Slowing Down the Fashion Chain with Ap0cene

Introducing the next gen of fashion. Ap0cene, the innovative platform and marketplace that bridges the gap between environmental concern, human connection, and creativity, is home to over 350 designers and artists forging their own visions by breaking free from the status-quo (all while pleasing mother gaia).

This Earth Day we were joined by Ap0cene CEO & co-founder, Ariel Arakas, who sat down with designers Lorena Pipenco (PIPENCO), Israel Yanir (Hubane), Amber Kollar (Spicie), and Sho Konishi (Sho Konishi), to discuss sustainability in design, fashion icks, and what it means to be an independent designer in the era of fast fashion. Read on for our conversation with Ariel recapping the panel, what it truly means to be sustainable, and more on Ap0cene.

First things first, what did you think of the panel! Did you have any favorite moments or answers?

I had the best time! It was so fun to be in a room full of so many inspiring people, and getting to have those very rare in-person connections with our designers and community in such a beautiful venue was amazing. It was pretty majestic to have everyone framed by gorgeous views on both sides at sunset,  the perfect forum for this discussion. I was a really big fan of Sho’s bluntly honest answers, he was cracking me up the whole time. 

What can you tell us about the start of Ap0cene, and when you and your co-founders decided you wanted to hone in on the intersection between environmentalism, fashion, and design? 

I think we were always drawn to the idea of emerging, smaller batch design as a way to participate in the artistic forum of fashion without the guilty hangover from feeling like you’re contributing to this overwhelming destruction. We saw a lot of emerging designers more willing to experiment with newer materials like mushroom leather, and also old materials, like up-cycling the kinds of t-shirts that even thrift stores throw away. I think one thing that we want to communicate is that we’re not fundamentalist about it and we don’t want to shame people. Rather than scolding about the ills of fast fashion, we want to excite people to purchase more sustainable options. Often, the same experimentation that leads to more sustainable materials or processes. also leads to more innovative designs.

We know Ap0cene is big on bringing tech into the conversation of sustainability in fashion - what can you tell us about the role technology plays in your approach?

Yes! We’re very optimistic about advancing technology helping us solve some of fashion’s biggest problems, especially when it comes to sustainability. We’ve built several protocols internally that are designed to help with traceability and transparency using NFC chips and decentralized data storage. This is something we’ve only launched in small collections such as those on display for events, but we hope to incorporate it into all the pieces on our platform in the future. We’ve also dabbled in AI tools for finding a customer’s proper size which cuts down on returns and the fossil fuel toll associated with them. We hope that in the next few years many of our tech initiatives will be launched across our whole platform and we can start to see them having a positive impact.

Ap0cene is growing consistently, and quickly - both in following and in brands carried. Can you share the secret behind fostering such an engaged and passionate community, and your process for hand-selecting featured designers?

I think the secrets to fostering an engaged community are first, choosing something you’re sincerely passionate about that you never get tired of discussing. Secondly, I think listening to all sides of the community; which in our case means designers, customers, stylists, and celebrities. It sounds simple enough but it is easy to become overwhelmed with the day-to-day operations and forget to keep listening. Listening keeps you actively engaged and able to respond to changing needs and see what people are excited about. When it comes to selecting designers, us three founders (me, Elissa Rumford, and Sam Walker) have strong alignment on taste, values, and that je ne sais quois that excites us. It took us a while to put it concretely into words, but to summarize it succinctly as possible, we’re looking for designers pushing boundaries of what fashion means or the very requirements of what traditionally defines a garment - for example, what makes pants “pants”. We also prioritize designers with more sustainable design practices, however they choose to approach it. And the final question we consider is just, can we see ourselves or our customers feeling wholly delighted to wear it?

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects or initiatives that Ap0cene is excited about in the realm of sustainability and creativity?

We’ve really been working hard to expand our e-commerce services and bring the conveniences customers are used to from mass-produced brands (faster shipping, better return policies, seamless websites) to the experience of shopping emerging brands. We’ll be launching a new website this summer with store policies geared towards this goal. We may also be having another IRL event coming up, so keep an eye on our socials!

Rapid Fire Q's...

We just had to get your take on this panel question; Smash, Marry, Kill: Crocs, Ballet Flats, Uggs?

Ok this is going to be a controversial answer, but there’s literally no non-controversial answer to this question by design. I’d have to say smash ballet flats, marry crocs, and kill uggs - it would be a merciful kill. 

Top 3 Ap0cene brands/designers?

Nice try but I’m not falling for that one! Choosing your favorite Ap0cene designer is like choosing your favorite child in that it’s whichever one I’m talking to in that moment. I can say, however, that there are some drops I’m really excited about for summer - Delfos, a Chantelle Lucyl swim restock, and if you don’t pick up a Chimera Lab bag before they sell out I won’t be there to dry your tears.

Biggest fashion ick?

Once I said bellbottoms and I ate those words hard, but one choice I think I can stand by is those v-necks tops designed for older women that have built in faux modesty camis. Don’t let society pressure you to attach a weird lace-trimmed triangle to your chest!

Describe your personal style in 3 words.

Cunty, subversive, playful.

If you were a cartoon character/avatar, what would your ‘forever’ outfit consist of?

This betrays my anime girl roots - black pleated skirt, black thigh high socks, black turtleneck, Bhive black Magma heels, a pair of TD Kent sunglasses, and some kind of black blazer so everyone knows I mean business.

Imagery by Owen Warren & Alizayuh


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