Since its Beauty Heroes debut in November 2018, DINO Apparel has been one of my wardrobe mainstays, taking me from the office to errands to dinner with friends, not to mention my go-to uniform for near every single flight or road trip. A devotee of both form and function, Dino Apparel is versatile with designs that fit, flatter and allow me to move, a must for any working mother. While I own practically every piece DINO Apparel has created and wear them all in constant rotation, it’s the jumpsuit that really jumped out at me when I discovered it last year on a photoshoot. I instantly fell in love with the flattering shape and its effortless, year-round lounge – travel – work functionality. If I had to wear only one thing for the rest of my life, this would be it. That is why I asked Suzanne to share it with the Beauty Heroes community as a Limited Edition Fashion Discovery, I want as many people to experience this versatile, ultra-comfortable wardrobe staple as possible. Once you have one, you just want to live in it in every color.
But, this is more than mere athleisure. DINO upholds the highest standards in quality, and from sourcing to shipping, they are as ethical as fashion can be. If you are just learning about this brand, I suggested reading more about DINO and its Founder, Suzanne Rjinveld here, and I’m certain you’ll be moved by the conviction and vision of this woman-owned line. But there’s more to the brand than one can read on a website, and it’s why we are so passionate about promoting it: it’s the feeling of the Modal material against your skin; as soft as it is strong, delicate as it is durable, and by way of a closed loop manufacturing process, completely zero waste. This last part is what makes Dino such a revolution. In the second most polluting industry in the world, Dino is a beacon of progress for fashion designers and manufacturers, proving that what we wear is an extension of our wellbeing, and a reflection of our environmental values.
Suzanne looks at fashion through blue-tinted lenses, and she is leading a conversation that feels both ahead of its time and almost too late. What Suzanne reveals through her brand is that fashion is the last frontier we must conquer if we truly want to live more sustainably. In my interview with her, we uncover the story of Dino, where Suzanne feels she can make the greatest impact, and why it must happen now.
You introduced me to this concept that clothing should be a part of our wellness. When you talk about this, it makes so much sense. Can you share with us how you view clothing as a part of our overall health and wellness?
Fashion IS beauty. It really just boils down to what Beauty means to you. To me it’s both physical and emotional. We focus so much on eco-conscious lotions and potions, which is awesome, but then we’re putting plastic leggings on our skin. We meditate and hibernate and drink juices to cleanse from the inside out. It’s counterintuitive when I see women swaddled in spandex, when all the while they’re obsessing over rose oil for the face and drinking charcoal lemonade. Beauty is often focused on the face, while fashion isn’t. But our skin is our largest organ, so why wouldn’t we care for our entire body the same way we do our face?
I believe that indie beauty and fashion both have a place under the umbrella of Lifestyle Wellness. Going back to the 3 human needs: food, shelter, clothing all boiling down to COMFORT — comfort IS wellness. If we are swaddled in fabric that soothes our bodies, we are naturally more stress-free, and we are “well.” If we are putting non-toxic ingredients on our body, whether in the form of a textile or a lotion, we are well. We must think about our wellness holistically, and consider everything that touches our skin.
There are so many amazing indie beauty brands that are ultra fashionable and chic, and tell these beautiful stories! Whether it’s about how they are made, or the life of the maker herself/himself, it’s inspiring to see. This is where I envision Dino’s sweet spot. We are Beauty in Fashion. It is my mission to create a softer lifestyle for women to FEEL soothed, supported, comforted and an overall sense of well-being, while looking beautiful, and at the same time knowing they are taking care of themselves from the inside out.
How do you see DINO Apparel contributing to our overall wellness?
I’m really trying to educate that while soft fabrics and graceful shapes can be comfortable, since the 70’s it’s polyester that was the gateway to softness (thanks DuPont) and we know that polyester is toxic to the skin and the earth. So as we graduate into an even healthier mindset we have discovered a way to create equally soft fabrics, while keeping the heathered texture our customers have come to love, without the polymers that have for decades tricked people into feeling that their skin is being nurtured when actually it’s just the opposite. We are redefining softness in our new yarn-dyed fabric we’re calling Botanical Cashmere, which is a blend of 95% beechwood modal and 5% spandex. I like to say that it’s as soft as a kitten, but made from a tree.
