The Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator, or BFDA, is a groundbreaking initiative sponsored by the Pratt Institute that helps nurture designers and young labels, providing them with the resources to be fully sustainable brands. Remake had a chance to meet some of their breakout stars and learn more about how the BFDA has helped them scale their businesses ethically. From an all-inclusive womenswear brand to one that is perfecting the quintessential white shirt, the BFDA’s incredible range of designers prove that all fashion can be sustainable fashion.
Kirrin Finch was born in 2015 when it’s founders, who were never into feminine clothing got tired of shopping in the men’s section to find clothing that matched their identities. Laura and Kelly Sanders Moffat set out to create an inclusive women’s label that was as much about fabric and fit as it was about the emotional experience of finding clothing specifically made for an under-served community.
When they joined the BFDA, the duo only had a concept in mind. The coworking space and mentorship that the organization provided helped them create a sustainable line from the ground up and taught them to scale their production as their business grew. They now manufacture their entire line in New York with organic and natural fibers, and even reuse their fabric scraps by turning them into accessories like bow ties and pocket squares.
Crystalyn Kae is an accessories brand that upcycles fabric to create new and timeless accessories. Kae’s first bag – a duffel bag to be exact – was made out of an old pair of plaid pants. This was only the beginning; since 2001, Kae has been expertly sourcing vintage fabrics and deadstock leather to create her line of leather goods, from bags to accessories. Each bag is unique, down to the lining she often creates from old pillowcases. She even offers repairs to extend the lives of her pieces and downcycles large leather goods and hardware into products like keychains and wallets.
American Deadstock is all about new vintage – old clothing or accessories that never got sold and are sitting boxed up in warehouses across the country. We had a chance to speak with Wade, who sources these wholesale remnants that would otherwise be sent to landfills, and resells them online at competitive prices that would give Forever 21 a run for their money (and style). Their clothing looks vintage, because it is, but the best part its also new!
Marisol Arteaga founded her eponymous label, Arteaga, to preserve the skills and crafts of artisan weavers while helping expose their work to a larger market. She emphasizes textile excellence and creates each collection with a focus on rare and unique fabrics. From a human rights standpoint, the BFDA has helped connect the label with ethical workplaces that provide living wages and other benefits to their workers. However, Arteaga believes sustainable fashion is only going to grow and overtake fast fashion once consumers start demanding it themselves. Without demand, she believes it is difficult to justify the luxury prices that artisanal clothing warrants.
Spratters and Jayne is a New York-based label that sells hand-knit accessories and home goods. They emphasize having a transparent supply chain and conscious consumerism. As a venture fellow in the BFDA, S&J has received the tools to run and scale their business while being connected with ethical manufacturers and companies throughout the states. As an example, founder Rachael Warner had been looking for US-based hand-knitters for 3 years until she joined the BFDA…and then found them in a month!
Make it Black, founded by Amanda Grogan, is a new sort of fashion brand – one that doesn’t manufacture any clothing. Instead, they accumulate deadstock and excess wholesale clothing and dye it black, creating evergreen pieces that are trend-resistant and will fit into anyone’s style and closet. With 50 billion dollars of deadstock produced in the US every year, the brand wanted to find a way to utilize all this preexisting clothing and give it new life. Though they are still in development, stay on the lookout as they will be launching soon!
Grammar NYC, founded in 2016 by Althea Simons, is centered around the perfect white shirt – a closet staple made to be high quality and long-lasting. The brand launched with 5 classic silhouettes that address women’s real needs, like accentuating the waist or slimming the torso, and are suited to a variety of body types. Simons notes that the BFDA helped her discover a community of like-minded individuals, as being an entrepreneur can often be isolating during a company’s early stages, while also providing her with the resources to grow, from lessons on bookkeeping to marketing to production.