Behind the Seams with Rogan Gregory

Photo: www.rogannyc.com

Rogan Gregory is right on Target, designing both an affordable and sustainable line for TarRogan Gregory is right on Target, designing both an affordable and sustainable line for Target's GO International program. The designer is known for his avant-garde Rogan collection as well as his edgy brand of Loomstate organic cotton tees and jeans. He recently launched Rogan Objects, a retail store using recycled wood, glass and steel and to create furniture.

With a design sensibility of unique construction, and a devotion to the environment, not to mention quite the fan following, Rogan Gregory's collection for Target launches nationwide May 18, 2008 and is available through June 28.

Jennifer Sgro, one of Green Living's fashion writers sat down with the the eco-friendly designer to get his take on creating for the masses.

GLO: How important was it for you to participate in Target's GO International program?
Rogan: It was extremely important, not only do I want to create an environmentally responsible collection at an accessible price, but by partnering with Target, I am able to provide that in considerable volume. Buying organic should not be trendy, it should be the norm.

What do you hope to achieve by bringing organic garments to the mass market by partnering with Target?
Target is willing to produce my aesthetic vision without compromise in organic/sustainable fibers at a price my little sister can afford. Target's initiative will push the green movement into the mainstream, which enables us to make change on a grand scale.

What was your favorite thing about partnering with and designing for Target?
Target's resources gave me the freedom to produce a responsible collection without sacrificing style or design integrity.

Do you have a favorite piece from the collection?
I love the swimwear and beach pieces in the collection.

What do you see as the biggest roadblock for getting green fashion to consumers of all backgrounds?
The biggest challenge is definitely the cost and availability of materials. But this is improving. When we began sourcing organic fabrics five years ago, there was nothing available in fashion fabrications. Now that Green initiatives are more popular, textile mills are researching all kinds of sustainable alternatives. This brings more choices and more competitive pricing.

You recently won the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award. Congratulation! What has that done for both you and your labels?
Receiving the award was an honor. It will empower our creativity by garnering the support of the best minds in the fashion business. Our immediate plans are to use this support to remain true to a pure design vision.

Your other labels, Loomstate, is a 100 percent cotton clothing line and Rogan Objects, uses recycled objects to create eco-friendly home furnishings. Is it important as a designer to reduce your carbon footprint?
My goal is to create awareness and educate people about the options that exist. I am interested in generating a cultural paradigm shift toward efficiency and sustainability as opposed to excess and wastefulness.

Have you faced any unique challenges in starting your own brands based on sustainable fibers and domestic production?
Starting a new brand is hard enough without all the variables sustainability presents, but I believe this methodology is the only way of the future. Six years ago there were very few sustainable fabric options so we had to coerce mills and spinners to engineer fabrics that were organic and beautiful at a price that was competitive. Now there are sustainable options that rival the norm and everybody is jumping on the bandwagon, attempting to make clothing that is both beautiful and responsible. Price of organic is an issue, but the more demand there is the better the price will become. Our collaboration with Target is pushing good design and sustainable production into the mainstream.

Do you seek out unique inspiration for each season's collection, or do you have an ongoing wellspring of ideas that you draw from?
I am eternally drawing from the "wellspring." There is never a shortage of ideas . . . I am constantly looking to refine and evolve not only design, but a consideration for the process as well. I like to be involved in every aspect, from grower to sewer to consumer.

What is your favorite sustainable fiber to work with and why?
"Sustainable fiber" is such a broad and loosely defined term. I like different fibers for different reasons.

You mentioned that your favorite piece from the Target collection is the swimwear collection, why is that? And is this the first time you're designed a swimwear line? Were there any challenges?
I love design challenges that require a synthesis of functionality and aesthetics. I was originally trained to design outerwear, then transitioned into work wear and denim then to fashion. Swimwear seems like a logical progression—it's functional, technical, architectural and sensual . . .and the best part is all the design research is done at the beach.

Jennifer Sgro is a fashion writer based in Toronto. She is a regular contributor to Green Living Online and Green Living Magazine.