each others show drawing 600 visits from U.S., European and Asian buyers. All of the designers are known for the show’s conscious credo and forward style: Fair. Sustainable. Forward….That’s why buyers from high-end retail like Harvey Nichols, Takashimaya Tokyo, Fred Segal, Joan Shepp, Anthropologie and ABC Carpet & Home write orders every season. NOW lines are also carried at edgy boutiques, like New York’s Kaight, Santa Barbara’s Wendy Foster, Chicago’s Bonnie and Clyde’s, and LA’s Thesis.

Its all about the NOW right!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Happy New Year with Love from The NOW Showcase crew

2011 is going to be a fantastic Year and we at The NOW Showcase are super excited about this season....NOW is going Global, so stay tuned!!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Paris here we come...

At the start of a new eco-fabulous decade Now Showcase is taking six ethical designers on a trip to Paris! How fantastic is that?! With a special feature at the So Ethic PRÊT À PORTER PARIS show, US brands JAI & JAI Activewear, Fleabags, Ailin, ARTAYA, Kelly Lane, Heidi Roland and Origin 23 are ready for some Euro fun.

From the 22nd-25th of January you can admire amazing, real
American, eco-friendly Handbags, Jewelry, Women’s Ready To Wear, Outerwear and Accessories lines for the first time in booths F114 and F116, Hall 7 of Port de Versaille.


Fleamarket addicts Shira Entis and Alexandra Bell craved a convenient yet fashionable tote to fit all of their finds and launched their company Fleabags with an inspired carry-all that is luxurious, modern, and eco-minded. The collection is comprised of a signature year-round framed tote, distinguished by a hand-written edition number, and seasonal limited-edition styles using vintage and

one-of-a-kind materials.

*JAI & JAI Activewear created by NYC based British Designer Kizzy Knight is a Playfully Regal Ethical Apparel brand for Ambassadors of Contemporary Elegance. Smart Design = Sustainability = Contemporary Elegance.*Origin Twenty Three, NYC based ethical fashion agency, will be there to represent this collection.

*Ailin means “compassion for nature”, a representation of designer, Erin Bell’s Chinese name. Her line is a fashion-focused women's apparel and outerwear brand designed for accomplished female climbers, surfers, skiers, riders, runners, yogis and explorers and is dedicated to the ongoing development of sustainability and environmental responsiveness within the outdoor apparel industry through integration of eco-friendly fabrics, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, and consumers end-use making Ailin truly compassionate for the nature that the collection was created to celebrate.

*Kelly Lane creates bold compositions of color, print, and line to form flattering silhouettes for women that are as wearable as they are stylish from eco-friendly fabrics and ethically produced by a family-run business in New York’s garment district. The result is limited run, high-quality clothing with a conscience.

*Heidi Roland accessories collection of sustainably sourced leather and feathers, Heidi Roland, is keeping sound social and environmental action at the forefront of decisions. Heidi Roland reminds us that fashion is not about changing who you are on the outside, but rather about expressing who you are on the inside.

*ARTAYA This eco label was recently named one of the "District's most promising design talents" in The Washington Post, Dana Ayanna Greaves is making an impact with her ethical line of recycled paper jewelry. Her designs combine multi-cultural influences with graphic prints and modern shapes.

Paris here we come!