Natalia Allen’s Robots Make the Perfect Little Black Dress

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How would you like to get your hands on a seamless and perfectly proportioned LBD made with sustainability in mind? Does that sound too good to be true? We thought so until we had a chat with up and coming designer Natalia Allen  to discuss how she is blazing an eco-friendly trail in the fashion industry with her minimalist approach to design. She is using robot technology to make the perfect little black dress – also in white, blue red and taupe – while leaving a very small footprint on the planet.

Natalia Allen Black Olympiad

Black Olympiad

Check out our conversation below that was just as much about her brand’s impact on the planet and people as what she is doing to revolutionize the approach to creating a great product in the fashion industry.

Prior to launching Natalia Allen, you created unique products for big names on fashion like Donna Karan and Calvin Klein. How did that experience prepare you to start your own brand? And how is your life different running your own company vs. consulting for others?

Looking back Natalia says she is grateful for the opportunity to see behind the scenes how a brand concepts and commercializes a product. Where most designers are very removed from the process from start to finish, Natalia’s early experience gave her a chance to deal with everything from choosing fabrics and textiles to supply chain issues for innovative products. It was in this process she was exposed to the weaknesses in the industry and was compelled to carve out her own niche.

So compelled in fact that she decided to put her name behind the brand and devoted every ounce of her energy to it.

What has been your greatest challenge in launching your brand?

As with most new business ventures, Natalia does the dance of finding balance as the founder of her business and directing all creative design for the brand. 

What came first? The desire to find a sustainable practice or the inspiration to start your own fashion line?

Before starting her business, Natalia was a consultant for major fashion brands to help make their manufacturing processes more sustainable. She saw some “atrocious practices” in mills and factories that created a lot of unnecessary waste and used unnecessary manpower. It was during this time she started to ask herself how she could do better.

Natalia did better by finding a way to marry the beauty in good design with her desire to solve a very big problem in fashion.

Certainly there are other brands committed to environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. But it still seems to be very much in the infant phase. Do you see more fashion brands moving this way long term and it becoming a regular practice?

“Yes, because wastefulness is not sustainable. There has to a breaking point where brands realize they need to address the exploitation of people and waste of our natural resources in the industry. These resources are finite so we need to determine how we continue to create great design in a way that is good for everyone.”

The brands in this category tend to be for the less budget conscious consumer. How do we make sustainable fashion items more affordable for the every day or fast fashion consumer?

Natalia sees (or at least hopes to!) an incoming cultural shift that is moving from fast fashion (purchasing cheap trendy items, discard, then buy again) to buying brands that have some staying power.

According to her, “Everything has a cost. Whether it’s the dollars in the consumer’s purse or in the life of the laborer, someone is paying.”

A Natalia Allen dress runs just under $400. If it lasts you 100 times longer than a $20 dress, does that make sense for you?

Natalia Allen Red Essentialist

Red Essentialist

Tell us about the robots…

Initially Natalia determines the measurements and dimensions of the dress. These are given to a technically skilled (and well paid) worker who designs the dresses digitally for the robot to create. The robotic machine is kind of like a 3D printer that uses natural fibers to simultaneously stitch the garment row by row. Once the stitching process is complete, a seamless Natalia Allen dress is made.

The process uses significantly less waste and no materials are left on the cutting room floor. Only the material that is needed is actually used.

Her target audience and their response this innovative approach?

Natalia has been fortunate to quickly engender a loyal and supportive clientele – mothers, doctors, lawyers, business executives. Her core customer is a professional woman in her 30s and 40s who is less impacted by trends and more interested in building a reliable wardrobe. That said she is not limited to this segment as there are many 20 somethings and women 60+ who also love the product.

For Natalia, one of the coolest parts of owning her brand is the interaction she has with the women who buy her dresses.

You talk about how your dresses are easy to care for. Tell me more about the fabric. What does it take for me to keep my perfect LBD?

These dresses wear well – isn’t that what we ultimately want our clothes to do and yet it’s so hard to find that sometimes… They are seamless, lightweight and easy to clean and throw in a suitcase. Translation: they don’t wrinkle!

Natalia Allen Blush Dress

Blush Cruiser

“If it is organic, but shrinks after one washing, is that really what you hoped to achieve in your purchase?”

What does Natalia Allen look like in 12-18 months?

The plan is to expand from solely making dresses to separates. In being true to her minimalist mission she will focus on the basic essential separates that are versatile.

What inspires Natalia to keep moving forward every day?

Quite simply, it is keeping her eye on the vision. The vision to address the weaknesses in the fashion industry and create a product that delights her clientele. She strives to continue to design for women who want to look cool without complication.

There are a number of minimalist brands. There are also hundreds of eco-friendly or sustainable brands. However, few combine both the cause and the aesthetic with women in mind. That is what inspires this designer to get out of bed every day.

And we love her for it.

Don’t miss what Natalia had to say about her personal style in our 20 Questions Game. 

 

Editor in Chief, Alliteration Abuser and California Girl currently living in a sleepy state of euphoria as a new Mom.

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