9 Questions with Katie Martinez, Founder of Elegantees

Wearwell's co-founder Emily Kenney chats with Katie Martinez, Founder and Director of Elegantees, based in New York City, to talk about all things sustainable fashion and their mission to put the people behind their brand first.

Emily: Tell us about your favorite piece of clothing and why do you love to wear it! 

Katie: Definitely the Namra Tank. I have this tank in more colors than any other item in my personal closet. I normally feel exposed when I wear tanks out in public, but not this one! It has enough coverage while the fabric is our perfect cotton blend to keep me from sweating during the hot months.

Namra Tank ethical and sustainable in green by Elegantees wearwell

Emily: What motivated you to start Elegantees?  

Katie: I wanted to start a clothing business, and failed twice at it before. It wasn't until I worked for a few larger companies for a while before giving my dream another go. Third time's a charm! The other thing that drew me to entrepreneurship was knowing I could make more of an impact in the world than working in traditional fashion industry jobs.

Emily: How did your interest in sustainable fashion begin? 

Katie: In 2010 when I first started Elegantees, the issue of human trafficking and the treatment of garment workers sparked my interest. Elegantees made super trendy pieces at first, but then I started to think about other things connected to sustainability and started aiming to make garments that will be reached for time and again. We keep this top of mind now with our designs!

Emily: What’s one piece of advice you would give someone who is just beginning to build their sustainable wardrobe? 

Katie: Buy only what you love and will wear it  many times. 

Katie Martinez and Ramesh Sapkota of Elegantees

Katie and her business partner, Ramesh Sapkota, in Nepal

Emily: Great advice! How does the Elegantees team define “sustainable fashion”? 

Katie: In this order, at Elegantees, we care about: people, practical design, and using natural fibers or deadstock. We place the biggest priority on people.

Emily: Our team loves your commitment to the people behind your brand. Switching gears a little, how do you describe Elegantees’s aesthetic? 

Katie: Elegant (thus the name!), Joyful, Practical

Emily: What are your favorite styles from Elegantees’s recent collection? 

Katie: Namra Tank, Miranda Dress, Luna Tunic

Miranda Dress in Sungold from Elegantees sustainable and ethical from wearwell

Emily: What’s next for Elegantees - any exciting growth that you’re looking forward to?  

Katie: We're expanding into India! We’ll be partnering with a group that creates safe homes for human trafficking survivors and trade schools to equip people to secure employment. To pursue self-sustainability, they've created several income-generating projects.  One of these projects is a fair trade sewing factory! Together with this factory, we're planning out designs that I've been dreaming of for years, but couldn't quite source through our main factory in Nepal. Some designs on my wish list to be made in India include smocked dresses, linen-blend shorts, intricate embroidery, and yummy fabrics we haven't had the best success in sourcing elsewhere. I’m so excited to see them come to life in upcoming seasons!

Emily: Oh, I’m looking forward to those new designs, especially linen-blend shorts! Anything else you want to share with wearwell’s community? 

Katie: We're excited to participate during New York Fashion Week this September! I get really excited about being a part of the mainstream fashion world  - my personal mission is to reach the average consumer with information about ethical fashion, rather than attract women already shopping in the ethical fashion world. The exposure of our runway show is exciting for me! 

Emily: Wow, so many amazing things to come. We can’t wait to see Elegantees' growth! 

Katie: Thankful for you and all your support! It's my personal mission statement to see a world without exploitation, and your partnership sure helps us in that.

Shop the Elegantees collection at wearwell

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