Sustainable Plus-Size: An Interview with LISA AVIVA

Lisa A. Bleviss has designed both men’s and women’s apparel and accessories for private clients, and stores such as Holt Renfrew and Takashimaya. Her work has sold in luxury boutiques and department stores in the U.S.A., Canada & Japan.

An emerging luxury brand for sustainably minded women sizes 10+, LISA AVIVA utilizes timeless silhouettes and luxurious fabrics. Slow fashion in clean lines, crafted locally with luxe materials – simplifies dressing for the boardroom, the playroom or the red eye to anywhere. LISA AVIVA‘s materials are carefully considered, utilizing natural fibers – wool, cashmere, linens and cottons.  

All pieces are designed, created, and sewn in North America.  We acknowledge our industry’s impact on the global environment and continue to research and implement ways to create fashion positively and ethically.

 

Creative + Art Direction: Lisa A. Bleviss | Photography: Eddie Nehani | Model: Daniela Lombardi

As a privately owned company focused on balancing fashion and sustainability, LISA AVIVA has committed to the following models of sustainability:

”We are committed to slow fashion. Honoring tradition and heritage clothing and accessories, our garments last for years, not days or months.​

We value the knowledge and experience of our artists, believing that every relationship is reciprocal.  A collaboration based on mutual respect enhances the collective experience.

We choose to partner with other small businesses in the many stages of developing a collection, especially those committed to sustainable models.

We are committed to transparency, sharing with our clients the steps we take each season to become increasingly sustainable, such as: eliminating synthetic blends after Collection 1.

We reduce our impact on the environment, beginning with the design process and lasting throughout delivery:

Given the choice of ordering mass quantities, we minimize waste by ordering and producing smaller, exclusive quantities.  LISA AVIVA utilizes Oeko-Tex Standard 100 zippers for outerwear, from a specialty manufacturer and sources unique deadstock notions from specialty suppliers.  Recycled materials are employed whenever possible, for print materials, as well as for packing and shipping.”

AN INTERVIEW WITH LISA AVIVA ABOUT SUSTAINABLE LUXURY CLOTHING FOR WOMEN SIZES 10+ 

When did you first realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?

I have been sketching clothes since I was a child and while my path was not direct, I knew I would periodically return to my love of fashion. 

When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?

My first internship was in university, when I was studying at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was with a jewelry designer, who taught me a great deal about running a small business effectively, including overseeing in-house production.

What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?

I continued working for the jewelry designer.

Define sustainable concept nowadays in fashion industry in five words .

Minimizing the industry’s environmental impact.

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be? 

Don’t let anyone limit your success, you determine your own destiny. 

What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?

I dropped out of the fashion department in university after creating work that I was told no one would understand. I was informed that I was an artist, not a fashion designer – as if it was a reprehensible offense. 

What is one thing you look at the models for your campaigns?

I prefer a universal and slightly quirky beauty, one that cannot be clearly identified – a model is not defined by nationality or ancestry, she is many (though certainly not ALL) of us. That said, I am absolutely working to increase the diversity of the models I work with and I look forward to a time when I might utilize multiple models for a shoot. 

 

Photography: Walter Singh
Model: Sarah DeMelo
Hair and Makeup Art: Jackie Shawn
Photographer’s Assistant: Eddie Nehani
Styling: Joelle Litt
Styling Assistant: Brit Wacher
Jewelry by: Michelle Ross

 

What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?

I believe social media has led to a democratization of the fashion world, which has numerous implications. I do believe there must remain respect for expertise and knowledge, and I also believe there must be space for new perspectives. 

What is your favorite and NON-favorite part about being part of the fashion industry?

Favourite: Creating. I love the image of a blank canvas stretching out in front of me, tools on the table, limitless inspiration…

Least Favourite: Celebrity. Any press outreach I do is strictly intended to facilitate reaching new clients, not about a desire for celebrity. If I could remain anonymous – I happily would.

How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?

In a single word? Empowered.

