On EILEEN FISHER sustainability & fine fabrics

Eileen Fisher Fabrics

For this interview with the Eileen Fisher team, we spoke with Inka Apter, Facilitating Manager for Fabric Research & Development. These are her thoughts on where they’ve been and where they’re going with fabrication.

Q: Please define what your position is at Eileen Fisher.
A:
I lead our Fabric Team within the Design Department. Our five-member team is responsible for sourcing and developing woven and knit fabrics for our line, as well as accessories. Our team includes a Textile Designer and a Textile Chemist so we can really tap into different areas of expertise! We meet with mills from different countries, including the US, and review their collections as well as attending fabric shows here and abroad. We also visit the mills to gain better understanding of our supply chain and gain technical knowledge or browse their archives for inspiration. Within the Design Department we work collaboratively with the designers and merchandisers when developing our seasonal collections and then follow those materials from initial concept to first sampling and then on through the actual production. For me it’s been a dream job from the very start 20 years ago since I have been passionate about textiles and yarns from an early age!

Q: In your own words, please explain to Eileen Fisher enthusiasts what Vision 2020 is.
A:
Vision 2020 is a first chapter of our journey towards building a sustainable business. We are aware of the environmental and social impact of the global textile industry of which we are a part and we want to take responsibility for our impact by effecting positive change wherever we can. To that end we are looking at everything — our materials, how are they grown and produced, how are they dyed, people that make them and resources that are used. We are also very passionate about new ideas about circular economy and using the resources most effectively, seeing waste as potential for new materials!

Q: What does sustainability mean to you? How do you apply those principles in your work?
A:
Since materials make a large portion of our environmental impact and I work so closely with fabrics every day, I feel great responsibility to make better choices by sourcing and developing fabric with sustainable fibers. Sustainability is deeply embedded in our way of thinking and working. It feels completely natural to keep it at the center of what we do and we have made great progress in educating and collaborating with the mills, finding and nurturing new sources. I feel that I am learning something new every day – whether it is a new source of fiber, new emerging technology or just new way to evolve our tried and true fabrics!

Q: What progress towards Vision 2020 are you most proud of to date?
A:
We’ve made a lot of progress in many areas; sometimes we forget to pause and look back at where we were just few years ago and where we are today. I am especially proud of our support of organic agriculture with our sourcing and development of materials with organic fibers such as organic cotton and linen. Once you experience first-hand the difference that organic agriculture makes to the health of people and the soil you never want to look back!

Q: How has Vision 2020 affected how you work with Garnet Hill?
A:
Back in 2007 when we first developed the EF Home Collection with GH we already had great synergy because both brands were championing natural fibers. Our home collection was based on Eileen’s love of silk and linen at the core of our offering. As we learned more about the environmental impacts of natural fibers, we started thinking of ways we could improve all of our products. With the home collection our emphasis is on organic cotton — we have worked with the GH team to convert our best-loved qualities to organic cotton and develop new items and textures with organic fibers, undyed and reclaimed materials. It is a journey towards our sustainability goals and we are taking it step by step!

Experience Inka’s work first hand in our latest Eileen Fisher collections for women, sleep and home.

On staying true to the EILEEN FISHER brand DNA

Eileen Fisher Cotton and Linen Ribbed Towels

Our interviews with the Eileen Fisher team continue with a conversation with Laura Mikell, Eileen Fisher Facilitating Leader. She spoke to us about the synergy between the Eileen Fisher and Garnet Hill teams and how the collaboration fits the Eileen Fisher brand DNA.

Q: Please define what your position is at Eileen Fisher.
A:
I am the Facilitating Leader for Eileen Fisher Home and Eileen Fisher Company Stores teams. Based upon my long retail experience and deep knowledge of the Eileen Fisher DNA, I offer product feedback on Core Customer needs, ease of fit, body types, versatility and connections across lifestyles. I have applied the same knowledge to my work on Eileen Fisher Home. Additionally, I am a member of the EF retail real estate team.

Q: How long have you been with Eileen Fisher?
A:
I joined Eileen Fisher in April 1992.

Q: What was your first position at Eileen Fisher?
A:
I opened the second Eileen Fisher retail store at Columbus Ave and 77th Street as store manager.

Q: What are your current roles and responsibilities?
A:
My work with the Eileen Fisher Home team includes conceptual thinking, R+D for product inspiration, business analysis and attending EF Home photo shoots as the EF brand ambassador. The EF Home team works closely with the amazing Garnet Hill Design and Merchandising teams to ensure all is aligned and tells one cohesive story.

Q: When did you start working with Garnet Hill?
A:
Since the beginning, when Russ (Garnet Hill’s previous CEO) came to us with the idea for an Eileen Fisher Bed and Bath line designed and made exclusively by Garnet Hill. The concept of a bed and bath wardrobe for the home proved to be a natural extension of the Eileen Fisher brand. It is all about offering our customers beautiful fabrics made of natural fibers in soft colors.

Q: How have you seen the relationship with Garnet Hill evolve?
A:
Our relationship feels easy, creative, and more recently, we are deepening our understanding of the EF Home business. This now includes Eileen Fisher Sleepwear, since 2007, which is a natural addition to the Home and Ready-to-Wear collections.

