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Vanessa Barboni Hallik founded the responsible fashion label Another Tomorrow in 2018 to operate by way of three ethical pillars—human, environmental, and animal welfare. The first people hired at the company were sustainability experts who helped steer the brand with a blend of personal and professional ethics. For starters, they peeled back the layers of how natural materials were sourced and how synthetic ones were made. By traveling to mills and farms in places like Tasmania and Texas, the brand sharpened its understanding of fabrics and their impacts. Due to unethical practices, it first decided to rule out materials like silk and virgin cashmere. And to transparently document the material’s making from farm to finish, Another Tomorrow partnered with the QR app EVRYTHNG to feature its unique DNA, accessible on its garment label.
Whitewall spoke with the designer to learn more about why she started Another Tomorrow, and how the label tells tales of women and the land they occupy.
WHITEWALL: Can you tell us about the start of Another Tomorrow—a jump you made in 2018 after taking a sabbatical from your career in emerging markets finance?
VANESSA BARBONI HALLIK: I grew up in a really artistic, academic household, and I think a lot of seeds were sown at a young age. My mom made our own clothes, which used to mortify me as a child, but I grew up in this realm of ideas and creativity. Finance was such an aberration of that, and it was interesting that clothing became an avenue of personal expression for me within that environment.
At the end of 2017, I had a huge amount of personal clarity. I really wanted the next big phase of my career—like the next 20 years—to be focused on a purpose. We work so hard, and we put our energy into our work in such an enormous way, so it was important to me that I channeled that for something I believed in strongly.
I was shocked how incredibly impactful the apparel industry is on so many levels. We talk about waste, safe working conditions, and living wages, but the environmental impacts and impacts on animal welfare are just as enormous. It stopped me in my tracks and became a set of information I felt like I couldn’t unknow.
WW: How does that translate to Another Tomorrow?
VBH: I have an enormous appreciation for quality, tailoring, and for pieces that really last. Clothing made with an exquisite attention to detail and that walk that line between structure and femininity. That’s something that our creative director, Jane Chung, appreciates as well, so that’s been grounding for the tailoring pieces—even the perfect T-shirt; things that build the foundations of your wardrobe without being basics. And then having little refreshes a few times a year that keep the creativity flowing with new silhouettes, colors, materials. Our customer’s personal style doesn’t change between June and January. She is who she is. It’s a joy for me to provide foundational pieces that she can make her own.
WW: Another Tomorrow is based on a value system of three pillars— human, environmental, and animal welfare. How were these pillars established?
VBH: Sustainability has to intersect with your personal values. That’s the challenge—sustainability and ethics are not the same thing. Something can be sustainable from a perpetuity perspective, but you might not agree with it personally.
I felt very strongly that nothing that required killing or harming the animal was something that we wanted to use. Then, if we’re willing to use other materials, what are the qualifications of using them?
Then, how do we want to source those raw materials? The example of our wool supply chain became the cornerstone of our philosophy of sourcing as much as possible down to a farm, because sustainability is incredibly local. That’s how we try to build our supply chain—from sustainable raw materials to sustainable fabric, to ethical manufacturing, and with a logistics profile that’s completely offset from a carbon offsetting perspective.
The layers are a filter on the raw materials, what we do and don’t use; looking at custom fabrics and work only with mills that are both environmentally sound and meet our quality standards; and then only work with manufacturers that are committed to paying living wages and offer safe working conditions.
WW: Has the pandemic changed the way you view your business?
VBH: One silver lining is that it has given businesses in the fashion industry the freedom to do what’s right for their businesses as opposed to moving forward with a relentless calendar. As a company already born digital and seasonless, we’ve been lucky to be in a nimble position. That’s not to say it’s been easy, but solving business challenges with a laser focus on the needs of our customer and of the planet has led us to interesting innovations that we might not have adopted without the need to get creative.