Last night at the Whitney Museum, Nicole Miller took the stage at the fourth annual Pratt Design Symposium. At the talk, Miller and co-panelists Anthony Barzilay Freund of 1stdibs, Wendy Liebmann of WSL Strategic Retail, and interior designer Sandra Nunnerley, discussed how their businesses were designing for the “new normal.” In Miller’s case, this meant shining a light on her sustainability efforts — and calling out other fashion brands for green-washing.
“Sustainability is a buzzword for everybody,” she explained. “I think companies are green-washing the whole thing and they say, ‘Oh, it’s sustainable.’ But it’s not really. We make sure everything we do is substantiated. At this point everybody really has to be authentic with what they do and what they’re saying because your customers have to believe you and trust you for what you do.”
Miller’s business has increasingly been geared towards sustainability. Plastic cups are banned from her offices, and over the summer she led a beach cleanup in the Hamptons. This vision extends to her brands offerings as well. From using recycled denim, to designing reusable water bottles, she has been giving her customers options. That said, she recognizes that there is still more we could all be doing. In particular, she hopes to see a more sustainable approach to e-commerce.
“It’s the packaging and sending stuff and sending it back. People are always buying more, trying things on and sending them back,” she said during a Q&A period. “Cardboard boxes, packaging, and plastic. The big thing with e-commerce — that’s the problem. I [also] think people should be more discretionary with their purchases. Buy things you’re going to keep.”