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Sustainability and Storytelling at NYFW: James Nathaniel Piña’s Love Letter Home

James Nathaniel Jacket

Upon entering Unix Gallery, which lies directly under the Manhattan High Line, the intimate feel of the artistic space became immediately apparent. I was here to see the James Nathaniel Spring/Summer 2020 ethical fashion presentation, as part of New York Fashion Week.

Contrasting with the noise from the city outside, chirping birds from an art installation positioned near the doorway gave a flare of nature to an inside space that brought refuge to guests from the rainy evening.

The natural-element theme continued as we ascended the stairs into the gallery area, where models dressed in designer James Nathaniel Piña’s latest collection, “A Love Letter Home” stood posed around the periphery.

James Nathaniel mohair and wool coat with zero-waste leather detail.

The ethical fashion collection was interactive; every guest has a front-row seat to view in detail and even touch the eco-fabrics. It was all about the details: texture on the leather moto jacket, the intentional choices of color juxtaposed with neutrals—and the personal story surrounding the idea for the collection.

All the jackets shown were made in NYC, and the brand’s core goal is zero waste, so every piece of leftover fabric from the production line is saved by the designer and later made into another ethical fashion piece. Piña then works with factories and mills with the same ethics to create unique pieces with these unexpected and leftover fabrics. 

In this collection, Nathaniel nodded to his grandfather who handed down a beloved leather jacket to his grandson, and in this way, the designer connected nostalgia, connection, and longevity with ethical fashion. The crowd gathered to watch a short video (above) shot in a vibrant green field in New Jersey, which highlighted the fine lines and trims that Nathaniel expertly manipulates with sustainable materials like environmentally responsible European leather.

James Nathaniel is a supporting partner of the Conscious Fashion Campaign.  The Conscious Fashion Campaign is a call to action for brands, media and retail to commit to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda to achieve peace and prosperity for people and the planet.
The initiative, supported by the United Nations Office for Partnerships, seeks engagement and collaboration among industry stakeholders to accelerate change towards a sustainable future for all.
Together fashion can lead a future that leaves no one behind.

Isa Spies is an ethical fashion advocate and health + wellness journeyer currently residing in Brooklyn. Hailing from Maryland but spending the past five years in San Francisco, she is now streamlining her area of studies in Sustainable Design Entrepreneurship at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She loves yoga, healthy eating juxtaposed with chocolate intake, reading, high fashion, and travel.