THE RISE OF ETHICAL FASHION DESIGNERS - an Interview with Laura Choi of Par en Par
In today’s world of fast fashion and buying more and more, it’s refreshing to see that there’s been a (slow) movement in terms of buying more ethical and sustainable products.
Specifically, within the fashion industry, there’s definitely been a surge of ethical emerging designers who are concerned not only about where and how a garment is designed, sourced, and ultimately produced but providing timeless and versatile pieces that can be worn for many seasons to come for an affordable price.
Value and quality are just as important to these upcoming designers, and we are thrilled to watch this amazing evolution taking place.
Par en Par’s story
Today we had the opportunity to sit down and chat with new designer Laura Choi of Par en Par.
Laura, a fashion industry veteran known for growing brands such as Warby Parker got her start in NYC over a decade ago working for big names like Bloomingdales and Kohl’s.
Primarily working on the merchandising and retailing side of the business, Laura was able to quickly take her knowledge of what she’s learned throughout her career to launch Par en Par, a collection inspired by relaxation and effort.
“Par en Par” which means “doors wide open” in Spanish is created not only with carefully sourced fabrics and sustainable weavers in India but is designed with great intention.
Having mainly a merchandising background, Laura’s product development and design background was very minimal, so sourcing a manufacturer was something she reached out to friends for help with.
After a post on Facebook proved to be quite successful with many friends reaching out with contacts, she found herself on a plane to India only a short month after quitting her corporate job!
With over a dozen meetings lined up with potential manufacturers, she finally met the ONE on her very last meeting of the two-week trip in Delhi, India.
Turns out that this family-owned factory with a large facility happened to have a separate arm of the business focused on sustainable consulting. Long story short, Laura was able to partner with this manufacturer due to their ability to work with smaller brands but also use the scale of the facility.
“I feel so lucky to have found them because I want to be super transparent about how I’m sourcing everything. From where the cotton is picked from by region, to where it’s spun and woven into a fabric and finally cut and sewn in Delhi. And finally to where it gets shipped - which is currently my living room!”
HOW PAR EN PAR IS RE-DEFINING THE RESORT WEAR MARKET
The intention to produce versatile resort wear that is able to be packed beautifully and worn to various travel locations is what Par en Par has achieved with their simple yet beautifully designed six-piece collection.
These handwoven cotton pieces are designed with a purpose, and each piece can be worn a multitude of ways to various events and occasions.
When we sat down with Laura she was wearing a striped Par en Par slip dress which looked like the most comfortable and chic slip dress ever. We were immediately sold.
She explained to us the three main brand pillars and what makes Par en Par so special.
“The first pillar of the brand is all about pieces that you can pack on every trip with you. Travel essentials that are so versatile that they extend to your everyday life. So I’m wearing the slip dress, and I’m in Brooklyn, I wore the culottes yesterday to a day party, so these are pieces that are super versatile.
Secondly to create pieces at a value that makes sense from the stakeholders from the suppliers down to the consumer. The garments range from $168-$218.
And lastly, I wanted to create a collection at no cost to the environment. I want to really consider the community that we’re involved with and make sure that we’re not only minimizing our harm but also doing good while we’re creating.
It was really important to me to not create things just for the sake of creating it and putting it out there unless I could imagine myself wearing them, and other people wearing them and improving their lives. And I know that sounds very lofty with clothing, but that’s really the larger purpose and mission. "
ON CONSCIOUS CONSUMPTION AND THE BRAND’S MESSAGE
These days having more and more in your closet is something of the past. Being very intentional and purposeful for every single piece we put into our closet, Par en Par has adapted to this same principle. Each style stands on its own yet the merchandising as a cohesive collection is right on point.
A modern woman knows the importance of versatility, however, understanding exactly where something is made and knowing that it’s made with great detail, care, and intention is something Laura has strived for since launching the brand.
“With this collection and traveling with them has really helped me personally eliminate many things from my wardrobe. I think this is definitely the future, and people want to live more consciously, around them environmentally and on their bodies.
All of the fabrics are handwoven made in India and all colors are organic with the exception of the natural colorway which is a special fabric called Khadi which has a more of linen quality with natural fibers.
When I was thinking about the name and the message, it was really important to me to not just be another resort brand that was about escaping to a beach. I do love a good beach, don’t get me wrong! But it was more important to me to figure out personally and also professionally how to strive this balance of working really hard and the effort as well as the relaxation. And how do you weave those two things so that you don’t have to escape it. Ever.
So that idea of balance and duality of effort and relaxation. The amount of thought that went into every detail, the hem, the stitches, the pockets, if you raise your hands will you be comfortable if your bikini bottoms show...
I don’t want it to feel super contrived, although every single detail has been thought of. "
ON CREATING WITH INTENTION
Throughout our conversation with Laura, we were inspired by her wanting to create a collection based on so many different ethics and principles.
The third pillar of her brand’s message which was all about creating a collection at no cost to the environment and really taking into consideration the community involved with creating the collection was quite inspiring and something we feel all designers should aspire to.
There’s a quote that Laura brought up that was truly fitting to Par en Par and is from a documentary called Human.
Spoken by an ex-Chilean president in which he discussed (in Spanish) that “with purchasing things, we’re not only purchasing things with our money but our time. We are creating superficial mountains of means”.
Laura watches this documentary on regular basis to remind her of this powerful quote and how it relates back to her brand.
We can’t wait to see what’s next for Par en Par.
To follow Laura and her journey click here.