We’ve covered a lot of eco-friendly celebrity businesses over the years. From Nikki Reed’s recycled gold jewelry line, Jessica Chastain’s vegan truck, and Beyoncé’s vegan app, to Lauren Conrad’s fairtrade marketplace, famous people care about ethical living and like to make businesses around it. It’s been disappointing, however, to see how quickly most of these businesses disappear or lose their raison d’être, given the great fanfare offered to their celebrity founders. Rooney Mara’s eco vegan fashion label Hiraeth quietly folded, despite beautiful designs by an Academy Award nominee and the PR coverage that commands. I just tried to find Beyoncé’s 22 Day Meal Planner app at the Apple app store, and couldn’t. This makes me think, if even Beyoncé can’t make a vegan company successful, what chance do I have?
All this has led to healthy skepticism of any celeb-founded businesses. But here I am, feeling freshly intrigued by one celebrity initiative that actually stands a chance of flourishing and making a difference. Angelina Jolie just announced the launch of her sustainable fashion company Atelier Jolie. And this is no ordinary brand that designs and produces its clothes using eco fabrics, selling online or in stores. Here’s why.
What is Atelier Jolie?
Announced on June 6 on Angelina Jolie’s Instagram, Atelier Jolie is a new company that brings together a network of tailors, patternmakers, and artisans to create your (the consumer’s) designs.
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“Everyone can create. Why then do we covet designer labels? Why simply buy the design of another person, when you can create yourself? We can all collect, appreciate, and be influenced by the designs of others. But the highest form of self-expression—and I believe the most fun—is to create for ourselves,” Angelina Jolie explains on the company website.
She notes that “Designers often sketch or approve designs, but it is the tailors who make the difference and who I truly love creating with. And yet, these makers rarely receive the credit and respect they deserve.” As someone with a close relationship with major fashion houses, it’s interesting that Jolie states this so openly. It is true—I’ve met designers who not only couldn’t make a pattern, cut, and sew a garment, but also couldn’t draw worth a damn. It truly puzzled me why this was so, and Jolie seems to be pointing out a major injustice/irrationality in the fashion ecosystem.
So you have a brilliant idea for your own piece and just need an expert craftsman to make it come to life. Now what? Atelier Jolie will use vintage or deadstock fabrics to make it. You’ll also be able to repair or upcycle your existing pieces “to create heirloom garments with personal meaning.”
She also states that Atelier Jolie will have an internship program for refugees and give opportunities to artisans all over the world to use their talents in “positions of dignity” and receive credit for their work. A decades-long humanitarian, Jolie seems especially keen on returning power to the people who actually make the clothes, rather than people sipping expensive coffee drinks while drawing or marketing the designs.
I don’t know about you, but given Jolie’s peerless clout and proven track record as a committed advocate, Atelier Jolie seems poised to make a substantial difference—and maybe point the way toward a much more sustainable and ethical business model. I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops. How about you?
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Photo: Angelina Jolie via Instagram