AS by DF is among the first fashion brands to address the necessity of changing how we produce, distribute and design fashion goods. With the unforgiving threat of climate change looming over our future, the need for change grows increasingly more dire. Denise is one of the few creators of which it can be said, she designs produces and distributes products with a purpose.
Purpose is one of the many things that stood out to me when interviewing Denise, founder, and creative director of AS by DF.
“I’ve been pushing the team to take the brand in a direction of sustainability, so we can move toward lowering our carbon imprint and eventually become carbon neutral. This idea is something that I’ve been working on for about two years,” she told me. “Green is really the only way forward. The industry hasn’t made that shift yet completely, but I think if consumers choose differently, then the industry will follow.”
Producing and shipping goods involves the use of hazardous plastics that subsequently end up in our oceans and waste-dumps. Lingering on the peripherals of her awareness was the urgent need for a worldwide change in the materials that we use to manufacture and distribute fashion goods.
“The first step was eliminating all plastic from our packaging. Everything we use at AF by DF is biodegradable and made from recyclable materials. Our second step was to find a material that was more green. Leather has been my main vehicle of expression for 11 years, so you see the challenge there.”
Specializing in luxury-brand leather goods, Denise founded AS by DF 11 years ago. While appearing to go against the grain of her own design, Denise has been determined to turn the way her brand produces and distributes goods in a new direction. “The design process is very challenging now,” she laughed.
“Traditionally, producing leather and tanning the hides is a pretty high-polluting process in itself. I started looking into different options and there are several out there, however I wasn’t happy with the level of carbon neutrality those options left us with. We ended up finding a mill and partnering with them. They’re using a new technology that takes leftover scraps from leather-mills and turns the scraps into really beautiful, supple pieces of leather that I can use to design. This process uses 90% less water than traditional leather tanning. So far, we’re the first fashion brand to use this kind of technology. We went through such great lengths to get this right. The zippers and trim of our jackets are made from soy, so if any of it ends up in a landfill, its biodegradable. I wanted to be really thorough and authentic in every step in doing this. It was important to make sure that everybody involved in the project authentically cared about the cause.
Monica Rose styled the AS by DF look-book. Her work is so insane. I’ve known her for a long time, and she was excited to work on this project with us. She’s a really awesome person and was so supportive of the cause. Lindsey Wixson was our model. Lindsey’s extremely green and she was so excited to be apart of the project. Her husband (Two Hawks Young) photographed the shoot. This was such a community project, and everyone involved made the process so much more fulfilling.”
It would be cliché to say that one good choice can lead to another, but in many ways this old adage still holds true. While working to make AS by DF carbon neutral, the brand also made the generous decision to donate proceeds from sales to help fund ocean clean-up programs.
“Aside from the new collection being very green, AS by DF partnered with a non-profit called No More Plastic. They have several programs focused on eliminating plastic in the world’s oceans. We’re donating 10% of all our proceeds to No More Plastic to help fund plastic clean up. I want to be apart of the solution and I want to feel good about my craft, which is to make women feel powerful and beautiful. I wanna do this and also have a positive impact on our environment. There’s a lot sitting on this collection and we’re nearly sold out of all out pre-sales. It feels amazing when other people are just as enthusiastic about the things that you believe in.”