10 Questions: Cora Hilts of Reve en Vert
Image: Reve en Vert
You’ve probably heard of Reve en Vert. It’s been billed as the sustainable equivalent of Net-a-Porter. With it’s slick, contemporary feel, luxurious brands and honest voice, we think it’s better than Net-a-Porter! So when we were given a chance to speak to Cora Hilts, the Co Founder behind the sustainable shopping destination, we couldn’t contain our excitement. Here are 10 Questions for Cora Hilts.
In 2013, after studying Environmental Politics, Cora Hilts founded Reve en Vert with her partner, Natasha Tucker. In the years since, their online platform has grown to include Womens and Mens clothes, accessories, beauty and lifestyle. It’s a one stop shop for all your sustainable lifestyle needs. And better yet, their transparent buying parameters mean that you can be confident that every brand in the shop is sustainable in some way. As the sustainable lifestyle space grows, Cora talks us through the challenges of staying honest and how they are helping their customers to understand the value of well made clothes.
The Vendeur: Earlier this year you launched the Honest Space, a pop up showcasing your brands in London. What made you want to create a real life space for the platform?
Cora Hilts: I think there is still an amazing opportunity in physical retail – it really allows you to connect with your customers and converse with people you might not get to interact with otherwise. I am also so proud of the quality of our product and love giving people the chance to touch and try on these pieces as you can really tell what makes them special.
TV: You recently expanded to stock Beauty and Homewares, was this always the plan or an organic progression of Reve en Vert?
CH: We are actually finding that REV is somewhat expanding with my own personal growth into a more sustainable person. Fashion has always been the main driver behind the company, but as I have evolved so too has the company. I end up finding things for myself that I want to share with our community. For instance, beauty was launched after I made a personal vow to get rid of plastics in my own routine and commit to only organic products. Home is now coming along after I got married last year and realised there was no place to go for a sustainable gift registry. Maternity and baby seems to be next on the list!
“I am so proud of the quality of our product and love giving people the chance to touch and try on these pieces, as you can really tell what makes them special.” – Cora Hilts, Co Founder of Reve en Vert
TV: Do you work personally with the brands you stock to encourage their growth in a more sustainable and circular way?
CH: Absolutely. I feel so confident in all of our brands because I have personal relationships with pretty much all of the designers. Therefore I am able to talk to them about their sustainable practices and encourage things that I find to be even more sustainable ways of doing things. Every brand that is on REV is innovative, we always hope to push boundaries alongside our designers.
TV: How much research goes into deciding which brands to stock? Can you take us through the process and the amount of time you usually spend on this?
CH: I would say on average it takes a couple of weeks of conversations for us to bring a brand on board. Initial conversations where I ask about basic sustainability practices are followed by some back and forth on the finer details once I have those answers. I look into everything from materials to water usage, dyes to labour and finally packaging. We are moving away from accepting anything in single use plastic packaging, this was a big thing I worked on in 2018. Now pretty much every brand we work with is plastic free!
TV: REV has recently moved away from using the word sustainability when referring to business practises and brands. Why was this?
CH: We still use the word quite a bit as it does cover a multitude of really good practices. However in the middle of last year I got really concerned about how many people were starting to use this word in a way that I knew wasn’t actually “sustainable” in my definition of the sense. Therefore we have tried to use the word ‘honest’ more. I think this is what is going to set us apart as more people start using sustainability as a buzzword. At REV we have nothing to hide along our supply chains or business practices so we can guarantee transparency and ethics and speak honestly to what’s happening behind the scenes. I don’t think a lot of other companies can do that fully.
TV: We keep hearing that sustainability is a ‘trend’. Which worryingly implies that it will be fleeting and that people don’t fully understand the intention behind it. Do you think consumers and brands are taking it seriously enough?
CH: Sustainability is absolutely not a trend, it’s a necessity and in my opinion, the future. It simply has to be the way we start consuming and living our lives. The planet cannot take the sort of abuse and unconscious living we have been doing over the last few decades. I think people are starting to realise this. I do wish everyone would move a bit quicker but I feel positive about the change!
“Sustainability is absolutely not a trend, it’s a necessity and in my opinion, the future.” – Cora Hilts, Co Founder of Reve en Vert
TV: On the website and on social media you have very honest conversations with your customers about pricing, quality and logistics. What made you decide to do this when most other retailers choose not to explain themselves.
CH: I really wanted to engage in this conversation because people often accuse sustainable fashion of being more expensive and that is true but there’s a really good reason for it. When you actually pay people living wages, when you operate with respect to the environment and when you make sure things are made to last that comes with a cost. I think the real problem is not that we don’t spend money on fashion (otherwise fast fashion brands wouldn’t be making millions and millions of pounds) but that we expect to get a lot of stuff for very little. Therefore we try to speak to people about investing in pieces you truly love and cherish and helping to pay for an economy that works in the interest of all people and our planet.
TV: With regards the cost of shipping and products etc, your stance is a brave and unwavering one. Is it scary to stand so firm on your beliefs in this way when other retailers offer all sorts of deals and sales and the retail landscape is looking unstable?
CH: It was a really big decision as a retailer to stop doing seasonal sales but I think one of our most important ones to date. I realised that I pretty much saw a sale on every other week at most other companies. It’s completely insane as a way of doing business and it really makes consumers not value what goes into making the pieces they buy when they can constantly get them on mark down. The final price of what we sell at REV truly reflects the energy that went into making the piece and is what it is worth. I hope people can understand that and also be open to slowing down the fashion cycle a bit! (Click here for more details on REV’s policies.)
TV: Do you think the tide is finally starting to shift in terms of fast fashion or mass consumerism?
CH: I really do! I was actually going up the stairs at Soho House the other day and two girls walked by that were definitely very fashionable and they were talking about sustainability and how they were both giving up shopping for anything that wasn’t ethically made. It was such a positive moment for me to hear that out of the blue. I think people can feel really overwhelmed about the state of the world; climate change, pollution etc. We have all of these horrid problems we really need to tackle, but our stance always has been and always will be that everyone has an individual responsibility and opportunity to make huge changes simply in the way they choose to spend their money. We are really hoping to make some serious impact towards a better future in this way with Reve En Vert.
TV: Can you tell us about any new brands that you will be stocking in 2019?
CH: I went to Paris earlier this year and met with brands I am super excited about including Envelope 1976, Kow Tow, Shaina Mote and Behno. So stay tuned!
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