Aug. 1, 2011
By Holly Haber
Dallas has a champion of environmentally-friendly fashion in Susanne Taylor.
Taylor has worked in the fashion business for 35 years but she isn’t a designer, manufacturer or retailer.
A former model, Taylor is a sales representative – an intermediary agent between fashion firms and the stores that sell their goods. Her wholesale-only showroom at the Dallas Market Center specializes in clothing and accessories that are eco-friendly and socially responsible.
Until about eight years ago, Taylor sold conventional women’s clothing. But when her employer folded, she reevaluated her career. “I started wondering about our industry -- was I contributing to pollution with the dyes that were used? And yes, I was,” she recalls. “I wanted to feel good about the industry that I’m in.”
She opened her own showroom, electing to represent companies that prosper with conscience.
“It’s just a more responsible way of consuming what you wear and a more responsible way of manufacturing it,” she says.
Taylor works with some unusual businesses. Take Alo in Los Angeles. Its solar-powered factory and warehouse pampers employees with a gym, a beautiful meditation garden, and strictly organic food. In a building that ships 40,000 units of clothing a day, there is not a single trash bin because everything is recycled or repurposed. “It’s like a little piece of heaven in the middle of nowhere, and they are growing like crazy,” says Taylor, noting that Alo has passed $100 million in annual sales. Much of Alo’s hip, stylish sportswear and activewear is made of bamboo (Alo photo on left )
Inphorm also makes stylish active wear and manufactures in earth-friendly facilities in Thailand, operating trucks fueled by used cooking oil. Next spring, look for its self-developed fabric blended with coconut fibers. (Inphorm photo at right )
There’s Beyond Yoga’s organic Supima-cotton knitwear colored by low-impact dyes, and Soybu’s cuddly soft casual clothing, loungewear and performance apparel made with soy, bamboo, organic cotton and recycled polyester.
Feel like shopping? Alo, Soybu and Beyond Yoga are all sold at Luke’s Locker, and Inphorm is carried at the spas in the Ritz-Carlton and the Rosewood Crescent Hotel.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of charity. Taylor regularly gives free showroom space to fledgling companies that need a boost, and she won’t sign a label that doesn’t support the community in some way.
“This is the way I’ve always done business,” Taylor said. “To me, every company and person has to be responsible for giving back. It would never occur to me to not have that be part of my package.”
Susanne Taylor is a member of the Green Source DFW Board of Advisors
Holly Haber is a Dallas freelance writer who contributes business and lifestyle features to Women’s Wear Daily, Dallas Morning News and other publications. She has been concerned about the health of the planet and its inhabitants for decades. In fact, her first professional job was managing the Human Bean Organic Food Co-op in Baldwin, N.Y. , in 1982.
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