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by Celia Shatzman
Clothes and Accessories

At first glimpse, Maison de Mode seems to have much in common with many other luxury e-tailers: gorgeous clothes and accessories, chic styling, bold images. But there’s one thing that sets it apart: every single item on the site is eco-conscious.

“The aesthetic of a product always comes first,” says Amanda Hearst, who cofounded maison-de-mode.com with Hassan Pierre. “Because if something is not beautiful, people will not want to buy it. So, at face value, when you visit the site, you will find an exquisite, high-end, unique edit of luxury merchandise. However, naturally our brands have to adhere to our ethical fashion standards.”

We’ve all heard the scary stats on fashion’s impact on the planet, from its sky-high water use to the barely worn clothing that ends up in landfills. But many brands are trying to change that, and they just might find a home on Maison de Mode. “We saw there was a major gap in the retail landscape catering to fashion brands that were not only beautiful but sustainable,” says Pierre. “The difference between our curated luxury brands and others is that ours all have an economic, social or environmental impact greater than the aesthetic value of the piece.”

To give the site a brick-and-mortar sensibility, Maison de Mode is merchandised by color and trends and it keeps the products fresh. “Ethical fashion is a lifestyle, so it’s our job to make customers feel that when they come to the site,” Hearst says. Pierre describes the Maison de Mode fashion aesthetic as playful, elegant and unique. “We cater to women of different sizes and backgrounds who are traveling the world,” Pierre says. “We want our selection to be as diverse as the world we sell to.” Eventually, the company plans to open a permanent store, but it won’t be the standard concept of a traditional flagship brick-and-mortar space.

Every item on the website features an icon to cue in how it is ethically made. The sustainability icons include organic, cruelty-free, charitable, Fair Trade, artisanal, made in the USA and recycled. This makes it easier for customers to shop not only by color or occasion, but also by cause. For example, “If you’re searching for vegan-only items, just look for the items with the vegan symbol,” says Pierre. “It takes a lot of the guesswork out of figuring out how the item is sustainable.”

Hearst and Pierre hope that Maison de Mode will set a standard that other brands will eventually follow. “When brands see that products are moving on our site—and that we are promoting their items as sustainable—they will realize that today’s consumer is very interested in sustainability when it comes to fashion,” Hearst says. “We hope to lead by example and show that ethical fashion is a very lucrative proposition.”

Don’t forget that the power is in your hands, too. Customers can help push other clothing companies toward a more eco-minded future. “Consumers can choose to support ethical brands with their purchase,” Hearst says. “If the fashion industry sees that consumers want ethical brands, they will follow the customer’s lead. At the end of the day, retailers are almost always about the bottom line and pleasing their client base, so it’s up to the client to show what type of brands they want to buy and support.”

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