FROM WASTE TO TREND, ANOTHER GREAT STARTUP AWARD STORY!

A great post about a a startup in the sustainable fabric/fashion industry. Thanks to http://www.amazinggracefulness.com for letting me share!

Link to the original post – Click here

selenaIt’s a soft Saturday afternoon when we meet up with Anita de Wit, one of the creators of circular fashion & textiles agency ReBlend and one of TEDxAmsterdamWomen Startup Award 2015 participants. In a small bustling café, just around the corner from Amsterdam Central Station we order coffee and fresh mint teas and Anita happily reveals to us all that has happened ever since pitching her idea at last year’s Startup Award preliminary rounds. Though she didn’t make it through to the finals, she looks back at the event as a great boost for her business which has resulted in a new Kickstarter Campaign in cooperation with Amsterdam based designer BYBROWN. 

You pitched at the Startup Award 2015, what was your pitch about?

I have a corporate background however, I’ve always wondered why it wasn’t possible for corporates to not just add…

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Desperately Seeking Sustainable Style

I had to share this post on sustainable style by http://www.hautemind.com There are so many of us, searching for sustainable fashion & beautiful pieces. We should support each other! Enjoy this post 🙂

HAUTE-MIND

 “Looking back in History, we see that the origins of fashion portray the character of a world built by manual techniques and natural fibers. Design was carried out as a reflection of culture and society. These are the images of an extinct world we need to recover.”  

 Adriana Marina, Founder of Animana

Tribal Necklace copy.jpg Necklace by Gilded-Mane

Anyone with a vested interest in fashion, knows that the industry is in the midst of an existential crisis. Like the mythical dog “Cerberus,” the modern day hybrid that is currently terrorizing the fashion flock has three heads – social media, economic uncertainty, and climate change. While each cultural phenomenon has generated problems that might be considered manageable in isolation, together they create a formidable beast. Social media, which provides a real-time digital window into the inner sanctum of high-fashion, often creates unrealistic expectations. Just because a…

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Super Sustainable Wardrobe Clean-out!

OK, I did it. And you would not BELIEVE the size of the discard pile!

Many of you know that I have made a promise to myself, and to you, that I would not purchase any items this year that are not made of 95%(difficult to find elastin-free items)-100% natural fibre. That means: Cotton (the top at this moment because I can wash it), Alpaca, Wool, Cashmere, Silk, Bamboo, Cupro, leather, fur or linen. This has been anything but easy!

I got super frustrated searching the labels of everything I put on and made a drastic decision: Fill the wardrobe with only your natural fibre clothing. Then sort out the rest and get rid of most of it since you aren’t really wearing it at this point anyway.

I have a male friend who decided one New Year’s to get rid of everything in his closet. Read: EVERYTHING. Then he was to go out and purchase items that he really loved. When he ran out of money (as he didn’t have a fortune to begin with) he was done, and would only then add needed pieces as the need arose. Although this is an extreme measure to take, I was sooooo tempted to do the same. But alas, that would be quite wasteful and that is counter-intuitive to my task. So I did not.

When I did the closet clean-out, it was such a mammoth task that I didn’t really want to even start it. I knew that there would be no breaks from start to finish, since everything I currently own was piled on my bed.

I did the initial checking and separating, and then I went through several more times to get it to the point it is now. The initial checking had nothing to do with whether or not I actually liked the garment, it went purely by the fabric.

So here’s what I did:

