I was still at school when I realize I wanted to make a difference in the fashion industry. Changing the fashion industry is quite a challenge, I know! But so far, it has been my mission. At first, I thought I would start my own recycled clothing line.I somehow realized that by doing so I would struggle with sourcing the rights materials.
In 2011, I started to work for Betina Lou. It is at that point that I saw that is was possible to choose sustainable materials to make clothes. Thus I decided to create a whole clothes collection for my bachelor degree in a Slow made philosophy with ethical materials.
When I came back from New York in 2013, I had so many ideas of what I would love to create. I launched my first leather goods collections, named Matu. I thought leather was, in some way, sustainable. But, not all leathers are sustainable. There are leathers that we called chrome tanned leather that are actually very nocive for the environment. From there, I started to look for a better leather. I was open-minded to use veggie material like Pinatex. I found vegetable tanned leather. It's a leather that is tanned with oak bark or mimosa bark. “Tanning” is a technical term used to describe the process in which an animal skin (the hide) is transformed into durable leather.
Sustainability : Sustain Ability
The ability to sustain
Excellence comes in practice. They told me that phrase in my yoga class and since then it resonate with me. No need to be perfect everyday, no need to be perfect when you show your work out there. Adopting a sustainable way of life or way of creating is all about documentation, getting informations on everything you buy and getting inspired by what have been done so far in the fashion industry. I think it is important to see what others might have done in the sustainable movement, not to copy but to improve it together, as a community. AS for vegetable tanned leather, I hope designer will use it more over time so that we will see a decrease of chrome tanned leather. : )
At home or at the studio, I try to be as ethical as possible : I use a loofah to wash the dishes, I recycle, I try to keep everything that is still good to eat or to wear ! Note that before creating a new product I look in the studio what I have to do so. If I have everything I need, I go ahead and make a new item. If I don't, then I look to replace trimmings or the kind of leather and make a whole new product with what I have. Zero wast creation.
There was a time where I could only buy 200 leather rivets at the time. The leather rivets are the main closure on Miljours product, I think they are so cute ut also practical and durable. Today, as I write this journal post, I buy at least 500 to 2000 units at the time, because I know that I will use them and that they are good for the products I make.
Why fashion anyway ?
We could try to boycott the fashion industry but I don't think we could do it. The fashion industry is originally there for tree main reasons : decency, protection and look. In my opinion, the fashion industry has strayed more in what we look like. But don't forget, we need the fashion industry to protect ourselves, i.e. to cover during winter (hello Canada!). Instead of fighting against the industry, we should learn about bad practices and make them better. Educate don't hate.
Where shall we begin?
Stay informed on what you buy. Look at hang tags. Companies who are ethics talk about it because they are proud. If it isn't written if it's sustainable, it is probably not...Read their about section, how many people are working on your product? Are they fairly paid? If you doubt, ask Google. He knows everything.
There is nothing wrong in needing a new shirt or a new sweater. Actually, it's totally normal. But before throwing your old shirt in the garbage, think about bringing it at a place where they recycle garments or at a basement church. When you are ready to buy a new one, choose wisely. Natural fibers (hemp, wool, cotton, cashmere, bamboo, etc) are better for environment than synthetic fibers. It is better to encourage a ethic company based in another country that a non-ethic company based in your city. Trust me, it will pay on the long term.
Share the good news! If you have found something you truly love and you truly trust, share it with your friends, they probably want to know how to consume differently. Share it on Facebook, Instagram. There is nothing wrong in sharing good content many times.
How do you choose to make a difference ? Give us your tips!