Inside Maria Cornejo’s Store

CFDA and Sustainability Committee Member, Maria Cornejo, is committed to environmentally sustainable practices. As a winner of the 2010 CFDA/Lexus Eco Fashion Challenge, Maria dedicates herself to using ecological and sustainable fabrics wherever possible, as well as continuously looking to support local businesses and communities by collaborating with global artisans recognized for their craftsmanship. Maria has said “I still believe that the best way to make sustainable design a reality is to approach it through an alternative route. A collection that is made only from organic fabrics produced with no impact to the environment  which looks and feels great and isn’t price prohibitive sounds like a beautiful idea, but is impossible to fully implement with the limitations of today’s resources. For the past couple of season’s I’ve worked to find an alternative route to sustainability that is still attractive to consumers.”

Maria’s Zero design philosophy is to design and make clothes that have been “touched” by a person instead of being mass-produced and that live past a season, rather than being disposable. Seventy percent of Maria’s collection is made in a 10 block area of New York City which reduces the production’s carbon footprint. Also, for several years Maria has expanded on the idea of supporting local industries by working on a hand knit alpaca fabric group made in Bolivia. The yarn is locally sourced and the garments are hand knit by local women. Another integral piece to the designer’s philosophy is that it’s fundamental to include the client in the mission for sustainability. The Zero + Maria Corenjo retail staff regales stories to customers detailing why the fabric was chosen of a dress that they love and where and how it was produced. In order for clients to truly understand the sustainable process behind the piece, the designer has recently implemented “story hang tags” to facilitate the story telling process. These hang tags are personal (some indicate which fabrics are Maria’s favorites) and truly tell the story behind the eco-friendly process to consumers. The CFDA had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and scour the racks of Maria’s store, which along with the hang tags, provided a rich and cohesive narrative of the designer’s pieces. Step inside with us…