You might have noticed, in my roundup of my favorite sustainable online boutiques, a particularly pretty one: rêve en vert. Based in London, Natasha Tucker and Cora Hilts have teamed up to curate a selection of truly gorgeous and high-fashion goods that look anything but green. In fact, you wouldn’t know they have “green” in the name of the site, unless tu parle Francais.
This is truly what the sustainable world needs: Women who aren’t willing to compromise when it comes to production methods, materials, or beauty. I wanted to know more about the minds behind such gorgeousness. Read my interview and find out the why, how, and pick up a few tips for next time you visit London, too!
Tell me about your backgrounds.
C: I worked at several high-end fashion houses during my time in Paris and New York, and it was there that a love of fashion was really cultivated. I obtained my Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from King’s College London. I became dedicated to merging the worlds of couture and sustainability, a passion out of which rêve en vert was born.
N: I have a degree in Art History and an MA in Art and Politics, so not really fashion. But I did spend a year working on an organic farm back home, in Bermuda, and my desire to work towards something with a sustainable end goal was born there.
How did rêve en vert come about?
C: rêve en vert the business was conceptualized as I was finishing my master’s, though I had personally been into sustainable fashion for a while. I had realized that sustainable fashion needed to escape the clichés surrounding it to be marketed properly, and thus the idea of a Net-a-Porter version of ethically produced and bespoke labels came about.
N: I came on board in November 2012. It married the more creative and visual elements of myself with wanting to work on something ethically driven.
How did you choose the name rêve en vert?
C: Having lived in Paris for a few years, a lot of phrases came more easily to me in French. With rêve en vert, I wanted something ethereal and beautiful sounding but retaining a link to sustainability, thus “dream in green”.
N: It is emblematic of a lifestyle and leaves the door open for growth and development into areas other than simply just fashion. It is, above anything, an ethos, and the name perfectly represents that.
How do you choose what brands to work with?
N: We select designers to work with based on their aesthetic and their sustainability practices. At times we have approached some, and we have been approached by or introduced to others as well. We really gauge it by thinking about whether or not we would wear the lines and products and take it from there.
C: It’s been such an organic process. Since I’m American with a lots of roots in NYC, we’ve found many of our designers through the city. Also, so many sustainable labels recommend one another; it’s a really fabulous and different way of approaching business in fashion.
Have you ever turned down a designer or brand?
C: Yes we have. Our creative vision of rêve en vert is very precise, and the aesthetic is a massive part of it. We really tend to stay away from labels that don’t cultivate how beautiful fashion can be, or adhere to our idea of classic, timeless pieces.
N: Some have also just had too many question marks in their models of sustainable business. We are aiming to curate a very select and thought-out array of designers we feel bring together sustainability in business and beautiful design, and that means necessarily not including all the potential designers working to produce clothing lines along more ethical and positive channels.
How have you seen the sustainable fashion industry change/develop in the past five years?
C: People like Amber Valetta and Livia Firth are doing an amazing job of putting it on the map for the public. Behind the scenes, I am seeing in many instances a change to quality over quantity and better production practices. Also I think a desire is being born in consumers for more unique, quality pieces that are at the heart of our labels.
N: The biggest change is seen in the fact that this is now much more discussed. With recent disasters such as Rana Plaza, it is getting harder for the world to ignore the fact that the fashion industry dramatically needs to change in terms of how business is conducted.
Where do you see the sustainable fashion industry going?
C: I see it as only growing, not just because I think it’s personally a better way to shop, but because it has to for both the earth and for us.
N: Our desire and aim, through rêve, is to see this become more mainstream and to eventually make the fashion industry a more transparent one, because right now it is very opaque. There are pioneers in this realm such as Bruno Pieters, and his Honest By collection that are continually striving to make this change happen, though, which is a great thing.
Have you seen more interest from consumers lately?
N: I think that people are slowly starting to lose interest and faith in what fast fashion has become. People seem to be much more interested in well made, more unique pieces, which is obviously great for us.
N: One of the problems facing ethical fashion is the stigma attached to it of not being very “cool” or perceived as being high fashion. I think that apart from their policies, one of the most important things to look for out there are designers who are working ethically, but who are also creating timeless and elegant lines as well.
C: rêve en vert has an ethos that guides the labels we work with: local production, sustainable production, independent designers, and ethical practices. I think this sums it up pretty well.
People charge that ethical and sustainable fashion is too expensive. How do you respond to that?
N: Well made and ethically-sourced clothes are often more expensive, but my response to that would be that other fashion shouldn’t be as cheap as it is. In some ways it is antithetical for us to say this, but really people need to be prepared to consume fewer things, and more singular pieces of quality. I think that is a key to ensuring there is a shift in this industry.
As EcoCult’s resident London experts, what restaurant would you recommend as a must-eat?
N: I love The Clove Club. It is in Shoreditch Town Hall, which is beautiful and in a very cool part of town. The kitchen tries to source unusual and overlooked seasonal British produce and it also provides a unique dining experience.
C: Viva in Dalston–margaritas and guacamole that rival LA!
Where is your favorite place to shop in London?
N: I love wandering around East London and popping into the local boutiques. I also love Columbia Road on Sundays for the beautiful antique stores.
C: Can I say the reve en vert showroom? And Liberty.
Where is your favorite place to vintage shop?
C: In the Marais in Paris
N: Sarah’s Wardrobe is an amazing by-appointment vintage shopping experience, and everything is very thoughtfully procured and put together. Sarah has an amazing eye for choosing beautiful pieces that are sourced from all over the world.
Where do you go when you go out at night in London?
N: I think that for bar hopping and fun it’s hard to beat Soho. The Experimental Cocktail Club is always good. [Editor’s note: There’s one here in NYC too!]
C: The rooftop at Shoreditch House is fantastic in summer, and for tucking into a pub in Winter, the Windsor Castle in Notting Hill is a favorite.