It’s June—the month that ushers in summer and its cascade of wonderful colors. As a designer, I believe color knows no particular season or limits. As a Black woman in America, my lived experience proves otherwise as the realities of my existence and those of others with my complexion have been made plain for the world to see - again - in recent weeks.
At ETC, sustainability is a way of life and a way of being. It’s expressed in how we show up for self, for nature and for community. We show up for the community by partnering with local makers of color to manufacture our garments in order to build stronger communities. We show up for nature by sourcing our materials hyper-locally and by producing garments from recycled and eco-friendly materials. We show up for self by amplifying the beauty of Black women/people and by living out these values daily. On top of all this, by living in color (as Black women do) we’re also required to unearth ways to sustain our physical, emotional and mental well being in ways both unsustainable and unrealistic. How does one sustain themself when EVERYTHING around them threatens not only their livelihood, but very existence?
Living in color means I’m constantly at the mercy of others’ perceptions of my skin. Is my reality ethical? Is this reality sustainable? In this context, sustainability transcends the environmental principles of reducing, reusing and recycling and calls into question the systemic issues that, if sustained, threaten my very existence and that of those who look like me. Black American sustainability has been exercised through centuries of slavery, segregation, and disenfranchisement in every matrix used to measure quality of life. ETC was founded out of, not only, the need for sustainable fashion but also the need to redefine how Blackness has been sustained in America. Sustainability at ETC means upcycling what has passed as acceptable into new freedoms, new ways of being Black in America...like the freedom to BREATHE.
This month, the release of our collection ‘In Living Color’ does more than herald the arrival of summer’s bouquet of color in sustainable must-haves, it magnifies the resilience of Black women/people. Where wearing vibrate colors is bold and brave, so too are the Black women/people that step boldly and bravely into each day determined to make life better for themselves, their families, their communities and the environment. This is the truth behind In Living Color: Sustaining Black America.