This month, Parvati Magazine speaks with Caterina Mazzotta, the founder of Toronto- and Chicago-based eco-fashion line Kali Clothing.
Parvati Magazine: What led you to found Kali Clothing and why the name?
Caterina Mazzotta: Growing up I could never find anything I liked while shopping in stores so I sewed a majority of my wardrobe. I earned a BA in Environmental Politics from York University in Toronto while continuing to sew and one day I realized I could fuse my two passions together – sustainability and fashion. I searched for more sustainable textiles to use while getting rid of the sweatshop items in my wardrobe. Soon enough, I was beginning to receive a lot of compliments from friends and peers at school and was hired to make custom outfits. It was then I realized that there were more people who shared similar beliefs, so in 2007 I started Kali around the concept of adding some of my favorite wardrobe classics in eco-friendly fabrics each season. During this time I was reading a lot about eastern religions and was inspired by the Hindu Mother Goddess named Kali. Often misunderstood as a symbol of death and destruction, Kali embodies change through the transformation of negative energies into creative and positive ones.
PMAG: What materials do you like to use and what are their benefits?
CM: Each new collection from Kali is produced using sustainable materials such as Tencel® (Lyocell), Rayon from Bamboo, Hemp, Organic Cotton, Mud Silk, Modal® and Recycled Polyester. My favorite materials to use this season have been Organic Cotton, Rayon from Bamboo and Hemp. Organic Cotton is not only soft and comfortable to wear but also great for the environment. It is grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides or defoliants. Rayon from bamboo is highly water-absorbent and soft to touch. This creates the ability for easy wicking and is comfortable against the skin, leaving you cooler and drier than synthetics or cotton. The bamboo plant itself grows quickly without needing pesticides and herbicides. Hemp is my favorite for more structured items like skirts and pants. Hemp is one of the easiest fibers to cultivate since it requires no pesticides or herbicides and little irrigation. It grows very quickly and produces a textile that is strong, lustrous and mildew-resistant.
PMAG: What are a few items you’re most excited about in your latest collection?
CM: I’ve been really excited about the Multi-Way Maxi Dress made from Rayon from Bamboo and Organic Cotton and produced in Chicago, IL with fair trade and sweat-free labor. You can wear this Maxi three different ways – you can fold the white top in half for a high-waist dress and unfold it for a floor length, drop-waist sexy maxi dress, and with a quick fold this strapless maxi dress can become a skirt. Multi-way and multi-purpose – this timeless and chic Maxi will take you from running errands to a summer BBQ with no effort! With the scraps from the Maxi Dresses I’ll be making circle scarves for fall that will be up on my Etsy shop in a few weeks.
The new Vintage Floral Fringe Kimonos are exciting because I’ve found the perfect fabric trifecta: floral, textured and sheer! I’ve been working with vintage fabric for a few years, and this year I have enough fabric for about a dozen of these Floral Kimonos, so once they are sold out they will be gone forever! I love bringing new life to old fabrics that I find. It’s been a perfect topper for summer and an amazing layering piece that will take you through to fall.
I’m also super excited about the Kali Gypsy Envelope Clutches made with 100% cotton fabric, printed and fabricated in USA. I hand sew everything from my studio in Chicago with love and care. I’m looking forward to creating more unique accessories to add to the collection in the next few seasons.
PMAG: How can fierceness help designers and consumers make fashion more sustainable?
CM: I believe fierceness can help designers and consumers make fashion more sustainable by aiming to be trendsetters who don’t care about following the trends or the status quo – that’s fierce. It’s about knowing who you are and not compromising your beliefs. Like Mahatma Gandhi, it’s about making choices in order to truly be the change you want to see – whether it’s creating a sustainable alternative or by voting with your dollar for brands that make a difference. Fierceness is about standing for what you believe in – sustainability and individuality.
Caterina Mazzotta, founder of Kali Clothing, has been creating unique designs for women and men using sustainable fabrics since 2006. Caterina began designing clothing for herself as a teenager, and first developed custom outfits in sustainable fabrics for others while completing her BA in Environmental Politics and Culture at York University in Toronto. Each collection from Kali Clothing is produced using sustainable materials, and designed and manufactured in Toronto, ON and Chicago, IL through investing in local communities.