  • I took EVERYTHING hanging in my wardrobe, and hanging or folded in my closet – out.
  • I laid it all in a pile (hangers and everything) on the bed. I was a mountain of stuff.
  • I went through, piece by piece, and checked the fabric content tags.
  • If it was 95-100% natural fiber, it was hung back into the wardrobe.
  • Items were hung to only 1 piece per hanger. (I formerly had entire outfits on the hanger, but I wanted to be able to SEE what I have)
  • All items that were made of artificial fabrics went into a pile elsewhere.
  • Once I had completely gone through and separated out my natural fabric clothing, I got a (new, clean) big trash bag to use as a ‘going out’ pile.
  • I contacted several of my girlfriends to see who might be interested in sorting through some of my stuff, so I knew the types of items (and fit) that my girlfriends might snag. This is really a great thing if you have a closet full of 2-sizes too small designer items that you spent a fortune for and can’t bear to get rid of, but you know you will never be that size again.
  • The calls were a success, and now that discard pile didn’t look so big. I went through the discard pile and made several smaller piles for each friend, her taste and her size. Now I had my friends set, and didn’t have to feel bad about sharing basically new, very nice items of clothing.
  • There wasn’t actually too much left. A few faves, which I had worn the life out of over the course of several years. Must of these were no longer in nice shape, so donating was out of the question. But I didn’t exactly want to toss them in the rubbish pile either. So…I started looking into what my possibilities were. Turns out, H&M has a recycle programme for polyester.
  • I went back through the discard pile and looked at the fabric tags again. Anything that was polyester, I put in a bag to donate to H&M’s recycle programme.
  • And then, there were like 3 grubby items that I really just had to discard. So I did, and it wasn’t easy. I felt like a hoarder. I no longer wear it, but because I loved it for so long, I couldn’t bear the thought of throwing it out. Holes and all. But I did.
  • Then, I sat back and looked at my nice, clean, extremely well organized wardrobe and smiled. The feature pic shows my view.
  • Turns out my love of all things cashmere and linen has really helped me out as I had enough tops to wear for 2 weeks before repeating. Jeans, linen pants, 1 pair wool pants, leather pants,  1 pair cotton suit pants & 2 leather skirts help me to be able to dress for any occasion. 3 summer silk shirts and one gold special occasion blouse mix and match perfectly with my selection of pants and skirts. And 2 leather jackets, 1 matching cotton blazer & a denim jacket to complete the looks. I was all set and much better off in the versatility department than I have ever expected!

I have to tell you that I feel like a huge weight has been taken off me. Not only do I no longer have to dig my through my clothes to find the few things that fit my self-challenge for this year of only wearing/buying sustainable clothing and made from natural fabric clothing, but choosing my daily outfits is SO MUCH EASIER!

To anyone who is standing in front of a packed wardrobe saying you have nothing to wear, or that wants to go cold-turkey onto a sustainable or capsule wardrobe, I strongly suggest sorting out your closet using these methods. And doing it step by step, as just tossing items out can be overwhelming and might easily result in a mosh-mash of items that don’t really go together.

How did your last closet clean-out go?

-Mliae

My Sustainable Fashion Crush is Now Offering FREE Shipping Worldwide!!

Yeah, Baby…YEAH! Thanks to Twitter, I’ve been made aware that Shift to Nature is now offering FREE GLOBAL SHIPPING on a trail basis. As most of you know, international shipping is a real bug in my brain sometimes. So, as you can well imagine, I’m hanging from the chandeliers over this deal!

If you haven’t yet read my sustainable fashion feature on Shift to Nature, you can read it by clicking here. I love this company! 🙂

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Please check out Shift to Nature, and make sure to use the promo code M15 at check-out for 15% off and a giveaway bottle of vegan Noa Lane nail polish!

Wooohooo! I guess you know what I’ll be doing this afternoon 😉

-Mliae

Sustainable Fashion Feature: Shift to Nature

Greetings all!

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!

  1. Bamboo Wide Yoga Pants,  2. Bamboo Long Sleeve Crew Neck Shirt,  3. Merino Wool Eco Snood, 4. Aurora Black Scarf, 5. Tortoise Ethical Eyewear

1A. Black Stripe Bra and Underpants, 2A.  Long Sleeved Organic Cotton Stretch Dress in Charcoal Grey 3A. Bamboo Wrap  4A. Celestial Nightie, 5A. Bamboo House Dress

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:

1B. Luxury Organic Cotton Sheets  2B. Bells Beach Turkish Style Cotton Towels 3B. Men’s Tailored Hemp Linen Shorts 4B. Dino Quilt Cover Set

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.

