Photo by Marina Lnakina
A sustainabLE FASHION PHILOSOPHY,
with kim yantis
an interview with KIM YANTIS
interviewed by SAMANTHA PELTRAU
Kim Yantis, one of many amazing designers on the vanguard of world-altering sustainable fashion, has combined her art with her passion for the environment. From constructing her own pieces to writing grants for community curators, Kim has dedicated herself to creating a brighter and cleaner future for us all. Sustainability is an increasing area of concern as we all shift our efforts into saving our Earth. Consumerism and Capitalism, though lucrative for some, exploits fellow human beings, animals, and our Earth. In this interview, Kim talks about her fashion philosophy, sustainability, and the future of the fashion industry that she is working to secure.
Replicating the cycle of creation and demise, Kim’s work focuses on de-construction and reconstruction to form powerful pieces making bold statements no matter the wearer. You can follow her at @Yantis_Arts and @suitingupforthefuture to keep up with her creation and work.
Read through our interview with Kim to dig deeper into her fashion philosophy and more about her work.
get to know KIM
DESIGNER, GRANT WRITER, sustainability advocate, AND artist
What is your fashion philosophy?
I believe that fashion is part of a process where we embody and display different energies in an ever-evolving manner. Fashion also reveals our creative selves and embraces our shifting moods, whether they be subdued, neutral or powerful.
Why do you think sustainability is so important? What would you recommend to people who are looking to be more sustainable in their day to day life?
Sustainability is vitally important on a large scale, because it ultimately defines us in relation to the land and space that we inhabit. Personally, the idea of sustainability in fashion ties into my belief that excess should not win over frugality- that we only take what we need. People can easily incorporate sustainability into their lives by making informed choices about what they own and consume. The intention to use more/ discard less is a shift in thinking that could deliver strong results globally.
Please describe the process of how you make some of your pieces.
Like many other designers working with reclaimed fabrics, my work begins with hunting for scavenged, low price, or donated materials. I chose the suit as a main source of fabric since it is already an emblem of power, structure and success. De-construction and reconstruction are my main processes for designing, where I act as a sculptor draping segments diagonally onto the dress form and disrupting the usual use of the patterned piece. I’m unusually drawn to complexity- I finish the garments with multiple layers of fabric, belting and oversized accessories. Through collaboration from other artists and performers, I intentionally allow alternative narratives to enter my performative fashion shows.
You often create "Demonstration pieces and Allegorical costumes" What social or political themes inspire this work?
For the past two years, through a collaboration with artist Lucinda Linderman, I have designed demonstration pieces that are inspired by various aspects of the global climate crisis. As opposed to designing a line of clothes or a singular costume, these one of a kind works brings humor to the crisis- A gown made of reclaimed plastic potato sacks that can be used to collect fish, a sideways wool suit that pairs with a dramatic shoulder accessory that doubles as a flotation device for safety during flash floods. This work also acts as a critique on blind consumerism that’s so prevalent in the U.S.- People will but almost anything! Our outlandish outfits and accessories could be sold on in a special offer on the QVC Network, and might offer some consumer comfort as the water reclaims our coastlines.
How do you want your clients to feel while wearing a piece of yours?
My pieces are designed to break the traditional definition of which type clothing might be casual and which type might be formal. When someone is wearing one of my pieces, or a pairing from my collection, I would like them to feel quirky-cool-empowered and ready for any occasion.
What's your favorite thing about being a designer in Miami?
My favorite thing about being a designer in Miami is the flexibility to present my work outside of commercial fashion expectations. I can exist as a visual artist, and design garments that tell a story, and curator the performative aspects of my work. Thanks to Miami-On-Sight, I feel supported by this strong community of like-minded sustainable designers!
Grant writing is also an amazing part of your work. What impact do you think artists have in Miami culture and how they can possibly help educate the public on the matter of climate change in this city?
As a Miami artist and grant writer for non-profit organizations, I know that the arts contribute to the vibrancy of Miami and are an incredible cultural and financial asset to the community,*generating $1.43 billion dollars each year. Artists are often change leaders, who are called upon in times of crisis to creatively address and build awareness around issues like climate change. Through the ongoing efforts of Miami curators, art and educational institutions, Miami Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, and Art-in Public places, it is wonderful to see that these dialogs are being brought to the forefront of our cultural sector with calls-to artists and local forums.
Your project "Suiting-up For the Future" created sustainable workwear and accessories. What advice can you give people to have a more sustainable workwear wardrobe?
I would advise someone who is seeking to build and maintain a more sustainable workwear wardrobe focus on the versatility of their pieces and to choose quality over quantity. Clear decision making about your need to buy additional pieces leads this practice. Decide if your existing clothes and shoes could be repaired or altered and make sure that you are making use of the pieces that you already own.
What is the future of the fashion industry from your perspective and how would you like to contribute to that future?
The future of the fashion industry is, hopefully, moving closer to an aesthetic of sustainability, accessibility and equity. Being an outsider to the system, I envision a time when large-scale retail might diminish and be replaced by smaller business industry. I would like of be a part of that future as an individual practitioner and designer of unique garments.
Where can people find and purchase your pieces and contact you?
Kim Yantis is a designer, grant writer, sustainability advocate, and artist. Follow @Yantis_Arts and @suitingupforthefuture on Instagram and visit https://www.facebook.com/kim.yantis/ for more about Kim!
Samantha Peltrau is a Junior Intern for Pangea Kali Virga at iPrep Academy. She is a radical writer passionate about sustainable and inclusive fashion as well as racial, economic, social, and political equality and change.