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The Journey

Our story and what we learned on the road so far

Founder Vanessa Conrad on her first trip to Nepal

 

The clothing industry is the third largest polluter in the world, after agriculture and the oil industry. The Chinese textile industry alone creates approximately three billion tons of soot each year. In 2015 the levels of smog in Beijing reached ten times the limit of what the World Health Organization considers safe. Low labour cost country’s vulnerable systems have created the perfect environment for conspicuous consumption to thrive. Most of us who live in the west have constitutions that protect the fairness of our labour laws and yet with every purchase we make at fast fashion companies, we are contributing to the exploitation of those who are not protected by such laws. The globalization phenomenon not only contributes to the exploitation of those workers who don’t have a choice but to work in sweatshops in low labour cost countries, but it also impacts western societies by creating unemployment, depressed wages and burnout syndrome. In exchange for cheap, mass-produced and abundant polyester, we gave away our local Industry. Giving away our power comes with consequences. One of these consequences is that as an Industry dies, our local economy weakens. Western workplace exploitation can be disguised in many ways. We live in a world that glorifies the notion of being busy, implies that the term workaholic is a virtue and labels those who are concerned with the impact caused by this consumerist vicious cycle as something like ‘tree huggers’.

Personally, I have spent the past decade of my life contributing to the perpetuation of this cycle and eventually I realised that this was not the kind of fashion I wanted anymore.  I felt that fashion had become a hoarder’s game, more was more and not quality, let alone responsibility had anything to do with it. It was a pointless game of accumulating fast passing trends made out of plastic. It is, therefore, safe to say that there is a very high cost for the cheap price we pay so that we can work harder at jobs we hate, to buy things we don’t need, often with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like whilst littering our own planet. As a fashion designer, when I could no longer keep up with the pointlessness of my professional life, it was a one-way plane ticket that promised me a fresh start. The first step into this journey started back in January of 2016 when I quit my fashion industry job, gave up our overpriced beachfront apartment in Sydney, severely over-packed (off course), grabbed my hubby and went travelling the world. To start we had a few countries in mind that we thought would be nice to check out and that was it. Our travelling plans looked more like a wish list than a hit list. We just wanted to get away and follow our destiny (how very hipster of us, I know). We wanted our freedom back. Back then we were cranky, uninspired and burned-out.

Our journey took us around the world. First, we flew back to my hometown of Rio de Janeiro, because there is something about the energy of Rio that is capable of renewing any workaholic zombie. We visited over twenty amazing counties and when we landed in Nepal, our lives changed forever. During one of our trekking trips, as I walked by the rural villages on the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley, I was amazed by the textiles hanging on people’s clothing lines. Beautiful natural fibres such as cotton, linen, wool and cashmere. Yet inside the simplest houses, you could find an old sewing machine or an old lady peacefully knitting her day away. It was on that walk that I came to the realisation that true beauty comes from nature and this peaceful Slow Fashion approach was the fashion I wanted to be a part of. So I asked Chandra, our ‘rainmaker’ super trekking guide if he thought that it was possible to start an ethical slow fashion label in Nepal, considering the lack of infrastructure, especially after the 2015 quake. And his reply was: “Everything is possible in Nepal!  The people need all the help they can get.” And just like that, a new path emerged and here we are, knee deep in this quest called KIND HUMANKIND.

 

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