One of the biggest decisions a designer makes involves selecting the material for their creation. In the world of textiles, there are essentially three families of fibers: natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and semi-synthetic fibers. Today, we want to briefly introduce each family of fibers and to share with you why Slow Factory has made a commitment to exclusively using natural fibers. We’ll talk about the progress we’ve made, and the work we have yet to do.
Natural fibers are those that come from plants and animals, including cotton, linen, wool and silk. Natural fibers originate from the same source that our food comes from: the farm. On the opposite end of the fiber spectrum are synthetic fibers, which are fibers that do not occur naturally, but rather are man-made (in a factory). Synthetic fibers, like polyester, nylon, and acrylic, are petroleum-based, meaning that the source of the fiber is oil, which is extracted from the earth and then processed into fiber. Semi-synthetic fibers are usually fibers that have a natural source, such as wood, but that require some mechanical or chemical processing to be turned into a soft fiber that could be used for clothing. This family of fibers includes rayon, lyocell (Tencel), and bamboo.
Ellesmere Island Large Silk Scarf. 100% fine silk crêpe de chine. Made in Italy. Buy it here.
When Slow Factory was starting out, Céline was committed to creating a totally clean, fair-trade supply chain. She wanted to ensure that the materials she used were not harming the environment or the people involved in the material production process. Her first factory was an eco-friendly, fair-trade certified factory in India that used 90% less water to print and treat their fabrics. She chose to work with two fabrics: a 100% silk georgette crêpe de chine and silk-cotton blend. After her first year of production, she switched from producing in India to producing in a centuries-old Italian silk mill in the Como region of Italy.
Slow Factory’s current mill in Italy holds three sustainability certifications. First, the textiles are Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified, which means that they have passed rigorous testing for safety on our skin. Second, the mill is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which is widely recognized as the highest global certification standard for forest management. With deforestation as one of the major environmental challenges of our time, FSC certification means that the mill’s textiles (such as wood-based rayon and modal) do not come from endangered or ancient forests. Finally, the mill is Fair Trade Certified, ensuring that the people who supply the fibers and fabrics along the supply chain are fairly compensated for their labor. The mill also uses eco-friendly dyes. Slow Factory prints on three types of fabric: 100% silk, a silk-cotton blend, and 100% modal.
Island and Clouds Large Silk Scarf. 30% silk, 70% cotton. Made in Italy. Buy it here.
With all of this said, we want to take some stock and reflect on the sustainability of our material choices. In terms of what we are doing well, we are pleased with the low impact of our mill, and we want to continue to use 100% silk, given that silk is a highly environmentally friendly fiber that has been used by many civilizations over thousands of years. In terms of what we can do better, we know that blended fabrics, which are comprised of two or more fibers, such as the silk-cotton blend we use, are not environmentally friendly as they can’t be recycled. We also know that modal, which is a semi-synthetic fiber is more sustainable than rayon, but less sustainable than lyocell because it requires quite a bit of chemical processing to be transformed from its natural wood source into a fabric. So moving forward, we’d like both to move away from blended fibers and to start working with lyocell over modal.
In the very near future, we are also hoping to expand our use of recycled fibers, and cutting edge eco-fibers. Our promise to you is two fold. First, the quality of our scarves is always our top priority, and we are unwilling to compromise on that. Second, we are constantly working to improve the sustainability profile of our fibers and of our company at large. Stay tuned for exciting news on the Slow Factory fabric front!
On May, 6th I received an unexpected email from the ShuttleWorth Foundation informing me that I have been nominated (WHO ME?) by Sean Bonner "to receive a Shuttleworth Foundation Flash Grant in support of your work." (WHAT?) That's not an email you get everyday. I was so excited and in complete disbelief that I texted Sean right away to make sure it wasn't some kind of spam email. Here is a glimpse to my reaction receiving this grant:
The grant comes with only one condition: "The only string attached is that we ask you to live openly, tell us and the world what you have done with the money."
Since I will be traveling to Lebanon in July and August and was planing on documenting the amazing work ANERA (our NGO partner) is doing in the refugee camps in Lebanon as well as the Education initiative we are helping them fund through our We Are Home Collection, I will use this grant to hire my Lebanese filmmaker friends to shoot an amazing short documentary shinning the light on the 1.5 Million Syrian refugees stranded in Lebanon.
