“Sa Va is an ethical clothing and accessories brand that is built on the platform of effortless, individual style and social consciousness.”
Thus reads the front page of Philly-based eco boutique Sa Va. Ninety percent of the garments sold at Sa Va are locally made, with both fair trade and sustainable friendly textiles, but the store and site sells some other great ethical brands like Indigenous Designs and the Andean Collection in addition to their house label.
All of this is what made the brand a contender for the ‘Top Innovator’ award from Apparel Magazine (read more about this here!). Sa Va has become a home town name, with it’s own fashion show last month, and a collection of its small couture collection and summerwear last weekend!
Eco Chick had a few questions for this exciting new player in the eco fashion sphere and asked Sa Va designer Sarah Van Aken for some answers:
What is the defining style/aesthetic behind your boutique? How did you get into/interested in eco fashion?
We initially became incredibly concerned with creating local living wage jobs in the United States and a desire to reduce our carbon footprint by manufacturing locally. We are aware of the huge impact the apparel industry has on the environment and communities so we started with ensuring that all of our textiles were fair-trade and then expanded that in to using more and more domestically produced, sustainable and organic textiles. From there we wanted to focus on our relationship with our customers and our community through community partnerships with womens organizations. Now, we are committed to being the most socially sustainable apparel company in the country.
Is there a strong green scene in Philly? How are you involved in the city?
Philadelphia is one of the leading cities in the country for sustainability. The Slow Food movement began here almost 30 years ago, with Philadelphia region having one of the largest concentrations of Community Supported Agriculture networks in the country. It is hard to find even a restaurant that isn’t providing farm to table service. We have a large green construction movement that reaches far beyond LEED Certification. This is not to mention organic spas and salons, cleaners, citywide recycling and composting just to name a few.
In terms of the City of Philadelphia, under the Michael Nutter administration there have been vast changes in policy and job creation dollars for Green Jobs beyond what was supported by the Federal Government. We personally worked with the City through the Commerce Department and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation. The City along with a local bank, Valley Green, financed the expansion of our business that allowed us to open our local garment manufacturing facility and retail store for SA VA based on green job creation. We also received a grant from Philadelphia Workforce Development, another City entity, that helped us train our machine operators.
I frequently work with the City as an ambassador for Green jobs and retail.
What are some of your favorite things in your store? What do you love designing?
Blazers – we make a mean blazer. Our Nadia jacket in brushed cotton with a contrast leather cuff is the perfect staple. Our Lyvia is a special piece you will have forever and pass down to your daughter. Our Lauren jacket, which is in a double crepe back satin is a relaxed structured feel and season-lesss. I wore it in Havana Cuba last week with a pair of shorts and heels to go salsa dancing and yesterday in Philadelphia.
That’s not to mention our dresses… Our best selling Erika dress is a wardrobe staple. There is something fresh and classic about it, but it helps that it fits about any body type.