Sustainability and trend awareness don't have to be mutually exclusive is what Kelcie Schofield thought when she founded her label Cie Denim in 2018. The designer only uses reworked vintage or sustainability manufactured denim for her collection. With her denim designs she has already caused a stir in the fashion world. In our interview we talked about the importance of sustainable fashion, what challenges a young label has to face and her inspirations.
Kelcie, can you tell us a little about your background and how you came to create Cie Denim?
I studied Fashion Design and Retail Management at Syracuse University. After graduating school I spent three years working full time as a stylist in retail. I have an entrepreneurial spirit and a passionate love for vintage clothing. Cie was the perfect marriage of the two.
Cie Denim is a sustainable brand. Why is sustainability important to you? And how consistent and transparent is Cie Denim when it comes to sustainability?
Sustainability is a core element of Cie Denim. I try to be as transparent as possible about our manufacturing and sourcing process. Our vintage denims that my small team and I hand source here in the tri-state area are from local companies. For our newly made styles we have just launched we partnered with Naveena Denim and their Horizons fabric. I am very comfortable working with Naveena Denim because of their sustainability and ethical manufacturing efforts. It was important to me that I found a denim mill that was supportive of my desire to work with vintage fabrics as well as new, sustainable denim and Naveena has been a great fit for that. All of our cut-and-sew production takes place in New York City–it’s one of the best parts about being based in NYC. I get to go visit my factories personally and I’m on a first name basis with the men and women who make the clothing for Cie. Lastly, in terms of transparency, I think it is important for the customer to understand what they are paying for. Every pair of Cie Denim is expertly crafted by the best factories that NYC has to offer by people who work fair hours and make fair living wages. The reworked vintage pieces are made one at a time from hand selected vintage–no two pieces are exactly alike.
What challenges does a young, unknown label like Cie Denim face? What experiences have you had there?
It’s definitely hard to make a name for yourself in the saturated world of fashion. That being said, my experiences so far have been wonderful. Everyone I’ve met through this process (editors, other designers, industry insiders) have come through with words of encouragement, advice and connections. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that it's okay to ask for help. The nice thing about this industry is everyone started somewhere and people really want to help you.
Where do you get your inspiration? And who is Cie Denim’s customer?
I get inspiration from everywhere! When I first launched my collection I was inspired by the sustainability efforts of other small brands and the exciting things my peers in the denim industry were doing. Currently, I am inspired by anything from vintage textiles, a memory or something visual in my life. My a/w ’19 collection was inspired by the vintage U.S. military blankets I found that are from the 1920s-1970s while the s/s ‘20 collection was inspired by my childhood years spent in Florida. I don’t have a specific age or gender in mind when I’m designing–I am currently working on expanding our size range to make the brand as inclusive as possible.
Are trends important to you?
I don’t like the word “trend.” In my opinion, trends have a negative connotation because it implies that the concept will not last. A trend will be around as long as it takes, inevitably hitting the fast fashion circuit and eventually becoming overly manufactured and force everyone to move on. I like to design products that are eye-catching, make people smile and force a double-take. I firmly believe in the slow fashion movement–everything a customer purchases from Cie should be a lifetime piece.
Who would you like to address with Cie Denim?
My ideal customer is someone who is fashion-forward and dares to try things different. They want a great fit, quality craftsmanship and care about the way their clothing is produced. Ideal celebrity dressing? Kristen Stewart has killer style and I would also love to dress Sophie Turner.
You live in one of the most exciting cities in the world. What influence does New York have on Cie Denim?
NYC impacts every part of Cie! Our sourcing and production takes place here which is a huge aspect of the business. It’s amazing to have so many people and resources at my fingertips. I’ve met incredible people in this city that are so eager to help Cie succeed. In addition to manufacturing and networking, my design is influenced by living in such a fast-paced and modern environment. The people of NYC are more open to new ideas, which in turn gives me the push to create something new and exciting.