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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).

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-Mliae

Does my choice to wear natural fabrics, really dictate my fashion options?

…Sometimes, it really seems that way.

I am frustrated. I spent a large portion of my day doing some Christmas shopping online. Take, Zalando, for example. A website that is full of designer labels, clothing and accessories for the entire family. I scrolled and scrolled through for hours today. Literally, hours. Every time I found something that was stylish and somewhat affordable, it was a poly or acrylic blend. It is so frustrating.

Luckily, those I’m shopping for aren’t as picky about fabrics as I am. Though I would love to be able to get them some nice, soft, pretty items made from natural fabrics. I am starting to presume that this is a luxury wishlist, as it is just so difficult to find anything other than Tee shirts, the occasional college shirt or long sleeve Tee or cotton blend sweaters. I found 1…yes, ONE full cotton dress on the entire site. What is the deal?! I mean, I just don’t understand it. I would LOVE to be able to buy a silk maxi-dress for less than 1,000 ($/€) or wool pants for less than 500. Why is it, the fabrics that are most sustainable and take the least amount of processing, are also used the least and cost the most? Does anyone understand the logic in this?

How did we get here? How do we get the fashion industry’s attention to let them know that we don’t need a closet full of artificial, inexpensively made clothes that will be out of style in 6 months…that we need quality craftsmanship, natural fabrics and beautiful classic, versatile designs that will last years?! THIS I am willing to pay good money for, even save if I have to. Of course! What woman wouldn’t invest in her appearance if she knew she looked fabulous and that she could get her money’s worth out of her garment?!

I am amazed that I am able to find more natural fabrics and nice designs on amazon, than I am on Zalando. I never thought it would be this challenging to go ‘rogue’ when I made a deal with myself that I would only buy natural or sustainable clothing, at least for the year, to start.

Anybody else having this experience?

-Mliae

People Tree: A glimpse into the sustainable fashion web store

Hi everyone and thanks for stopping in! Todays article kicks off my happily anticipated series on sustainable fashion. I have been on the hunt… high and low, searching for the best, coolest and friendliest homes of sustainable fashion.

Here’s how it went down: I think I spent at least 30 hours doing internet search on top of internet search for sustainable fashion businesses. I then compiled a list and went through each site that I had found (another several days of solid researching). Many were sadly no longer active. Another large group was those that specialized in like…socks. And then, THEN we have the massive conglomerates that marketed sustainable and ethical fashion, but in all honesty, it was just for marketing. I’ve worked in business; I know a marketing ploy when I see one. So once I was able to categorize these business even further, it left me with only a handful of genuine fair trade practicing, sustainable processing, natural fiber using fashion companies who have some really nice modern day designs. Works for me! I’ve been on the search for the best and now it seems like I’ve found a tiny group of them.

Now I must tell you, that these people at People Tree are some of the most co-operative people I have spoken to. I understand, of course, that when a blogger contacts a company the immediate thought is ‘freebie request’. Now, I love freebies, it’s like Christmas when something that you really love arrives! That said, I merely wrote to request information. They not only understood my request for information and permission, they made sure I was well stocked in all the information I could possibly need and were at hand for any questions I might have. How awesome is that for this humble blogger??!

Now, a large part of the reason I developed a clothing crush on this company is because their designs are nice. They are comfortable and beautiful; suitable for office, home and a night out. Two of their featured designers this collection are Peter Jensen and Zandra Rhodes. They have worked with Thakoon, Laura Ashley, and Vivienne Westwood (to name a few). Having designer options at a reasonable price, in natural fabrics all the while incorporating Fair Trade and sustainable business practices, is what really made me find myself going ga-ga.

Some of this information is in the form of a social review, which is conducted every other year in order to ensure that The People Tree is maintaining or exceeding their fair trade practices. This was fascinating reading, as so many companies do not truly practice any form of transparency in their sourcing and business practices.

