Sustainability Grow a Dress With Christy Dawn

Designer and regenerative farming advocate Christy Baskauskas on how the fashion industry can protect—and heal—the planet

By Emily Silber Photograph by James Branaman
PUBLISHED 01/17/2023 | 3 MINUTES

In a small village outside of Erode, India, is 90 acres of lush pearl millet, castor fruit, pollinators and, most importantly, regenerative cotton. This cotton is the heart and soul of the signature dresses from sustainable clothing brand Christy Dawn

In 2019, co-founder Christy Baskauskas worked directly with the Oshadi Collective, a community of traditional farmers and craftspeople in southern India, to transform once-depleted plots of land into a biodiverse ecosystem that allows her brand to produce farm-to-closet collections—while healing the planet in the process. 

“It’s not enough to simply ‘sustain,’” Baskauskas says. “The sustainable fashion industry works to avoid harm, but it needs to actually reverse the damage that has been done.”

Growing up in Placerville, California, Baskauskas developed an appreciation for reuse and design early on—her mother used to make a lot of her clothing and would repurpose thrifted pieces into special garments. When she became a model in Los Angeles, her love for fashion only grew, but so did her curiosity around how the clothing was being produced.

“I saw how extractive typical production processes and fashion culture were,” she says. “I knew there had to be a better solution.”

So she began exploring the potential for deadstock fabric—the excess fabric left behind by other fashion companies—and, in 2013, founded Christy Dawn with her husband in the garage of their Santa Monica home (and $20,000 of Baskauskas’ savings).

The duo spent years developing a sustainable model with Baskauskas creating beautiful vintage-inspired dresses using deadstock fabrics, but soon realized that not impacting the environment wasn’t the same as saving it. 

That’s when Baskauskas turned to regenerative practices and launched her partnership with the Oshadi.

“Regenerative farming is the answer for a society that will always have a need for production,” Baskauskas says. “Imagine what it would be like if everyone was doing this.”

Last year, Christy Dawn began offering consumers a way to participate in its farm-to-closet movement in a unique way: growing a dress. By joining the brand’s Land Stewardship project, you can invest $200 in a 3,485 square-foot plot of land on their farm—which covers the cost of everything from herbal pest repellent to the farmers’ salaries and the seeds for pollinator crops—and, at the end of the season, will receive a store credit to buy a piece from the new collection of regenerative cotton dresses you helped create.

“We don’t have to drain the Earth’s resources and pollute the soil to get what we need—there is another way,” Baskauskas says.

Millie content is licensed from Dotdash Meredith, publisher of Millie, Real Simple, InStyle, Investopedia, The Balance and more.

Emily Silber is Millie’s executive editor.


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