A finalist for the 2019 LVMH Prize, Spencer Phipps is a San Francisco native who graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Today he’s one of the most eco-minded designers via his own label, PHIPPS, which is as highly sought-after as it is responsible.
In 2008, you were elected “designer of the year” for your final year collection, which was an initial exploration of sustainable fashion. Why this direction?
At the time, I had heard about eco-responsibility but never in the world of fashion. I wanted to understand how it could be applied to apparel. I spent a long time looking for materials in small farms producing hemp, wool and natural leather. It wasn’t as easy to find natural materials then as it is today!
When did you first become interested in ecology? As a child living in San Francisco?
I think so, yes. It’s always been part of my life.
You worked for 10 years at Marc Jacobs and Dries Van Noten, and then, in 2018, you decided to launch your own brand. What are its cornerstones?
The main focus is on nature, and the celebration of a community for whom nature is important. I’m inspired by characters linked, directly or indirectly, to nature; images that I reinterpret in a contemporary context through a particular graphic design, with newer and more modern proportions. At every step in the process, my team and I ask ourselves the same questions: What’s the purpose of making this? Does it correspond to a need? Will this garment bring something to the person who is going to wear it? And of course, we do our best to produce the most environmentally responsible clothing. …/…
…/… How have you organised your supply chain to address these requirements?
Our raw materials are natural or recycled, biodegradable, etc. We use eco-friendly packaging; we collaborate with partners who meet a list of criteria concerning recycling, water treatment, etc. We pay close attention to our carbon footprint by producing as locally as possible. And we support initiatives such as 1% for the Planet, to which we donate a portion of our revenues. Being ecoresponsible is not an aim for the future, it’s something we try to do better every day.
Tell us about your latest collection “Like a rock”.
We focused on a geological theme, inspired by how geology has influenced modern culture, from the gold rush to a very new-age spirituality.
You recently said that sustainability is a modern luxury?
I think that in a world where fast fashion is still very much in evidence, it is a privilege to be able to afford good quality clothing produced in a way that truly respects the environment. But fortunately, this is the trend now. And we’re seeing a similar movement in the food world.
Are you optimistic about the future of fashion?
Absolutely. I think we’re living in a very exciting time of change. Don’t you?
At the show, discover Smart Creation (Hall 3), the space dedicated to responsiblefashion and innovation, which brings together:
- A selection of sustainable development and fashion tech specialists and services.
- An index for eco-responsible and innovative products.
- Talks and discussions around issues related to the fashion of tomorrow.
- An exhibition on the theme of biomimicry.