As proud as we are of everything we have achieved thus far, we are the first to point out that we are not perfect. We have many goals yet to achieve and many challenges we need to find solutions for. We want to take you, our customer, on this journey with us. We wrote our 2020 sustainability strategy as a roadmap for change and in this section we want to speak transparently about the mountains to be climbed and rivers to be crossed on the road ahead and why it is far from being a paved, concreted or well travelled one. We are also well aware that we can't do it all on our own. We need help from our suppliers, manufacturers, logistics partners, our retailers, and you, our amazing customers.

Systemic Change

For decades, the fashion industry has operated a make-take-dispose, linear economic model. This model is intrinsically flawed. It operates without the fair treatment of people and planet at its core, without transparency and with closed doors and secrecy being the status quo. These standard practices don't align with our values and we are here to do things differently. As a small brand, we often find ourselves at the mercy of antiquated rules. We will continue to do everything in our power however it is important to understand that in order for the industry to transform, it requires systemic change. We need to push reset on how the industry operates. We outline some of the challenges we face below.

Minimums

Fabric minimums are a major challenge to all small businesses. The higher the demand for a fabric, the cheaper a supplier can afford to sell it and the lower the minimum order required. Due to the low, sometimes non-existent demand for the sustainable or recycled fabrics we are requesting, minimum orders and prices can be unattainable. For example, in 2018 we wanted to place an order for GOTS certified denim. Despite being a GOTS certified factory, to ensure the specific batch we ordered was certified, the minimum order required was 10,000 metres of fabric...we needed 300 metres. With so few brands seeking these kinds of fabrics, this will continue to be a barrier for entry to many small businesses, especially those, like us, wanting to use the latest and most innovative sustainable fabrics.

Our Makers and Suppliers

We are proud to be made in New Zealand and work with many local businesses. Some are larger and more established while others are small, family owned businesses. While we have personally visited all our factories (most within a 20 minute radius of our head office) we understand the necessity of having them third party audited. The challenge we face here is the high costs associated with auditing and the fact that some of our family owned businesses are not set up with the infrastructre to 'tick all the boxes' in an audit designed for large scale, international factories. All our suppliers have signed our Suppliers Code of Conduct however we understand the need to ensure our specified standards are being upheld. We will embark on a third party audit for all our factories beginning in August this year. The purpose of these audits is to help us understand where they may face challenges and to work with them in order to help them gain certification.

Quality

We truly believe that beautiful clothes and a fair, ethical supply chain can co-exist. We are constantly exploring the use of new textiles whether it be rose petal silk, organic cottons, peace silk or recycled nylon. There are many challenges that come with exploring newly developed fabrics. For all the times we have used a new, innovative fabric, there have been an equal number of occasions where we have intended to use that fabric but have had to substitute it back to it's non-innovative counterpart. The reason for this is often it will arrive and the quality does not meet our standards. We have ordered organic fabric, for example, that on arrival has had so many flaws that we have had to reorder and replace it with it's non-organic equivalent to ensure the end product is one of quality. We will not put a product out to the world, if we know it cannot stand the test of time, as ultimately, if a product cannot stand the test of time, it is not sustainable. Each season our collections consistently contain more and more innovative and sustainable fabrics. When you charter new territories and test new things, trial and error is the reality, but we will always persist in bringing you beautiful clothes from an equally beautiful supply chain.

Design vs. Sustainability

Although we believe that sustainability shouldn't be sacrificed for style, there are often instances where this balancing act can become challenging. Historically, sustainable fashion has been far from fashionable! As integral as sustainability is to us, our global success cannot be attributed entirely to our sustainable credentials. While some of our customers come to us for sustainable fashion, many have come firstly for our design and we have then been able to educate them on sustainability. In order for us to introduce this new wave of women to sustainable fashion, we need to ensure our designs are always desirable and very occasionally this means, using fabrics that aren't organic or recycled. We go into detail on these fabrics below however there is always a key reason for us turning to these fabrics and we are always looking for more environmental solutions. In addition to this it is essential to highlight that we design and sell seasonally in line with the fashion calender. The fashion calendar and seasonal way of working, although antiquated, commits us to deadlines for design and delivery as we rely on our wholesale partners. This gives us very short windows of time to find innovative fabrics for new designs each season. Every season we progress but all progression can't be achieved in one season. Currently, working within this calendar keeps our business commercially viable, allowing us to move forward in our mission to turn the fashion industry around. The reason behind writing our sustainability strategy is to give us a roadmap for finding these solutions by the end of 2020.

