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“I do not see enough new ideas and new energies emerging. When I scroll through a feed, I see everything looking the same with the same models, concepts and clothing”. With these words starts our interview with sustainable fashion designer Tarpley Brooks Jones. He has designed clothes for over eight years. His background in the fashion industry goes back to 2014, when he headed the brand Samsara Collection, based in Los Angeles, until 2018. There, he had the opportunity to create experimental streetwear garments, showcasing them at fashion weeks in LA, Berlin, and Mexico City.
In 2018, the time came for his revolutionary dream, named after his name. Developing luxury fashion with innovative materials at the highest level is at the core of the business. His ambition is to use fashion "as a medium to bring peace and love into the world through creativity and in doing so, hopefully, create the next great American Luxury Fashion House." Growing up with Ralph Lauren as a role model, his minimal though elegant wardrobe takes inspiration from designers like Helmut Lang and Yohji Yamamoto. While from a sustainability point of view, brands such as Patagonia and Pangaia have stimulated him to develop high-tech and eco-friendly fabrics.
Something that always appealed to Tarpley is to work towards a goal. His fashion vision is more like a path or a journey, while building new systems along the way. Every garment signed TARPLEY is produced in NYC, as it holds the best pattern makers “probably in America and arguably the world” - he says. They all have a different and unique background, working with brands behind the scenes and keeping their passion for craft alive. At the core of all of them is a family-run operation which means a lot to the designer.
“My mission is to create the world’s most compelling fashion by accelerating our world’s transition to sustainable energy” – he continues. Through a Buddhist lens, the same energy he talks about is what powers the brand - while creating a fashion that can attract everyone. More specifically, it means that “a farmer in Tennessee, a fashion editor in Paris, and a coder in Singapore can all wear the same jacket unironically because they see the humanity in the brand’s energy".
The vision of the brand focuses on drawing the same creative energy to bring peace and love to everyone and the environment; which sounds like something more idealistic instead. In the founder’s opinion, this affection will manifest itself in ways that the fashion industry has never expressed before. “Our starting point and ending point is the spirituality of humanity regardless of religion. We can all breathe together”.
In the final picture of Tarpley, fabrics represent the new technology, holding sort of powerful keys to accessing the entire ecosystem of sustainability in the fashion industry. After three years of testing all kinds of sustainable fabrics, trying to understand which one works the best, Tarpley desires to manufacture a fabric with a solid story to tell and a trusting team of workers behind it. Who knows if, in the designer’s upcoming textile technologies challenges, we might see a combination of regenerative agriculture producing seed to sow and “lab” oriented technological materials that would solve all of our issues.
The new 000 collection refers to the space of nothingness out of which an idea, thought, or universe is born, that would be immaterial or subconscious. It stems from the Buddhist nature journey of compassion and full consciousness, which the designer has manifested over the past 11 years since his mother's death. “It started as a practice to help heal myself, and now I use the energy to help/create for others. It is a work in progress like everything in life, but I find it as one of the only truths I have come to know” – he states.
The collection has not been scheduled; on the contrary, it was born organically, unleashing ideas and designs for which Tarpley worked for a long time. Using a range of innovative materials like apple leather, abaca leaf, and bio nylons has been challenging for the designer, who kept one principle in mind: his garments will last for 20 years in one wardrobe. “I want you to live with and in your garment, and that it tells a story about your life”.
Keeping to create breathtaking garments and stories, and working with a stimulating creative community are the upcoming prospects of the brand. “There is a general roadmap, but when starting from 0 like we just did” - Tarpley ends - “it is all about the people and connections”.