Sustainability is having a powerful moment right now, but as an industry that has historically not been very kind to our planet, fashion is struggling to budge from its ways. Taylor + Thomas is part of a new generation of designers pioneering a fashion revolution. Founded by Jessica Taylor Mead and Elizabeth Thomas James, the brand brings environmental and social sustainability to luxury footwear. Their designs mix inspirations from vintage divas and modern ingenuity. Showing us that ‘ethical luxury’ is conceivable, Taylor + Thomas shoes are equally conscious and covetable.
Taylor + Thomas’ Peta-approved Autumn/Winter 2018 collection luxuriously revamps classic silhouettes to create exceptionally beautiful women’s shoes, showing the promise of green production in fashion.
For Taylor + Thomas ethical fashion doesn’t need to compromise on taste. This season the brand brings its message to P A U S E POP UP #6 and its co-founders, Jess and Liz, spoke to us about their line, why things need to change and what progress looks like to them.
What first sparked your interest in sustainable fashion creations? Tell us more about the story of your brand and its mission.
We (Jess and Liz) met in a footwear design class, and the connect was kismet. Not only do we share a common ground on personal styling, but we both recognised the need for the fashion industry to adopt more sustainable and cruelty-free practices. From the carbon emissions, water pollution, and waste production, to the treatment of animals and exploitation of the labor force – we knew we wanted to move above and beyond the fashion industry’s status quo. Sustainability wasn’t an option for us, it was an imperative.
Taylor + Thomas is a female-founded sustainable, cruelty-free, luxury women’s shoe line that is designed, developed, and manufactured in downtown Los Angeles. We are working to bring revolutionary ideas and aesthetics to the luxury footwear industry by bridging conscious consumption with elevated taste, working to redefine luxury to mean quality, craftsmanship, and ethics. We are a luxury brand driven by a responsibility to the health of our planet and the people and animals who inhabit it, today and for generations to come.
Which are your main sources of inspiration?
From a design standpoint, we draw our inspiration from eras past. The 1960s and 70s were times of creativity, freedom of expression, and political activism. Progressive ideas emerged that allowed for the rise of strong feminine voices in a culture that not only spoke to the growing concerns of a younger generation but also set the precedent for generations to come. Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Talitha Getty, Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot – just a handful of the female voices from that era that we look to for inspiration.
As a company, we are motivated to further sustainability in the fashion industry, promote animal welfare, and support ethical treatment in the workplace.
What’s your relationship with ever-changing fashion trends?
As a brand, we are not focused on trends. We are designing shoes that are classic and timeless, that always have a place in a woman’s closet.
Taking into account that you are creators that work with challenges every day, what’s in your opinion the biggest challenge of the fashion industry today?
As a brand just starting out, we find it challenging to be heard. To compete with the brands and behemoth’s that have endless marketing and advertising dollars and access to materials and innovations.
What is your personal view of fast fashion? Do you feel that the industry as a whole is falling a bit behind if comparing to sustainable fashion?
Fast fashion is tricky. On one hand, it makes high fashion accessible to everyone. But on the other hand, it promotes a society of “more is more,” and waste, and the mistreatment of workers is a terrible by-product of such a sensibility.
We feel that fast fashion is not the future – sustainable fashion is the future.
Virtually all major clothing companies have a work in progress in the field of sustainability. What makes your brand stand out?
While the luxury market is making strides toward sustainability, we founded our company on that ethos. We stand out because there is only one other sustainable footwear brand positioning itself in the luxury market, and that is Stella McCartney.
If you had 3 words to summarize your brand to somebody who didn’t know the brand, which words would you choose?
Chic. Ethical. Luxe.
What does the future hold for your brand? Any plans you could share with us?
We plan to expand our sustainable, cruelty-free product line to include accessories and ready-to-wear (and who knows, maybe men’s and children’s also). The possibilities and opportunities to do better are endless!