 

Photography: Walter Singh
Model: Sarah DeMelo
Hair and Makeup Art: Jackie Shawn
Photographer’s Assistant: Eddie Nehani
Styling: Joelle Litt
Styling Assistant: Brit Wacher
Jewelry by: Michelle Ross

 

Can you tell us how your brand makes a difference in fashion industry?

LISA AVIVA celebrates a group of women who have long been ignored and cast aside by the industry. And I create, with the intimate knowledge of the needs of my market.

The brand also has an extensive commitment to sustainability, with increased measures coming for A/W 20/21.

News on the way regarding your next collection? 

Collection 5 ( or Spring/Summer 2020 ) was just released and celebrates luxurious comfort ( you can shop here: https://www.lisaaviva.com/collection-5.html ) – in a challenging time when many need as much comfort as they can manage. As for Collection 6 ( Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 ), there are more collaborations and custom design work.

The most important thing is that I pay my collaborators. As a sustainable business, working with other sustainable businesses, there must be accountability. And this accountability (which is an integral component of the sustainable fashion model), means considering the greater good. While I might have to make sacrifices,  paying my collaborators (manufacturers, knitters, etc…) means that I am enabling other sustainable small businesses to stay afloat during challenging times. And this means, together – we will make it to the other side. I truly hope this pandemic will enable a positive reset for the industry. One that demonstrates concern for the environment, the treatment of those with whom we work and our personal accountability. The industry has undergone drastic change in the past few years and we have an opportunity now to imagine and create a more sustainable version of an industry that has thrived for too long on unethical practices.
We have seen the improvement in air quality around the world, during this pandemic and our respective quarantines. Surely, there is an opportunity to undo some of the damage that has been done by the fashion industry. Bravo to the companies that are paying their bills during this time. This is the accountability that we need from fashion leadership. I continue to believe in the importance of prioritizing people, over profits.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a fashion designer?

You can’t make everyone happy. You must find your tribe and then listen to them.

There is one important person, in your life, who pushes and motivates you to believe in yourself?

Both of my parents have always supported my creative exploration. My mother has always encouraged me to both, dream big and pursue my dreams. She is first and foremost on my mind, when I design a new collection.

How do you think a big brand should motivate their collaborators and team members?

I believe any brand must treat their collaborators and team members with respect. They must recognize that they hired experts in their field for a reason. Engage them, challenge them. Engage them in problem solving. 

How do you think sustainable + ethical can play an important role in fashion industry?

The sustainable fashion movement has the ability to completely overhaul the industry. There are many aspects of the industry that have resulted in a construct much like a house of cards. Now is the time to make a change and co-create a new industry – especially with the addition of the effects of Covid-19 on fashion, at both the manufacturing and retail levels.

Describe us you as a designer and how your feelings influence the creativity process?

I am first and foremost an artist, who believes that creative mediums overlap. I am deeply influenced by fine art, and much inspiration stems from the work I see in galleries, museums, and on the street. I am also inspired by my surroundings and photos that I take are shared each season on my website’s, “Design in the World” page.

 

Creative + Art Direction: Lisa A. Bleviss | Photography: Eddie Nehani | Model: Daniela Lombardi

 

Would you like to involve other accessories designers in your future projects?

Absolutely! I have some exciting ideas for collaborations and am also exploring the possibility of producing accessories in house – as we have created some samples since our initial launch and I have backgrounds in both jewelry and accessory design.

What do you think is the main mission of the CO-BRANDING concept ?

I understand the appeal of co-branding – it allows for increased exposure with likeminded brands and audiences. And, it is the natural extension of LISA AVIVA’s work with collaborators.

How press + public relations agencies can help more the brands and what skills a good fashion PR should have in your opinion?

Public Relations agencies have the ability to assist brands in reaching their target audience, through increased exposure. I believe that an effective fashion PR agency or individual must have an intimate knowledge and understanding of their client’s product, as well as their goals – in order to create an effective strategy. Then, they must be given some room to create and imagine creative ways to achieve the client’s goals.

