Sustainability is at the core of our company. All decisions that we make, from material sourcing, packaging options, to logistics etc. are motivated by finding the most sustainable options available. The second pillar of our company is ethical production where workers are provided with fair pay and good working conditions. Read more below about where we produce and under what conditions. We believe that transparency is intricate to sustainability. That is why we provide detailed information about our production, our materials, garment care, but also about our improvement efforts. We are a new company who are just at the beginning of our ethical fashion business journey. We are doing our best but we are still learning and improving.
All garments are produced in a family run manufacturing business in Bulgaria. All 15 employees are paid a wage that is above the various Living Wages indexes specified for Bulgaria for various family situations or even within the range for the extreme situation of a family of four in which only one person works (source). The wages are many times the legal minimum wage and are far above the national average wage and the Poverty Threshold for a family of four as stated by EU-SILC (Statistics on Income and Living Conditions) in 2018 for Bulgaria. Overtime is paid at a factor of 1.5 on weekends and 2.0 on holidays. The employees usually work 40 hours per week, with a maximum of 48 hours weekly. The working hours are from 9am to 5pm with 2x 20 min breaks & 1x 40 min lunch break. All employees have statutory vacation of 20 working days per year. The manufacturer pays all employees a bonus at Christmas, orders lunch & catering in addition to their salary and once a month invites all employees to a restaurant for team building.
We want to be as transparent as possible with you. We think that this is at the core of ethical fashion. Of course we are not perfect and are always trying to improve. But for our first collection we tried to work as sustainable as possible while also making the designs as accessible as possible. We are proud of what we were able to accomplish.
Choosing the right materials was a very long process. We wanted natural materials, that feel good, that last a long time (with the right garment care!), and that have a lower ecological footprint than conventional materials. It was a challenge to check all those boxes and still be able to order in small quantities at a fair price.
Linen: The flax comes from France, cultivated without pesticides The weaving happens in Poland and the dyeing and finishing process in Northern Ireland. We are big fans of linen fabrics. Flax works as a rotation crop; when swapped on land every 6 - 7 years it can boost soil quality, and increase yields of the next crop. Flax crops do not require irrigation (extra water) and the crop can grow with rain fall alone.
TENCEL™: TENCEL™ (Lyocell) is a cellulose fiber obtained from the pulp of sustainably cultivated beech and eucalyptus trees. Read more about the sustainability of this material here. The TENCEL™ weaving of the yarn happens in Austria by Lenzing AG, the dyeing and finishing process happens in China. This is something we want to work on during our next production round: in the future we want to keep the whole supply chain for yarns made in Europe also in Europe.
Buttons: We are using corozo buttons for all dresses. These are made from nuts. Our buttons are finished and dyed in Germany, they are vegan and GOTS certified. Threads: Our sewing thread is made out of 100% GOTS certified cotton.
Label tags: The label tags are made out of 100% cotton, Oeko-Tex certified, except for the XXL size tags. This is because we were able to expand the range to XXL at the last minute, but therefore were unfortunately not able to order cotton tags in time for production. XXL dresses come with recycled polyester size tags.
Elastic cords for scrunchies: 40% organic cotton from Turkey, dyed in Germany and 60% natural rubber from plantations in Malaysia.
Production: The manufacturer uses modern marker systems to minimize waste when cutting the fabrics. Furthermore, it collects all waste and sends it for recycling. Further measures to increase energy efficiency, for example in insulation, are already planned. For tiija we are using leftover fabrics to create our scrunchies.
Packaging: Minimal packaging is a good sustainable option. However, we also want to avoid the garments getting ruined during the transport. So we also opted for safe packaging. That is why the dresses are packed in recycled and 100% recyclable polybags as well as cardboard boxes made out of 35% German meadow grass and 65% recycled waste paper. You will also receive a flyer printed on recycled paper. Packaging is definitely an area where we will be working to improve our ecological footprint with each collection.
Logistics: We are working with a logistics company based in Germany and Austria. Whenever possible we ship with DHL GoGreen.
How to care for your garments
What happens after you purchase your dress might be the most important factor when it comes to sustainable fashion. We can make the most sustainable and eco friendly dress, but if it is not well cared for or discarded quickly, resources are wasted. That is why we want to support you in caring for your garments in the best way possible.
- For sensitive laundry, use a special detergent without protein-based enzymes (e.g. wool detergent). These enzymes can damage wool and silk.
- Wash your garments inside out, only with similar colors and according to the care labels.
- Only a few items of clothing need to be washed after each wear. Too much washing harms the environment and is not the best choice for your clothes. Less is more is also the case for garment care.
- The items you receive are delicate. Don't try to pull and stretch the fabric unnecessarily. For the long sleeve tier dress for example, open all the buttons before putting on the dress instead of trying to “squeeze” to avoid ripping of threads.
Instructions TENCEL™ DRESS: Machine wash at 30 degrees with mild detergent. Do not bleach. Dry flat. Do not dry clean and do not tumble dry. Ironing: cool iron. Best to wash inside out and on a wool or delicate wash cycle with mild detergent (German: Feinwaschmittel). Instructions LINEN DRESS: Machine wash at 30 degrees. Do not bleach. Tumble dry or flat dry. Damp ironing. Best to wash inside out.
We also want to offer insight into our pricing. Here is one example for our long sleeve dress made out of TENCEL™. For someone who is used to Fast Fashion our prices might seem high. However, we have a fair and transparent supply chain, our manufacturing company pay their employees very good wages, we use high quality materials, we try to avoid plastic from threads to the labels and we have tried to use the most sustainable packaging solution that we can find. However, quality and sustainability has its price. Read more about the problems of fast fashion and why fast fashion is actually “too cheap” here and about our sustainable materials above.
A break down for our TENCEL™ long sleeve dress:
The industry standard for a profit margin is usually between a 2.2 and 2.7x markup - meaning the sales price is the cost of the garment production times 2.2 or 2.7, respectively. We are able to do a markup of around 2x since we are a small team, doing a pre-order campaign and selling our dresses directly. But we also cannot set our markup much lower, since we sell small quantities, need to pay company costs and reinvest in future collections.
Why are we focusing on eco and ethical fashion?
The fashion industry is a major contributor to global waste climate change and environmental pollution focusing mostly on profit and fast supply chains without any regards for sustainability longevity. We want break the vicious circle of industry. Quality and not quantity is our priority. For us, sustainability means that for a new product, we source the most environmentally friendly materials possible, we aim for shorter transportation distances, reduce or recycle waste, making sure we avoid unnecessary packaging, produce under fair working conditions and work according to a business model that is based on small collections and smaller quantities. Read more about the issues of fast fashion and what you can do to take action here.