Last winter, celebrity stylist Claudine DeSola introduced actress Alysia Reiner, and designer and Women’s March organizer Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs. Together, they formed the zero waste womenswear label LIVARI.
Parvati Magazine: How did LIVARI come to be and how do eco-fashion and the Women’s March complement each other?
Alysia Reiner: Claudine knew [Tabitha and I] both had a deep passion for the environment and women’s rights. I like to say women and the environment have become endangered species. We collaborated to use the art of fashion as a form of activism.
DeSola: Alysia and I have been friends and working together for the last 10 years and always tried to find locally made and sustainable options. Tabitha and I worked on a project during the February 2017 New York Fashion Week with Brother sewing machines and loved it. At our core we want to be a conversation starter – where we can talk about sustainability, how to make things locally and how to provide jobs to women that might be having a hard time finding a job.
Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs: More than half the people employed by the fashion industry as garment workers are women. A vast cross-section of these are women of color or immigrant women. We can’t have a conversation about ethical fashion without discussing gender equity in the workplace. Advocacy for fair working conditions for garment workers is a movement that directly affects women, especially women of color and immigrant women. The Women’s March is, among other things, an intersectional movement that advocates for gender equity in the workplace, at home and everywhere in between.
PMAG: Describe the style and look of LIVARI.
TBJ: It’s clothing for women in various walks of life. It’s a merger of art and activism. We wanted to make clothing that would include the wide diversities of womanhood.
CD: Fashion Alchemy. I think the looks to me that stand out are the red carpet pieces. Each red carpet piece has a story to tell, from the way the fabric was dyed to a dress that looks like a gown but the skirt is removable, or that the sequins were part of [a] waste pile.
AR: Before we sketched a single design we had a focus group and talked to women. So our style is based on what women want. We are all about super chic clean lines that [are] current but not trendy. We also wanted to make things seasonless and very convertible.
PMAG: LIVARI was showcased in your home base at New York Fashion Week last September. How was it received?
CD: I have produced a lot of celebrity fashion shows so to be able to produce my own was amazing. At the end the crowd was dancing and having fun – I think we brought some amazing artists together with music and artwork.
AR: We broke records at the venue and have gotten incredible press!
TBJ: Our show was the most well-attended that season at that venue. We are so grateful for all the support we have been given.
PMAG: How does LIVARI engage in eco-friendly practices?
TBJ: From eco-friendly fabrics like recycled polyester and bemberg to working with like-minded places like the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator, we took every opportunity we had to do better than we could have.
AR: Much of our first collection is made from things like cupro – which is the unused linter from making cotton, or fish leather – a new product made from fish skins usually thrown away, and some excess fabrics that were going to go into landfills. On an ongoing basis, we don’t make an item unless it is ordered.
CD: The most important part is not to produce waste. We use all our scraps. Our first item for sale [was] our tee in collaboration with ROAD 22, which employs women and trains them in different positions in the company. $10.50 of each tee sale went back to reverse our carbon footprint with Cool Effect.
PMAG: What are your future plans at LIVARI?
AR: Our next launch will be our breastfeeding dress for Mother’s Day. I am so excited! It is the first dress I have ever seen that you can wear to the office or a party, is super chic, super comfortable, and awesome for new moms.
We hope to work with Women’s Prison Association creating a training program for formerly incarcerated women to see if they want to learn how to sew and loom. I also hope we can collaborate with other brands that have a mission similar to ours.
TBJ: We plan to continue getting creative with merging art and activism and we hope LIVARI continues to infuse hope in what is a confusing time for many.
Claudine DeSola is a celebrity stylist of Caravan Stylist Studio, marketer, and a fashion show producer. Actress Alysia Reiner [Orange is the New Black] loves working as a change maker for women. Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs is a designer, fashion activist and organizer advocating for fair working conditions for garment workers as well as ethical fashion.