Actress Alysia Reiner’s Eco-Conscious Fashion Line LIVARI Supports Formerly Incarcerated Women

For many women across America, the Women’s March held in Washington D.C and numerous cities across the country on January 21st heralded the start of a year in which women rose up, spoke out, took a stand and embraced power like never before. Sure, the Trump administration pursued their relentless attack on many freedoms and rights throughout the year, aided by many complicit leaders in Congress, but this regression has emboldened citizens in new and exciting ways.

Actress Alysia Reiner is one of those people, who, along with two other women, founded a clothing line that has become a way for them to combine each of their platforms and passions to empower even more women. Of course, we are all familiar with Alysia’s work on the smash hit Netflix show ‘Orange Is The New Black’, as well as the film ‘Equity’ which her company Broad Street Productions produced. She is also going beyond the fictional story lines in OITNB to help real life women whose lives have been affected by incarceration.

The line is called Livari, and was a collaboration between Alysia, celebrity stylist Claudine DeSola and, fittingly, Women’s March organizer Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs who also has her own label called Tabii Just. The idea was to create clothing that is not only beautiful but also Eco-conscious, which came out of a response to the increasing conversations about climate change and the need to protect the environment.

“I was actually at the Women’s March and in this moment of feeling like both women and the environment are an endangered species, what can we do in a positive way that makes people feel good? And that actually has positive impact,” she said in an interview with Cheddar.com.

Livari took their aesthetic and message to the fashion industry in September during NYFW, where the founders also walked the runway in their sustainable clothing. In an interview with Bustle at the time, Alysia says the idea was to show that apparel can create influence in a meaningful way that goes beyond the fabric.

“The thing I’m most excited about with LIVARI is using fashion and art as a way to make environmental change… Instead of fabrics going into landfills, how can I give them a new life? How can I create beautiful classic pieces with a story to tell?,” she said.

They used re-purposed fabric, that often ends up in landfills which is a major problem with clothing production, and teamed up with a number of companies, Preview Textiles, Rainbow Leather, Lanificio Subalpino SRL, and Two Sisters EcoTextiles, to help minimize waste.

Along with being environmentally-conscious about the material they use, the Livari founders wanted to be mindful about their carbon footprint and worked with the nonprofit Cool Effect, a carbon reduction organization, to reduce their emissions.

In September Alysia told Bustle how the founders were passionate about wanting to also support formerly incarcerated women, similar to the model clothing line Road 22 created. They employ women who have left prison and need to find a means to financially support themselves and their families, but often find it hard to get the types of job that make that possible due to the stigma around incarceration. Livari’s focus on this mission is about far more than just being inspired by OITNB.

“Our dream is employing women coming out of prison, like our partner ROAD 22, who is making our T-shirts for the first collection. So we’re not only zero waste and trying to minimize our carbon footprint thanks to our partner Cool Effect, but hopefully we will actually help make real change in the industry in many different ways,” she said at the time.

According to the ACLU, there are more than one million women behind bars or under the control of the criminal justice system, and women are the fastest growing segment of the incarcerated population increasing at nearly double the rate of men since 1985. There are many discussions about the high percentage of men in prisons across the US, but we cannot have conversations about criminal justice reform without addressing the unique challenges that face women also.

2016 figures from the National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women state that women’s recidivism rates are similarly troubling to those of men. About one-quarter of women released from prison fail within 6 months (i.e., have an arrest for a new crime), one-third fail within a year, and 2/3 fail (68.1%) five years out from release. Gainful employment that doesn’t discriminate against their record is a huge hurdle to overcome for women, especially because studies show they are more likely to be primary caregivers of children and need to support their families.

What Road 22 does is give women a chance at life where society and the justice system is failing them. And now Livari are getting involved in helping these women. From the beginning, Alysia says working with formerly incarcerated women was a main goal, having worked with the Women’s Prison Association, an organization that promotes alternatives to incarceration and helps women living in the community to avoid arrest or incarceration by making positive changes in their lives.

“I’ve always found our criminal justice system to be something abhorrent, and not something I’m proud of as an American. I never felt called to do something about it until I started working on ‘Orange [Is The New Black’] and learned so many statistics that made me even sadder,” she said in the interview with Cheddar.

“So I started working with the Women’s Prison Association, I’m now on the board of something called Still She Rise which is Tulsa, Oklahoma, because that [city] has the highest rate of mothers incarcerated across the country. And in some cases it’s super petty crimes such as getting too many parking tickets that they can’t pay and they end up in prison away from their children,” she continued.

It is indeed a noble cause to raise awareness about, especially at a time when conversations around feminism and supporting vulnerable women who become victims of a system not designed with their well-being in mind. But as Road 22 and Livari are showing, our collective consciousness about the rate of female incarceration has to translate to action, and we can do this by purchasing their backbone t-shirt from the Livari website, designed by award-winning artist Hodaya Louis, printed ethically by Magdalena Concepts, then made by the women at Road 22.

The Livari team are showing how fashion can be a force for good in the world and inspire people in creative ways. Despite so many depressing facts about the criminal justice system, as well as what is happening with our environment with policies from the Trump administration, there are ways we as citizens can take control and do our part.

“That’s something that I’ve always believed in, is in the face of adversity, how do we keep on getting up?” Alysia said.

You can watch their New York Fashion Week runway show in the video below, and get to know more about Livari on their website.


 

 

 

 

One Comment

  1. Pingback: 'Egg' Star Alysia Reiner & Composer Jamie Jackson Discuss Changing The Status Quo In Hollywood - GirlTalkHQ

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