Sustainability is having more than a moment. For Cora Hilts, co-founder of Rêve en Vert—one of the most recognized sustainable fashion brands, that has also tapped into accessories, home and beauty—the increasing demand for sustainable goods means her ambitions are coming to fruition.
By Christine Morrison
Rêve En Vert, which means “dream in green,” is more than a brand name and e-commerce sustainable luxury platform—it is a vision. While interning for Stella McCartney, the pioneer of sustainable fashion, “the wheels [started] turning about business being a force of good rather than just an industry constantly selling to us,” Cora Hilts, co-founder and CEO of Rêve En Vert said. “It made me start to question other brands who weren’t paying attention to the world around them. That curiosity is what really got me on track to start Rêve En Vert.”
F ollowing her graduate degree in environmental policy from London’s King’s College, Hilts considered starting an NGO, but her values and interests—coupled with a friendship with co-founder Natasha Tucker, who was being schooled in sustainable food at an organic farm in Bermuda—led to sustainable fashion.
Together, they sought out high-end brands, mandating that designs be produced ethically and sustainably without sacrificing luxury or beauty. With financial support and a tech team in place to sell their highly curated collections, they strove to become the destination for sustainable style. The brand identity and chic website are steeped in sophistication and luxury—none of the crunchy vibe associated with many earth-friendly brands—and its products rival those in Harrods or Barneys. Vogue has said, “Each item is handpicked and lovely, and the fact that it’s sustainable is just a bonus…”
Despite overcoming the unglamorous stigma previously associated with sustainable/eco-friendly fashion, Hilts admits price continues to be an obstacle. “It’s quite a barrier that things do cost more [when] produced sustainably. But the reality of the situation is that we have become so used to paying so little for things. I believe we have a skewed idea of what things should actually cost. It’s a lot easier to skimp on really ethical production and cut corners to bring down costs. You see a lot of big designers or conscious collections tending to do this.”
Hilts adds, “There is a lot of intimacy to being honest . . . we’re running a retail site where we can stand up and answer any questions about any of the items we sell or promote with the certainty that they have been made with the utmost respect for people and planet.”
The passion behind Rêve En Vert goes well beyond retail, or sales for that matter, to efforts that “engage people and explain why this move towards sustainability and truly conscious consumption is so important.” The site features “Rev Talk,” an editorial forum that aims to start new dialogues and encourage new thinking. Recent thoughtprovoking topics include how to move toward zero waste; navigating travel while limiting your carbon footprint; how to ditch fast fashion; and inspiration for a sustainable wedding registry.
There are also offline events to generate ideas and raise awareness. While educational, these mirror the sophistication of the Rêve En Vert website, whether it’s a long-term pop-up in a swank London beauty salon or, most recently, hosting a sustainable pop-up in the Hôtel Les Roches Rouges—Côte d’Azur.
With Paris having announced its plan to become the sustainable capital of fashion by 2024 (to coincide with hosting the Olympics) and the ongoing commitment of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) to sustainability through a resource hub, the industry has begun to see the light. Change is imperative. Rêve En Vert will be at the forefront.
Reflecting on her personal journey, Hilts said, “I think the greatest gift of getting older is this idea that you begin to really consider the wider implications of things rather than just what is affecting you on a day-to-day basis. That objectivity in life and work has been my greatest gift in managing Rêve En Vert. When things get really tough, I can remind myself I am running the business for a greater purpose . . . and it continues to motivate me!”