Careste Branches Out to Offer More Zero-Waste, High-end Options

Rosemary Feitelberg

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HASTE MAKES WASTE: Careste, the zero-waste, made-to-order, direct-to-consumer label, is branching out beyond shirting to offer a full wardrobe.

Easy tops, skirts and dresses made from 100 percent natural silk and cotton sourced from international mills are in the mix. Another addition is the Cornerstone Collection, an evergreen assortment of white poplin shirts that will be followed this fall by sustainable made-to-order premium denim. The denim will be produced using water-free laser technology. To ensure the right fit, everything is offered in 21 sizes including half sizes. Shoppers have the option of further customizing styles to eliminate returns. Keeping with the Careste business model, pieces are only produced once they have been ordered.

The company’s cofounder and chief executive officer Celeste Markey and creative director Elizabeth Rickard Shah have 40 years of experience between them in the designer and luxury sector.

The brand’s 29 Palms Collection, a 100 percent silk group, retails from $225 to $625. The 100 percent cotton Cornerstone give-back collection ranges from $225 to $325. Through the latter’s “Made to Order, Make a Difference” initiative, a percentage of sales will be donated to rotating charities. For the debut, 15 percent of those purchases is going toward Frontline Foods, a grassroots effort that takes food from Black-owned restaurants to front-line workers and impacted communities.

Careste has a new site and advertising campaigns featuring Jessica Hart and Destene Kinser. The photographer and stylist duo of Christian Högstedt and Erin Walsh handled the shoot. Another new element is the Careste Community, which is made up of a diverse collective of women including Helena Christensen, Rachel Hilson and Nazanin Boniadi, who will be featured on the company’s site and social media channels.

As for the decision to branch out in such challenging times, Markey said, “Inventory is not only costly, but it is wasteful and COVID-19 wreaked havoc on these traditional supply chains. Brands are forced to cancel orders from their factories, leaving literally millions of unfinished pieces on the ground and therefore saddled factories with debt and inventory. Careste solves this age-old and recurring problem by making only what consumers want.”

She continued, “With so many shifts in our industry and new focuses on zero-inventory business models these past few months, we received a lot of interest in launching this expanded collection now from both existing and potential consumers, as well as investors looking at new business models with increasing relevance post pandemic.“

She declined to specify projected sales figures other than to say sales are expected to quadruple, based on its existing repeat customer rate of 45 percent. That growth is expected due to the addition of the Careste Community, some upcoming marketing initiatives and the label’s expanded collection.

Asked about what is most challenging now, Markey said, “While we are launching a product in the most challenging economic environment in the recent past, we are confident that our incredibly relevant sustainable business model, diverse team and luxurious and wearable designs will resonate with consumers during these times. We knew excess waste was a large problem in the industry and were already addressing this prior to COVID-19. However, our business model is even more relevant today, as customers shift their focus to more thoughtful shopping habits.”

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