Sustainable Fashion Feature: Shift to Nature
As many of you know already, I have been on the hunt for friendly, fashionable, sustainable, fashion houses with great customer service which utilize sustainable business practices. And I found a great eco-fashion start-up that goes by the name of Shift to Nature, in Australia. They are awesome! Truly, super-cool and incredibly friendly and cooperative people! So much so, and I have to tell you this because it just never happens, that I was put in contact with the owner and personality of Shift to Nature and she is the one who made sure that every single one of my questions were answered, that I had all the facts, and went WAY above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that we have everything we need to make our own evaluations of the company! (and she returned all 8 million of my emails) This fact, in and of itself, really made me acquire a fashion crush on this company. I wish that more companies were able to understand the true value of incredible customer relations. As this can either make or break a sale, or a lifelong of sales, regardless of how pretty the item on the hanger is.
How I came to contact Shift to Nature
I have spent countless hours researching fashion houses. I’ve even spent loads of time searching brand names woven within massive e-commerce sites, in the search for a handful of businesses that offer fashionable sustainable clothing that I feel confident are the crème de la crème. However, even though sustainable and eco-clothing seems to be gaining in popularity, there are some boxes that need to be ticked for me to contact a company in the first place:
- A majority of the products must be natural fabrics (I say majority because some of the businesses are doing good things by upcycling non-natural fabrics to avoid creating waste)
- Fashionable items. I want to feel beautiful in my clothes at work, on a date and at home. I know you do too.
- Fair trade (it doesn’t have to be registered fair trade. Using local artisans and product or helping those in need by paying fair wages IS Fair Trade…with or without the label.)
- Sustainable business practices
- Transparency in business practices
- A non-market based orientation for their products. (Unfortunately, so many eco-fashion houses are mis-using the identity as more of a marketing strategy and less of a genuine concern)
- Good customer service
- Reasonable international shipping. (You know this is a MUST for me. I’m neurotic about shipping…not sure why.)
Shift to Nature has far exceeded my wish list.
To show you some of the 100% natural fabric women’s items I fell in lust with, I’ve created a virtual capsule wardrobe for ladies from some of Shift to Nature’s product line! Even the sunglasses are bamboo!
- Bamboo Wide Yoga Pants, 2. Bamboo Long Sleeve Crew Neck Shirt, 3. Merino Wool Eco Snood, 4. Aurora Black Scarf, 5. Tortoise Ethical Eyewear
A bit about Shift to Nature
Shift to Nature does work with designers, some are smaller than others, which creates a great opportunity for new designer discovery as well as for the consumer to find an item they go ga-ga over without having to pay the usually astronomical designer price. (Hello Virtual Capsule Wardrobe…you will be MINE!) New items from different designers are added monthly, as well as keeping with some of the continuous favourites. They do re-order stocks of the best-selling items, so if there is something you love that currently isn’t in stock, ask about it and wait whilst daydreaming. It will be back!
Product pricing is affordable compared to many of the eco-fashion stores, but it is not cheap. It is quite clear that they go to great lengths to provide fair pricing and to take into account the customers relative sticker shock when making the move to eco-clothing. They also offer very reasonable international shipping (Yay! Happy me 🙂 🙂 )
I’m doing something a bit different in this feature. I hope it works out. While I was looking over some of the answers to my questions I received, I wasn’t exactly sure how to put it into narrative. You see, my problem was this: The answers just ooze personality. If I were to reformat that into my words it would….lose something. I think that the personality is so important to a brand, especially when it is the owner speaking and you can hear the passion and excitement in your mind while reading. I don’t want to take that away because it is so important! So for the first time ever, I am leaving it in Question (me)/Answer (Shift to Nature) format.
Q – Does Shift to Nature work with any designers?
A – Shift to Nature is a really large collaboration with designers and brands for their own products as well as new in-house Shift Collaboration such as Faite, Noa Lane Nail Polish and Lily & Leo organic cotton kids range coming soon! Designers with their own brands are featured such as Alas the label with Sleepwear, Eleven44 hot yoga wear and more. All of the designers work on a small scale and have chosen to make the shift to eco fabrics. While this has been in no way limiting their designs, as each designer brings the wearability and softness of eco fabrics into a contemporary colour, lines, prints and fits. Our “in-house” designers are actually wonderful collaborations with notable freelancer designers around the world. Aude in France, Tess in Perth, Project Change collaboration in Cambodia, eco designers in Sydney. For me this promotes alternate economies for people. Lovely and creative women, often mothers can work at home, managing their own time and also having fun with the process. It’s one of my favourite parts of the Shift to nature process – there is now a community of very talented creatives around it – including Bloggers 😉
Q – I see that you also include Lenzig Tencel, any thoughts as to eventually incorporating Cupro into your catalogue?
