Three years ago, Tracy Reese took the road less traveled in fashion, trading traditional ambitions of big-dollar dreams to birth a sustainable line lifting up her native Michigan. Now, Naturalizer is linking up with the CFDA board member’s conscious brand Hope For Flowers to infuse a spring women’s footwear line with her “joyful design flair” and “slow-fashion savvy.”
Slated to arrive in March, the collaboration’s nine styles span feminine kitten heels and espadrilles to comfort-focused flats and “sport bottom” silhouettes, all imbued with Reese’s designed-in-Detroit aesthetic. Recycled molded plastic, recycled linings and sustainable yarns feature throughout the collection.
After consumers largely took a break from spending on fashion for the past nearly 18 months, Reese believes shoppers might be ready to inject some optimism into their personal collections. “It’s time for happy shoes; people should look at the shoes and smile,” she said of the scarlet, sapphire and fuchsia-rich collaboration rife with florals and hand-painted stripes.
The Michelle Obama-approved designer, who launched her original eponymous imprint back in 1998, described Hope For Flowers as the solution to creating not just a run-of-the-mill clothing brand but a “social enterprise,” too. Collaborating with the Caleres-owned footwear brand, on its “own path towards increasing sustainable offerings,” in the founder’s words, is critical to driving change.
“This is an environment I want to be part of,” Reese said.
Continuing on the social responsibility theme, the collaborators will funnel any profits from the capsule to Nest, the New York nonprofit championing the artisan economy. The organization’s Makers United Program, they said, will direct any proceeds toward its mission of connecting “micro maker businesses” with no-cost resources and opportunities to bring their wares to market, with an eye to diversifying local economies.
“For 15 years, Nest has bridged the gap between the craftspeople and responsible brands to build a more human industry,” Reese said of the nonprofit, whose steering committee includes Patagonia, Amazon, Target, PVH, Madewell and Eileen Fisher. “Our capsule collection—designed in Detroit—is a great opportunity to support Nest’s expanding work within the US to provide resources and new market linkages to the diverse makers who are key contributors to local creative economies.”
The capsule and its give-back ethos dovetail with both brands “ core values of sustainability and equality,” said Angelique Joseph, vice president of global design for Naturalizer, which uses responsibly sourced Leather Working Group animal skins, shoe boxes crafted from 80 percent recycled paper, and soy inks.
“Tracy’s message, through real action, has inspired us and so many others,” Joseph continued. “With diverse perspectives, creativity, and talent, we believe that we can create a more sustainable future together.”
The Detroit-born designer has been busy forging new partnerships for Hope for Flowers, buoyed perhaps by consumers’ newly rekindled interest in sustainability. The line recently linked up with Pottery Barn’s kids’ and teen brands for a responsibly sourced home goods line of color bedding and rugs.
“I believe that home and fashion are intrinsically intertwined, and with the Hope for Flowers by Tracy Reese x Pottery Barn Kids and Pottery Barn Teen collections, I’m excited to help transform the home into a vibrant sanctuary that is as optimistic and inspiring as a favorite dress,” Reese said at the time. “True to my line, these collections not only play with color and texture, but also have an emphasis on sustainability, which is an essential value of both the brands and mine.”
In that same vein, the designer’s new footwear collaboration centers on “celebration and self-expression.”
“It’s about looking good while doing good,” said Reese, a self-described “advocate for responsible design” driven by “more thoughtful choices, buying things we love to wear, treasured items that we would never think of parting with.”
Hope For Flowers x Naturalizer will be available in March on Naturalizer.com and at curated retail partners.