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    The mustard-yellow cardigan you bought this fall will probably be exchanged for a new sweater in the spring. Those kicky red boots you picked for the Christmas season will be banished to the dumpster after their plastic soles come peeling off. You’ve already thrown away this summer’s cheap bikini after the strap failed you at the quarry. Season after season, the only item that seems to stay in a woman’s closet is the classic little black dress. Shouldn’t you invest a little more time (and thought and money) into this wardrobe staple?

    Buying “fast fashion”—on-trend, often inexpensive and flimsy clothing sold by retailers like H&M and Forever 21, to name a few — is a hard habit to break. Louisville company The New Blak wants to slow things down. Their focus is on eco-fashion “targeted towards professional women” says co-founder and seamstress Amanda Dougherty. The New Blak’s little black dresses, skirts and t-shirts are made sustainably and ethically: no child labor, chemical waste or shoddy seams to be found. 

    The New Blak was created by three twenty-something women who were tired of seeing fast fashion hurt the economy, the industry and the environment. Amanda Dougherty, Kristen Truelove and Oksana Kusyo combined their variety of talents and experiences to tackle re-inventing the LBD.

    Truelove, with a degree from Indiana University in Apparel Merchandising and Business, has a special interest in sourcing and sustainability. “Fast fashion is very trend oriented… made very quickly and generally it’s outsourced. Only 2 percent of your clothing is made in the U.S. now. The processes have kind of gotten out of control with fast-fashion; there’s a lot of waste, environmental degradation and harsh dying processes. So, slow fashion is the opposite of that. We make everything. Amanda does our sewing and we help with the cutting and ironing… We really try and do a ‘made to order’ [product] so we don’t have a large inventory or waste.”

    The ladies of the New Blak know that what the average woman usually wants first is to feel comfortable and beautiful in what she wears. Their quality organic fabrics and flattering seams give this team the opportunity to educate women about what they are putting on. While there is talk about adding color to the (currently) black and white line, the team says they will keep their clothing in neutral tones that stay true to timeless looks. And as always, the clothes will be made to order. Length, size, and sleeves can all be adjusted on each dress to best flatter different body types, because even though being eco-friendly is a top priority for The New Blak, they are aware it might not be a priority for their buyers. “We are trying to make eco sexy,” Truelove smiles.

    Recently, The New Blak has made a move to Frankfort Avenue, to a location surrounded by other local businesses like Heine Brothers Coffee, Carmichaels, Blue Dog Bakery, and they even share a store with jewelry designer Art & Soul Beads. The move marks yet another milestone for The New Blak as they prepare to amp up production, open a pop-up shop in Oxmoor Mall and get the wheels turning on their new mobile boutique.

    Dougherty, Truelove and Kusyo want to give interested customers the chance to be part of The New Blak’s growth by providing micro loans through KIVA. “It’s for small business owners to grow or start a business; for us it’s for growth. We are going to amp up production and we started interviewing for another seamstress,” says Dougherty. You can contribute to The New Blak through KIVA here.

    You can visit (and shop!) The New Blak online here, or visit their location at 2640 Frankfort Avenue.

    Images courtesy of The New Blak

    Jess Malloy's picture

    About Jess Malloy

    I am a writer who can't seem to quit. My birth certificate says Los Angeles, but I live where my heart takes me (and currently that’s Louisville, Kentucky). As Founder of Connecting Things Louisville, I am eager to discover the latest and greatest, and to bring local creatives and makers together.

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