When I first decided to start working on SIWULA, one of the few things I knew for certain was that eco-friendly & sustainable business practices had to be baked in. After over a decade working in development and production in the fashion industry, I felt really strongly that it wasn’t enough to make a beautiful or cool garment. At this moment in time no one in the industry can honestly be ignorant of the damage manufacturing does to the natural world. I also knew that it is difficult to make exciting products in a truly eco-friendly way; and explaining why something should be labeled sustainable is a tricky subject to navigate. Claiming sustainability leaves me open to criticism when I’m perceived to not be doing it perfectly. Nevertheless, I knew I had to try.
After a lot of thinking about how to make something that is both eco-friendly and unique, I decided the easiest way to start would be to follow in the footsteps of another much bigger & more established LA brand. So I turned to deadstock sourcing. At least that way I knew I wasn’t contributing more damage to the environment.
Los Angeles is an amazing place for deadstock sourcing. There are huge spaces downtown with floor-to-ceiling deadstock fabrics and trims; there are amazing resources, but you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and dig. Luckily, I grew up scouring thrift stores for cool clothes, so rummaging through thousands of rolls of fabric and walls of buttons taped to cardboard boxes felt somehow familiar and inspiring. The most exciting fabrics and trims in the Spring collection are deadstock and I’ll continue to use deadstock in the future. Deadstock does come with limitations though (available quantity being the biggest issue), so I supplement with stocked organic cotton qualities and other locally stocked natural fibers.
By working with locally available materials, I am minimizing the additional carbon emissions involved in shipping. The raw materials probably came from halfway around the world to begin with, but in utilizing more local resources I avoid adding on to the damage. Which brings me to my next topic - local manufacturing as a sustainable/eco-friendly option.
I have long been a supporter of domestic manufacturing. Maybe it’s because I was born in Detroit and some of my family had ties to the auto industry, or maybe it just appeals to my romantic luddite sensibilities; it just feels right and good to me. Whatever the personal reason, there is no question that it is more eco-friendly to produce locally than it is to ship goods back and forth across the world. I have chosen to design and produce within the means of my local economy, and I will continue to do so.
I am also proud to say that not only are our clothes produced locally, but our labels and hangtags are as well. Our garment label is a natural cotton twill with cotton blend thread embroidery, produced in Los Angeles. The hangtags we use on each garment are pressed seed paper, manufactured in nearby San Diego. The Wildflower seeds pressed into each hangtag are also non-invasive, so they won’t disrupt the ecosystem. We package and ship all of our garments in 100% recyclable packaging and abstain from using plastic wherever possible.
Taking it a step past manufacturing, sustainability in work practices is also immensely important to me. Every garment passes through multiple hands on its journey, and I highly value the work that every supplier & contractor contributes. SIWULA designs and produces in low units at the pace of human hands and abilities.
As we grow, we will strive to stay within these guidelines and improve them where we can. I know I will be tempted to stray off course at some point down the road, and I hope you will all be there to remind me to stay true to these ideals.