INTERVIEW with CORA HILTS & NATASHA TUCKER
Founders of rêve en vert
Written by Walter Grio
Today, there’s a growing trend in how people shop for food. More and more people are concerned about what they eat and how things should be organic and cage-free. Many grocery stores have organic sections and even restaurants are marketing themselves the same with the “farm to table” concept. And it’s been very successful. Even in the auto industry, there are more hybrid models available than ever before. All major car manufacturer builds a hybrid model on top of their regular lines. What used to be a specialty purchase has now become a part of the consumer’s conscience.
But what about clothes? What will it take to get more consumers to think about how their clothes are made? Will there come a day when you walk in a Saks Fifth Avenue or Bloomingdale’s or Neiman Marcus and find an “organic” section? How about brands like Ralph Lauren or Gucci?
In my past interview with Beth Doane, she talked about creating fashion ethically and sustainably. There are also a group of other designers and shops who are trying to get more people to think about how their clothes are made. In this interview, we talked to rêve en vert founders Natasha Tucker and Cora Hilts about what they’re doing to continue this conversation.
With their combined skills and experience of working with luxury brands like Stella McCartney and Christian Louboutin as well as their passion and drive for sustainable change, they are definitely capable of igniting this trend.
And maybe someday, “from runway to closet” will be something that is considered by everyone.
How did you come up with the name, rêve en vert?
Cora came up with rêve en vert. She wanted something that reflected the ethos of the company without being too much of a cliche. Having spent five years in Paris studying it was also an ode to that time in her life. We also wanted a name that encapsulated a lifestyle because in the future we would like to expand the brand and spread out in other directions. We wanted the name of our company to be reflective of a way of thinking and viewing every aspect of how we live — and not to have it be limited to just fashion. We felt that the French for “dream in green” somehow married all of the strands of thought together.
What are your goals for the company?
Our goals ultimately are to become the NET-A-PORTER of sustainable fashion and we also want rêve en vert to be perceived as belonging to mainstream fashion and to be a way of bridging what we feel is a divide right now between high fashion and ethical fashion. We would both love to have a boutique and concept store as well. We love the Colette model and would also love to have a rêve en vert lifestyle brand. Colette is an incredibly well branded lifestyle store selling a varied and wide range of products, all of which they know their customer would covet. They have worked to brand and foster a whole lifestyle choice, as well as making the store itself an incredibly cool and conceptual place where you could conceivably spend the entire day. We want to achieve the same thing, with the ideal rêve en vert customer in mind.
We would love to branch into home furnishings and cosmetics eventually, as well as designing our own rêve en vert line of clothing. We also want to make our customers more aware of what is happening in the fashion industry and how we can move towards a better model and sense of business practice within it. I think that if we were able to make people conscious of the clothes they buy and how they are made, and as a result affect change in their buying habits for more ethically and sustainably made products, we would consider ourselves very successful.
What has been the biggest challenge? What do you think needs to happen to get people to make that “switch” in their head similar to how people are now more conscious about what they eat or even which cars they drive?
We believe that what will ultimately motivate people to change their consumption and acceptance when it comes to fast fashion is greater transparency within the industry. There are already some amazing industry leaders such as Bruno Pieters and his Honest By label that now prove this kind of transparency is possible and is happening. There needs to be an acknowledgement first from within fashion, and then people will begin to understand more about how their clothes are made. There is a gap right now in access to information and once that is bridged we believe people will begin to interrogate their choices more. It is an awful thing to say, but there have also been some horrible world events such as the Rana Plaza incident a few months ago, which will only continue to be more frequent. With more and more cases like this coming to the fore it will be much harder to ignore the conditions under which cheap clothes are made.
What are some of the things you’ve learned so far?
It has been a huge learning curve being on this journey so far! The business side of things has all been new. Running an e-commerce website, we have had to learn a whole new set of skills in managing this, including getting our heads around analytics and SEO. But I think one of the most interesting things we have learned in building our brand identity has been navigating the line between ethical and mainstream fashion. Ethical fashion still exists in a separate sphere and I think that we are learning everyday about how to change this with our own brand. Meeting new designers and learning about buying and retail has also been something new for us.
What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out in the fashion industry?
One of the best pieces of advice we could give people starting out would be to really hone social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest. We are still learning but both have been highly instrumental in driving sales so it really can be very useful, and directly beneficial for small start-ups without a marketing budget. The other piece of advice would be to find a mentor or someone that you can turn to for advice. It took us a while to find ours but having someone with more experience and useful knowledge that is highly relevant for you cannot be underestimated. People also generally really want to help if they can and it’s important in order not to feel isolated and under too much pressure as a result.
What inspires you to do what you do and what inspires you to keep doing it?
We are really motivated by news stories and people working in similar fields to us as well. There is a lot of debate about fracking at the moment and hearing about things like this reminds us that we have to start to change the way we view the world and how we make and consume things. Some of the people who inspire rêve en vert are Amber Valetta, Marci Zaroff, Miranda Kerr, and Livia Firth.
Amber Valetta is in the process of launching a similar site for a younger audience and we have spoken with her previously about her ambitions for this. She also shares in the vision of what we are doing and we are keen to build a good and open dialogue between ourselves in order to make this change in the industry happen.
Marci Zaroff is the “Godmother” of sustainable fashion so to speak. Marci has worked in the industry for years and has really been involved from the earliest stages. We were put in touch with her as she is currently working on a documentary hoping to illuminate some of the less savoury aspects of the fashion industry and has provided us with great insight, as well as being a supporter and proponent of rêve from the beginning.
Miranda Kerr and Livia Firth are two other household names that are really working on changing both the stigma of sustainable fashion, as well as the gap in people’s knowledge about this kind of fashion. It is inspiring to see powerful and influential women take a stance on this and propagate it as a cause as well. It is reaffirming to know that there are people out there who have had a touchstone with fashion and who also see the potential for positive change within the industry.
For more information, please visit and shop online at revenvert.com.