We tend to forget just how polluting our shopping addiction can be: the textile industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters, and the development of fast fashion in recent years has only contributed to an increased carbon footprint. According to the World Bank, nearly 20% of water pollution worldwide is caused by textile industry malpractice. Companies like ZARA and Forever 21, popular for their cheap and trendy fashion, have been condemned often for their immoral labor practices and their wasteful production pratices.
As the environmental condition continues to decline, there’s been an outcry against large enterprises imploring them to make strides in their environmental and labor practices. Forever 21 is a prime example of the hit that these large companies have taken, as they filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. While many companies move towards change, young fashion connoisseurs have turned their attention towards purchasing second-hand clothing at thrift stores, or finding smaller alternatives with sustainable and ethical labor pratices. One such alternative is the small brand “Cool is a Construct,” and it’s a must-see for anyone who’s looking to shop sustainably and still maintain the on-trend appearance.
The brand Cool is a Construct was created by an FIT student who had trouble finding her style in local thrift stores, a style she identifies as ecclectically parisien with a dash of city. The brand has a selection of pieces that are reminiscent of both Paris and bustling New York City, a unique blend that's impervious to passing trends.
The light, silk silhouette of the Jeanne top is perfect for a night out in the city, while pieces like the Bridgette dress feel perfect for a picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Cool is a Construct is the ultimate “it-girl” one-stop-shop, and all of the production and designing is done in-house in New York City.
I was able to talk to the creator about her work and her time in the fashion industry, and learn about her and her brand.
Why did you start Cool is a Construct in the first place?
I’m going to be a junior at FIT this year, but I really should be a senior. I went to Vanderbilt out of high school, but I dropped out after spring break sophomore year because I was miserable there. After a while, I wanted to get back to college, and I wanted to go to New York. Honestly, FIT wasn’t on my radar. It just happened to be where I could apply without a teacher recommendation, so I just decided to head to the city and figure everything out later.
I started at FIT, and I wanted to do something creative. I did some internship work while I was at Vanderbilt and felt stifled. I felt devalued and disrescpected as an intern, and I wanted to have a voice that mattered.
I guess I’ve always had the idea to start my own brand; I’ve had the instagram since I was a freshman in college. I have a very specific style and look that’s very hard to find. It’s very French, Vintage inspired. Thrift store, vintage store, that’s where you’d find me. I couldn’t really find that anywhere, so I started making it myself.
When did you come up with the aesthetic/style behind Cool is a Construct? What inspired the brand?
I think the aesthetic and style behind Cool is a Construct is basically my own style, and it’s been melded with influences from what my friends and my followers like. It's really unique and is definitely a reflection of my own style.
How did you amass your social media following?
We try to post every day, and definitely influencers have been super helpful. When we first launched, I had a 1000 followers, and now we have around 11k. We had Maddie Ziegler wear it, Danielle Bernstein wore it. Seeing big influencers wear the clothing is so satisfying, and has definitely helped us grow as a brand.
Do you have a favorite piece in your collection? Which one is it?
My favorite piece is the Jane dress. I love it, like I have a square tan from the neckline. And it definitely isn’t a best-seller. The reason it’s my favorite is because it’s the reason that I started designing in the beginning: I saw the dress on Jane Birkin and wondered why nobody was making it. I had no idea how to sew, couldn’t draw. I just decided to make this dress and there it was, that was it.
How would you describe your style?
It’s easy. A dress with sneakers, a dress with boots. I wear dresses all the time, and I’m from New York. You’re not supposed to wear dresses in New York winter, but I’ll just put on a pair of tights and head out. Rompers, jumpsuits. I hate pants.
It’s definitely a little more edgy than you would think. I love florals, but I also love black leather. A dress with a little black leather satchel, some boots.
How does the designing process work? How long does it take to produce each piece?
Usually, our things are inspired by vintage pieces. I’ll play with different styles from vintage pieces. I’ll like a neckline, or a sleeve fit. My seamstress is amazing, so I’ll send her inspiration and she’ll come out with this amazing piece. Once that happens, I see the piece, and then have a fit session to perfect the fit. I produce a lot more pieces than I put out honestly. Everything has to be perfect, so sometimes either the fit won’t be right or the fabric will be off, and I’ll just set the design aside until I’m convinced it’s perfect.
How is Cool is a Construct working towards sustainability?
When we started, we were using vintage fabrics. That’s hard though, because the quantity just isn’t enough. We use deadstock fabric now. It’s a fun hunt: I’ll find a print I love and stalk it down in cult shops around the country. We also have wholly ethical production: we produce everything in New York and we pay fair wages. I’m very big on having a work environment where everyone feels safe.
Regardless, we try to keep our footprint minimal and our employees happy.
What designers/brands did you draw inspiration from?
Personally for my style, I draw inspiration from Faithful the Brand, Maison Cleo. A lot of French, small brands. Rouge. A lot of Copenhagen brands, too. I find so many brands on instagram, and it’s perfect because then I get all of these unique pieces and I’m also supporting smaller brands and people.
For high end staple pieces, I love my Dior saddle bag. I love feeling boujee.
What would you tell other students looking into attending fashion school/trying to enter the fashion industry?
Because I’m from New York, I started having internships when I was really young. Interning in the fashion industry honestly turned me off from it, it was all desk work and was pretty boring. I didn’t like fashion for a long time. I think creating my own opportunity in Cool is a Construct is what got me into the industry wholly.
Create your own opportunities. Take advantage of the people you meet, too; the best part about FIT isn’t even the school, it’s the people. There’s so many creative people who are so inspiring and helpful, and have always wanted to help me with my brand and help me grow.
Who is your style icon?
Jane Birkin. I’m obsessed with her. But also, just a bunch of girls on instagram. I find their profiles and I just love their aesthetic and style.
Who would you like to work with in the future?
There’s so many girls who I would love to see in Cool is a Construct. Obviously I would die if Bella Hadid wore our stuff, Kendall Jenner, Dua Lipa, Nicola Peltz. It would be so cool to have one of those A-list models in our clothes. Madison Bailey wore our dress, which was so cool, and I’d love to see it on Madeleine Cline as well. I just watched the Kissing Booth 2, so if Joey King wore our stuff that would be super cool! Young Hollywood is everyone’s obsession right now and I would love to have the brand grow within that audience.
Cool is a Construct is the perfect mixture that offers on-trend clothing while practicing sustainable and ethical production practices. Put on one of their pieces, and you’ll feel like the main character of a coming of age film set in Paris. The brand is definitely worth a look from anyone looking to expand their wardrobe and keep the same uniqueness that the company’s owner is always in search of.
Find Cool is a Construct on instagram @coolisaconstruct.