People Tree utilizes fair trade practices in every step of their production process. From Cradle to Cradle. Most of their cotton is certified organic and fair trade. They use safe, azo-free dyes for their clothing, they source locally and use recycled where they can. Even down to their natural buttons which use either shell, coconut, corozo ( a natural grain which resembles resin), horn or wood. All of the woven items are hand woven, and in many cases, People Tree uses recycled material so as not to create or contribute to any additional waste. Logistically speaking, they are brilliant – utilizing sea transport as opposed to air. They even take sustainability so far as to use solar panels in as many possible places as they can.

Safia Minney founded People Tree in 1990. People Tree is said to be the ‘first international clothing company to be awarded the World Fair Trade Organisation Fair Trade product label’. In the past 25 years, they have been able to perfect a supply chain, which positively affects in excess of 3,700 farmers, tailors, weavers, dyers and management due to Fair Trade practices. They employ some of the persons from castes which truly struggle and need a fair opportunity. Including as stated ‘Indigenous, disabled, refugees and people living in poverty’ from the Countries India, Bangladesh and Nepal. In total, they work with  34 Fair Trade producers who employ approximately 15,000 people. The numbers I was able to get my hands on states that there are approx 4,500 artisans & farmers in 13 countries (India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Laos & The Philippines). That’s a lot of Fair Trade going around!

Some of their Fair Trade practices include training, the possibility of advance pay without interest for business development, fair wages (which is why you won’t find a €5 garment here), good working conditions and market exposure. Ladies, you will love this; HALF of the leadership positions throughout People Tree’s production chain are filled by Women! Yeah, Baby! Yeah!

People Tree has two seasonal collections per annum, and these are some of the stand out items from the Autumn/Winter collection. I could not do a business feature without displaying some of my favourite lust-worthy products, of course!

Some of the items I love at People Tree:

people-tree-lara-pencil-skirt-in-red-48-e65-www-peopletree-co-uk

The Lara Pencil Skirt

95% organic cotton, 5% elastin

€65

people-tree-imara-top-in-black-42-e59-www-peopletree-co-uk

The Imara Top

95% organic cotton, 5% elastin

Formerly priced at €65, now €33,04

people-tree-hesper-stripe-skirt-75-e99-may-turtleneck-top-in-black-25-e35-www-peopletree-co-uk

Hesper Striped Skirt in Black

100% Organic Cotton

€99

&

May Turtleneck

95% Organic Cotton, 5% Elastin

€35

people-tree-cable-jumper-185-e250-lara-pencil-skirt-48-e65-www-peopletree-co-uk

Fisherman’s Jumper in Unbleached

100% Wool

€250

people-tree-swallows-print-tee-in-pink-30-e39-www-peopletree-co-uk

Swallows Tee

100% Organic Cotton

€39

people-tree-peter-jensen-jewel-tie-waist-dress-78-e99-www-peopletree-co-uk

Peter Jensen Jewel Tie Waist Dress in Multicolour

100% Organic Certified Cotton

Now €55.44

Another cool little thing they do on the website is that under the photo of the particular item you are looking at, there is a statement which informs you where the item was sourced and the Fair Trade aspects of it. Nice 🙂

Now here’s the icing on the cake: FREE delivery in UK on all orders, and an INTERNATIONAL delivery fee of only 5 British Pounds for ALL orders over 70 British Pounds. THAT is SUPER! You know me, I’m a sucker for affordable international postage! J

They have loads of fashionable items to choose from in both Women’s and Men’s. If you are interested in sustainable fashion, this is a great place to check out!

http://www.peopletree.co.uk

After so much time reading up on this company, the mantra that will remain ringing in my head is ‘slow fashion, not fast fashion.’ From here forth, every time I see a clothing shop which turns over their trends on a bi-weekly or monthly basis and are selling man-made fabric must-have’s on me for the price of €5-€7, I will mentally equate it to McFashion – the pre-processed, rubbery burger that you can get for €1 and regret for much longer.

I would love to hear your thoughts about this business, please share!

-Mliae

*Photos & permission provided by People Tree