Behind the Brand: Deborah Lindquist - A Pioneer Of Eco Fashion
By Contributing Editor, Tiffany Paige of Green With Tiffany
Deborah Lindquist is a pioneer in eco-conscious fashion. The “Green Queen,” a nickname for which she’s known, is celebrating her 38th year as a designer. She’s renowned for her detailed, hand-made pieces of cashmere. Her craftsmanship is spectacular – It’s hard to believe that the appliqués were all handcrafted. It was such a treat to be in her studio where all the magic happens.
Deborah is a true designer through and through, including studying at Parsons in NYC. She is now teaching a bit herself and has so much knowledge to share. Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, necessity is the mother of invention and where creativity is born. Being close to the land and nature instilled a sense of duty to take care of the land that, with fast fashion and even in conventional agriculture, is not considered at all. Deborah was doing sustainable fashion before there was even a name for it.
“I was always interested in taking things apart and reassembling them. I grew up on a farm and I didn’t have a lot of materials to glean from. My grandmother was a professional seamstress and sometimes I would get fabrics from her or I would find something in the store that I would take apart and reformulate. I also had an attic full of handmade clothing from the Victorian Era. That was really exciting to me that it was all hand-embroidered and hand-stitched. I started sewing on my mom’s treadle machine when I was 5, because I wanted to make things.”
Deborah’s creativity is sparked in different ways. Sometimes she finds fabrics she’d like to use and then comes up with the design. “Reincarnated cashmere” (as she calls it) was born from finding a big pile at a swap-meet. Some have holes and that’s where the appliques were created, to cover up problems. “I draw them and have paper patterns that I have in a book, all hand cut, all hand sewn.” Her custom-made sweaters are all hand constructed. “That is something about my line, I have this ancestry of my family making clothes from the Victorian era that was passed on to me.”
Denim is what Deborah is working on now. She acquired a bail, which equals one-thousand pounds. It was originally to make masks with appliques, but with so much material, a denim line was created of jeans, jackets, and handbags. Next up will be a class she will teach on craftsmanship and sustainability with its first focus on denim.
Using a mix of reincarnated cashmere, organic cotton, hemp, modal, and deadstock fabric, like the one from which she made her beautiful silk wrap pants she’s wearing, Deborah’s designs are unique, limited edition, and one of a kind.
“I like rescuing things… I rescue kimonos and saris, and deadstock fabric too, which is another kind of rescue. I’ve used deadstock fabric since the beginning because I’m working smaller quantities anyway.” In case you didn’t know, deadstock fabric is leftover rolls of fabric from production. If a company had to buy a thousand yards of fabric and had 200 yards leftover, instead of dumping it into the trash, someone like Deborah Lindquist can rescue it and create a capsule collection of limited edition.
Deborah’s favorite? “I have a real love for my cashmere. If there is any kind of fame, it would be my cashmere because of some of the people who wore it like Sharon Stone and Jessica Alba.” Then there are bustiers…”There’s this whole, wonderful shape that happens with bustiers. I’ve dressed Pink, Cristina Aguilara, and Charlize Theron.” From there it turned into wedding dresses.
Cashmere, denim, bustiers, wedding dresses, accessories, a home line, and now she can add…lifestyle. The Green Queen nickname has now turned into a basic, lifestyle, active line. The Green Queen Clothing by Deborah Lindquist is vegan, organic, and sustainable. “I think that people wear something more special with a basic t-shirt, so let’s do a sustainable t-shirt. I did organic cotton, modal, and a little hemp in the line.” Deborah is not known for “basic” with her designs. She’s known for complicated, intricate, skilled designs. Inspired from her love and teaching of yoga, Deborah has added crocheted leggings and cat suits. “It’s turned more into an active wear/dance line. And t-shirts. Yes, I still love my modal soft t-shirts, because they're just comfortable.” Modal is a beech wood fabric that’s a fast growing tree. The production method is earth-friendly and super soft.
Deborah has stayed true to using sustainable and repurposed materials for her long and established career. “I have to make a decision about fabric anyway, so I may as well make a decision about what my core values are. I want to rescue fabric from landfill. I want to use natural fibers as much as possible. I’m not a big fan of polyester and microplastics in the water. I love to rescue fabrics that I find really artistic like kimono or sari fabrics, something that had an incredible amount of handwork in it that’s in a trunk someplace and smells like mothballs and I can take it and turn it into a jacket or bustier. I’ve decided that this is the path I’m going down. It ends up being better for me because then it’s recognizable for my brand. It’s about core values.”