The year 2019 saw Eden Power Corp launch with utopian green ideals and a collection called Permaculture. Last year, their focus was fungi. The star of the Mycelium collection was the Amadou hat, inspired by legendary mycologist Paul Stamets and handmade by a Transylvanian artisan, each piece formed from a single mushroom.
How did Eden Power Corp come about? What were you doing before? What gave you the idea and incentive to start something along these lines?
Florence and I have been together for the past 10 years, we are life partners and work partners. I used to run a brand called Larose Paris and Florence was studying fashion design. Since I’ve known her, she’s always been doing various upcycling projects.
Everything that’s eco-conscious is part of her work. I had tried to incorporate some of these ideas into my previous brand but it was quite complicated to make it happen. When we stumbled upon 100 per cent recycled cotton material, it gave us the opportunity to start something new [with sustainable objectives]. The goal is to do something that promotes alternatives using silhouettes that people are familiar with.
I see the brand as an educational or awareness tool that promotes sustainability.
Awareness is a good way to put it because we don’t have big manifestos that explain everything. One of the goals is to change the perspective on what’s relevant and what’s not. Changing what’s on your radar and what’s perceived as ‘cool’ or ‘desirable’.
Within the space that the brand sits, it’s quite rare to be as focused on sustainability as you are.
That’s the main idea behind the brand and why we started. It’s very small, it’s just me and Florence. No team, no big budget. It’s about an alternative lifestyle and the brand itself is a tool for us to dig deeper into everything we care about.
Do you feel as though you’re progressing with each collection and improving the way you do things?
The more we learn, the more we want to change stuff. The brand is a way for us to live more in tune with our values. There’s a lot to unlearn and learn. It’s crazy, we choose and focus on a theme for one season, which becomes part of the DNA and our lifestyle. As an example, we’re really into natural wine, which is why we just made the mycelium wine coolers. It’s partly about mycelium and about making wine with no intervention.
Tell me about the brand name.
You have Eden, which has a clear meaning, then you have power corp, which is chosen mostly because it sounds good. The idea of the brand is not having these competing ideas but having them work together. When we first started, we envisioned a near-future where the hippie won, yet we still have these big corporations but they’re run with a different mindset. Eden Power Corp is a fictional company that works to a specific theme every season, and we’re designing the dress code for that department of this big fictional company. Those are the layers.
That makes sense because the style of your clothing is very utilitarian, very uniform. You use as many sustainable methods as you can, right down to product transportation. Are there aspects that are particularly hard to achieve sustainably?
I’d say everything is quite hard. So few companies are able to make our 100 per cent recycled t-shirts, which is one of the problems. Then, for example, one season we used recycled polyester until we realised there’s a big problem with micro-waste so we got rid of all of that. And if you want to limit your micro-waste, there’s the plastic bag problem. In this industry, every piece needs to be individually sealed in a poly bag to send to stores. So we reached out to all retailers and asked them to accept only one bag for the whole order. It’s a big one, but it’s still way less plastic.
Each step is a very long process. It’s really about the journey, not about the end because there is no end. Each season we try to do our best and change — not be static. We need such a large amount of capital to do everything we have in mind but we don’t, so it takes time.
Is it feasible for other fashion brands to operate sustainably? What do you think is holding them back? Is it because it’s too hard or they don’t make enough money?
I would say the main thing is mindset. It’s a real pain to question everything all the time; your own actions, the reason you are doing this or that, or is it okay to do something that’s not perfect now, and then change it later? I think most brands are spending their time answering other questions instead.
With the pandemic, do you think sustainability might become secondary to economic survival for a lot of people?
It’s hard to guess, but everything is so interrelated. If you go back into the story of all of this, it started because of deforestation and agricultural problems that lead to a big chain of events over many, many years. I would say it’s more relevant now than ever.
What’s your relationship with Eden Reforestation Projects?
It’s a totally different company, we have no link with them but it just happens that we have the same name. We’re working with them to plant trees. The goal is not to offset our carbon, it’s just a good thing to plant trees. They plant trees in areas of extreme poverty and give people the idea to reforest the spaces around them, rebuild the soil, nature and wildlife. Every time we sell something online or through our pop-ups, we plant 20 trees. If we sell something wholesale, it’s five trees.
When I saw your mycelium hat, I was immediately fascinated. How are they created?
That’s amazing, that’s exactly the goal. Mostly, with these small projects, there’s no real commercial opportunity, but the point is to start thinking differently. We don’t want it to be crazy expensive but there’s only going to be a certain amount of people who can afford it. The hat isn’t available wholesale, we’ll do pre-order and made-to-measure.
We still want to do crazy experimentations, but hopefully in the future we want to get prices down, not up. We’re proud of what we do. At the end of the day, if you go home and you’re not really proud of what you do, you start asking questions.
“Eden Power Corp is a fictional company that works to a specific theme every season, and we’re designing the dress code for that department of this big fictional company. Those are the layers.”