“The world headlines parade millions of refugees as faceless, nameless people in need of shelter… But here they have a face.”- ANERA
I am so grateful to Sean and to the Shuttleworth Foundation for giving me this grant and contributing in our efforts to raise awareness about the biggest Human Rights crisis since WWII and helping us and our partner ANERA reaching a wider community of supporters. The crisis has been under documented, the refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Greece, Turkey and Europe have not been properly supported by the International Community. We join others in the mission to push the boundaries, stereotypes and judgement to inspire social change in the region and support the refugees with all the means we have.
You can expect a thoughtful, honest and intimate look at the situation in Lebanon my home country. We will be collaborating with ANERA throughout this documentary and will hopefully have it online by September.
Sometimes we listen, sometimes we don’t. Regardless, our fathers are full of a wisdom that is worth hearing. Our dads are walking history books, imbibed with knowledge of years we didn’t get to see. They are our looking glass into the past.
Our dads of all ages hold memories spanning a plethora of countless events. Slow Factory wants to connect your dad with something he can resonate with for this Father’s Day.
The three giveaway prints are from our newest collection, “We Are Home.” This collection helps to shine a light on those who were forced from their homes in Syria. With little to nothing left, these refuges often flee to Lebanon. Here, the nonprofit organization Anera helps provide a valuable education to give these refuges hopes for a brighter future. Slow Factory donates 10% of this collection’s sales to Anera, supporting our mission to revolutionize the fashion industry. Our 100% eco-friendly and fair trade products showcase that sustainable materials and responsible practices are the new direction the fashion industry is moving toward.
These sheer prints are a luxurious blend of silk and cotton. Folded, they can transform in numerous different pocket scarf designs. The first print is of a photo taken when Apollo 10 first launched. The image captures the awe of the audience, taking in a monumental experience of watching our fellow citizens launch into depths of space that most will never see with their own eyes. The second scarf is an image of earth taken in 1967. This is the first color image of earth as a planet from space, so it received the nickname “Earth’s First Selfie.” The last print is an aerial image of scattered clouds over the sea, combined with a fading rainbow ombré print. This print represents the light-scattering properties of mineral dust in our atmosphere that cause increased cloud formation. Its effects on the environment are not clearly defined, but still serve as a reminder to be cautious in regards to our space. This is why Slow Factory only uses eco-friendly materials in order to help our Earth achieve sustainability in regards to the atmospheric climate.
Dadio won’t like these prints? We’ve got you covered.
For a limited time only, we are selling our Le Petit Prince pocket scarf, Globular Clusters tie, and bow ties – the Witch Head Nebula and the Globular Clusters.
Let him feel connected to the life above us on this special day. Show him he’s your favorite star out there.
Shelby Strattan is a student at Tulane University interning in New York this summer for Slow Factory and Dimassimo Goldstein. She is currently enjoying the summer heat and the city's delicious food.
Have you ever wondered what goes into the design and manufacturing of your favorite Slow Factory scarf? Have you thought about the motivations of founder and CEO Céline Semaan? In our fast, increasingly inundated culture, we think it’s high time that brands slowed down and connected with their customers about these very things. For this reason, we are introducing Slow Saturdays, a feature that will share the heart and soul of Slow Factory with you, some of our very favorite people on planet Earth (and beyond).
Earth First Selfie, We Are Home 2016. Photography: Meredith Truax. Model: Amina Sulejmanagich
From multiplying tons of fast fashion and a troubling fashion calendar, to developing world sweatshops and the loss of handmade crafts around the world, the modern fashion industry is deeply broken. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Slow Factory is a fashion house on a mission—to fuse the principles of modern design with the ideology of a truly responsible, compassionate business. That is the fashion of the future. That is the future. We’re just getting started, and we have a whole lot that is planned for the months ahead. As we proceed on this journey, we want to share with you the decisions, tradeoffs, challenges and hopes we experience along the way. Our plan is that you’ll better get to know us, and to get a peak inside what we do and how we do it.
And our hope is that we’ll better get to know you. We want to hear what we’re doing well, and what we could be doing better. We want to understand from you how we can help create the fashion objects of your dreams.
As a company rooted in the wonder of the universe and the achievements human beings have made in space, we are reminded constantly that we stand on the shoulders of giants.
Our visions can go father. Our opportunities are unlimited. The future of fashion is ours to shape. Join us!
A lot of you have sent us emails asking us when a sold out scarf will be available again.
To answer you all I decided to write a short open letter to explain why we sell out and why we have over 1000 people in our waiting list for sold out scarves. You may not be aware that this company started as a side project and quickly outgrew my bedroom, then my living room and allowed us to open our first storefront studio ("Atelier") in Williamsburg, Brooklyn!
The short answer is that we produce distinct collections in small production runs and don't overproduce, so all of our collections are, by nature, limited edition. That said, we do sometimes reproduce designs that have an overwhelming demand, but you can't count on it!