I see a transformation when a woman puts on our clothing. She melts into herself, her body relaxes, and she seems to breathe a sigh. I truly believe that the energy coming from the tree pulp fibers that make our clothing breathes life that a synthetic just can’t do.
Is this a movement you think we will see come into greater acceptance?
I think it really boils down to awareness and accessibility. People just don’t know, and/or they don’t really want to know, the impact of clothing on their skin. When I’m selling at the market in Venice, I tell the story of how our product is made, over and over again, to people from all over the globe. I see how they engage when they learn that the clothing in front of them is not just shirts on a rack, but is actually a movement, a story, a healthier option. Some people don’t care, but most do. And then they share a story of their wardrobe, and this exchange becomes a relationship with clothing, as opposed to a purchase. I believe that the more people who are getting sick, the more aware they are about what they’re putting on their bodies. This is unfortunate, but our society is still in the “fixing” mode vs the “preventing” mode … and my goal is to continue to educate people so that they really understand the choices they are making in their wardrobe are equally as important as their diet and skin regimen. We are a prevention model, not a fix-it model. Designing waste out of the fashion supply chain so the only options available are healthier.
An additional note on accessibility … the fashion industry has a long way to go to choose sustainable practice over higher margins. And like anything else, when something is “special,” there is a price-tag that many fashion brands aren’t willing to compromise on. Look at TJ MAXX and ROSS and Marshall’s. These aren’t outlets for overstock, there are brands that are actually producing FOR these mass retailers. They are producing mass amounts of garments out of the cheapest possible ingredients, and reselling them for nothing. The overstock goes to the landfills. It’s a great hoax.
Until we design the waste out of fashion, so the only option out there is higher conscious ingredients and processes, the lower grade toxic textiles will continue have a home here.
Sustainable fashion is often, if not always more expensive, like organic produce and products. And it’s harder to come by. What are some of the easiest ways we can make the shift to healthier products and fabrics we put on our skin?
This is such a challenge, and one that has no simple answer. Designing the waste out of fashion so that there we have fewer “poor” options available and more “well” options available will naturally make higher quality options more accessible. From the maker, this starts with the design process. And this starts with textiles. For the consumer, it’s more than simply saying less is more … it’s breaking down each and every purchase choice we make so that if it is more expensive we look at it as an investment. Do I need it? Do I trust it? Is it supported by a brand I believe in? It’s caring about the stories of each and every item we surround ourselves with. And by doing so, we will connect more deeply to less. By training our children to save for that special piece of clothing and know that it will be the workhorse of their wardrobe, carry a brand energy that feeds their soul, is a life lesson that will serve to transform the planet in the long run.
Tell me about some of your testimonials that DINO customers have shared when talking about DINO Apparel as a lifestyle and wellness apparel?
I have been infinitely inspired by our customers response to DINO. It really has fueled me to keep going. I am so grateful to them for sharing their experiences with the pieces, I’m happy to share a few below.
“I have recently found the most incredible clothes known to human kind. Still in recovery from having twins 4 months ago, I wanted something super soft and comfortable, that felt good and looked good. (eco-friendly would be an added bonus.) DINO has changed my life as a new mom!”
– Rebekah – New York, NY
“I want you to know that one of the most comforting things I had when my little girl was in the hospital, was my DINO caftan. I had all 3 of them brought to the hospital, and I wore them the entire time. They kept me warm and cool and soothed me. Sounds silly to be grateful for clothes, but we both know they are much more than that!”
– Julie – Danville, CA
“I wanted to tell you how your pants have changed my life. I recently had a botched surgery that made me feel less than feminine. Your pants have made me want to dance again!”
– Catalina – Davis, CA
“Just wanted to connect with you. I received the jumpsuit and I want to LIVE in it! I come from the fashion world and have to send you an acknowledgment for your work and ethics. I search the world for eco-conscious clothing that fits a real woman’s body and I have not found much until Dino. Thank you again.”
– Jennifer – San Francisco, CA
“I just wanted to reach out to say thank you! 2019 has started off rough. I was in the hospital for the first week of January, and when I got home the only clothing I wanted to wear was my DINO. It was so comforting, and just what I needed.”
– Gina – Petaluma, CA
“I am recovering from a surgery that requires me to wear adult diapers, and your pants are the only things I want on my body. Thank you for making me feel feminine again.”
– Rachel – Atlanta, GA