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A Green Utopia

by Sofroina Timmons
A green utopia has arrived! Cityzen Green is for those of us who thought we reached the end of the road when trying to find fashion that looks and feels good and is healthy for the environment. Cityzen Green. Co-founders Jami Hoffman (JH) and Gilles Barretieri (GB) have poured their mutual love into designing fashion for a greener planet.

All of the fabrics are crafted with care and are 100% organic cotton. Hoffman and Barretieri concentrate on style and comfort with a keen sense of sustainability upholding fashion-forward designs. For the 2011 spring/summer line tees, hoodies and tanks can be worn from simple-casual to upscale-chic casual. Expect organic textures mixed with pieces that are layered together creating a unique look without emphasizing on a particular trend.

Cityzen Green is produced and locally made in L.A. All of the styles represent the casual-chic of travel, surfing, Farmer's Market, Yoga and all of the Californian routines that fit in a 24-hour day. The co-founders also give back by donating to organizations that help improve urban living and environments by green initiatives.

Tell us about the genesis of of Cityzen Green.
(GB) Cityzen Green started as an idea about two years ago. I noticed that there was a lack of well-designed organic clothing that embodied the style and feel I wanted. It was either slightly rough and had a boxy fit, or it was well made but way too expensive. Finally, we decided to create a line that was timeless, organic and accessible. We met a year and a half ago and decided to start working on it together. We practice yoga, love hiking and surfing and wanted to create a line that embodied the vision we have for an organic west coast lifestyle. My family was linked to the fashion world, either in production or distribution. For us it was a natural move.

Explain the meaning of the name Cityzen Green.
(GB/JH) CITY: When thinking about our company, we immediately decided that working with locals would be an integral part of how we do business. While it is more economical for a company to take its production to China, it was not something we would consider. We want to know who is making our shirts and focus on building relationships with locals. ZEN: Represents the spirit in which we work and our focus on sustainability. It is also about the partnerships we make with local organizations. At the moment, we are partnering with Tree People, which is an organization that supports planting trees in urban environments. There are several other organizations that we will be adding over the next couple of months. We recently created a scarf for Japan Awareness, where all of the proceeds will be donated to Japanese Red Cross. GREEN: All of the fabrics that we use are 100% organic cotton and/or eco friendly. It represents our holistic approach from concept to finish.

Do you agree that the economic times call for minimalist designs?
(GB/JH) That's a good question. We are conscious of all that is happening around us but our minimalist designs are more linked to esthetic than to economic matters. Our brand has a marginally higher price point, so we can't cut corners on the designs, fabrics, details, people we work with, etc. Our intention to give back to organizations that are doing great things and making huge differences in the way people live and relate to nature. We are currently working with Tree People and Japanese Red Cross right now and there are plenty more to come. Our feeling is about working the right way and giving back.

How do you remain competitive in this market?
(GB/JH) It's important to stay in line with your vision and to find your edge. While we understand the importance of staying up-to-date on what our competitors are doing, we feel our greatest asset is letting our creativity and intuition guide us. There is a lot of care and thought behind each piece that we create; everything from our choice in fabric down to whom is making our clothes. Our commitment is to always use the most beautiful, softest, organic and eco-friendly fabrics and production methods available and to produce each piece with care. I always remember how soft my clothes were when my mother washed it. We want to reproduce the same feeling.

What was the inspiration for your newest collection?
JH/GB: Our inspiration for the Spring/Summer 2012 collection comes from our travels to Europe and northern California. When I draw a men's piece, I am clearly feeling, I am on the terrace at a cafe in Paris or on a port in the south of France and looking around at everyday people so that I can get a sense of what makes their style. We are inspired by various fabrics and textures that feel great on your skin and hang beautifully. We have been playing with weight and cuts and layering different fabrics that you wouldn't normally associate with each other. Our brand is set to be styled but is not following a trend, that's my main concern. We focus on details that make all the difference. It can be a zipper or a special stitch that will totally change the feeling of a piece.

What's next for Cityzen Green?
We are currently working on our Spring/Summer 2012 collection and are developing partnerships with associations in San Francisco, NYC and Chicago. Some new development on the east coast and Europe, and so much more.

Cityzen Green can be purchased at www.cityzengreen.com - - Price points range from $52 to $130

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