Today I am really excited to share not only a great story and interview but I am thrilled to introduce a online retail destination to you. Modavanti, the sustainable style shopping mecca for ethical, vegan, eco, vintage, organic, made in USA … should I continue… contemporary fashions.
I reached out to the founders not long ago to inquire about featuring them here. I was thrilled when David Dietz the founder and co-owner of the Modavanti wanted to participate. It wasn’t long after that I met with Jesse, the Creative Director and co-owner. We met at Brooklyn Roasters in Dumbo and quickly dived into our mutual passions for sustainability, ethical and eco initiatives within fashion, health, lifestyle and so on.
Their story and journey in establishing Modavanti is inspiring and a true testament to honest integrity and intentions. I loved the moment when Jesse spoke about the community within the sustainable movement. Rather than designers, publications or competing retail destinations trying to be a proprietor about their initiatives, there is a real sense of community, conversation, sharing and helping to one another, as they all aim to achieve the same goals in mind; awareness, growth, action and momentum in the sustainable fashion movement.
Already within their second year of establishment they are gaining a strong following and consumer base, having been featured in Conscious Magazine, among others.
Modavanti is a full service shopping location offering contemporary to designer labels in clothing, bags, shoes, accessories, beauty, home and wellness lifestyle. They offer varied price points and great incentives, like their modacycle program. They are the ones to watch within the online social ecom market, mark my word!
See my full interview below,
Tell me about yourselves, your background and how you guys came to launch the company together?
Jesse and I actually met in the Middle East. Before Modavanti, we were working as conflict journalists in the Middle East covering the Arab Spring. I was writing for Policy Mic and Jesse was doing photography and digital media.
What motivated both of you to work in the fashion industry & to begin a fashion e-com destination?
It wasn’t so much that we were motivated to work in fashion as it was to “start something that matters.” We are interested by fashion and design but it was the opportunity to both have a social impact and create a successful business that attracted us to sustainable fashion. Most people don’t realize that the textile industry is the third largest and second dirtiest industry in the world behind agriculture and oil and gas. That’s not right and we felt compelled to do something about it and do it with style.
I would love to learn about Modavanti’s philosophy and goals through the e-retail site, could you share this with me?
Our goal is to be the recognized destination for the socially conscious consumer to find clothing that fits her values without compromising on style. We want to be the site that coalesces the sustainable fashion movement and brings it to the mainstream.
Through these philosophies, what initiatives do you have in place to achieve these goals?
We want Modavanti to be a site that you can shop the latest trends, discover the newest brands and learn about the latest advances in sustainable fashion. To that effect, we have launched many initiatives to achieve those goals. We started ModaCycle, which is a way for consumers to responsibly give back and receive site credit for doing so, we’ve thrown flash mob fashion shows to show that sustainability is chic and we have a blog where we highlight and comment on the best in sustainable style.
Tell me about the badge system, how does it work?
The badge system was set up to allow customers to be able to easily shop their values.
We have 8 badges. On the Eco-friendly side: Recycled, Vegan, Eco-materials, Organic, Vintage and on the ethically-sourced side: Made in USA, Artisan made, Fair Trade. Brands must meet at least one of the badges 100% to be included on the site although we look for and strongly encourage brands to meet more than that.
How do you ensure the brands you represent meet the sustainable badge guidelines?
We speak with the designers and founders of the brands, visit designer showrooms if they are local, work off of third-party certifications and research brands on sustainable fashion blogs and publications. We do our best to work with brands that were recommended to us as well. However, we recognize that until we are big enough to send someone to each brand studio around the world, that at some point, choosing our brands still comes down to trust and our intuition that are brands are sincere.
What has been the learning curve since you launched Modavanti two years ago?
We’re still learning and still trying new initiatives or marketing campaigns. Technology and fashion are industries that move so quickly. If you don’t keep up you will be left behind so we are always tinkering and trying new things to give our customers a better experience.
What have you learned about consumer behaviour since you launched? What is trending?
We are undergoing an incredible shift in consumer behaviour towards sustainability and wellness. Organic foods, going to the gym and taking care of our health are trends that have exploded in the past decade and are here to stay. As that happens, more and more people are turning their attention towards understanding what they are wearing. There are so many chemicals and waste in our fashion and people are beginning to understand that those chemicals can really harm them, their children and the environment and are beginning to shop differently.
And with that in mind, what would you say customers are gravitating towards? Which brands, styles…?
Organic, Made in USA and vegan are our more successful badges. People are concerned about what they are putting on their bodies and looking for organic natural materials. When it comes to Made in USA, I think there is also a trend toward higher-quality and feeling connected to our communities. And of course there is a growing Vegan community who rightly refuse to protect animals with what they wear.
How has the company grown thus far? Do you sell outside USA? North America or global?
We currently only sell to the USA and Canada although we are hoping to introduce shipping to Europe and Australia soon.
What is the best part of having a fashion conscious company?
I couldn’t work for a company whose mission that I didn’t believe in. It’s incredible powerful to work towards a mission with a higher purpose. Climate change and labor rights are a huge challenge and problem, so to be able to work on something and work with such incredible brands that are attempting to make a positive difference is an incredibly uplifting and rewarding feeling.
And, what are the challenges of having a fashion conscious company?
There are many. A big one has been the stigma that “sustainability” is either too expensive or not stylish. Neither is the case. We are never going to compete with Walmart prices, but consumers shouldn’t want that. Those prices are morally bankrupt and lead to poorly made clothing that comes at the cost of others.
What has been the most important part in building a following and consumer base?
I think it comes down to being genuine and honest with the consumer. What we are building is difficult and we are not perfect, but we are working towards transforming and redefining an industry that has been known for waste and turning into one that hopefully will become cleaner, safer and better. I think that is something people respond to.
What sustainable business practices do you implement within your own studio office? (recycling, energy efficient operations etc…)
We recycle, use energy efficient lightbulbs, try not to use air-conditioning or heat and I wash my jeans in the freezer. It kills the bacteria more so than washing and uses no water. Everyone can do that!
Lastly, how do you envision your Modavanti transforming in the future?
We want to continue to grow our community and keep pushing the movement forward. This fall we are adding active wear and men’s wear (finally) which further shows the versatility of the sustainable fashion movement. Beyond that, while we’re starting with clothing but it doesn’t have to end there. We want to show you can live a complete sustainable lifestyle.
Here are just a few Modavanti instagram snap shots of the amazing designer goods available on Modavanti. Already in my shopping cart is the black leather grocery bag from BAGGU & a pair of futuristic sunnies from Westward Leaning !!
Special thanks to MODAVANTI for welcoming me to your studio & sharing your story!
Studio & Interview Photography provided the incredibly talented Andrew Boyle- thank you for capturing those moments!!