Sass Brown is the Resident Director for the Fashion Institute of Technology’s study abroad program in Florence, Italy.  Originally from London, England, Sass established herself as a designer with her own signature collection selling in the UK and across Canada. Sass has a BA in Fashion Design from Ravensbourne College of Art and Design in London, England, and an MA in Global Fashion Management from FIT New York. 

 
As a researcher, writer and blogger, her area of expertise is eco fashion, in all of its different expressions, from community outreach and ethical design practices, slow design and heritage craft skills to recycle, reuse and new business models.  She has published papers and spoken around the world on the topic of sustainable design. Sass has also worked and volunteered in women’s cooperatives in Latin America, and in particular in Brazils largest favela; Rocinha, and taught workshops to manufacturers and fashion enterprises in Peru and China.  

 

Her book, Eco Fashion, published by Laurence King, has been translated into Italian as well as Spanish, and showcases some of the best expressions of eco fashion around the world.   Her website and blog –  www.ecofashiontalk.com is a one stop shop for everyone interested in eco fashion from a fashion, ethical or ecological perspective, featuring weekly designer overviews, resource listings and an eco fashion calendar.  Sass also writes for various other magazines and Ezines and is the European Eco Fashion Editor for Coco Eco Magazine, and International Features Editor for Above Magazine.  

 

 

What do you do?


As what I think of as the sign of the times... That is no longer a simple question to answer - I seem to have been adopted by the slash slash generation! I am the resident director for the fashion institute of technology in florence, Italy, where I direct a program for fashion design and fashion merchandising management. As an educator I speak internationally on the topic of eco fashion in all its different expressions, as well as conduct workshops for industry and NGO's predominately in Latin America, as a consultant. I am the author of Eco Fashion published by Laurence King, which overviews eco fashion designers around the world who combine good design with sustainable practices (I am equally a designer and environmentalist, so it is vital to me that eco fashion must also be cutting edge, fun, playful, serious, intellectual or cerebral and ultimately, well designed!).  I am also the European editor for Coco Eco Magazine, a digital eco fashion magazine based in LA, and the international features editor for the 'checkAbove Magazine', who are relaunching their quarterly ecological magazine in both digital and hard copy format in the coming months. 

 

What is the best part of your job?


Being inspired by and inspiring others about the importance of design as a solution. Showing that it is not only possible to produce incredible fashion responsibly, but it is a challenge that inspires creative solutions. 

 

What is your greatest achievement to date?


My first book eco fashion which was also translated and published in Spanish and Italian. I am currently working on my second book and planning my third!

 

What has been your greatest challenge/how have you overcome this challenge? 

Inspiring change in the industry and showing that ecology and fashion can coexist - they are not mutually exclusive. As to overcoming it, I haven't yet, it is a process, but much like life its the journey thats important. 

My other major challenge is juggling multiple responsibilities, jobs and deadlines simultaneously, and I am still working out how to overcome that!

 

What advice do you have for graduates and students wanting pursue a career in ethical fashion?


Read, research and network with everyone, there are wonderful examples out there of what can be done.  Take advantage of the digital world and the need that all of us have to share our knowledge, experiences and contacts as a means of helping to establish eco fashion not as a niche market but as a mainstream necessity. 

 

 What ethical designers/brands would you say are the ones to watch?  


I am inspired by good design that makes a difference, and my personal taste favors avant-garde design. I love Mayer Peace collection in Berlin who work with unconventional recycled materials, such as vintage flour sacks and rework them into whimsical and retro inspired separates. K/MA in Vienna are one of my favorite labels, they combine art, sustainabilty, performance and really cutting edge design with recycled parachutes and fabric scraps.  Danish designer Barbara Gongini, a highly conceptual and cutting edge design house that works in part with organic materials and vegetable dyed leather.  Much like many of the labels I admire they do not position themselves as an eco label, never the less, work that they do and the materials and methods they utalize do make a difference.  Tamara Fogle in the UK is one of my favourite bag designers currently, she also works with recycled materials, producing a modern heritage collection of bags from vintage materials. 

 

What do you get out of being part of the Ethical Fashion Network?

The feeling that I am part of a very important movement that can help change the world. Fashion or rather apparel as a global force is hugely powerful.  It has the abilty to inspire people, and also employ billions of people worldwide.  If we change this industry, we can change the world! As a designer myself, I also get huge pleasure from simply supporting those that are truly talented and making a difference to the industry and the environment.

 

Sass was kind enough to squeeze this interview in whilst preparing for a trip to Chile -"As for Chile, I am looking forward to it, I have not been there before...so I'm sure it will be an inspiring trip! I love south America, Every country I have visited so far has this incredible attachment to its material history through textiles, So I am excited!"- Sass.

 

 

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