Esper represents the new wave of designers. He’s thoughtful and reflects on the impact he creates. His brand Come Back as a Flower (CBAAF) focuses on what the community wants and delivers style-driven pieces in harmony with nature. Meet Esper below.
What is Come Back as a Flower?
Esper: CBAAF is a community-centered, sustainability-driven, modern American clothing brand and creative house based in Los Angeles, CA.
Community-centered – yes. What inspired the name?
Esper: The brand name was directly inspired by the Stevie Wonder song of the same title, which played a large role in the formation of the brand and some of the initial pieces I made.
What came first, the love for style or the environment?
Esper: The love for style and the environment has been a part of my being since birth. I hoped to study fashion originally, before art school. And I’ve always been drawn to nature and all the forms of life that exist in the wild. For me “tie-dye” is just a small part of a larger narrative I plan to introduce to the world.
So I recently tried to use natural dyes to tie-dye some bandanas. It’s like *really* hard to make vibrant colors no matter how long I let those onion skins simmer. Do you use natural dye? If not, what dye do you use?
Esper: We are working on using natural dye for our pieces, but like you said it’s a very difficult process that doesn’t allow for much variety and vibrance — so for now we are using low-impact normal cotton dye, but as the brand grows we are putting a lot more into researching alternatives.
Into it – let us know what you find out. It feels like everyone and their uncle is online making something. How does using your hands to create something affect you versus creating something digitally?
Esper: Yes definitely. I’ve always used my hands to make art in some form or another since I was old enough to grab stuff, so for me it’s like second nature. I think there’s a level of focus and involvement that goes into handmade clothing and objects, that can’t be replicated digitally. In the end, the connection with the product and its lifetime with the consumer creates this beautiful narrative that’s hard to achieve with computers and automation.
That’s beautiful. There’s a lot of beauty in your work, from your website to Instagram posts. You focus on nature and animals – which are both calming and a reminder that we’re part of it all. Why are these your focus?
Esper: I’m so glad you find it calming. It’s kind of like returning home for me in a way, because in the big picture – we humans are still very much animals in nature, it’s easy to forget that we’re still a part of it all. I want CBAAF to be a paradise for the community. I want anyone who experiences the brand to feel like they are entering a harmonious place in tune with the laws and balance of nature, which is ultimately what we aim to represent.
What about your work motivates you?
Esper: I’m motivated by the intangible. I’m motivated by the nature of reality that lies beyond what we experience everyday, and how that fits into our place in the environment and ultimately the universe. I think there’s a deep spiritual potential in every human being, and we can all tap into it to some degree through art/design/style. I’m deeply motivated to continually discover and interpret.
How do you define sustainability as it relates to the fashion industry?
Esper: Well right now it’s treated as more of a surface level talking point. Sustainability is a box that the fashion industry checks on their list of things they have to pretend to care about. At the end of the day, until we see real changes in the way the industry operates on a macro-scale (even when that means less profit) then things aren’t really being discussed in a real manner, in my opinion.
Where are you at in your sustainability journey? Where would you like to be?
Esper: I’m just barely getting started. There’s so many alternative ways to produce amazing clothing without sacrificing the environment, and I’m just beginning to learn. I want to reach a place where our entire supply chain for all of our collections, is sustainable and ethical and in tune with nature.
How does CBAAF balance the production of fresh looks with a sustainability initiative?
Esper: It’s all about timing I think. I work slowly and watch how the community reacts, and I’m only using as much as the brand demands. I’m currently working on our first cut & sew collection and I’m studying how certain things will be produced sustainably and where we need to focus to make things work with the environment instead of against it.
Ooo can’t wait to see that. What’s your advice to brands that are interested in becoming more sustainable, but struggle on where to start?
Esper: It depends on the brand and what they are producing, but overall the best place to start is with knowledge. Read up on how your materials affect the environment and then read up on alternatives that reduce that impact.
What shifts would you like to see in the industry to help address current sustainability challenges? How are we fucking up, and how would you change that?
Esper: I’d like to see a shift away from materials made of oil/fossil fuels (like nylons, polyester, etc.) and anything producing microplastics. Brands are fucking up by not addressing the big picture, which is the systemic sacrifice of environment over production. I’m working on a plan to change things, but in the meantime we’ve started with recycled cotton and fleece.
What’s one prediction you have about what the style of the future will look like?
Esper: The style of the future will look more relaxed and comfortable. The material choices will start to be a reflection of the consumers knowledge rather than whats on trend or marketed. A lot more vintage.
Our society often gets criticized for our short-sightedness. We build more four-year plans and less hundred-year plans, put on more band-aids and less behavior shifts. Come Back as a Flower feels like it’s motivated by a larger mission. What is that mission? What future do you rally around?
Esper: We’re motivated by harmony with the Earth. We rally around a future where human beings aren’t destroying the environment we live in, but instead work with the Earth to create harmony between every living creature. These things coupled with a deep sense of community and culture.
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