There’s so much to love about fashion. From the colors and patterns to the endlessly evolving trends, fashion is an industry of creativity that seeks to constantly inspire while answering the ever-present question of what to wear today.
Unfortunately, there’s also a whole lot that’s not so lovable about the industry. From start to finish, it’s a sector that’s all about waste. With scrap materials aplenty during production, not to mention the use-it-then-lose-it mentality behind fast and ready-to-wear fashion, the industry reflects excess in the extreme.
For Hudson Valley resident Yuli Ziv, that excess is a problem. As a fashion industry leader with more than two decades of experience under her belt, Ziv, who founded influencer marketing platform Style Coalition in 2008, has seen firsthand the sort of behind-the-scenes waste that results during the production of that covetable “It bag” or a brand’s next groundbreaking collection.
“Working with so many companies, I saw the beautiful side, but I also saw a lot of waste and production that was not always ethical,” she recalls.
After selling Style Coalition to Launchmetrics in 2017, Ziv and her family began spending more time in Garrison, where they owned a weekend house. Eventually, the lure of life outside New York City won out, leading them to say goodbye to the Big Apple and hello to a permanent home in the Hudson Valley.
It was around that time that Ziv began to seriously ponder the cycle of waste in the fashion industry. Homing in on the relationship between clothing and disposability, she wondered how apparel could attain the same longevity as technology, with the ability to be worn day in and day out without succumbing to signs of wear or changing trends.
With this notion in mind, she came up with Ultima, her response to the inherent waste problem that plagues nearly every corner of the fashion industry. A minimalist concept by design, Ultima minimizes the potential for waste via long-lasting materials and functional, timeless designs.
Ziv debuted the brand in February with her one-and-done Ultima dress. Available in two colors (classic black and light gray), the dress is a shining example of simplicity and versatility. As a piece that’s at once utilitarian and sleek, it’s almost a uniform of sorts, making it just as ideal for fashion insiders in the city as for working mothers who experience spills and stains on the daily.
A working mother herself, Ziv designed the dress to be adaptable for pregnancy, temperature, and changing situations. The dress can be worn 21 different ways, thanks to its hidden zippers, drawstrings, and adaptable features. It comes with a hood and removable sleeves and can be worn as a short, midi, or long style according to preference.
“It serves a purpose and takes you through a complicated life,” she explains. “It was really essential for me to be able to wear it in different temperatures and climates.”
Just as the Ultima dress is stylistically versatile, so too is it adaptable to the wear and tear of life. As Ziv explains it, the dress is a dream piece for everything from work meetings and long flights to days at home and afternoons in the garden (she speaks from experience on all of them). Its unique polyester material is stain-, water-, and wrinkle-resistant, not to mention durable and breathable.
“It’s a fabric that works for winter and summer,” Ziv enthuses.
Because Ultima launched in February, about a month before its production factory in New York City’s Garment District closed in response to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s ready for a relaunch in the Hudson Valley this summer. To start, it’s hosting a weekend show at 44 Main, Cold Spring’s pop-up retail space on July 24-26. After that, the e-commerce brand will continue to sell primarily online, although Ziv hopes to plan more experiences to connect with the Hudson Valley community and invite them to check Ultima out firsthand.
“It’s to my advantage to be here in the Hudson Valley,” she admits. “It puts less stress on me as an entrepreneur and gives me space to think clearly and be more connected to the consumer. I would love to build the first major global brand in fashion out of the Hudson Valley.”