Achieving style, according to some fashion designers, is not just about helping someone look and feel good in their clothes. The kinds of fabrics used and how an outfit is made are also important factors of fashion, say Roxi Suger, of Biddeford-based Angelrox, and Rebecca Darr of Brunswick-based Atayne.
Suger owns a retail store and design studio, Suger, in Biddeford, where her women’s clothing line, Angelrox, is sold. According to Suger, her items, from wraps to shirts to dresses and more, are versatile, comfortable and ideal for travel. Even better, she says, is that she is constantly reusing and recycling and keeps sustainability top of mind.
“The core aspects of the collection, from a sustainable standpoint, is the fact that all of the fabrics are made from plant-based fibers,” including bamboo and bamboo-organic cotton blends, and rayon, said Suger. “Ultimately, all of those fibers will biodegrade. Nothing is oil-derivative.”
“We are trying to keep everything as localized as possible,” she said.
Her fabrics are all knit on the East Coast and sewn in downtown Biddeford before being shipped out to 200 different boutiques across the U.S., according to Suger.
“We are always trying not to waste and embrace things in a way that is sustainable,” she said.
Suger moved to Biddeford from Brooklyn, N.Y,. last year with her husband and business partner Julian Schlaver. In addition to the downtown shop, the couple recently opened a 5,000-square-foot space inside the Pepperrell Mill building in Biddeford in order to expand production.
Angelrox always aims to reduce waste by using every bit of fabric it can while designing and creating the eco-friendly stretch knits.
“We are minimizing waste left on the cutting table or ultimately that gets discarded,” Suger said.
The designs themselves are sustainable, said Suger, because of their “inherent versatility” and the multiple ways in which they can be worn and adapted into a wardrobe.
For example, the wrap, one of Angelrox’s popular items, can be worn in multiple ways, including as a vest, skirt or shawl. The hourglass, another Angelrox favorite, can double as a tube top or as a sexy pencil skirt, or be worn as a scarf or head wrap.
“Ultimately, it lends itself toward a sustainable future, too, if we can get more mileage out of fewer items,” said Suger, who has been committed to fashion since she was 10 years old.
From a style standpoint, Angelrox is a “full lifestyle collection.”
“Comfort is a must,” Suger said of her clothing line, which she started in 1999. Creating new pieces that are “as versatile as possible,” as well as giving women the ability to comfortably wear layers from head to toe, is also a cornerstone of the Angelrox brand, said Suger.
“If you can flip it around and change it easily, you are going to be able to wear and enjoy it even more,” she said.
Derived from bottles
After returning to the United States after a year of living in Hong Kong, Rebecca Darr, from Brunswick, met her husband Jeremy Litchfield in Washington, D.C., where they started Atayne, an apparel company that makes high-performance and athletic gear from trash.
Atayne began in 2007, after one hot and humid morning when Litchfield wore a new red performance shirt for the first time during a run. At the end of it, red dye had stained the lower half of his body, including his shorts, socks and shoes. This motivated Litchfield and Darr to do some research about what chemicals were being absorbed into his body as a result.
“Prior to that, both of us had attended business school and while (attaining) our MBAs, were inspired by the ways that business could be a force for positive social and environmental change,” said Darr.
The couple moved to Maine, where Atayne now operates, in 2009. Atayne makes lightweight running, cycling, hiking and yoga apparel for men and women of all sizes.
According to Darr, “For every 10,000 Atayne performance garments purchased, instead of conventionally made garments (i.e., non-recycled and made overseas), over 67,500 plastic bottles are prevented from going into U.S. landfills.”
The company’s products are safe for humans as well as the planet, as all of its apparel is made 100 percent from recycled polyester, which is derived from plastic bottles. It is also printed with environmentally friendly inks free of phthalates.
Atayne thrives on “progressive” manufacturing, materials, designs and business practices, said Darr.
According to its website, in 2012, Atayne “prevented nearly 6.5 metric tons of plastic bottles from going into landfills.” It also “conserved over 94,000 kilowatt hours of energy, saved 25 metric tons of CO2 from being emitted, conserved 56,000 liters of drinking water, and supported four full-time American manufacturing jobs.”
Atayne’s gear is made entirely from recycled or organic fabrics. Instead of plastering the company’s logo on the apparel, Atayne’s designs include environmental or human rights messages.
“We hope to inspire others through the messaging on the gear we produce,” said Darr.
Darr said Atayne’s designs also include distinctive stitching and patterns and styles that flatter endurance athletes.
“Another dimension of ensuring Atayne performance apparel is aesthetically pleasing,” she said, is allowing other organizations to “hyper-personalize” the clothing with their own logos and messages.
What began as a bad experience with a red running shirt, Atayne has transformed into a company that is dedicated to inspiring positive social and environmental change through the power of active lifestyles.
“Sexy for us at Atayne is providing apparel that people can feel good about, both aesthetically and ethically,” said Darr.
Roxi Suger, covered from head to toe in different pieces from her clothing line, Angelrox, stands in her retail store and studio Suger in downtown Biddeford. Roxi Suger, founder of Angelrox, works on her clothing line at her new 5,000 square foot production facility inside the Pepperell Mill in Biddeford. Rebecca Darr is the co-founder of Atayne, in Brunswick, which makes high performance outdoor and athletic gear 100 percent from recycled polyester, derived from plastic bottles.