Fashion Vanguard A Venezuelan Rebel with Gowns & Heels

Not very many sustainable designers fully grasp the concept of “luxury”. Understanding that there are many genres of fashion and types of styles, one womanswear designer in particular has successfully merged sustainable production practices with a minimalist high-end aesthetic. Susana Colina’s self-titled brand is a New York based ethical clothing line, whose divine craftsmanship makes her well on her way to landing the title of iconic.

For many years, indigenous communities in South America have been producing beautiful pieces in a sustainable way and more than ever before, people are looking at them as a source of inspiration and creation. Inspired by the diversity of her Venezuelan culture and of cultures around the world, Colina immersed herself in art, music and fashion at an early age. By 17 it was very clear that she wanted to be a professional designer.

“The sustainable part came from my experience with food, I think after you start questioning what you eat, you start to question everything around you and the second I had to make a decision about fabrics the answer was very clear to me.” As a vegetarian for 8 years now, Colina used food as a guide to research and create healthy systems.

For Susana Colina, sustainability is a huge part of her brand’s DNA. “Sustainability is a goal for me, a clear path, so all my decisions are based on this, whether it’s buying fabrics or working with someone”, says Colina. As a small and emerging designer, she tries her best to make everything sustainably and that starts with the fabrics. This brand uses only quality fabrics, such as organic cotton, hemp, lyocell, organic silks, and yes, even bamboo, which has been a controversial fabric for sustainable fashion enthusiasts. (Susana takes a bold stance against bamboo-shamers, expressing that it’s an amazing plant-based fiber but once we take the exploitation out of its production, it can and should be more widely used.)

However, recently “Natural Dyes” have been on Susana's radar with an understanding of its detriments due to toxicity. “To me we are at that point in time when technology is at its best, so in my mind we should find the way to take traditional plant based dyes and blend it with cutting edge technology to eliminate as much damage and water waste as we can. If there was a moment in time to think we can actually make this happen, is now!”

In discussing the biggest challenges as an ethical designer, Susana takes the ultimate optimistic approach by focusing on opportunities. “I think as an ethical designer I have the opportunity to break aesthetic stereotypes to improve materials, to open people's eyes and to communicate to a new generation.” Colina is at the forefront of a movement and believes that the industry is ready for a progressive luxury sustainable fashion market.

As fashion evolves, so do the VANGUARDS who are making an impactful difference. Like many young girls, Susan Colina looked up to the classics: Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior. “They broke so many rules... they were rebels with gowns and heels.” Perhaps, Colina’s sustainable philosophy and cutting-edge design will spearhead a new wave of classic designers, pioneering an evolutionary future in fashion.