Change is in the wind for Oregon’s R.A.W. Textiles, and that’s good news for anyone who has coveted the indie label’s mesmerizing eco-garments.
Founder Rio Wrenn has spent the past 13 years creating one-of-a-kind prints by working with nature — using plant dyes, discarded metal and even insects and then imprinting patterns via composting, rusting and other experimental methods. The resulting fabrics are then converted into highly individualistic bras, leggings and other soft underlayers.
The problem with working so diligently to create a truly sustainable product is that it’s very time-consuming and results in small batches of fabric to work with.
Now, after releasing several seasonal lingerie collections, Rio is getting out from behind her sewing machine and focusing on her true passion — textile design. After putting down roots in the Portland area a few years ago, she is literally and figuratively branching out.
Going forward, R.A.W. will focus on textile production for clothing and interiors designers and will both license its own patterns and do custom print development. That should put the label’s unique work into the hands of many other fashion brands with broader distribution channels across the country.
What won’t change, though, is Rio’s creative methodology. That means some designers keen to get their hands on her fabrics will have to yield to the “cyclic harmony” of the natural world that Rio inhabits in the U.S. northwest. Some of her prints will be available only seasonally because the plants materials used in her dyes (which often come from her own garden or nearby nature walks) are likewise seasonal.
To the consumer’s eye, this also means a radical shift in colors in both the fabric and patterns. You won’t find any candy-colored synthetic neons in R.A.W.‘s work; instead, you’ll find a lot of muted earthen and berry tones that reflect their organic origins. For this label, brown is the new green.
“My love of botany and the natural world is infused in everything I make,” Rio said in a press release. “Now is the time to bring this beauty and love to the next level.”
Despite the change in business strategy, R.A.W. has released a fall collection called Urban Goddess that includes scarves, leggings, wraps and more. Two of the patterns in the series are digital prints based on patterns created by compost dyeing, while another uses a Japanese-style shibori tie-dye method to create a print resembling phases of the moon. Interestingly, the Waxing scarf (shown in the top photo) is only made during a waxing moon, “to insure best cyclic flow and energy.”
R.A.W. approaches its work with an almost spiritual devotion to the principles of ecological sustainability, but without compromising its artistic vision for sustainable fashion.
“Our desire has always been to create heirloom quality textiles and garments,” Rio says. “We seek to change the way in which the world produces goods by bringing about transparency, simplicity, sustainability and consciousness. We believe that as a community we can create change one step at a time.”
With R.A.W.‘s new direction, look for that community to grow.
In the meantime, here are some of the styles offered in the Urban Goddess collection.
Photos: Blueglair; Hair & Makeup: Camillia Lawton