Talking sustainability with Elena Todary
It is an honour to add Elena Todary to the sustainability series. I have personally been a fan of Elena´s for a while now and I am very inspired by her vision for her own brand, AV and The Collaborative store. Please read on to learn how she handles a hot potato like sustainability in fashion.
Tell us about yourself and what you do…
I started my career in fashion wholesale distributing multiple small to medium sized contemporary brands. I was doing that for many years before I decided to join forces with a friend of mine and moved on to launching our womenswear line AV London. My retail project The Collaborative Store is my long term vision so it was a natural progression.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability generally refers to maintaining a balance by avoiding depletion of resources. It is a complex matter consisting of economic, social and ecological processes that are interconnected.
It is not possible to live a life or run a business without some carbon footprint involved. But that is not to say that we should not strive to minimise or eliminate what we can. In other words, whatever it is that we are doing or using, we can adjust the amount of it so it provides enough for us to function, be happy and maintain good quality of life. And that goes to food consumption, utilities, travel choices and so on. I am also passionate about eliminating single use or disposable products as much as possible and placing value into everything we already own.
My personal mantra goes: 'Consume and waste less. Do not overexploit’
How does sustainability or ethics play into your work?
When it comes to our own in store brand (AV London), we produce locally and in small batches using durable fabrics and increasing every design's longevity. Similar values apply to all our in store partners. We choose brands and makers who put ethics at the core of their concepts, designing with ‘use and re-use’ mentality. We support and enrich those who put their love and soul into creating beautiful objects, thinking of every person in the supply chain.
Through years of fast fashion and disposable products people are used to fast, cheap products, whereas we are trying to build awareness. I love to see that customers are really interested in stories about how and where our products are made and by whom. That creates a feeling of having something special which in turn would make one want to hold on to what they purchase, eliminating a need to look for an alternative or a replacement in the near future, or maybe ever…
As to logistics of running this business, I tend to stick to my personal mantra and ensure I make informed choices, whether it is to do with packaging, shipping or anything else.
Who are your favourite sustainable brands?
When it comes to fashion, I love a Rener jacket or a coat of course. Such clever designs and so easy to wear. It is hard to pick single brands as I adore all the partners we have in store as I choose them myself. As for knitwear, I would always go to Diarte with their beautiful, accessible and sustainably made designs. So Good To Wear for their luxurious cashmere, I honestly have never felt anything as soft as some of their pieces. The brand runs their own breeding programme and collaborates with foundations where all proceeds go to charity. It does not get better than that! The list goes on… we have so many fantastic designers and makers with amazing stories!
What is next on the agenda for you? Sustainably or ethically?
We closed our latest London store based in Marylebone and so are present online only at the moment. However I am busy working on our next ever evolving concept which will see our fourth retail space opening and incorporating our ethical & sustainable values. I am looking to create a space focused on experience and conversation giving customers options to make informed decisions and feeling good about those decisions. In addition, I am looking to offer a post purchase support service that would vary depending on what type of product it is… but more on that when the next store is ready to launch.. stay tuned!