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Meet Camille Preymann of The Forest Said in Topanga Canyon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Camille Preymann.

Camille, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Little did I know I would end up being a fashion designer. In fact, I felt put off by the industry. After leaving Austria, where I was born and raised, I randomly ended up applying to Istituto Marangoni, a London based fashion college.

I guess I was somehow fascinated by the “weirdos” with green and blue hair, wearing the craziest outfits, hanging out outside this building. At first, I thought it was an art gallery, so I walked in and was told it’s a fashion college. Not having read the program and thinking I would spend the following three years sketching, I enrolled.

Oops! Turned out to be a full-on fashion design course with pattern cutting, fashion history, marketing, business and so on. I hated it. I hated my life. I was really unhealthy and depressed. I thought why did I waste three years of my life. But to be honest, I didn’t know what to do with my life. I was lost and needed to find my focus.

A few years later, on my way back from a festival, I somehow ended up at a tea ceremony in Topanga Canyon. It sucked me in. I was completely mesmerized by the magical oak trees in the Canyon. Nature was my medicine. Observing it brought me back to my roots. The forest grounded me and reminded me of my purpose.

Being one with nature was the simple solution to my problems. The trees taught me oneness. Interconnectedness. The circle I see in everything earth-derived. I felt like I owed the planet to start The Forest Said.

My purpose is to create meaning with my work, and it just happens that fashion is my tool. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you do. It’s the why that will make you persevere.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My biggest obstacle is definitely sourcing sustainably and ethically produced materials. Making sustainable fashion look exciting can be a struggle.

There are limited suppliers, and many intricate fabrics are impossible to find. I’ll always have some extravagant idea of fabric design in my head and will search for it forever but won’t find an appropriately certified eco-friendly and ethically produced version of it.

That’s when I sometimes have to compromise on intricacy and go for a simpler option.

The Forest Said – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I place enormous value on ethical and eco-friendly fabric sourcing. It’s a growing market, but I feel like eco-fashion still has a bad connotation with many people. My goal and commitment is to lead a beginning-to-end sustainable brand. Instead of just doing one thing right, my goal is to make every step a thought-through sustainable choice.
We really need to make an effort to make a change. I make sure that our suppliers are eco/ethically certified in order to ensure I keep my promise to my customers. Since sustainable sourcing can be so difficult, when I can’t source a certain type of fabric, I sometimes purchase overstock material which might otherwise end up in landfill.

Another big one is local production. I like supporting other local small businesses. It’s really hard to survive as a small business in a world where everything gets bought up by big concerns. It’s beneficial too because it gives me transparency in terms of working conditions, waste reduction and above all, it’s a more intimate experience.

I wanted to go above and beyond conscious production, and try to generate benefit by using sales to give to a cause aligned to my vision for the brand, so I set up a system in which every sale safeguards an acre of rainforest through our donations to the Rainforest Foundation US, a non-profit NGO working with indigenous tribes to help them protect their land, the rainforests around the world.

I chose to work with natural fibres as I don’t want to put more plastics and microplastics into the circulation. Plus, it can be bad for our skin to wear synthetic fibres.

I strongly believe that clothing mustn’t have a due date. In my view, fashion seasons are a concept of the past. We should not follow the trends but buy what feels good, does good and most importantly, what fits your body shape. I try my best to create timeless looks and place high value on Individuality. This is why I will occasionally deliver a one-of-a-kind, hand-printed or hand-dyed pieces.

Additionally, I have a small range of items in the “Reincarnated by The Forest Said” section, where you can shop treasures, mostly vintage, which have been given a new life. And lastly, Recycling. I’m collecting all the scraps from the production so I can make sure to recycle them properly.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Before the official launch, I had a few of my pieces in a friend’s store in Topanga Canyon. The shop was neither set up for clothing nor my price range, so I expected nothing from it. I hand printed a lot of my first pieces, so I put a ton of love into the fibers.

I could not believe it when I was told that someone bought three of my pieces, including the hand-printed pants. I repeatedly jumped up and down filled with excitement, screaming like a lunatic. It felt great to share the love with whomever appreciated my work.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Léa Scafidi, Lindsey Childs, Clara Morberg, Charles Roberts

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