“I believe that in the era we live in, environmentally, socially, and politically, it’s extremely important for the designer to consider the full lifecycle of their product.” Lilah Horwitz is talking about being a socially conscious company in the era of mindless consumption in the fashion industry, but could just as easily be discussing her own passion projects, or any of her other creative endeavors. The Parsons School of Design graduate, designer, and Creative Lead at RENEW is as passionate about fashion and design as she is about looking into the future of its sustainability.
In her career, Lilah has already had her own small namesake line, selling at stores in New York for four years. She handmade each piece for the line from vintage textiles. In 2014, she started working with Eileen Fisher, directing the visual brand of RENEW (at the time Green Eileen) including the styling, photoshoot art direction, and creating small run special collections made from damaged garments.
When answering questions about RENEW, Lilah shines, there is absolutely no doubt of her skill or passion.
How does RENEW work?
“We buy back our clothing from our customers. We offer $5 on an EF gift card per garment, no matter the condition. These clothes are collected in our 60 stores across the country. Everything West of the MI river is sent to our Recycle Center in Seattle, East is sent to our Recycle center in NY. We sort every garment by hand checking for quality. The pieces that are in perfect condition (about 50%) are sent to a dry cleaner and then distributed to one of our flagship Renew stores, 8 company stores, or eileenfisherrenew.com. The pieces with small flaws are washed and sold in quarterly warehouse sales. The heavily damaged garments are either overdyed with natural dyes, mended, or cut and sewn into one of a kind designs. We have a Tiny Factory in NY that produces scalable collections called Resewn, where we cut and sew runs of up to 800 units made entirely of damaged clothes! To date, we have collected over 1 million garments.”
Why do you think it’s important that companies take responsibility for the clothes they make and sell?
“At a time when we are not often designing for true necessity, we need more than ever to carefully consider the ‘end life’ of what we are making. I think fashion is the perfect example of an industry prime for this new way of thinking. A lot of energy and resources go into these clothes and we really stand behind them as a company. We believe it not only benefits the consumer to offer a sustainable and responsible second (and so on!) life for the clothing, but it also benefits the planet in a big way. Make it good the first time, then create a system to keep it in the cycle of use as long as possible!”
What do you love about RENEW? And why should others love it too?
“We are the future of the fashion industry! Haha, but I believe it’s true! Our program is a great way to shop sustainable, low impact, high-quality garments at a very attainable price point. We are constantly innovating and run our wing of the business as a start-up within a bigger company. We have a store in Columbia City that is amazing! And an online shop at eileenfisherrenew.com. A portion of the profits from all sales in our stores goes towards organizations that support women's and girls leadership programs and environmental groups.”
Fritz- The office pup.