From Fast Fashion to Sustainable Production, De Smet
Born from the desire to create a more thoughtful, deliberate shopping experience; designer Christina De Smet established her brand with a sensitivity and respect to the design process, promoting the slow, natural accumulation of lasting wardrobe pieces. Representing a structured fluidity inspired primarily by the architecture of organic forms, De Smet carefully selects each of her purist fabrics by hand. Placing the utmost importance on longevity in construction and silhouette, each of DE SMET’s made-to-order garments are designed and handcrafted in the heart of New York City. Comprised of timeless silhouettes, the DE SMET wardrobe is intended to be worn and cherished for years to come.
Introduce yourself, and tell us how you got into fashion
My name is Christina De Smet, I got into fashion at a young age just making clothes for myself. I was a very petite person so I would cut things down to fit me. My grandmother taught me how to sew, she had a very strange body type - very small on top with a lot of hip - so she always made her own clothes, and I spent the summers with my grandparents and they taught me how to sew, paint, and do photography. So I was always surrounded by creative people, and I knew ultimately I would end up in a creative field, I just didn't know which one. So out of all the creative fields, I wanted to do something that was also functional, so why I chose fashion in the end.
When I move to NYC in 2007, I worked for the mass market, I was doing designer collaborations for Target actually. So I worked for a company here and we were like the liaison between companies and the NYC designers. I worked with Karl Lagerfeld and I did his collection for Macy's, Jason Wu for Target, and probably twenty other designers. But I realized the amount of waste that is in fast fashion and mass market fashion and it was just mind-boggling. The more I worked on it, the more I hated it. So I quit.
I then took a year off to figure out what I wanted to do, I just worked on my blog and explored a lot of other opportunities. But I had this idea in my head of how do you stop creating waste. If we stopped making clothes tomorrow, we could continue to dress the world for say 100 more years - there's just that much stuff going around. So I didn't want to add to that.
Also, when I quit my shopping job I was on a very strict shopping diet, I was only allowed to buy one style a month. So one piece, a pair of shoes for example. I did this for around 4-5 years. That's how I got onto the idea of releasing a capsule wardrobe. In a way, trying to teach the consumer to buy less but better, and be thoughtful in what they were buying and less reactionary as it is now.
That's where I came up with designing and releasing one piece and a time. Also being in the industry you realize how strange the fashion calendar is. In January you have bathing suits which are great for the people who are traveling, but no one's really buying it until it's deeply discounted, no one's making their margins. So I wanted to implement a model of buy-now-wear-now.
I also wanted to give women more choice, so my pieces can be worn in different ways and brought in different varieties - for example, silk and cotton.
For me, I don't want to produce something that doesn't have a home. I think that's the key to being sustainable.