Keep cozy with eco-friendly cashmere
Designer Kathleen Tesnakis combats wasteful consumerism with her sustainable line of warm winterwear.
Re-made in Troy, New York, ekologic sweaters, skirts, dresses, hats, and gloves last for generations rather than just one season. The clothing “re-designer” has dedicated her life’s work to combating the and environmentally-destructive consequences of “fast fashion” by manufacturing heirloom cashmere apparel worn around the world, in styles for men and women.
“We’ve been on the front lines of the slow fashion revolution for over 20 years. Our clothing is made to last and to spark conversations about the clothes we wear and the products we purchase,” says Kathleen Tesnakis, founder of ekologic. “Each year, the average American throws away 80 pounds of garments sold by mass-market retailers. That has to change.”
Since 1996, Kathleen’s company has been recycling cashmere to create high-quality pieces including sweaters, dresses, hats and mittens in women’s and men’s styles that can be worn for generations. Every item made by ekologic is unique because of the way Kathleen gathers and assembles her materials. She hunts down discarded cashmere, dismantles each article of clothing and transforms the material by joining it with other pieces to give an old garment new life.
ekologic clothing is sought after by the environmentally conscious and fashion conscious alike. Celebrities such as rock band Sonic Youth, and Oscar-winner Halle Berry have been spotted wearing ekologic apparel.
In 2003, the eco-clothing company moved from Portland, Ore. to Troy, N.Y. to be closer to the fashion epicenter of New York City and family. All of the cashmere that ekologic recycles into new garments comes from within a 150-mile radius in the Tri-State area, qualifying it as “locally harvested.”
Since moving to New York state, ekologic has repurposed more than16 tons of post-consumer clothing that would otherwise have ended up landfilled. Plus, washing and deconstructing post-consumer clothing uses only environmentally-friendly soap–no harsh chemicals or dyes—while striving to use a minimal amount of water. Even the smallest scraps of material are put to some re-use.
So why is cashmere so highly prized?
“Cashmere and wool are strong, antimicrobial natural fibers which helps them stay in good condition for generations,” Kathleen says. “It’s not uncommon for a beautiful cashmere jacket or a cashmere sweater to be still viable 20 to 30 years later.”
Why support local designers?
“Most people don’t know where their clothing was manufactured. Buying directly from the designer is a rewarding way to shop,” says Kathleen. “When you shop ekologic, you know who made your clothes. You know how your clothes were made and what materials your clothes were made of. Those are the tenets of the slow fashion movement that will lead us to a fashion revolution.”
A feminist history
Kathleen reveals that Troy is nicknamed the “Collar City” because a woman, Hannah Montague, invented the detachable collar there in 1827. Later, in 1864, Kate Mullany started the all-women Collar Laundry Union in Troy, one of the first women’s labor unions in history.
Kathleen’s first studio in Troy was in a building that housed the Troy Waste Manufacturing Company which produced garments created from textile waste from the shirt collar industry 100 years before she got there. This year she opened a new studio at 184 4th Street in Troy’s Pottery District neighborhood.
Check out these items online. Accessories by ekologic cost between $72 to $88, while clothing prices range from $235 to $480.