“WE’RE BOTH LUXURY CONSUMERS AT THE END OF THE DAY, IF A SHIRT’S NOT PRETTY, NO ONE WILL BUY IT,” says Hassan Pierre, co-founder of the luxury ethical fashion e-tailer Maison de Mode over lunch at plant-leaning eatery Lalito on the outskirts of Chinatown. Since 2012, Pierre and business partner Amanda Hearst have set out to carve a space in the world of online fashion for sustainable, eco-minded, stateside brands with purpose. “A lot of brands don’t market themselves as sustainable even though they have that in their ethos,” continues Hearst. “We’ve found that a lot of this brands will come to us and say, we haven’t been able to tell that story of our brand within our company.” To wit, the site carries a range of brands from cult handbag line Anndra Neen to “It” knitwear line Lingua Franca. With New York Fashion Week kicking off this week, we caught up with Hearst and Pierre who talked their site’s guiding principles, how their eco-minded business has trickled down to their own lives and why sustainability is and will be always in fashion.
PHOTOS BY SASHA ISRAEL
Where did the concept for Maison de Mode begin?
Amanda: We started in 2012 and I was writing at Marie Claire about ethical fashion. Hassan had his own ethical fashion line and we got this idea to open a concept shop to showcase ethical fashion in one space. We had about ten brands in the shop from Suno to Edun. There were very few at the time. After doing that for two years, we realized that this could be a company. We launched the site in October 2015.
What are the guiding principles of Maison de Mode?
Amanda: We looked at what points we thought were important–organic, recycled material, fair trade, artisanal items, vegan, cruelty-free. We focus a lot on brands that are made in the USA. We also look at items that give back to charity. We work with an aggregator out of London called Positive Luxury that puts their own butterfly stamp on brands that are doing all things sustainable and they have a really good vetting process.
What are some exciting ethical brands that you guys are excited about?
Hassan: Tome. We just did a collaboration with Lingua Franca and Birdwell, which is a very old, boardshorts brand And we did an Outlaw Collaboration Jacket.
Amanda: Amur is a great new brand. The dresses are so cute, so beautiful and it’s all organic textiles. Industry Standard jeans, everyone loves. This top is Mi Jong Lee, a twenty-year old brand based in New York that’s fair-trade. I’m a big supporter of made in New York. My jewelry is Maiyet and Shashi.
Do you feel there still is a stigma in the fashion industry when it comes to ethical/eco-minded clothing?
Hassan: At think at the beginning there was a stigma. But now there are so many brands out there and so many heritage brands that want to enter into sustainability—so there’s a lot more of an offering. Before we were really beating down the door being like, “Hey, this is luxury. This is cool. This is what fashion should be.” Whereas now, hand-crafted pieces and being conscious about what you’re purchasing is the norm.
Do you guys personally think about sustainability when you’re shopping for yourself?
Amanda: The big thing that I’ve done is I don’t like to shop at fast fashion retailers. The fast fashion industry is really destroying the industry in a lot of ways from the environment to human labor. I just don’t shop in those places. A lot of people nowadays, when they shop, they shop for an investment piece. It’s not label-conscious anymore. It’s more like you buy something because it’s cool, it’s one of a kind and you’re going to have it for a while.
Hassan: I love Anita Ko.
Beyond fashion, how has sustainability come into your own lives?
Hassan: My family is from Haiti and we have rice plantations there. That’s part of the reason I got into sustainability is. All of our plantations now are organic. Food was my catalyst into sustainability.
In what way?
Hassan: At the time, when we were transforming the plantations to organic, there weren’t a million Whole Foods. It was still very early-stage, organic food movement there, so the first thing I became conscious about was what I was eating and that just trickled down to my fashion and creating a sustainable label. Once you’re already conscious about those little things, you’re aware of everything else and all the the little things you can do in your daily life.
Amanda: My diet has changed a lot. That started after I saw the documentary Cowspiracy. It’s actually not about animal cruelty. It’s about the environment and the cattle industry, the carbon emissions, and how they level so much land. So I cut out red meat and I really only eat chicken. I don’t really eat fish. It’s just about being conscious about what you consume. You do see a lot of parallels with the food industry and the fashion industry. Now, everyone eats really conscious and we have all these restaurants where you can be vegan, and we source food that’s local. Now that’s almost the norm. I think the fashion industry is right behind it and it’s starting to happen.
Take us through a day of meals for each of you.
Hassan: I wake up and have my smoothie, which is an almond milk, banana, almond butter smoothie. I make it myself if I’m home. If I’m elsewhere, they’ll make it for me. It’s always the same smoothie. Lunch is always a random, healthy salad with protein. For dinner, in Miami, I’ll cook a lot at home or I’ll go to Mandolin. I love it because it’s just so clean. That’s just my type of food. Easy and delicious. Sometimes I’ll do pasta. In New York, I love Carbone and Sant Ambroeus and in Miami, Casa Tua is my go-to for pasta.
Amanda: I’ll have granola in the morning. For lunch, I really like The Butcher’s Daughter. There’s one in the West Village now and it’s really close tome so I go there a lot. I love that it’s vegetarian but you don’t feel like you’re being super healthy. I really like the avocado toast with the egg on top for brunch. And I love their little juice shots. The one I get is called, The Hangover Cure but I’m not hungover when I get it. I just really like it. It’s spicy. For dinner, I like Morandi, it’s one of my favorite restaurants.
Hassan, growing up what was your favorite Haitiian meal?
Hassan: With Haitian food, which is obviously Caribbean, you have a lot of spices. There’s a lot of goat dishes, lamb dishes and chicken dishes. And you have a ton of seafood.
Where do you get your Haitian fix?
Hassan: My mom will cook from time to time, if I beg her. Or in Miami, there’s Little Haiti so there are some really great whole in the walls like Tap Tap, but. But actually, at The Broken Shaker in Miami, they have the restaurant there that makes really authentic, amazing Haitian dishes on the menu like the Creole. It’s done so well.
What about workouts?
Amanda: I do Karen Lord Pilates in Tribeca or yoga at Jivamukti. Both of them kind of work together. I just tried this workout Bari, and I want to do it more. They have different classes, one of them is just trampoline, and one of them is just toning.
Hassan: In Miami, I’m on my beach and I swim.
Are you interested in clean beauty products as well?
Amanda: Tata Harper is a friend of mine, so I got hooked on her stuff. I went to her farm and it’s all made there. It’s really phenomenal to see the whole process, the ingredients, and how totally natural and organic it really is. I love her face cream, the serum, and the oil for body. It smells so good. Every boyfriend I’ve ever had just steals it. It’s weird. She needs to come out with a men’s line.
What’s your favorite grooming product?
Hassan: It’s not really eco but La Mer. It’s made in the U.S.A. and they do a lot of charitable giving.
How do you approach packaging and leaving a smaller carbon footprint?
Hassan: We are always looking at ways to innovate. Nike just came out with eco-packaging. It’s made out of 100% recycled plastic. They’ve created this new packaging that the boxes themselves will be tied and shipped in a crate. It’s all recycled plastic and then you can make your bag into a backpack. Nike might be the leader in redesigning what sustainable packaging looks like. When you get a big brand like that, everyone else follows.