How Resilience Inspired the Most Inclusive Sustainable Sweater on the Market
1. What does the Minneapolis sweater mean to you?
Resilience. The resilience of my parents as they immigrated there from China. The resilience and perseverance in Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd. The resilience of one of the first major metropolitan hubs to launch a substantial sustainability plan after ranking the city second-most impacted by climate change in America. The Minneapolis sweater—like the city—is all about resilience.
2. What about your childhood shaped the classic design with calls to retro?
When we were younger, I tried dressing identical to Maria, my best friend, and my older sister. We went through a phase with alternating patterns. Maria claimed stripes and I claimed polka dots... although secretly, I wanted stripes. The classic nautical stripe is something cherished—universally.
3. How did your partner inspire this sweater as an achievement you could share? What were the hardships you faced together this year that made you want to finish 2020 on a softer note?
Lawrence and I have been through our fair share of heartbreaks this past year—none of them romantic. Last month, my grandfather passed away, and then a few days later Lawrence's father passed. I wasn’t intending on getting Lawrence involved in the Public Habit campaign shoot. But after these past few months, I wanted to look back at this time together with hope and love. It’s our perspective that changes our circumstances. We can survive losses or let them define us—these photos of us together helped me above all, paint a picture of gratitude during this time.
4. Why was it so important to you to make a sweater that was inclusive of everyone-all shapes and sizes and gender identities?
Because I was an outsider as a 4-year old who had to relearn English upon moving back to the States from China, misunderstood in school. Everyone should feel included—belonging is a raw, fundamental need for us as humans.
And getting dressed, the thing we have to do day in and day out: can make us feel otherized when fashion brands don’t produce clothes for our body types. The least consumerism can do is to serve all of us as people equally and inclusively, without a cap on sizes or measurements.
"Belonging is a raw, fundamental need for us as humans."
5. Tell us more about your idea for a sweater that reflected the times we're in, cozy, casual, and a little over-sized to brighten up quarantine life.
Touch is the thing I've missed most this year. So, I was trying to evoke a security blanket we can all wear while looking chic, basically, a hug in sweater-form.
6. What drove you to launch your first collection with Public Habit?
I admire that Public Habit is reshaping the traditional linear model of retail, bending and reshaping it to make made-to-order products and sustainability the norm. Mostly, I love the 'sustainability ratings' Public Habit assigns each factory they partner with for manufacturing.
7. Why is made-in-China such an important topic to you as a second-generation American with Asian roots?
Because as we’ve seen through the pandemic, stigmas run deep and are largely untrue—causing more harm to our culture than anything. You get what you pay no matter where you produce—and it’s a big world. We can't use blanket statements to define limitations around something as nuanced and widespread as quality.
"We can't use blanket statements to define limitations around something as nuanced and widespread as quality."
8. What is your favorite thing about the Minneapolis sweater and how do you want people to feel when they wear it?
I love that the sweater is classic while still making a bold statement. Also, I truly approached this process with as much intention as possible to make it one of the most ethical cashmere sweaters on the market—providing that information in collaboration with Carbon Calories to communicate the product’s highs and lows.
I want people to feel seen by this sweater. I want to give them a collective hug from all humanity—maybe one that melts some of this year’s tensions away.
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The Public Habit Philosophy
At Public Habit, we believe the key to a sustainably fashionable world is a world in which everything is made on demand. We make only what you want; not what we think you will want. Our approach eliminates waste and builds a longer-lasting wardrobe. The result? A happier and healthier population and planet.
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Sophia Li, former Vogue editor, slow-fashion activist, journalist, and sustainable online influencer shares the story behind her new sustainable Minneapolis sweater powered by Public Habit.Read more