Ethical Fashion

Conscious Clothing with CAARIA

I can’t believe it’s April – I swear I updated this blog just a couple of weeks ago (sadly, last time was in February). My apologies for the radio silence!

Well, I’m finally back with a post and I’m so excited to dive straight in to an interview with Ria, a Finnish designer based in Bulgaria, with a clothing brand CAARIA.

Can you tell me a little bit about how Caaria came about?

CAARIA was born simply out of a common day problem. I spent time at home and didn’t have any nice clothes to wear. I was always at home wearing the worst clothes I could find in my wardrobe. I wanted to make easily wearable everyday clothing which would not follow the fashion trends, something timeless, comfortable and nice looking to lift up the mood when at home.

What has been the hardest part about operating Caaria? And the most rewarding part?

The hardest part has been establishing a business in an other country as a foreign woman, in my case Bulgaria. To find right manufacturers and other team members who does a good work and you can rely on. The most rewarding part has been when everything has been put together and visualised to a story and experience what we want to tell.

What does “ethical fashion” or “conscious fashion” mean to you?

It means using natural materials, working locally, creating timeless pieces and clothes for everyday life so that they will be used and not just hang in the wardrobe. This’s how business should always be done, it’s natural for us, not a trendy categorizing label only to sound good.

Consumers might be torn between “justifying” a piece of higher price point clothing vs. multiple pieces of “fast fashion”. What advice would you give to someone struggling with this decision?

How does it feel to wear clothes made out of plastic and which hardly make it in the first wash? How does the clothes look like when you see them closer? Helps to reconsider if the clothing is worth buying.

What is in the future for Caaria?

Caaria will come out of the closet herself. You’ll see me much more than before. I’ll tell what we’re doing and continue to create great styles for people to wear everyday. We’ll establish the Scandinavian interior clothing style to the marketplace so that people will find the meaning and purpose with our clothing.

Thank you Ria!

Read more about CAARIA

Ethical Fashion with Cloth & Co

Today I am continuing my quest to learn more about ethical fashion. Recently I sat down with Caroline Poiner from Cloth & Co for an inspiring and eye-opening chat about her brand, working with communities in India and ethical fashion in general. For more information, please take a look at her website and beautiful collection.

Tell me a little bit about how Cloth & Co. came about?

Cloth & Co. was founded with the sole purpose of providing a market access for the artisans and women’s cooperatives we had been working with through our social enterprise Artisans of Fashion. My daughter Daisy and I had been working on projects with a number of village communities and decided we needed to create a brand so we could generate enough work to sustain our communities. We really needed to get the volumes so the women in particular could have regular work and earn a consistent income. These people live in remote villages or marginalised communities on the outskirts of cities and often live in extreme poverty, despite their incredible skills and ability to create things of such beauty, so we wanted to provide the opportunity for them to thrive.

We design all of our products and work within the skill sets of our artisans, our aesthetic is generally clean with a neutral colour palette, contemporary but timeless – we like the beautiful natural fibres and weaves to speak for themselves.

What has been the hardest part about working with these communities in India? And the most rewarding part?

There are many challenges – culturally we are just so different so it’s been a steady learning curve and a constant process of adjusting our expectations as well as our customers. I’m humbled by the people and their skills and capacity to create beautiful hand crafted products but there are always issues with time management and delivering to the market’s expectations. Viability is something we have to constantly assess, we have a responsibility to ensure our business is sustainable so that we can continue to provide work for our artisans.

The most rewarding aspect is when we create something that the artisans are equally as proud of as we are and it gets a positive market response. When they see the results of everyones effort and it sells in the market, we love to be able to tell them how well received their work has been – it gives them a sense of achievement and truly empowers them, it also allows them to live their lives with dignity.

What does “ethical fashion” mean to you?

Fashion that is created with a truly positive social impact and a minimal negative impact on the environment.

Consumers might be torn between “justifying” a piece of higher price point clothing vs. multiple pieces of “fast fashion”. What advice would you give to someone struggling with this decision?

It’s a false economy. Nothing is cheap, someone, somewhere is paying for it and of course in the case of ‘fast fashion’ it’s not just the people, it is the impact on the whole planet. I hope that through education and awareness people will start to think twice about their purchases and buy quality over quantity.

What is in the future for Cloth & Co.?

We hope that Cloth & Co. will continue to grow and become the first choice in accessible lifestyle essentials for people who are concerned about the social and environmental impact of what they buy.

We are developing a collection of garments made from truly sustainable textiles from India’s North East, this community is built on a whole eco system from the conservation of the forests through to the, natural dyes and weaving of the local silk. It’s exciting and we see a lot of possibilities working with this community.

We spend a lot of time working on our design developments, communicating with our customers so we can ensure we are delivering to what the market needs – we have to increase our market so our communities can grow and so that we can provide more and more women with consistent employment.

Thank you Caroline for being such an inspiration!