Oak + Acorn
Photo: Courtesy of @official_oakandacorn
It’s no secret that the fashion industry maintains a multitude of sins, from pumping immense amounts of pollution into the environment to enforcing inhumane, unfair labor practices. The fact that we import most of our apparel is a huge contributor to these problems — but Oak & Acorn wants to help reduce fashion’s harmful impact.
The sustainable denim-based brand is the first of its kind in Harlem, and features meaningful designs made from sustainable materials. Through their ethically made, locally sourced wares, they hope to gradually shift people’s consumption habits and make them more mindful of how clothing is historically made.
“Creating a denim brand with integrity has always felt important to me,” explained its founder Miko Underwood, who had years of prior experience in fashion before making her own brand. “As a design director, my responsibility is to create brands that people believe in, where the DNA is identifiable through the product.”
Throughout her career, Underwood has had to travel abroad to work directly with garment producers. But a particular trip in 2007 to Pakistan led her to discover that polluting practices that were entrenched in denim production, and she became compelled to create a brand of her own. Eager to develop something “grounded in purpose not capitalism” she went on to make her mindful business a reality.
Oak & Acorn uses raw or dry denim that is untreated with chemicals, which usually create its distressed look. It is biodegradable, compostable and woven in a circular system, reusing both energy and waste. In addition to its über sustainable makeup, the brand’s signature design acknowledges early denim manufacturing, which historically involved the enslavement and exploitation of Indigenous and African People in America. The brand’s Rebelle Coverall recognizes their legacy and is designed for work, movement and statement-making.
A portion of the coveralls’ sales benefits the national nonprofit WE GOT US NOW, which offers aid and empowerment to children and young adults affected by parental incarceration. A child of an incarcerated parent herself, Underwood has a personal connection to the group, whose initiatives aim to serve the millions of individuals in the country who have been impacted at one point in their life.
“Later this year Oak + Acorn and We got Us Now will be collaborating on a photo campaign featuring children and young adults if incarcerated parents,” she explained.
More about Oak + Acorn can be found on their website.