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 sustinability 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.

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

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 be longlasting. The reason we don't use an organic cotton, spandex mix 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.

Recycled Polyester

We are proud to be using recycled polyester and aim to remove all virgin sourced synthetic fibres from our supply chain by the end of 2020. The challenge we face here is that recycled or not, we are still using polyester and with this comes microfibres. 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 take this issue seriously and want to ensure our customer is aware of these issues and know how to avoid them. We encourage the purchase of guppy bags with every polyester purchase. Guppy bags catch the microfibres and prevent them from going into our waterways. We are on a journey to discovering recycled polyester alternatives however we are also proud to be using GRS certified fabric that redirects post consumer waste plastic away from landfills and into beautiful, long lasting clothes. We will keep you updated on this journey.

Non Violent Peace Silk

So far our journey to finding a peace silk, that meets the quality and durability of the silks we currently use, has been a challenge. We want to ensure that we are not making a compromise on quality as the ultimate sustainability of a product comes down to its durability. Please be patient with us as we continue to work with our supplier in developing a peace silk that meets our high standards.