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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.

An Eco-Friendly Approach to Spring Cleaning

Spring is the perfect time for organizing and cleaning. When the first warm rays of sun hit our faces, our first instinct is to pack up our winter coats and pull out the spring cleaning essentials.

When cleaning for spring, it’s easy to forget about being eco-minded. So we decided to call in an expert for this one. Hildy Neumann of Organizing Strategies dishes all of her secret tips and tricks for Green Organization.
Eco-Friendly Spring Cleaning

How can we incorporate Green Organizing into our spring cleaning this season?

Limit new things. If your goal is to slim down your belongings, ask yourself if you really need to buy replacements. If you must purchase, invest in fewer items of better quality.

Everything and anything! Storage containers are especially great to use in a different space. Or you can always give unwanted items new life by donating them.

Challenge yourself to recycle more. Return wire hangers to the dry cleaner, rubber bands to the post office, eyeglasses to your optometrist, and wine corks to your local Whole Foods.

What are some of the lesser-known benefits of Green Organization?

There’s a psychological lift and a sense of satisfaction that comes with living in a less toxic space. The fewer things you own, the less time and energy you need to spend caring for them.

What helpful tips would you give to someone who is new to Green Organizing?

People often start an organizing project by rushing out and buying new containers. This can result in more unnecessary stuff! A better way is to weed out items you don’t need to keep and then find containers to store those you really want – possibly by reusing or repurposing something you already own.

Another tip: set up permanent places in your home to collect items for donation or recycling. I have a bin in my closet for clothing and shoes, and another in my garage for things to go to the recycling depot.

What sparked your interest in Green Organizing?

My mom was a child during the Depression and my dad was an immigrant from wartime Europe. Avoiding waste in my childhood home was a practical necessity. As an adult, I was surprised to discover that not everyone thinks environmentally. It’s now part of my organizing approach to gently educate my clients on ways to be eco-friendly.

Do you have an eco-friendly fragrance that you recommend to clients?

The eco-friendliest fragrance is no added fragrance! Nothing smells as good to me as sheets that have been dried outside in the sun.

What are some quick and dirty tips that we can incorporate now to lessen next year’s organizing?

Organizing is easiest if you do it regularly rather than save it up for an all-out attack.
One trick: when you switch your closet for the season, hang items with the hangers facing backward. As you use them, rehang with the hangers facing forward. At the end of the season, you will immediately identify which ones haven’t been worn.

When organizing, what are the first things to tackle in order to prevent getting overwhelmed?

Start small. Something as small as getting one drawer under control provides immediate satisfaction and will motivate you to tackle something else. Another tip is to set a timer for 20 minutes. You’ll be amazed at what you can get organized in just a short burst of focused time.

For more information, reach out to Hildy on LinkedIn.