A – Yes I would love to include Cupro which is a regenerated cellulose fiber derived from cotton linter (the ultrafine, silky fibers that stick to the seeds of the cotton plant after it’s been ginned) creating a silk like cotton fabric. However as this is a new fabric it is still very expensive to make it into reasonably priced eco garments. I noticed that high end designers such as Donna Karen are using it. This raises the question of cost in the fashion industry – hopefully as the new eco fabrics are developed and become widely available a drop in their prices can make them available to smaller designers who can find the balance between eco and acceptable purchase prices for the consumer. There is a tension here. While customers move toward ethical and eco purchases there is difficulty often to justify the higher prices. The higher prices are ethical and related to the real transparent cost of eco fabrics, fair wages and ethical business. However due to fast fashion companies producing incredibly cheap and plastic clothes, consumers are now used to purchasing leggings for $5. This makes the shift to eco very difficult, unfortunately. For designers and makers we are limited to reasonably priced organic cotton, bamboo, lenzig tencel and other such more available fabrics to keep the costs reasonable.
Q – Approximately how many farmers, artisans, etc can you say that your Fair Trade practices help worldwide?
A – Goodness, that is very difficult to say. It takes a lot of minds, hands and hearts to make quality products. Possibly 100’s of families are helped through the activities of Shift to Nature designers and makers. This is probably unique as Shift is a collective with people making lovely items across the world – from Estonia, Bali, Germany, India, Cambodia, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Peru – rather than having a limited place of making. As we search for newly unique items everyday we find some wonderful items – and manage it all online, so as carbon neutral as possible in terms of business operation. And we are not limited to English – we love to stretch ourselves and make connections really finding the most unique products.
Q – Do your sustainable practices extend to logistics as well?
A – Yes so for items that come to us as stock, we use sea freight if international. For packaging and posting to our customers we use Australia Post who have good quality assurance and standards. We also believe in public shared economy – so it is important to utilise the international postal systems in each country – keeping them alive and serving all. Based in Adelaide Australia, we have recycle policies of our local council. We remove as much plastic wrapping as we can and then hand wrap the items with recycled tissue paper. We then recycle or reuse as much as we possibly can.
Q – Is there transparency in Shift to Nature’s business practices?
A – Yes there is as much as possible. We will be applying for B-Corp status such that, this certification will require reports. However we are a startup and so I am partly still self-funding the business. We do not make a profit because all of the funds go back toward research and development of new designs and eco products. We are hoping that this will carry us into the future. Our business aims is to create a self-sustainable business – meaning that it can survive as a business stand alone, without additional investment, and that its income is reinvested back into itself to create better products. We spend much much more on R&D than on marketing, for example.
Q – Any new product lines we can look forward to?
A – 🙂 Big smile – yes! Without giving everything away, we think eco and fair products should start with kids. Kids have a big sense of fairness and care and childhood is where a sense of wonder and concern for the planet is sometimes at its strongest. They also want fun and comfortable clothes. Lily & Leo is just around the corner – but no peaking!
Here are some of the items for Home, Kids and Men available:
And this is where it gets even better! 😀
Shift to Nature has very generously offered us a 15% off discount promo code (M15) AND is giving away a bottle of Noa Lane vegan nail polish* with purchase (remember promo code: M15)! *While supplies last, colours may vary.
A bit about Noa Lane:
Q – I would love to share more about the Noa Lane Vegan Nail polish that you have so generously offered as a bonus to our readers! What makes it vegan?
A – This is so exciting! People often say: ‘but nail polish has no animal products’ but it actually does. Regular nail polish does, in fact, contain fish Scales (usually from Herring) that creates the Sparkle. The iridescent qualities of the scales make them “ideal” for grinding up into glitter. Noa Lane Nail Lacquer does not contain any Fish Scales. The sparkle comes from mineral Micas! Naturally forming mica flakes are from Muscovite mineral rocks which are refined and for safe cosmetic use, the result combined with colour gives the beautiful Opalescent finish. When used in nail polish suspension base the Mica powders distribute freely and evenly leaving a uniform colour saturation. The shine and shimmer of the mica compliments glitter polishes and unlike powder pigments micas do not clump or cause streaking in nail polish. Noa Lane Nail Lacquer also Does Not contain these animal by-products commonly found in regular nail polish: stearic acid, glycerol and cochineal, or crushed bugs. Items from the Noa Lane Mineral Cosmetics range are Vegan and Not Tested on Animals. They are free of Five particularly nasty chemicals including formaldehyde which has been linked to cancer by national research bodies. Noa Lane Mineral Cosmetics is made in Australia with ingredients comply with International standards.
It has truly been a pleasure to work in conjunction with Shift to Nature in order to write this feature on sustainable fashion! They have gained a lifelong customer here and I know that your experience, should you so choose to check out the company, will be as awesome as mine has been!
Thank you so much for reading! And please remember, if you find yourself on the Shift to Nature website use promo code: M15 at checkout for a 15% discount and a complimentary bottle of Noa Lane vegan nail polish! (*While supplies last, nail colours may vary).