Some people aren’t quite sure what to do with themselves after college. But not Daisy Hartmann and Elizabeth NeSmith. The Brooklyn duo couldn’t wait to graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology so they could get down to the serious business of creating their own lingerie and swimwear label.
The result is Daisy & Elizabeth, a hip and original collection of eco-conscious separates that will make its official debut in September with a runway show during Nolcha Fashion Week. The collection is aimed at the Spring 2012 market, but you can see a preview below, or on their website.
Between now and then, however, the ambitious pair are going to need some help to bring their dreams to market. They’ve just launched a campaign on the social fundraising site Kickstarter, with the goal of raising $15,000 by the end of summer to finance their business plan. (We’ve seen this work well before for emerging designers, most notably with the vintage label The Loved One.)
“Everything’s moving very fast,” Daisy told us (she’s on the right in this photo). “We just finished our senior year and started working on our collection in February. But we’ve been talking about it for over a year.”
The pair’s first big break came when they met reps from Nolcha at a Las Vegas trade show a few months ago. Nolcha, which promotes and supports independent fashion designers, invited D&E to apply for a spot in fall fashion week — but that meant getting a collection ready fast. They sprinted until the June deadline, and got a big thumbs up from Nolcha.
There will be about 25 pieces in D&E’s debut set, although the pre-collection you see here includes about 10 looks. The young label will also be the only lingerie brand on the Nolcha catwalk, which will be showcasing ethical brands and designers.
What D&E have achieved so far is a very distinctive look that is both driven by, and draws inspiration from, their eco-principles.
“As we were looking at other brands, we both felt that there was far too much of a disconnect between the small bubble of the intimate apparel industry and the real world that surrounds it. While we both greatly appreciated our traditional training at F.I.T., we were very rarely taught to be mindful of our waste or think about the sources of the materials we used or the sustainability and life-cycle of what we produced. To us, no one seemed to care much about how or where these undergarments are made — with the exception of a few loungewear companies that produce mostly with bamboo jersey.”
To create the pieces you see here, D&E sourced a variety of low-impact fabrics such as tencel, modal, sorona, organic cotton, recycled polyester and nylon and even ‘up-cycled’ remnants.
“It seemed only right that the two of us create not just another fashion label, but a lingerie company that would have a positive impact on the industry. And while we won’t claim to be saving environment with our lingerie or swimwear, we would simply like to provide an alternative option in the market.”
In fact, the girls have turned their first lingerie collection into a visual representation of their environmental principles. The gorgeous geometric pattern in the photo above is meant to mimic geological rock formations, in particular the sharp angles and purples hues of amethyst crystals.
“We like having a textile designed with geometric shapes,” said Daisy. “We wanted at least to keep it in the realm of the natural world.”
D&E’s pieces have a contemporary, urban-free-spirit look that was influenced by Daisy’s fondness for rooting around in second-hand shops and Elizabeth’s background in dance and costume design.
It’s also a very New York look with a few hints of inspiration from The Lake & Stars (where Daisy interned) and at least one wickedly original idea — stretch bike shorts with suspender clips, perfect for pedaling fashionistas and nicely styled in the photo below with a pair of Doc Martens.
D&E are already looking beyond Nolcha Fashion Week and talking to boutiques and distributors to find a retail home for their work. And their personal goal? To see Daisy & Elizabeth smiling back at them from the windows of a few trendy Brooklyn boutiques. Yes, this is lingerie for locavores.
You can meet D&E by checking out their video on Kickstarter — and be sure to check out the goodies you’ll receive if you contribute to their worthy campaign!