Clothes Fashion

5 Minutes with Sustainable Fashion Designer Jeannine Cavallo

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Dressmaking runs in Jeannine Cavallo’s DNA. Both her mother and grandmother were seamstresses, and she learned how to sew at their sides. But her label, J. Cavallo is much more than a simple fashion line; it’s a mindful company that uses sustainable materials to create distinguished styles with sophisticated, timeless cuts. But what’s more, it’s a brand with a mission: J. Cavallo aims to enable the entrepreneurial aspirations of its artisans and collaborators, which vary in geographical range from Paris to the Congo, from Kenya to Mongolia.

In fact, microeconomic growth for local businesses is something Jeannine and her team hold strongly at heart, along with reducing the carbon footprint by sourcing organic materials. These fibres are grown without the use of harmful pesticides, herbicides and GMOs, or are produced by animals who are fed without the use of artificial hormones or antibiotic treatments. Organic cotton, naturally sourced wool and peace silk are the core textiles that J. Cavallo uses to create their exceptional tailoring.

But what else inspires the woman behind the label? We found out, in this quick interview with Fashion Designer Jeannine Cavallo herself.

What made you decide to create a green fashion line?

J. Cavallo was actually green from inception. Our mindset and mission have always included sustainability. We firmly believe beauty and responsibility are not mutually exclusive.

What difficulties did you encounter finding fabrics that suited your ethics?

I love pleated fabrics.  However, polyester (a known toxic fiber) is typically blended with other fibers because it holds the shape of the pleats longer.  Finding a more sustainable option has been difficult but we are not going to give up.

You don’t really ‘do’ trends, and you have a collection called ‘Timeless’. What constitutes timeless fashion for you?

Timeless fashion to me means that the design is so beautiful that it is never affected by changes in society or fashion. From our design birthplace in Minneapolis to our mockups in New York’s Garment District to our immaculate Parisian Couture broderie d’art finishes and our collections featuring prints, fabrics, and techniques from artisans around the world, J. Cavallo is redefining the concept of modern fashion.

How is the Congo connected to your brand?

We worked with Women for Women International on a tie-dye project. I have sponsored women for many years through this amazing organisation that helps educate and train women in an effort to help lift them out of the cycle of poverty.  The unique tie-dye process from Congolese women helped to create the fabric designs we used – bringing attention to women and crafts that otherwise would have no voice.

How else does your brand help women?

We work with local artisan women in our community as well as partner with organizations like Women for Women International that focus on women – social enfranchisement, building entrepreneurship, strengthening economic stability and promoting upward economic mobility.

Finally: Who is the ultimate Cavallo woman? 

The ultimate Cavallo woman is strong and confident, yet sensitive and responsive to the inequities she sees in the world.

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
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