14 Designers Focusing on Sustainability and Mindfulness In 2022
Conscious goal-setting is in for the new year.
New Year’s resolutions feel passé. However, goal-setting is anything but, especially for fashion and accessory designers in 2022. While determined to achieve more than increased sales and profits — though that’s always a pursuit — many have focused on sustainable, long-term goals, both in the environmental and personal sense. Think local production, working with more innovative and eco-conscious materials, and enhancing the workplace to feel like a positive, stimulating, and supportive environment. “Coming into 2022, a big lesson I took with me was that my design is best fostered in a space of curiosity and experimentation,” artist and jewelry designer Amanda Assad Mounser tells TZR. “This year, my focus will be mindfully creating with lightness and fluidity floating across multiple mediums.”
Brand impact and identity are equally at the forefront. “One of our longer-term ambitions is to become a purpose-driven brand recognized by clients as a personal and important part of their desire for self-expression and communication with the world around them,” says Completedworks artistic director Anna Jewsbury. One of her most significant 2022 objectives: participating in projects that act as catalysts for social engagement.
Similarly, the goal of an enriched working environment stems from reactions to COVID-19’s continuing variants and supply chain issues, leading to refreshed strategies with new collections. “We’re being more creative with how we approach business in 2022,” says designer Alejandra Alonso Rojas. “The landscape has changed over the last few years, and we’ve had to quickly adapt and make important decisions. It’s made us more humble, [forced us to] think outside of the box, and strengthened my connection with the team. We’re like a big family taking care of each other.”
Another sustainable viewpoint designers are embracing for 2022: working with what they’ve got. “Sometimes, it’s not about making all new things but listening to your consumer and giving them more of what they love,” House of Aama co-founder and designer Akua Shabaka tells TZR. It’s a tactic shared by shoe designer Emme Parsons and KARA handbag designer Sarah Law. Parsons is working on renewed interpretations of her best-sellers in 2022, while Law is developing new upcycled fabrications from scrap material. Jonathan Simkhai has also embraced a re-purposeful approach. “In an attempt to make clothing easier, I’ve been deconstructing past collections and reconstructing them in fresh, modern forms that have surprising details flattering the body,” he tells TZR. “I’m continually excited about looking through a simplified design lens to create elegant items with a comfort that you’d find in your favorite lounge pieces.”
Keep scrolling for more on how 14 designers are approaching 2022 through the lens of positive change while delivering stylish clothing and accessories to covet in the year ahead. Plus, an edit to shop if you’re in the new year, new something kind of mood.
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Alexandra O’Neill, Markarian
Known for her ultra-feminine and glamorous dresses and cocktail attire, Markarian designer Alexandra O’Neill is focusing on expansion through new categories, as well as building up her team. “Sustainability, local production, and environmental consciousness have always been at the core of Markarian’s ethos,” says O’Neill. “As we expand, I’m excited to start working with more local suppliers and factories.” Adding, “Knitwear and accessories are our newest categories, and I’m excited to continue to build out those parts of the collection this year.”
Akua Shabaka, House of Aama
Breathing new life into existing designs, House of Aama co-founder and designer Akua Shabaka says she and her mother and business partner are focusing on expanding current merchandise in new colorway options. Additionally, the emerging Los Angeles-based label is expanding through new retail partners, like Moda Operandi and MATCHESFASHION. “We look forward to growing more this year and building community,” Shabaka says.
Additionally, the mother-daughter duo is on a constant mission to explore storytelling in all ways. “We’re focusing on initiatives to bring our consumers and supporters more into our world,” Shabaka tells TZR. “Building intimate spaces is something we feel is important for the work we do, and we look forward to our plans this year to have more safe, intimate in-person or digital gatherings to discuss the history, archives, and inspiration behind our work.”
Desiree Kleinen, Ree Projects
Since her 2019 global launch, Amsterdam-based designer Desiree Kleinen’s line, Ree Projects, has taken off, already carried by top retailers like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Shopbop. “We have grown quickly,” Kleinen says. “This year we want to take stock, and focus our attention and energy on values that are important to us such as continuing to push our sustainability practices forward, [and] to co-create, collaborate, and connect with like-minded partners.” Further, as a female, BIPOC business owner, Kleinen wants “to contribute in any way I can to further push for much needed and fundamental changes within our industry and beyond.”
“Throughout the instability and general vulnerability of the past couple years, I’m humbled but proud to have had the ability to focus on and obsess over what the items are that add true value to someone’s wardrobe,” says Simkhai. His 2022 focus: “Items that can be season-less, that are simplified and redesigned to add ease and calm to one’s process of choosing what to wear.”
Alejandra Alonso Rojas
With a deepened connection to her team and a refreshed creative approach, Alonso Rojas says, “I’m incredibly excited for what’s to come [in 2022] and working on several capsules focused around sustainability, as well as my upcoming Fall/Winter 2023 collection.” The designer remains rooted in the local production, hand-crafted artistry, and environmental consciousness that’s been at the crux of her brand from the beginning, telling TZR, “I hope to continue partnering with new and old organizations that make a sustainable impact and give back to the community.”
