Local Designer Spotlight: Snoozer Loser's Sonia Tay Talks Sustainability, Spring 2010 Photos

snoozer loser nyc photo

Snoozer Loser Spring 2010 collection. Credit: Snoozer Loser

New York-based Snoozer Loser has been creating made-to-order clothing since 2005 when Sonia Tay launched its first collection out of an art collective, of the same name. Tay's label is not marketed as "100% sustainable" she says, "because that would be nearly impossible." Instead she takes an eco-conscious approach to fashion; she mixes her dyes at an artist's commune in the Berkshires; works with vintage fabrics, and the result is cool, comfortable clothing--hardly worth snoozing over. Click through for our interview with Tay (full disclosure: She is a friend) and view highlights from her dreamy spring 2010 collection.


Credit: Snoozer Loser
TreeHugger: How did Snoozer Loser get started?

Designer Sonia Tay, Snoozer Loser: The line organically grew from an art collective (Snoozer Loser Collective) I founded in 2005. My contribution to the group shows we self-curated, were heavily embellished one-off pieces, made out of vintage fabrics I had been collecting since I was a teenager. The clothing began gaining interest; people began placing orders and the line was born.

TH: One-off pieces and vintage fabrics--oh how we love thee! What sustainable fabrics do you use in the collection now?

SL: We use organic cotton and peace silk, as well as vintage overstock fabrics/ trims in the collection.

TH: Where and how do you manufacture your garments?

SL: Locally in NYC. We work with a handful of contractors that we love and have built positive relationships with over the years. Our scarves are hand-printed with eco-friendly pigments and our jewelry is hand-crafted here in our downtown studio.

TH: Which commonly used fabric, do you believe, has the biggest environmental impact?

SL: I think most people assume polyester is the least environmentally-friendly because of the nitrous oxide gas its production produces and the heavy metals it leaches into the air and water. But cotton production is quite harsh, with a staggering amount of chemical pesticides used for farming and a significant amount of water waste used for dyeing.


Credit: Snoozer Loser
TH: What does sustainability mean to Snoozer Loser, i.e, what guidelines to you follow--if any--from season to season?

SL: Sustainability for us, has never been about a set guideline but rather a way of life. We don't promote the brand to be 100% sustainable because that would be nearly impossible. I try to use sustainable materials wherever I can, and am strict when it comes to the amount of waste created by the company--it is more of an eco-conscious approach.

For example, our line is made-to order so we purchase only the amount of fabric we need. Our natural dyes are mixed in sample batches at first with a pre-calculated formula so we can re-mix for an order.

I believe with careful planning, and a more thought-out design process, you can really make a difference and reduce the amount of resources you use.

TH: You mentioned that you mix your dyes in upstate New York while on retreat from the city; how did this tradition come about?

SL: While teaching an artist workshop at an artist commune in the Berkshires every summer, I started experimenting with raw, natural dyes. It's my sanctuary away from the urban sprawl. During this time I play and formulate the perfect colors for our seasonal palette, I then use these to dye our samples. It feels absolutely freeing to be cooking up dye-able plants in the woods where there is plenty of room to make a mess and plenty of material to extract!


Credit: Snoozer Loser
TH: Sounds like a trip we'd like to take! How does your interest in sustainable fashion challenge and/or influence the design process?

ST: Inspiration each season happens mostly from traveling and good-old-fashioned research in the local library. I always make a point to watch other local artists in their element; it is from their ethical practices that I can see what is possible and what isn't. Supplies and color are a major influences; these factors usually determine whether an item will be available in large quantities, limited runs, or one-of- kind.

Jump to Snoozer Loser to view the entire Spring collection and view the video, filmed at Green Spaces NY.

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