Behind the Seams with Kate D'Arcy of Toggery

Photo: www.toggerycollection.com

"We all have to do our part, why not look fabulous while you do it!?"
Kate D'Arcy, Toggery Organic Designs

Kate D'Arcy is both the designer and model of the eco-chic clothing line Toggery. This sustainable and versatile line uses organic cotton and bamboo as its main fabrics to create designs that are contemporary but long lasting. With Toggery looking fabulous is as easy as (organic) pie.

Our fashion reporter Victoria Everman caught up with the busy designer to talk about her brand and upcoming collection.

Green Living: Though there has only been four Toggery collections, how long have you had the idea to start a sustainable fashion brand?
I started thinking about starting a "sustainable fashion brand" about three years ago when my manufacturer started knitting organic cotton fabrics and sending me samples wondering what I thought. I loved the samples; the fabrics were just a good if not better (so soft!) than what I was using for my dress label at the time. I started to do some research and realized that there were not many, if any, well priced, fashionable yet functional organic/sustainable brands in the market. The rest is history.

To answer the nagging question: how did you come to the name "toggery"?
Not nagging at all! It's a dream to hear anyone ask me what my clothing label's name means. Toggery is a synonym for the word clothing. I found it in the dictionary and loved how sensible it was.

Do you seek out inspiration for each collection you design or do you prefer work from an ongoing set of shapes?
I like to use both methods. It's important that I'm not neglecting the need for great basics (I like to consider a simple dress a great basic aside from tops and leggings), but as with all things the same stuff can get old so its fun to dive into my latest Vogue or Harpers Bazaar to see what is on the runways and how I can interpret that trend for the Toggery woman.

Is the Toggery line meant for a specific type of woman, whether eco-conscious or not?
Toggery is an everyday collection, and I offer so many various colors/bodies that I like to think there is something for every woman, every woman who loves fashion and, by default, becomes a smart consumer.

What has been the most memorable moment of your sustainable style career thus far?
It would have to be having some of my pieces shown on "The View". Talk about validation!

Are there any particular celebrities that you would love to outfit?
Sarah Jessica Parker, Natalie Portman, Rachel Bilson and Drew Barrymore. These women have great style and they all give off that vibe of being comfortable in their own skin.

Even while using fair trade, US-based production, and sustainable fibers (organic cotton and bamboo) how do you manage to keep your prices in line with other, non-sustainable brands?
There is this notion out there that organic is expensive. There is a bit of a price difference between organic cotton and non organic cotton but not enough that you need to be paying $90 for a t-shirt. I did not want to mark up the prices just because I could or because that is what other lines are doing. This was about creating an organic line that could be competitive style, quality, and price wise with some of the major players in the contemporary market.

Are there any sustainable fabrics that you hope to work with, such as organic wool or hemp?
I have seen samples of fabrics made from seaweed and they are beautiful!

What do you say to the folks that still believe global warming is just a myth?
Wake up; we as a people have made major impacts on our earth, good and bad. It's time to take a look at the bad and figure out how to make it better. We all have to do our part!

Do you have any other nifty, secret projects in the works that you could hint at?
Toggery is a lifestyle brand - I have a ton of ideas of how I would like to expand……men's, children's and bedding!

Victoria Everman is a freelance writer, model, on-camera personality and founder of the San Francisco Craft Mafia. She is a regular contributor to Green Living Online and for Gaiam Life.