Most fashion labels help people express their personalities, but Slow Factory wants to remind people of the bigger, universal picture.
The Brooklyn-based, eco-friendly, fair-trade fashion brand prints images from NASA’s satellites and telescopes on silk scarves and donates a portion of the profits from each collection to an environmental or human rights NGO.
“I want people to be able to own a piece of the universe,” says founder Celine Semaan. “In New York, you can’t see any of the stars. But looking at the stars or images of the earth can be very grounding—it reminds us of where we are and where we came from.”
Semaan, for one, came from Beirut, and has had several career changes, starting as an artist, working as a user-experience designer in the tech space, and then focusing on Slow Factory after she says it organically blossomed from a side project into a full-blown company.
Officially founded on August 8, 2012 (the day NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars), the company uses digital NASA images from the Creative Commons and prints them using non-toxic ink on silk scarves at a family-owned factory in Como, Italy.
And each collection has its own charity partnership, with 10 percent of profits donated to an organization. The Petit Atlas collection, for example, launched for spring featuring images from space of natural wonders like Turrialba Volcano, Ellesmere Island, and a phytoplankton bloom, and was in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature. Slow Factory also previously partnered with American Near East Refugee Aid.
“I took the hard route in terms of being eco-friendly and socially-conscious because I’m a millennial and a child of the eighties, and I have this guilt towards the earth and the environment,” Semaan says. “The company ethos also makes sense with the message of the scarves, which helps people to feel more connected to the earth.”
That sense of connection extends further, too, to partnerships other like-minded people and companies. Slow Factory sells a sweatshirt in collaboration with The Little Prince (everyone’s favorite childhood book), for instance, and used tastemaker twin sisters TK Wonder (pictured at top) and Cipriana Quann as models for the Petit Atlas collection.
As for the name, Semaan says it’s a nod to both the slow fashion movement (read: the opposite of fast-fashion mass retailers like H&M and Zara) and to NASA’s satellites slowly orbiting the earth, taking photos of our planet and the universe.
“Through our images, people get to slow down and look at the big picture,” she says. If wearing a scarf can help put things into perspective during a stressful time and do good, we’ll take one in every color. —Jamie McKillop
For more information, visit www.slowfactory.com
(Photos: Slow Factory)