Our person of the month is fashion designer Rebecca Bush. Rebecca has been designing and collaborating in the fashion industry in New York for over 13 years. She studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and at Polimoda in Florence and met her partner Gianfrancesco in 2011 in NYC. Today Rebecca, Gianfrancesco and their daughter Violante split their time between their home in New York and Italy. Rebecca Elizabeth is the creative expression of Rebecca Bush.
We know that your brand has sustainability as its focus. What does sustainability fashion mean to you?
No fashion development is 100% sustainable, we ship things, creating new fabrics aren't 100% without emissions. For me the goal isn't perfection but progress taking small steps to be more sustainable and improve on that each season going forward. For example all new fabrics we use are sustainable, created in closed loop systems which don't add pollution to the environment such as cupro, organic linen or cotton. We also use deadstock fabric which are remnants left over from other brands' productions. We're committed to do our part to offset our development. We've planted a tree with One Tree Planted for every email sign-up and every dress sold. We make our donation every month to different planting projects where there is the most need all over the world, We've planted almost 300 trees so far to date.
Besides sustainability I believe creating something ethically is equally important, and something often not discussed. I think it's very important to ask who made my clothes? What is their life like? Are they treated with integrity and respect? Do they constantly have to work in a rushed frantic toxic environment? Do they get benefits? Can they afford to feed their families and afford a safe clean place to live? These questions are essential. I worked hard to find a US based ethical factory, it wasn't easy, it was very difficult and this isn't the standard which is something we really need to advocate for. This issue is so often swept under the carpet because so many companies tend to put profits above people and ethical manufacturing is significantly more expensive. I decided to work on a very low margin of a 2x - 2.5x markup. My goal is to invest in sustainable high quality materials and make sure the people making our clothes are getting their fair share of the profits at the same time offering our customers an attainable product.
How would you describe the woman who chooses Rebecca Elizabeth's creations?
My main customer is in her 30's or 40's. She loves to travel. She has grown up a bit and learned to appreciate quality over quantity. She's become aware of the toxic issues facing the fast fashion industry. She's likely a working professional or in a creative field and shopping with us for a vacation or a wedding looking for a unique beautiful resort dress, she's really looking for a one of a kind show stopping piece. Something that's unique and not carried by every store. Our customer really believes in the slow fashion movement.
What is your creative relationship with New York?
Since I was a very little girl I've been drawn to big cities and other cultures and countries, I always wanted to live in the center of the world. I come from a very small town in Michigan, really the opposite of NYC. I moved to NYC at 17 to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology, my second year I moved to Florence to study at Polimoda. After I settled back in NYC where I've been for 17 years so this year I've actually lived in New York longer than anywhere else. I have to be honest as much as I love New York and enjoyed everything that's come with it over the years, friends from all over the world, opportunities and amazing experiences. For me it wasn't love at first. I struggled for years to feel at home in New York and have very gradually grown into it. This year I'm happy to say I've been very proud to call NYC home. It finally feels like home and it's taken me 17 years to get here! New York is an amazing city for networking and start-ups. There are so many incredible people and opportunities here. I really enjoy spending time in Williamsburg these days in the area near our factory. We're participating in a sustainable pop-up hosted by Parlor Social Club in Williamsburg.
We know you love Italy. Are there elements of Italian culture that you use in your style?
I'm very inspired by Italian culture in my designs and in life in general. I had a love affair with Italy long before meeting my husband Gianfrancesco. Everything about Italian culture and lifestyle I feel is so aligned with my beliefs and aesthetic. Italian's don't just live, they love life and live to enjoy every moment, a mentality I wish New York could adopt. We travel to Italy often and I always go out of my way to visit museums and see as much art as I can on each trip whether in Rome, Naples or Pompeii. I find ancient Roman art and portrayals of Goddesses in artwork especially captivating and draw on this often while designing the collection. I honestly find everything about Italy captivating and inspiring. My favorite city in the world is Rome, it's the only place I ever felt truly at home. I love how there is so much greenery in Rome and of course all the important ancient buildings and monuments that are still standing today. It's such an inspiring place for me.
We are an Italian food blog... we can't shy away from asking you a question about food!
What is your favorite Italian dish and why?
Do I have to pick one? This is a difficult question, I love so many! If I had to choose, I would pick Saltimbocca alla Romana. Any time I see it on a menu I have to try it. I love this dish. It's super Roman!