 

Creative + Art Direction: Lisa A. Bleviss | Photography: Eddie Nehani | Model: Daniela Lombardi

 

What designers inspire you and why?

Pierpaolo Piccioli – for his wit (specifically the Moncler collections)

Yohji Yamamoto – for his brand’s longevity

Jil Sander – for her unwavering commitment to Minimalism

Dries Van Noten – for truly understanding the principles and elements of design

Maria Grazia Chiuri – for her commitment to exquisite beauty (at Dior)

There is anyone special who would like to meet in person?

There are so many – it’s hard to know where to start…. I would likely want to travel back in time and meet Franca Sozzani. There are  no words to describe her brilliance. And I would be delighted to meet Maria Grazia Chiuri, I am loving her work at Dior!

What do you think about the opportunity of selling your collections online nowadays?

Selling online enables an audience to find brands that resonate, with both their values, and their aesthetic. It’s a win-win for brands and clients, alike. LISA AVIVA’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection is currently available online here: https://www.lisaaviva.com/collection-5.html

 

Autumn/Winter 2020/2021

The arrival of a new decade. Tumultuous and loud. Turmoil engulfs the world within the first few days. A sombre time.

How different are the times, than those of the last century? The end of WWI brought a time of reckoning and a time of rebuilding. A period of transition, much like our current times. One need only consult an astrologer, to discover that astrological events this year have set off past chains of events, that changed our world forever.

Sustainability is increasingly urgent. Natural fibers are employed and hand processes honor the work of artists. There is much work to be done, evident in the multilayered hand felting of Canadian Artist, Natalia Lunata. Organic raw materials, fleece straight from the sheep – the unwashed scent of the barn. Ultrasoft blends of Merino Wool and Baby Alpaca handknit, transform raw fleece into luxurious, body-conscious knits.

 

Photography: Walter Singh
Model: Sarah DeMelo
Hair and Makeup Art: Jackie Shawn
Photographer’s Assistant: Eddie Nehani
Styling: Joelle Litt
Styling Assistant: Brit Wacher
Jewelry by: Michelle Ross

 

Inspired by the Group of Seven, Lawren Harris’ “Mount Robson” Canadian winters are communicated through line, colour, shape. Arctic Ocean, Northern Skies, Rocky Mountain – colours that create vivid imagery.

The Ice is palpable. The sky is thick and blue.

Monolithic structures are animated by the outspoken women of the early 20th century. Depicted in intimate portraits by French painter, Suzanne Valadon – women tell their own stories, speak their own truths. Unwilling to stand in silence, these women reflect our time and like Madame Valadon, refuse to be silenced.

We pay homage to all those who have come before. And now, we “wear the pants.”

 

Photography: Walter Singh
Model: Sarah DeMelo
Hair and Makeup Art: Jackie Shawn
Photographer’s Assistant: Eddie Nehani
Styling: Joelle Litt
Styling Assistant: Brit Wacher
Jewelry by: Michelle Ross

 

The photoshoot images are tributes to the French painter, Suzanne Valadon. She made history, as a model first for many of the male painters in the late 19th century, and later as a painter in her own right. Most importantly, Suzanne depicted women from a woman’s perspective. 

 

Photography: Walter Singh
Model: Sarah DeMelo
Hair and Makeup Art: Jackie Shawn
Photographer’s Assistant: Eddie Nehani
Styling: Joelle Litt
Styling Assistant: Brit Wacher
Jewelry by: Michelle Ross

 

Photography: Walter Singh
Model: Sarah DeMelo
Hair and Makeup Art: Jackie Shawn
Photographer’s Assistant: Eddie Nehani
Styling: Joelle Litt
Styling Assistant: Brit Wacher
Jewelry by: Michelle Ross

 

Photography: Walter Singh
Model: Sarah DeMelo
Hair and Makeup Art: Jackie Shawn
Photographer’s Assistant: Eddie Nehani
Styling: Joelle Litt
Styling Assistant: Brit Wacher
Jewelry by: Michelle Ross

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