Q: What’s your favorite Eileen Fisher Home Item?
A:
I love the Linen and Cotton Towels. They are absorbent, dry quickly, and feel great.

Q: What’s the best thing about the Eileen Fisher/Garnet Hill relationship?
A:
There is synergy between all of the team members. We respect each other, and enjoy brainstorming and working together to evolve the product while staying true to the Eileen Fisher DNA.

Explore our latest Eileen Fisher collections for home, sleep, and women’s clothing.

On EILEEN FISHER color inspiration & theory

Eileen Fisher Color Inspiration and Theory

Eileen Fisher is known for its careful consideration of color. For our series of interviews with the EF Team, we caught up with Chris Costan, Senior Color Designer, to solicit her insight and expertise in developing color palettes for ready-to-wear and home collections.

Q: Please define your position at Eileen Fisher.
A:
As Senior Color Designer, I generate the seasonal color concepts and palettes, exclusive palettes, and accessory color combinations, allocating color to fabric, yarns, styles and “how to wear”. Staying up to date on the latest trends and cultural moments is vital to the job that I perform at EF. I also work with the Garnet Hill EF Home team to introduce new concepts and combinations to the existing Eileen Fisher home line of bedding, bath, and sleepwear. Along with new ideas, we always want to ensure that we keep a consistent Eileen Fisher aesthetic.

Q: As a visual artist, how did you start working in color design/fashion?
A:
My own career as a visual artist has informed my skill set, which it turned out was applicable to my job as colorist for Eileen Fisher. I came to EF without precise fashion experience but have always had a great aptitude and interest in fashion and trend. I once worked at MTV television networks on an animated television program, Daria, where fashion was quite important. I was supervisor of the color department overseeing the colors (characters, clothing, backgrounds and props) of Daria.

Q: What is most rewarding about your job as a color designer?
A:
My job is quite hectic, varied and challenging. It involves making 1000’s of aesthetic decisions. It is rewarding to “reinvent” the wheel, meaning, given the restrictions and parameters of what color needs to be for this clothing line, I can try to make each palette different from those in the past.

Q: What is your favorite object in your studio?
A:
My favorites vary from time to time. At the moment, a dried mushroom conglomeration, it’s inspirational in relation to the miracle of nature and color, and it inspired a canvas-y jumpsuit.

Q: How are the colors for the Eileen Fisher Home Collection developed?
A:
I assess the colors from the EF ready-to-wear line and see which of those might be transferable to our home line. Then I interact with the designers at Garnet Hill as they contribute the Garnet Hill needs for color until we refine and finalize.

Q: What does your typical day look like?
A:
My day also varies from day to day, season to season. I explore trends online, on the street and by reading magazines. I work alone on designing, conceptualizing, and planning ahead, jotting down ideas, gathering images and thinking of new color names (lots of multitasking). I also collaborate with different teams; design, merchandising, education and sometimes the writers for Eileen Fisher.

Q: Are there any colors on the rise that you love? What’s your favorite color of the moment?
A:
I’ve been a fan of “cosmetic colors” for quite some time. A worker’s suit type of Green is on point right now. I’ve always loved pink so for the EF for GH home offering, Rosewater. Blue! Black! White! Too much information!

See the end result of Chris’s hard work in our latest Eileen Fisher collections for women, sleep and home.

On building the EILEEN FISHER/Garnet Hill relationship

Eileen Fisher Home Exclusively at Garnet Hill

To celebrate our relationship with Eileen Fisher, we have gathered interviews from key members of the Eileen Fisher team.

We’re kicking off the series with words from Terri Erdos MacDonald. Terri is instrumental in coordinating communication and implementation of special projects between our brands, and she’s been an important part of the team since the launch of our collaborative Eileen Fisher Home collection back in 2006.

Q: Please define what your position is at Eileen Fisher.
A: I am Executive Assistant to the VP of Design/Merchandising as well as involved with various special projects — of which the Garnet Hill/Eileen Fisher Home and Sleepwear collaboration is the primary project.

Q: How long have you been with Eileen Fisher?
A: I have been with Eileen Fisher for 11 years. My background is primarily home and catalog – so the EF/GH project was a natural fit for me to be involved in – and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. The EF/GH home and sleepwear design teams have always been an exciting and natural collaboration – I really enjoy watching the design teams from both companies work together – there is such synergy. And the brainstorming and inspiration meetings are over the top – so many great ideas and products emerge.

Q: What’s your favorite Eileen Fisher Home Item?
A: I LOVE the cotton/linen towels – the combination of the cotton and linen is unique and it feels like your exfoliating your skin but at the same time it’s incredibly absorbent.

Q: What’s the best thing about the Eileen Fisher/Garnet Hill relationship?
A: It seemed like a perfect fit from day one – GH started as a natural fabric company – they, like EF, understand the importance of everyday luxury and simplicity. From the moment the group started to embark on the first home collection – it has been all about natural fabrics, special and unique textures and soft colors – all key components in creating a beautiful bed.

Explore our latest Eileen Fisher collections for home, sleep, and women’s clothing.