The longer answer is divided into 2 parts which explain the foundation of our core philosophies.
Our collections are usually tied to a specific cause, with a portion of profits going to an NGO doing meaningful work, so we like to focus most of our attention at any given time to that current collection. Right now for example, we are focusing on the We Are Home collection celebrating a positive image and support for refugees in Lebanon, with a proceeds going to ANERA's work in education for refugees stranded in Lebanon.
We therefore keep a smaller catalog at any given time so that we can donate the most and have the biggest impact on the world.
Our brand is called Slow Factory for a reason — we manufacture and advocate for Slow Fashion, responsibly sourced materials, we use 100% natural fabrics and eco-friendly dyes. Our company is responsibly designed and our operations are carefully managed so that our growth is sustainable. This means smaller production runs and holding less stock, which again means that we plan on running out of things. We truly believe that slow and steady wins the race!
Although it might feel frustrating to be waiting for a print, please know that with each print and each contribution to Slow Factory you are voting with your wallet and you are being part of a healthier ecosystem for our industry.
Re-stocking Soon by Popular Demand
A lot of you have asked us when will we reprint and we finally have an answer for you! We will allow you to pre-order some of your favorite prints so that we get a clear count on what prints you want and start manufacturing them asap!
We are opening our pre-orders on May 22nd (because we are waiting for Mercury to finish its Retrograde) and will start manufacturing on June 1st. Please know that a normal lead-time is about 4 weeks or so until you receive your scarf!
Thank you for all of your support, love and encouragement. We are in this together. We are Floating in Space.
"How we respond will determine whether we create a more stable world or face decades of far greater instability.
At its extremes, the debate about refugees in western nations has been polarized– with on one hand, some peple calling for open borders and on the other hand, for the complete exclusion of all refugees...or worse: for certain groups of refugees.
But policies should not be driven by emotion, by what might be termed as naïve humanitarianism... or by a rational fear and unacceptable prejudice. Instead we need to find a rational center, rebuilding public confidence and ensuring democratic consent for the long term approach that will be needed."
Slow Factory welcomes the NASA Graphics Standards Manual at their HQ in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It is available to purchase for $79 online and in store.
The collaboration happened when founder Celine Semaan came across the Kickstarter campaign and backed it, to make these NASA books accessible. Thanks to the support of the book, it is now available online to purchase.
Can we deconstruct, redesign and evolve this idea?
On May 13th, we are giving this experimental methodology another test drive with an NYC x Design panel <Redesigning the Arab Identity>, hosted at our Slow Factory HQ. This time the conversation will be between my two friends Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, Vice Correspondent, and Nadine Farag, writer at Man Repeller and Huffington Post, and myself, founder of this lovely site/boutique #fashionactivism label Slow Factory. Our focus: The Arab Identity, the Arab Experience, the Arab Expats as well as the millions Arab refugees the world has been witnessing these past few years. The Syrian refugee crisis is the worst humanitarian disaster since WWII.
Below is a breakdown of what we will be exploring:
Discover: What is an Arab identity? Does it even exist?
Synthesize: What have we learned from the Discovery Phase?
Build: What are the aspects of Arab identity that are constructive rather than destructive?
Test: Let’s explore 5 ideas that we have talked about and test them: Feedback with the audience
Evolve: How do we move forward: Brainstorm what needs to be done or should be done
Join our conversation and help us deconstruct, break and redesign the Arab Experience. RSVP here.
On April 12th we hosted with AIGA a panel under the name of <Redesigning Feminism>. We based the conversation on the Design Process to try to unpack and explore Feminism through the work of the 4 panelists invited: JiaJia Fei (selfies), Laura Wass (Jewelry), Hala AbdelMalak (Kefiyeh) and Céline Semaan (Scarves).
The central notion we'll worked with is Feminism and how the panelists saw Feminism influencing their own design and process, as well as the ways they think design has something to offer Feminism itself as a practice. We took the entry points into the discussion from the areas of expertise of our panelists: jewelry, selfies, scarves, keffiyeh. These four made particularly interesting ways to approach feminism because two (scarves, keffiyeh) are often seen as private, ways to cover; and two (jewelry, selfies) are seen as public forms of display.
WEAReSLOW is a new digital radio series that aims to demystify and humanize our understanding of sustainability and fashion through intimate conversation. It was founded by two New York women with global ties who believe that individual decisions make a world of difference. You can expect an honest, inquisitive, and empathetic monthly discussion on fashion, personal style, ethics, the environment, labor issues, and our role in all of it.