Cora Hilts is co-founder of rêve en vert, a clothing company which sells and designs sustainable and ethical clothing from its Shoreditch studio. They promote and stock designers who are committed to using local products and fair trade manufacturing practices. She also happens to be one of my oldest friends, so I was more than happy to meet for a catch up!
Where did your interest in fashion come from?
I would say my interest in fashion was really born and cultivated during my five years living in Paris-it was the first time in my life I saw women that were dressed so elegantly and yet so simply. It was also where I learned that a small closet full of beautiful, curated things would always be preferable to an overflowing one full of less considered fashion.
What was the inspiration behind rêve en vert?
Having grown up on the seaside in Maine, I was always very connected to nature. But as I was getting my Master’s degree in Environmental Politics and Sustainability at King’s College London I was in a class where the professor mentioned that second only to energy, fashion was the most polluting industry in the world. It was at that moment I knew that I deeply wanted to see that change.
What do you mean by ‘sustainable,’ especially in relation to fashion?
We have identified four pillars of sustainability at rêve en vert: local, independent, sustainable and ethical. We thought these four words covered the remit of what we wanted to see in our designers whilst keeping it easy enough for them to produce without so much sacrifice. Mainly we want to see designers producing clothing in ethical and fair circumstances, manufacturing with an awareness of environmental impact and humanitarian concerns. With rêve en vert, oftentimes it’s also just the mantra of “less is more.”
What are the difficulties in selling and producing entirely sustainable clothing?
It’s much more expensive than the clothing you would find on the high street, and with people’s love of a bargain and expectation now that fashion should be incredibly cheap it’s hard to change their minds into buying more investment pieces. Consumers need to understand that to pay people a living wage, to use quality materials, and to reduce waste supply chains the way they shop will need to alter and they will need to spend more on less. At the end of the day, it’s a pretty straightforward message and one that I wholeheartedly believe in, but I also know this will take time and more and more awareness of the problems.
What are your plans for the future of rêve en vert?
We are planning on expanding our own designing more and more-with a resort wear line launching this year and expanding beauty and home wear. After that comes men’s wear, and after that a concept store in Paris with an organic cafe attached!