all images and lookbook courtesy of The Battalion's website
I’ll admit that I don’t know the first thing about eco-conscious fashion; it’s just not at the top of my list of criteria when I’m shopping for a new outfit. So last year, when I fell in love with the simple and flattering design of a bamboo-jersey tunic by The Battalion Eco Couture, a Los Angeles-based label, it was simply icing on the cake for me that their materials happen to be environmentally friendly. I had a chance to learn more about the line from Chrys Wong, who, along with sister Linda, are the creative team behind The Battalion. The line produces fashion-forward, timeless clothing, and the tunic that I purchased last year is one of the most comfortable and versatile pieces in my wardrobe. Who knew being eco-conscious could be so chic? Thank you, Chrys for the interview, and a special shoutout to Jane for setting up the interview!
Before they formally launched The Battalion with the Autumn/Winter 2007 collection, Chrys and Linda Wong began experimenting with environmentally friendly fashion of a different kind. Chrys, who at the time was working in retail for Maxfield’s in Los Angeles, commissioned sister, Linda, who was then studying fashion design at Otis College of Art and Design, to tailor coats and jackets made of vintage recycled cashmere, which the sisters then sold to exclusive boutiques in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. Despite growing popularity for their repurposed vintage pieces, “it was difficult to go into production with recycled materials due to lack of uniformity,” Chrys says. The decision to embrace bamboo and organic fabrics was a natural outgrowth of their environmentally minded beginnings. In 2006, the sisters launched the label, which, according to Chrys is: “a modern, edgy, comfort driven line created for the woman who is never satisfied with being mainstream, a true bohemian with an eternal quest for personal style.”
Each season, Chrys comes up with a narrative for the collection, Linda sources fabric and trims from suppliers and the sisters work together to pick the fabric and color palette that best interprets that narrative. For the Spring/Summer 2009 collection, the narratives drew from an eclectic blend of influences, including 80s new wave and flamenco. Some of the standout pieces for spring include red and purple ruffled dresses and for summer, black slashed jersey tops and leggings: perfect anchor pieces for floaty separates. For their Autumn/Winter 2009 show at LA Fashion Week, the team sought to counter general pessimism with a strong Native-American story. “What is more uplifting than the discovery of America and what it meant to us as we are trying to take control of our future?” Chrys reflects. The latest runway show paired veggie fur vests with extravagant vintage Indian feather headdresses, Pocahontas lace front leggings, Lewis and Clark expedition style cargo outfits and European imperialist style military jackets.
above: The Battalion video lookbook
While Chrys says the sisters dream of one day expanding their line to include menswear, children’s clothing and eco-friendly furniture, the team will focus on producing quality work for now. “Anything that doesn’t meet our personal standards will not make it to the floor of retail stores,” she says. The Battalion, Chrys explains, is strongly committed to their strict eco-conscious philosophy, which includes the collection's chosen materials: bamboo, organic cotton, peace silk and some polyester silk made from recycled bottles. The sisters are so conscientious about using the right materials to embody their philosophy that when their friend, actress Julie Delpy first learned about the line using bamboo materials, she jokingly accused them of stealing food from pandas. “We actually looked into it,” Chrys says, “and luckily, we are using Moso, which is not a type of bamboo eaten by giant pandas.”
The Battalion is available at retail outlets such as Holt Renfrew and Fred Segal Flair and online through http://www.revolveclothing.com and http://www.shopflick.com. For more information, check out their website at http://thebattalion.us.