For Hassan Pierre, fashion has always been married to environmental and social good. After studying at Parsons School of Design in New York City, the Miami Beach native of Haitian descent launched a sustainable fashion line that would lead him to a fortuitous meeting. With his collection picked up by iconic West Hollywood retailer Fred Segal and attention from major fashion magazines like Vogue, he also caught the eye of Amanda Hearst, philanthropist and heiress to the Hearst Corporation, when she was writing for the company’s Marie Claire.
Taken by his “flattering… contemporary and fun” designs suitable for a “working girl in NYC,” Hearst was also drawn to Pierre’s sustainability practices using organic silk, bamboo and cotton textiles and his collaboration with a Sudanese refugee model and her organization to help women from that region. A friendship and professional relationship soon blossomed and the pair founded Maison de Mode, a luxury ethical fashion retail platform, in 2015. “We shared a vision for what the industry should look like,” says Pierre. “There was a major gap between the marketplace and retailers when it came to sustainable collections.”
HOUSE OF CHANGE
Although Pierre stopped producing his collection in 2016, he was on the vanguard of today’s sustainable fashion movement, which includes labels like Stella McCarthy, EDUN, lemlem by liya kebede and Organic by John Patrick. Through Maison de Mode’s website and their occasional brick and mortar pop-up shops, Pierre and Hearst bring sustainable, ethical designers to consumers on one platform. In 2018, they brought on online luxury fashion retail heavyweight, Carmen Busquets, co-founder of Net-a-Porter and an investor at Moda Operandi and Farfetch, as partner further cementing Maison de Mode’s status as a major force in the online retail space.
With more than 70 brands, Maison de Mode helps consumers make informed decisions about their purchases with icons on the site indicating whether a product is cruelty free, made with recycled or organic materials, created under fair wages and safe working conditions and other ethical standards. “People are realizing that sustainable fashion can also be the most luxurious and the most interesting,” says Pierre who also sits on the board of Well Beings, a charity co-founded by Hearst aimed towards animal welfare and environmental protection.
He’s encouraged by Miami’s emergence in the sustainable fashion space as more companies—from local brands like Eberjey, Simonett and Miansai to major international designers like Naeem Khan—base their headquarters and production here. “Miami is a draw for those in the industry looking to create products in the United States,” Pierre says. They’re uniquely positioned to take advantage of a growing skilled labor force fostered by newer programs like the Miami Fashion Institute at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus and the Istituto Marangoni in the Design District, alongside longer standing schools like the International University of Art & Design.
When it comes to navigating the world of ethical fashion, Pierre has some advice for consumers. “You have an impact on the world around you. Ask questions. What are your personal beliefs around the environment, animals and social causes. Are the brands you shop in line with your values?”
Follow Maison De Mode on Instagram at @maisondemode.