Amanda Assad Mounser, Mounser
After rediscovering the creative advantages of experimentation and fluidity, Assad Mounser is continuing to mindfully create across multiple mediums in 2022. “I will be presenting a sculptural and sustainable sterling silver jewelry collection that I’m very excited about,” she tells TZR. “The pieces have been designed and developed from scratch utilizing 3-D printing to create dimensional and elegant shapes that would not be possible through traditional casting. The shapes mirror some of the paintings and ceramic artwork I developed in 2021, inspired by the phases of the moon.”
Kalita Al Swaidi, KALITA
KALITA founder and creative director Kalita Al Swaidi is constantly working to minimize her company’s impact on the environment, from the AZO-free dyes she’s long worked with to recyclable packaging. For 2022, she’s focusing on versatility and longevity in her captivating designs. “I’m very excited for our 2022 collection — Euphrates (New Chapter) — which we hope can effortlessly bridge the gap between resort wear and city wear,” Swaidi says. “By designing a collection of pieces that our audience will love to wear on holiday, but also has a place in their closet year-round, they’re making their wardrobe, and purchases work harder and smarter.”
Sarah Law, KARA
“This year at KARA, we are looking forward to highlighting different individuals that beautifully represent examples of multilayered identity, the message of the brand,” Law says. “I’m also so excited to introduce into the line a selection of new upcycled materials made from material scraps, a by-product of production. We’ve been working on the development of this material for many seasons and look forward to building [it] into the collection.”
Camille Perry & Holly Wright, Tove
For many rising labels, establishing a clear brand message takes years. But from the start, Tove’s Camille Perry and Holly Wright’s distinct minimalist vision has earned them notoriety among the fashion set. Progression, of course, is invariably a pursuit. “This coming year, we’re looking forward to continuing to evolve the narrative of our brand,” Perry tells TZR. “Creatively, we’re realizing new directions and product areas that will continue to build out our collection for our woman,” adds Wright. In 2022, the London-based label will release its debut denim collection for fall with leather accessories to follow come winter.
“Since our inception, we’ve committed to creating sustainable foundation pieces in considered fabrics,” Perry says, including recycled cotton, consciously crafted Italian denim that reduces emissions by up to 45% and water consumption by 65%. “We’re excited about many of the initiatives our manufacturing partners are stepping into [including] renewable energy sources, community development, and mentoring,” Wright continues. “Continuing to learn and cultivate our sustainability practices is so important to us.”
“We’ve faced some challenges with the new Omicron variant as some of our factory workers are getting infected and having to quarantine, which is affecting our development timeline,” Emme Parsons tells TZR of her namesake shoe and accessory collection. “In light of the current situation, we’ve decided to streamline our upcoming season, focusing on updates to our core collection, including color and material refreshes, as well as exploring bijoux.”
But, most importantly, in 2022, Parsons is carrying with her a mantra: “Someone reminded me recently that progress is not a straight line, and it’s something that has really stuck in my head. Life is full of setbacks that are out of our control, and it’s been a liberating positive mental shift that I’m trying to carry into the new year.”
Hillary Taymour, Collina Strada
A leader in sustainable design and inclusivity, Collina Strada designer Hillary Taymour has her 2022 sights set on ethical expansion. “Amongst a lot of personal resolutions this year, my goal is to launch a sustainable shoe program,” the designer tells TZR. “I love shoes so much, and I feel like it’s the biggest thing missing from the story at the moment.”
Havva & Ali Mustafa, HAVVA
HAVVA, the London-based, direct-to-consumer, small-batch brand is, by nature, sustainable, but co-founders and siblings, Havva and Ali Mustafa are heavily focused on continuing to prioritize those efforts with a pre-order system in 2022. “This ensures we’re sticking by our core design values in a sustainable manner,” Ali Mustafa explains. “We aim to continue avoiding product waste and materials by releasing limited runs of products in small drops, gauging our customer’s response to our designs, preventing over manufacturing, and acting against fast fashion,” she continues. As a pre-order model incentive, the design duo is offering 15% off on orders placed before an official drop.
Conscious packaging is another 2022 focus. “By end of the year, we’re targeting to make all our packaging recyclable as well as potentially using recycled/upcycled materials in future manufacturing products,” Havva Mustafa notes. “We feel it’s an important part we all play in maintaining the health of the planet as best as we can.”
Anna Jewsbury, Completedworks
With the long-term goal of being a purpose-driven brand for customers, Jewsbury is mindful of the layered process and embracing the journey. “We’ve been thinking for a while about developing and participating in projects that act as catalysts for social engagement, ones that lead to political and spatial change,” the Completedworks designer tells TZR. “We’re hoping this year to be able to launch the first series of projects which will focus on the dying art of practical work. We want people to spend more time using their hands; to spend more time making, foraging, and gardening.”
A new collection release featuring innovative materials for Spring/Summer 2022 marks an exciting development for the label, too. “We’ve been working with bio-resin — a material made from soy-bean oil and cashew nut oil — as well as recycled glass, collected as discarded bottles and scrap windows and melted down using old engine oil as fuel.”
Patricia Bonaldi, PatBO
With new collaborations, category expansions, and a new retail location on the 2022 horizon, PatBo designer Patricia Bonaldi says, “I cannot wait to share what we have planned this year. At the core, our driving force remains supporting the talented artisans from my hometown [of Uberlândia, Brazil], and building this business allows us to do just that.”