Dec 1, 2004
Outside Magazine


At long last, the human species has evolved to the point where we can grasp the concept that earth-friendly fashions need not stop at hemp. This is due in no small part to Stewart+Brown, the Ventura, California–based green-produced, downtown-inspired apparel company created in 2002 by the husband-and-wife team of designer Karen Stewart, 35, and brand guru Howard Brown, 37, alumni of Patagonia and Urban Outfitters, respectively. "You know the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax? ‘I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees!'" says Brown, by way of explaining their mission. "We want to mix environmental consciousness with good, cool design." Toward that end, Stewart+Brown gives 1 percent of its gross profit to environmental causes. All of their cotton products are 100 percent organic; the cashmere comes from a fledgling Mongolian cashmere co-op run by herders who process the woolly stuff themselves; their Surp+ tote bags are stitched from leftover ripstop nylon and the remnants of fly-fishing waders; and their fleece is Stewart's own invention, a proprietary blend of organic cotton, polyester, and spandex. They'd intended to take their new line slowly, conceiving the company while raising their two-year-old daughter, Hazel. But when the zeitgeist calls, you have to answer, particularly when those calls are for cashmere and they're coming from national franchises like Anthropologie, trendsetting boutiques like Butter, in Brooklyn, and celebs like Cameron Diaz and Liv Tyler (who ordered their infant line: cashmere baby blanket, hat, and neckie). While tastemakers swoon—"Oooh, the hats!" cries Organic Style's Danny Seo—Stewart and Brown are planning to expand, and scrambling to keep up with existing sales. "Did you hear that sigh?" says Brown. "I just spent six straight weeks packing boxes, and people are already placing reorders. Stores are selling out."

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