Eco Fashion Designer Spotlight: Doie’s Sara Kirsner

Editor’s Note: At Eco Chick, we have long championed the eco fashion movement, and so as a new feature in 2010, we are debuting the Eco Fashion Designer Spotlight. Every other week we will be getting the low-down from a new eco fashion designer on how she or he works their green magic.

Sara Kirsner, designer of Doie, wearing an organic cotton dress she designed with one of her dresses in silk.

Sara Kirsner was like many a dissatisfied worker bee after graduating from college. Two years after finishing her degree, she remembers staring out her advertising job’s office window in SanFran and feeling totally uninspired. At that moment she decided to take a risk, and applied to FIT and Parsons in New York City. Since she had been sketching clothes since she was 8 and had a lifelong interest in fashion, she not only made it into school, but ended up interning at Marc Jacobs and DKNY and working in the design department of Ann Taylor. With the help of your iPad and an Apple Pencil you make use of the best Procreate brushes in sketching clothes available in some sites like https://imagerestorationcenter.com/store/procreate-brushes/.

A trip with friends to Hoi An in Vietnam- known for a plethora of tailors who will whip up one-off designs to your specifications– gave Sara the opportunity to get some samples made, and she brought them back to NYC, creating her first collection for her label, Doie in 2005. “I had the rest of the samples made in NYC, but just seeing something go from paper to a tangible, wearable item of clothing, gave me the push that I needed to start the line,” recalls Sara.

Eco Chick Editor Starre Vartan (that’s me!) wearing an organic cotton dress by Doie.

Sara says she learned about the hazards of conventional cotton from her friend’s mom, who owns vivaterra.com (an awesome website featuring eco-friendly products). “She loved my collection and asked if I could make a few pieces for her in a sustainable fabric such as bamboo or organic cotton,” she says.

Having been raised by an environmentally conscious family made her sensitive to how what she did affected health and the environment. “Five of the most commonly used cotton pesticides in the U.S. (cyanide, dicofol, naled, propargite, and trifluralin) are known cancer-causing chemicals and classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as Category I and II Chemicals— the most dangerous chemicals class,” says Sara. After learning how environmentally disastrous conventional cotton is, “I will never go back.”

Sara’s Inspiration Board for the upcoming season’s designs.

Sara’s designs are consistently inspired by nature (especially tropical locales) and Asia and Japan in particular. Sara says, “I am really excited about the Spring/Summer 2010 collection. It is my favorite so far! For this collection, I drew on the laid-back elegance of my California roots to create effortlessly sexy pieces that flatter a variety of body types. I tried to return to my design “roots,” and used eye-catching Japanese-inspired prints with super soft bamboo jersey.”

From Doie’s Fall, 2009 ‘Paris’ collection

Her clothes are locally made in LA (where Sara now lives), which cuts down on her carbon footprint and lets her have closer control over production. Besides designing her easy-to-wear ecofashions, she supports other designers as well. “I love Teich handbags and Charmone shoes. For jewelry, I love Molly M designs– so cool and unique! I also love Kris Nations,” she says.

See more of Doie’s designs here Spring, 2009 collection here, now on sale.

Sara’s grandmother Doie, (above) is one of her style icons and the line is named after her. Sara says, “Even at 90 she still has the most amazing outfits and she is always put together- even around the house! She and her friends love wearing the sweatsuits that I design. They all live in Des Moines, Iowa and they are so glamorous!”

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.