Supply Chain

For us being transparent means talking openly about our entire supply chain. We are determined to find full traceability in all our products, meaning we can follow every step of our garments life through the supply chain. We are proudly manufactured in New Zealand however this is only the final tier of our supply chain. Before the fabric comes to us to be made into clothes, countless hands have already touched it. With our organic cotton for example full traceability means knowing who grew, harvested, processed, spun, wove, finished, and quality checked the cotton. Who transported it between each stage, then who sampled, cut, digitalised and graded, marked, sewed, pressed and finished each and every garment. We want to help you understand how many hands have touched each piece of clothing you buy, who these hands belong to and the stories these people have to tell. The supply chain is far from simple, it involves countless moving parts, factories and continents.

Progress Not Perfection: Fabrics

When it comes to fabric production it can be challenging to gather reliable and trustworthy information. Each country has differing laws and regulations for appropriate working conditions and processes. Third party certifications such as GOTS, GRS and Oeko-Tex help us navigate this although we do work with some small suppliers who are yet to be certified. Certifications can be incredibly expensive and we want to support small businesses who we know are doing amazing things but who cannot yet afford certification. Below are some challenges we face specific to individual fabrics.

Non organic cotton

Non-organic cotton is cotton that is produced using synthetic fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides. We are very aware of the risks posed to people and the planet by non-organic cotton and by the end of 2020 we aim to have removed all non-organic cotton from our supply chain (see strategy).

 This is an incredibly important mission for us and we currently use as little non-organic cotton as possible, however it does still make up a very small percentage of our collection. You will find it in our ribbed cotton pieces mixed with spandex. Ribbed cotton needs to be mixed with spandex for it to hold its shape, allowing the garment to stretch and retain its shape for longer.

Why not use an organic cotton spandex mix?
The reason comes back to minimums. With little to no demand for this fabric mix, minimums are completely unattainable for us as a small business. Regular cotton and spandex is a common fabric, in high demand and so minimums are affordable. As more brands become sustainably conscious and the demand increases we will be able to change this to an organic cotton mix.

Virgin sourced synthetics

Virgin sourced polyester and nylon are newly created materials made from non-renewable, petroleum based sources. It is important for us to remove all virgin-sourced synthetic fibres from our supply chain, which we aim to achieve by end of 2020 (see strategy). 

Currently we still use some virgin sourced polyester and nylon in our garments. The reason being that polyester offers technical benefits that other fabrics do not yet offer, or the minimums are still too high for us to order the non-polyester alternative that we would prefer to use. Each season we phase out these fabrics little by little, as we discover new fabrics that we can replace them with.  

The alternative to virgin synthetics are recycled polyester or regenerated nylon. We rely on the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) to ensure that our recycled fibres are sourced from post consumer waste and not produced solely to be recycled.

The other challenge we face here is that recycled or not, we are still using polyester, which when handled carefully, is a huge contributor to ocean pollution. Every time a polyester garment is washed it releases tiny plastic filaments into the water called microparticles. Microparticles can then be ingested by marine animals and in turn by humans and have been linked to numerous health risks. 

We want to ensure our customer is aware of these issues and know how to avoid them. We encourage the use of guppy bags when washing polyester garments at home. Guppy bags catch the microfibres and prevent them from going into our waterways. 

Silk

Non-violent silk or peace silk is silk which has been made after the moth has left its cocoon. When the silk moths emerge from the cocoon, it pierces the cocoon, breaking the continuous filament of silk. A single cocoon can provide anywhere between 600 and 1000 meters of continuous silk thread, but when the cocoon is pierced it reduces the yield of silk by nearly 80% making it cost up to twice as much as regular silk. We have found it challenging to find a peace silk to date that is of the same quality and durability of traditional silk.

Although peace silk is very important to us we don’t want to sacrifice quality as ultimately, if a garment cannot stand the test of time then it is not sustainable.

Please be patient with us as we continue to persist in our journey towards using 100% peace silk and if you are another brand who has found a brilliant quality and would be kind enough to share your supplier, we would be forever grateful.