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An Innovative Eco-Fashion Brand Sprouts Up In Brooklyn

By Tandi Tuakli

New York Editor

Raina Blyer

Photo © Fashion Trendsetter

Fashion's new school is a group of ethically and environmentally responsible young designers from around the world that are trying to shake up the tree-hugging, Birekenstock-sporting image that many people have about eco-responsible brands.

Raina Blyer is one such designer. Her belief is that, "One should never have to sacrifice their sense of style to be socially responsible, or visa versa." She and her colleagues of socially-aware apparel brands are taking this once selective niche market more mainstream by offering clothing that is fashionable, as well as socially-responsible.

Blyer's line, Ryann, was born of Raina's two rather dissimilar passions; holistic health and sewing. She studied holistic health at the University of Massachusetts, before returning to her native New York to get a degree in fashion design and then go onto work as an assistant designer.

By creating this new line of women's clothing, she has found a vehicle for both her unique style, as well as her commitment to global and environmental issues.

Blyer will not have to rely sole on the environmentally- and ethically-conscious customer; her line contains beautifully designed pieces that can best be described as refreshing, understated chic. The last sentence in her company's mission statement which reads, "Conceptually designed and consciously made." can seen in each design.

To better understand Ms. Blyer's design aesthetic, look at the Orchid Cape in her collection. It is delicate and beautiful, and yet so completely innovative, that it might be a future heirloom in the family of some quirky young fashionista.

I asked Raina Blyer a few questions to find out more about the designer, as well as her designs and inspirations:

  Orchid Cape, Ryann.
  Willow Top, Ryann. 

Pleated Halter Top, Ryann.

Tandi Tuakli [TT] :When did you first get the idea to start a socially-conscious line of clothing and what were your inspirations?

Designer Raina Blyer [RB] : "I got the idea about a year ago. I read an article about Loomastate, an organic denim company and it got me thinking".

"I was already very aware of the importance of eating organic foods and using organic products, until then I didn't know organic fabrics were available".

"I have always been an environmentalist and this seemed like a perfect way to combine the two things in life I am most passionate about".

"I love making clothes; I love the process of conceptualizing, and then watching your creation start to take form".

"No matter what else I was doing in life I was always sewing in my spare time.  As much as I enjoy that I also have always felt a strong push to do something that promotes positive change, I want to have a positive impact on people and he planet".

"I want to teach people how easy it is for all of us to improve the world by small everyday decisions we make".

TT : For what type of woman do you design?

"I design for a woman very much like myself. Someone who loves clothing for the feeling and the concept of each piece. I am not trendy; I don't like my clothes to look dated."

"Clothing to me is accessories for your body. It is a way to enhance your body and movement; it should never overshadow the person".

"I am a very active person, I do yoga, ride my bike, walk around the city a lot, dance, so comfort is also important to me."

"I feel uncomfortable in synthetic fibers that don't breathe and give, To me feeling comfortable in your clothes makes you feel comfortable in your skin, and that's really what makes a woman sexy".

TT :Do you feel that there are any other designers currently on the market that follow your same philosophy?

RB : " The two most popular lines out there are Loomstate and Edun. There are many more emerging all the time which is very exciting and promising".

TT : Studying holistic health seems to be far removed from the fashion industry: how did you make the transition from your studies at Amherst to working in clothing design?

RB : "It does seem far removed, but these have always been things that have interested me. I like to make things, I like to sew, I like to make my own homemade beauty products from natural ingredients, I like to cook food with the healthiest ingredients".

"It's all related to me. If you are not taking care of yourself from the inside, there is no way you can look good from the outside."

"I am still very interested in holistic health. I have been going to acupuncture for 8 years and rarely every have to go to the doctor. I read up on herbs and all types of healing modalities".

"I also believe following your heart and passion is the real key to happiness and health, so for me sewing is what keeps me happy".

TT : How do you hope to change the face of fashion?

RB : "I want to first make people aware of the current negative environmental and social impact that the garment industry has on the planet".

"When most people ask me about my company, they don't even know what organic fabric is. I didn't at one point either".

"Growing conventional Cotton crops uses 25% of all pesticides worldwide, that's very significant. Eliminating just a portion of that can have a huge environmental impact".

"Most of the farming is done overseas, in third world countries that don't have as many environmental regulations as the United States."

"We are poisoning the planet and poisoning these communities, exposing workers to know carcinogens and we never see the impact of our purchases first hand"

You can find out where to buy Ryann clothes and see the collection at

123 Essex St. box 138
New York, NY 10002
phone 212-561-9492
fax 866-839-1515
info @

All photos property of Raina Blyer.
Copyright © December 2005 by Fashion Trendsetter | Tandi Tuakli. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission.

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