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The Ethical Imperative Of High Quality: Q+A with R.EH

R.EH knitwear

At Lissome, we strongly believe in the importance of high quality, both in terms of the design and the making of garments or any other products. For a long time now, humans have treated the natural world as an inferior that could be mastered and exploited. But the dawning climate crisis of our times shows us clearly that it is about time to rethink our place in the world. Far from being separate from nature, we humans are deeply embedded in the living world and must act with the wellbeing of the entire ecosystem in mind. So when we use resources, we should do so with consideration and care. 
It is in this train of thought that designer Eliza Helmerich of Berlin-based clothing label R.EH set up her own brand. The former fashion graduate of the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London deliberately decided to swim against the current stream of trend-based design and planned obsolescence, and to work in a conscious and holistic way. Her garments are beautifully timeless basics, ethically made, and fairly priced for the high quality and longevity that they offer and we are delighted that they are now available via the LISSOME/Store. But before you take a look, let’s dive deeper into Eliza’s world and the photographs of Milena Villalon and Rachel Spink.

Eliza, what motivated you decide to start your own fashion brand, R.EH, and what is it that you offer to your customers? 

My motivation grew after years of qualitative research, exploring what people buy and why, what products can be improved and how – and basically trying to find a simple solution through my designs. I also had a desire for certain basic quality products that I couldn’t find on the market, so I naturally began designing and producing them myself.

Designing sustainable products for R.EH transmutes my frustrations about bad quality products and bad working conditions of commercial and even designer fashion. My design approach, with its focus on ecological and human-centered solutions, isn’t dictated by seasonal deadlines and the pressure to invent ephemeral fashion trends. This is why I prefer R.EH to be defined as a sustainable designer label opposed to a fashion brand.

R.EH offers customers a compromise between low priced commercial products and expensive designer products. All well-engineered and ethically made design editions are permanently available throughout the year and over time will grow into a wider range of different products. Pleased customers are my greatest motivation. 

R.EH knitwear

Why did you deliberately choose to operate outside the concept of seasonal collections and trend-based designs?

I follow this approach because of sustainable and economical reasons and naturally out of a personal interest. Products which are made ethically and feature high durability, exceptional haptic qualities, ideally functional details and an overall good price-performance ratio – are the items that I personally cherish and desire the most and that’s why I enjoy designing them. 

Today, the short-lived usage of most products on the market is pre-programmed and most consumers are used to bad quality and low prices without being aware that their constant consumption is more cost-intensive in the long run and over time more harmful to the environment. So to keep on reinventing and shopping seasonal fashion trends is neither creative nor sustainable. In my mind, it’s an unsustainable pattern in itself that has become unsatisfying to me as a designer. Using less and cherishing more is a sensible way out of the increasingly complicated fashion industry. 

This less profit- and growth-orientated approach is obviously a challenge for every business, but relatively manageable for smaller businesses with sustainability as their core concept. Thus, I decided to create value through my designs – by designing products that consumers don’t want to dispose and replace as quickly and easily. I want my designs to enhance and simplify peoples’ lives and ideally create an emotional attachment to an R.EH product and the consumer.

Follow the link to continue reading at The Lissome magazine >>

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