Honest by: Going Great Lengths to Green

Belgian designer Bruno Pieters founded Honest by in January of 2012 after a two-year sabbatical from fashion in Southern India where he was inspired by the clothes native people wore that “were grown, woven and sewn from sources they could identify around them.” He brought this philosophy back with him to his home in Antwerp to launch, what he claims, is the first 100% transparent company —  everything down to a button or a string of yarn can be traced back to its origins.

Honest by: Going Great Lengths to Green

Bruno Pieters

Each article of clothing is color-coded into five categories to reflect the breakdown of its materials: Organic, if the garment is made primarily of organic materials; Vegan, if it is 100% free of animal products; Skin Friendly, if it is certified skin friendly; Recycled, if the garment is made primarily of recycled fibers; and European, if the garment was manufactured 100% in Europe.

Aligning with its policy on eco-friendliness, Honest by does not use leather, fur, shell or horn in its clothing; the only animal products it uses are wool and silk. The latter is certified organic while the former is either organic, recycled or sourced from farms where laws ensure the welfare of its animals.

Unlike traditional design houses that offer seasonal lines, Honest by continuously comes out with new collections by Pieters himself as well as by invited designers, both established and emerging, who share the company’s philosophy. 20% of the profits made from a designer collaboration goes to charity while the other 80% is invested back into the company. The first of these collaborators will be announced April 5.

Pieters designs are reminiscent of Jil Sander‘s minimalist aesthetic and go for several hundred Euro, which explains why, at the 1.618 Paris convention over the weekend, he rejected labeling Honest by as “eco-fashion.” His focus — as well as his price point — is primarily geared towards the high end market. ”You don’t buy a product because it’s green,”  he explained, “you buy it because you love it.”

By being upfront and honest about production, manufacturing and even cost breakdown, Honest by could signal a shift in the way fashion houses operate. Although at only a few months old, it’s perhaps too soon to tell if the brand can transcend the “eco-fashion” niche to be regarded as high fashion that also just so happens to have a high conscience.