Ethical Designs: Voloshin + Nuno

by Celia Shatzman

These eco-conscious lines prove that you don’t have to sacrifice ethics to make a fashion statement

Voloshin

Amy Voloshin always heard people talking about sustainability, so she decided to educate herself about it. After watching the documentary The True Cost, she became concerned about the environmental impact of the fashion industry and realized there need to be more brands that manufacture carefully, safely and with strong values. Her eponymous label became one of them.

“I was very interested in creating a line of sustainable fashion that featured my love of subtle prints, embroidery and textile techniques,” Voloshin says. “I felt that more effort could be made by the fashion industry to work with ethical manufacturers and to highlight more diversity in the fashion space, so I took the plunge.” Prior to starting her own label, she went to the Rhode Island School of Design for Textiles (RISD), then moved to Philadelphia to work for Urban Outfitters, Free People and Anthropologie. She operated a textile design studio servicing the apparel industry with prints and embroideries for 10 years before founding Voloshin. She also currently oversees Printfresh, Voloshin’s sister brand of printed sustainable sleepwear.

Everything about Voloshin is carefully considered to leave the smallest footprint possible, which is why the line is produced in small batches. “By producing less, there is a lot less waste, both in the manufacturing process—fabric scraps, unused materials, water waste—and also afterwards, since we don’t have a lot of excess inventory at the end of a season,” Voloshin says. 

The brand exclusively works with natural and organic fabrics. “They’re much nicer to wear and are far more comfortable and breathable,” Voloshin says. “Man-made fibers take hundreds of years to break down when they are discarded, hold odors and are tricky to recycle. Our cotton and linen fibers can be easily reused or re-created into a variety of items.”

Voloshin describes her line’s aesthetic as effortless. “All of our shapes are comfortable and easy to wear,” she says. “We jokingly say that they’re the dresses everyone wishes they wore to a wedding or event—they are comfortable, made from natural fabrics and have special little details that often only the wearer will notice.” 

Voloshin is manufactured in India, home to some of the most beautiful textile traditions in the world. “I favor cotton gauze and linen, and India has amazing options for these fibers,” Voloshin says. “We also love to utilize block printing, hand printing and natural dying. I have a deep affection for the culture in India, and I’ve taken to studying yoga and Ayurveda.”

Two percent of Voloshin’s sales every quarter are donated to a nonprofit. “It’s important to me that we contribute positively to the community,” Voloshin says. “In years past, we focused each quarter on organizations that empower marginalized women in India. This year was a bit different and called for changing our charitable giving to keep up with the health concerns brought on by COVID-19, which had a large impact on seasonal garment day laborers. We were able to partner with our factory and make donations to ensure that meals were made and delivered to the workers who have stayed in Jaipur during this challenging time.”

One of Voloshin’s favorite things is seeing women wearing her designs. She says, “It’s beautiful to see women tagging us on Instagram with how they dressed for different occasions and stages in their lives.” voloshin.us

Nuno

Ann Hintze spent more than 12 years as a graphic designer in New York City for big brands and small agencies. “But at the end of the day, my creativity was being used up for my clients and not fueling my own personal projects,” she says. “Also, I had a baby girl and a two-year-old boy and I felt compelled to show my kids that I—and they—could create something beautiful in the world. They are my muses.”

That’s why Hintze decided to strike out on her own and launch Nuno, a line of robes and accessories made from recycled plastic bottles. Though she has always loved wearing bold and colorful clothes, she didn’t have a fashion background before she started the brand. However, it was easy for Hintze to channel her background as a graphic designer. “I have always loved patterns and making happy things, and it’s so much fun to finally use fabric as my canvas,” she says. “It was quite the learning curve, especially when it comes to creating patterns that wear well and that are printed easily on the fabric. Being a graphic designer taught me how to problem solve and that has helped a lot along the way.”

Nuno is made from 100 percent recycled water bottles sourced from Asia. “There is so much plastic produced and wasted right now,” Hintze says. “It’s a real pain point for the environment, especially our oceans, and only a fraction of it is actually recycled—around nine percent. I knew that if I wanted to start a business and create new products, it was essential to start as sustainably as possible. It’s our responsibility as humans to be good to each other and to the earth.” 

Water bottles are transformed through a simple process. Plastic bottles are collected and stripped of caps and labels. They’re washed, cut up and transformed into small pellets. The pellets are then crushed, melted and spun into thread. Finally, the thread is woven into super soft fabric, which is machine washable. “I have two small children and I live in my robes,” Hintze says. “Being a mom—and also a human—requires lots of laundry, and I love that our products are easily washable.” And, the brand only uses non-toxic dyes and minimal or reusable packaging.

Another important factor for Nuno is being a platform for wearable art. During her time as a graphic designer, Hintze worked with illustrators, photographers and artists, and Nuno collaborates with up-and-coming artists for inspiration.

“We work so hard to craft every detail with love—and we hope that every person who interacts with our brand feels that,” she says. “We believe in inclusivity and embracing all humans, exactly as they are. The most rewarding thing is seeing the look on people’s faces when I tell them the fabric is made from recycled plastic. They can’t believe how soft it is—and that moment means everything to us.” nunolove.com

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