Sustainable Fashion by Carlos (Manny) Muniz-Peredo

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Most people who know me would agree that I actively seek out growing areas in men’s fashion. People used to call me “metrosexual” before, and I proudly held that title. But now, the tides are turning! Men are becoming more conscious about fashion than ever, and Amsterdam is at the front of this new fashion wave!

I was lucky enough to meet a man who has been working in men’s fashion for quite some time. His name is Leo Brancovich. Leo originally stumbled across fashion design as a university student, and found he had talent in the design. He grew up fascinated by military clothing and, after many years of design experience at G-Star Raw, founded his own company and brand focused on the military inspired designs. This company is called Black Rabbit, and he founded it with his wife and a couple other close business partners, with the hope of correcting things the big companies were doing wrong.

 Apart from some previous work training, Leo had no official business experience. The fashion industry is a fickle one, and it is especially tricky and uncomfortable dealing with suppliers and retailers in the market. I was fascinated that although Leo and his wife could be considered experts in fashion, no one in the company knew anything about fashion business, yet they valiantly made their vision a reality. Today, Black Rabbit continues to grow and develop a unique design signature that is a blend of oriental pattern cutting and old military hard wear inspiration.

I of course loved the style. Leo would pick up an old World War II canteen and explain how he designed a jacket based of it. That concept was crazy to me! But what I really found most enticing about Black Rabbit was Leo’s take on sustainable fashion. So often today we hear about the importance of organic materials and recycling (which is great, don’t get me wrong), but Leo thinks about sustainability in the fashion industry differently. His first initiative was actually the durability of clothing, but now he believes is the same thing. Leo ensures the materials he uses are quality materials that will last. He believes that instead of focusing on using recyclable materials, it is better to focus on making a product that will last 10 times longer, thus reducing the production of clothing in the long run. Fast fashion, by nature, is unsustainable, as we have limited resources on this earth.

Along with using quality materials, Leo also believes in being 100% sweatshop free. “Alongside the mistreatment of workers is the mistreatment of product. If you want to make things well, you need a staff with a lot of experience and a lot of skill, and you don’t get that in sweatshops.” The moral aspect matters immensely to Leo as well, and in the fashion industry, it’s a big reason to feel guilty. I’ve noticed that Holland is very good at understanding this logic in all industries.

I asked Leo what makes him continue to work so hard to grow his brand, and he told me quite simply, “Because I enjoy doing it!” The fashion industry is a very dynamic world, with a six-month rhythm to everything. When everything is moving, the work is never boring. As I search for my own “true calling” in life, it really resonated in me that Leo was so passionate about his work. It reminded me that there is no point working hard at something, if it does not bring me any joy or a sense of fulfillment.

Finally, I wanted to know what Leo’s long-term goals were for Black Rabbit beyond making money. Leo’s grand vision is for Black Rabbit to become a brand that is a spearhead for the type of sustainable fashion he believes in. He hopes Black Rabbit will be a brand that continues exploring the fashion industry’s limits. “The high turn-over fashion industry is literally unsustainable. Something has to change, and using sustainable materials is the logical answer" Leo really believes his brand is part of a bigger initiative in being against the exploitation of cheap labor and for the higher quality, durable way of life.

 Leo’s Tip: Create a plan

-Whether it be for a business or for your life, it’s better to have a plan and not follow it, than to not have any kind of metric in place at all.

If you want to learn more about Black Rabbit and their products, we urge you to visit http://www.blackrabbit.jp/ for more information!

Hannah Huber