As veterans of luxury fashion, Careste CEO Celeste Markey and Creative Director Elizabeth Rickard Shah are keenly aware of the traditional industry’s shortcomings, particularly in at a moment when women’s values and needs have changed significantly. And so, after decades working at brands like Bulgari, Sonia Rykiel and Giorgio Armani—where the two women met—Markey and Shah channeled their combined expertise in marketing and design into finding a better way to make beautiful clothes, one that’s genuinely sustainable and serves a modern luxury customer.
The result is Careste, a direct-to-consumer luxury brand that eliminates the typical waste of conventional fashion retail with innovative on-demand production. What started with a few styles of shirting in 2018 has grown into a fully realized wardrobe that is both elegant and easy to wear. Camisoles and blouses coordinate with soft trousers and midi skirts. Dresses include a bias-cut slip and kimono-inspired caftan that is equal parts bohemian and sophisticated. The silhouettes are designed by Shah to flatter a range of women’s bodies, and Careste’s innovative sizing—22 micro-sizes that can be customized—ensure a precision fit. All Careste pieces are made in 100% natural fabrics sourced from the world’s finest wool, cotton and silk mills.
Careste’s primary factory is in Shanghai where it takes approximately eight days to make a piece and then another three to five to get it to your door—a highly efficient turnaround time for made-to-order fashion. And currently in the works is a partnership with an Italian factory that makes sustainable jersey.
A QUEST TO #ENDFASHIONWASTE
No inventory, no waste. That is, in short, Careste’s strategy to eliminate the overwhelming amount of waste generated by traditional luxury fashion. In Careste’s innovative model, nothing is cut or sewn until a customer places an order. That means there’s no unsold inventory creating carbon emissions by sitting in a warehouse or ending up in a landfill or incinerator. Careste’s sizing also furthers its positive impact, by cutting down on returns and giving women pieces they feel great in and will wear repeatedly. Markey and Shah further encourage a “Buy less, buy better” ethos by making timeless pieces in high-quality fabrics that can stay in a woman’s wardrobe for many years.
Sustainable forms of retail and supply chain are our passion. Modern women's values are changing, and it's up to us to pioneer new business models to serve them.
– Celeste Markey and Elizabeth Rickard Shah