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Our team at Apolis sees the immense value in surrounding ourselves with like-minded organizations that sharpen our brand. In 2012 Apolis’ social and environmental impact was certified by B Corps, and since this partnership was initiated, our model of advocacy through industry has been refined and improved. Now, we’re proud of our most recent partnership with a similar organization that we believe complements Apolis’ design process, the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America). On July 17 we were extremely grateful to hear that we were two of the 30 latest designers to be added to the CFDA family, now totaling 478 members. For those not familiar with what the CFDA does, it is a nonprofit dedicated to helping American designers flourish in the global fashion realm. The organization, based in New York City, also hosts an awards ceremony once a year to honor the best designers and rising talent.

We sat down at our flagship store, Apolis: Common Gallery, and reflected on the past two years of applying to become CFDA members and what’s next.

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What’s happening with three new CFDA members on August 27 in Los Angeles:
We are going to continue our free-admission community-speaking series, in which we ask a moderator and panelists to participate in a live discussion about how their industry impacts community (previously we hosted an event with Marcus Samuelsson). This will be our fourth talk centered on how design has a unique ability to impact community. The event will be held 7 to 9 p.m. on August 27, with L.A.-based designer Clare Vivier. We all became CFDA members this July and thought it would be a fun opportunity to ask the senior West Coast editor of Vanity Fair, Krista Smith, to moderate a discussion on today’s emerging socially motivated consumer culture. There will be free food and drinks but limited space. You must RSVP by August 25, and you can learn more here.

Why living on the West Coast kept us optimistic about being inducted into the CFDA:
Los Angeles is about film and music, and New York is about fashion and theater. So the common question is, why would someone choose to build a clothing brand in Los Angeles? Early on, we asked ourselves that question daily, but growing up in Southern California we knew we would have a hard time adapting to the lack of sunshine on the East Coast. Regardless of prioritizing the quality of life in L.A., we have been grateful that the city’s creative industries do not have the stereotypical political landscape. If you’re passionate and doing something that people care about, you can be successful. We’re not traditionally trained designers and we did not rise up the ranks of a fashion house or have any garment-pedigree family connections. To be doing what we are doing and make a living at it, we think, can only really happen in Los Angeles. That is what is exciting for L.A. regarding creative industries—it is very fresh and open. You can have zero experience or tons of experience, and you are treated the same. Los Angeles gives people a hall pass to do what they want to do. Whether you want to be a chef, an architect, or a clothing designer, nothing substitutes for an insane work ethic, persistence, and ultimately the discernment to surround yourself with people who care more about your sanity than your creative ideas.

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What are the long-term dreams for Apolis and the CFDA:
We think the CFDA is a gateway for a handful of corporate companies to dialogue with the fashion industry. Our dream is to bring social entrepreneurship into these corporate responsibility conversations. Most important, to be a voice that is not beating cause marketing over people’s heads, but can actually lead with great design and as a result transform rural communities, which are the benefactors. We continue to dream that design makes life better all throughout the supply chain, from the growers and sew-ers to everyone who enjoys the product. We all win when the entire supply chain is thoughtful, beautifully executed, and long-term minded.

The people who made our induction possible:
First of all, our friends and family are paramount. We sold our first Apolis T-shirt at Santa Barbara High School in 1999, and to think our friends and family have supported us this entire time is insane. Second, the Apolis team and HL Group, the most talented and selfless behind-the-scenes heroes who daily blow wind into our sails. Third, we were privileged to receive CFDA recommendation letters from Bruce Pask, Blake Mycoskie, Todd Snyder, John Whitledge, Greg Chait, Eunice Lee, George Esquivel, and quite a few others who were instrumental in refining the process of our becoming CFDA members.

Photos: Ken Tisuthiwongse

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