Image courtesy Amanda Hearst
Interview

Amanda Hearst

06.19.13

Model, writer, and Town & Country editor Amanda Hearst is a long-time activist of ethical fashion. The former Marie Claire market editor penned a monthly column on the movement for the magazine, and is known for both promoting and wearing labels that use organically grown, recycled, and sustainably sourced fabrics. Recently, Hearst joined forces with eco-friendly designer Hassan Pierre to create Maison de Mode, a series of ethical fashion pop-up boutiques that provide a retail platform for the budding ethical fashion movement. This month, Hearst and Pierre will be opening their Maison de Mode pop-up in Las Vegas, marking the shop’s third appearance following Miami Art Basel and Art Frieze New York.

Interview

When did you first start to gain interest in ethical fashion?

After I graduated college, I knew I wanted to work in fashion in some capacity. But I wanted to approach the fashion world from a different angle — bring something else to the dialogue, I guess. In my mind, there were not enough people talking about ethical fashion, so I decided that if I was going to write about fashion, I was going to focus on how fashion can impact the environment, our health, and the world around us.

How do you define the term?

Ethical fashion is an umbrella term I use to include all fashion that has a do-good ethos. So this includes products made by artisans, brands that use sustainable/organic textiles, and companies that produce locally.

Where did the concept for Maison De Mode come from?

I met Hassan when I was working at Marie Claire magazine and he was working on his eco fashion line WISB. He mentioned to me last summer that he wanted to put together an ethical fashion pop up during Art Basel Miami, and since I was working with all the top ethical fashion brands at the time, we joined forces! Now we are onto our third Maison de Mode shop and have two others that are already in the works. It has kind of taken on a life of its own which is very exciting for us!

As the curator, what are you looking for when choosing your merchandise? Are the lines featured always the same?

Since Art Basel in December to our Vegas Pop UP, we’ve expanded from 10 brands to almost 30! Part of this has to do with research — I spend a ton of time meeting with designers and looking online to see what cool ethically minded brands are out there. Hassan and I are picky, so I don’t approach everyone that I come across. But I think the bottom line is that there are so many great brands out there that represent what our pop up is about, and the increase in brands is a reflection of how well we are doing in such a short period of time.

But in terms of what I look for as a curator, it really depends on the city we are in. So for Miami, I was focused on beachwear and brights. For New York, I still wanted to incorporate color but I also realized that our client was going to be someone looking for the perfect LBD, for that staple, every day bag. Now we are in Vegas and it’s all about color, sexy, and sparkles! It’s been a blast to see what ethical fashion brands are designing in this way. Edie Parker was a great find and I’m so excited to be including Melissa’s shoes this time round.

Do you see a future for these stores to become permanent fixtures in the retail landscape?

We have a lot of long-term plans for the shop. Once we saw the strong reaction to what we were doing, we realized that Maison de Mode could be more than just a temporary project.

In what way do you think ethical fashion is most desirable to shoppers?

At the end of the day, we shop for things that we want to wear. So you can talk to me all day about how great this dress is, that was produced by artisans in Colombia, but if the dress is unflattering and expensive, I’m not going to buy it. Nobody will. That’s why, if you are going to design with an ethical ethos, you need to make clothing that people want to buy. The designs have to be cool.

Do customers appreciate the message as much as you would like them to?

That’s something that we are continuing to work on. A lot of times people come to the shop, buy items, but maybe they didn’t grasp why the products they bought are so special. It’s great that we sell, but we are trying to find more effective ways to communicate the back stories of the brands.

Your next venue is Las Vegas. How did this come about? Where are the next pop ups scheduled to be?

NYFW, London, and Sao Paulo are a few that are on the list. It’s been incredible how responsive the fashion community has been to Maison de Mode.

Why do you think more brands don’t take an ethical approach to creating their collections?

Because it can be more expensive for the designer and the consumer. But as demand increases, prices will drop. That’s why it’s so important that we give these brands the exposure they deserve.