Three L.A. Designers Who Do Green Fashion Right
PHOTO BY RILEY KERN Natasha Gindin of Lavuk
More stories from our 2012 Fashion Issue on dressing ethically:
*West Hollywood's New Fur Ban
*Does L.A. Still Have Sweatshops?
*Yael Aflalo's Reformation Makes Vintage Cool
*Santa Monica's Main Street, a Green Fashion Hub
*Three L.A. Designers Who Do Eco-Fashion Right
It's not easy being green. But these three local designers do their best to dress their customers ethically.
Fashion designer Natasha Gindin spent much of her childhood in the former Yugoslavia playing dress-up in her fashionable mother's closet and even sliding around in her brand-name Italian shoes. In fact, although the shoes are still a size too big, she continues to wear them. They're just too fabulous to let a little size discrepancy stand in the way.
With such an innate sense of style, Gindin's road to the fashion world might have been a direct one had it not been for her economist father, who encouraged her to get degrees in marketing and molecular biology. But, she says, "you end up where you're meant to end up" -- which for her was in the United States, studying at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology and L.A.'s Otis College of Art and Design, and eventually creating her own line.
Lavuk, launched in 2008, is every bit Gindin's baby. The name is derived from her twin nephews: "lav" means "lion," and "vuk" means "wolf." Her inspiration comes from her everyday life: her office in the 1927 Cooper Building; her tiled shower, where she shot the look book for her Spring 2012 collection; the tween trendsetters she spots on the streets of her neighborhood.
Each piece has a story. Her shirts for fall, dotted in the pattern of constellations, were imagined during starry nights on her roof deck. Her signature jackets with magnetic closures were sparked by fond memories of opening her mother's purses.
Manufactured in downtown Los Angeles, Lavuk is made only with sustainable materials such as organic cotton, Tencel and hemp. Gindin's decision to take an eco-friendly approach started with the discovery of a Serbian seamstress working for numerous well-known designers. Gindin acquired the woman's leftover fabric, which proved both economical and sustainable. That discovery, coupled by a move to L.A. in 2003 after years in Prague and New York, made her evaluate what it means to live a healthy lifestyle.
"Using natural goods seemed to go hand in hand in a culture where people recycle, drink lots of water and exercise," she says.
The clothing, most of which is inspired by nature, is all "buy one get one tree": For every garment sold, a tree is planted in a U.S. forest as part of the California Wildfire ReLeaf program. Gindin says, "I didn't know how the line was going to do, but at least I knew I'd be leaving behind some trees."
But these days, even Gindin's once-skeptical father is sold on her career choice. After her Spring 2011 collection debuted at New York Fashion Week to rave reviews, Gindin says, with a sly smile, "He told me he was impressed."
Up next: Studio City's Entertaining Elephants