We’ve been watching Synergy Organic Clothing evolve since the label, which focuses on ethically produced, sustainable women’s styles, first hit the market in 2006. And we like what we see.
“Over the years, our clothing has taken on more of a streamlined and sophisticated look...” said Synergy founder and designer Kate Fisher, who stressed that, along with advancing its aesthetic, the company is committed to paying its employees -- who work out of the U.S. and Nepal -- a fair wage.
The collection truly came into its own this spring, with breezy dresses, tops, skirts, and bottoms that incorporate just the right amount of polish and whimsy —- all in Synergy’s certified organic cotton. We’re coveting the Maxine Maxi Dress and Fox Ballet Top (and we received the versatile Zebra Eva Tank Dress to try out). In addition, we're fans of the new workout-wear collection that seamlessly merges fashion and function (check out the slideshow below).
“We have drawn inspiration in recent seasons from yoga apparel and yoga lifestyle looks, as many of our customers -- myself included -- are a part of the health-conscious yoga community,” Kate said.
In addition to sharing her brand's latest looks, the designer also took some time to tell us more about Synergy’s mission, what the near future holds, and the one item of clothing that started it all. Read on!
The idea for Synergy sparked when you took a trip to India and Nepal in 1993, and you started buying textiles and clothing to sell upon your return to the U.S. What was it about those items that captured your imagination?
The first textiles I imported were vintage saris. I found the vibrant colors and rich textures of the Indian and Nepalese fabrics incredibly inspiring. I was taken with the intricacy and care put into creation of the saris. Each sari is like a piece of art, with tradition and history in every stitch. The craftspeople of Nepal have a long history of creating gorgeous handwork and that ancient skill is echoed in the hand-sewn appliqués that we include in our collection every season. I am honored to be able to bring a piece of that history to everyone who buys from Synergy.
Why has it been so important to you to create clothing that is environmentally friendly and fair trade?
Synergy was born out of an effort to show that high quality, beautiful clothing can be made in a sustainable and ethical way. Right livelihood is very important to me, [as well as being] a mindful steward of the Earth’s resources... To me, this means that we try and tread as gently on the Earth as we can, in the way we produce our clothing, to do what we can to help protect the Earth’s resources. Being a passionate traveler has brought me to many parts of the world, and I have now had the gift of sharing my travels with [my] children. I want the planet to be intact when my kids grow up. At the same time, it is very important to me that we respect all of the energy that goes into making our clothing. We try and empower all of the people involved with our clothing production, from the farmers who grow the cotton, to the people who sew our clothing, to our employees here in the U.S. ... We try and do this by paying a fair living wage, treating everyone with as much respect as we can, and creating a community of Synergy employees who are like family to us.
What have been your biggest challenges with Synergy?
Growing in a sustainable way and not over-expanding has been something we have been keeping an eye on in the past few years. Most recently, the earthquakes in Nepal have been one our biggest challenges. Luckily, our Synergy family in Nepal is safe and accounted for, but our production has slowed significantly, and it has been very hard to know and feel all the suffering that is going on over there in the aftermath of the earthquakes. Another big issue has been the rising cost of materials as producing organic cotton is much more expensive.
We are working to help do what we can to help with earthquake relief in Nepal. We are also working with a friend’s organization in Nepal, called Padhma, to help empower Nepalese women and children by providing skill development for women and education for children. I am passionate about the cause of empowerment for women in Nepal, as I see and feel how much opportunity I have been given as an American woman in this day and age to carve out my path in life. We are also working on a collaboration with Whole Foods on a line of holiday scarves, with a portion of sales going to the above two causes.
What are your favorite pieces from the current collection?
The Mulberry Jacket -- I like that it looks and feels both edgy and soft.
The Hawk Racerback Tank -- I love simple screenprint, and am attracted to birds.
The Moxie Dress -- I like the soft feminine look.
The Sandy Point Skirt -- I like the sporty classic and easy wearability of it.