At LOCLAIRE, we understand that there needs to be fundamental changes to the way we produce and consume. Pushing for a sustainable future is an overwhelming and never-ending task, so big that it can often stunt action rather than promote it. Our approach is value-driven, ensuring ethical and sustainable considerations inform our processes and decisions across all aspects of our business, rather than being tacked on as an afterthought. These values fall under three main pillars, of Planet, People, and Prosperity.
In October 2020, increasingly feeling burdened by both the state of our industry and the world as a whole, we took a leap of faith and changed our whole business model to be made-to-order. Zero waste, completely inclusive sizing, transparent pricing, and locally-made - this has given us an entirely new sense of purpose, and personally - has restored hope and optimism that together, we can truly change the world for the better.
On this page, we break down some of the steps we are taking, in as straight-forward language as possible. We acknowledge that we are not perfect, and we won’t always get it right. But, we are ALWAYS TRYING to do better! If you have any suggestions on how we might be able to improve our practices, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you.
ZERO WASTE: To be zero waste in a world where cheap, disposable fashion and insane amounts of unsold inventory has become a devasating norm, is probably our hugest accomplishment as a brand. As everything we make already has a home to go to, we only put resources into what is completely necessary.
FABRICS: A bit of a biggie, but below we break down the main fabrics we use (or don't use!). There is so much more to the complex supply chain than this, but it's a huge part of us doing better.
- Polyester: We are super proud to have no polyester textiles in our collection, virgin or recycled, not in any blends or any linings. This was really important example for us to set right from the start.
- Organic Cotton: At the end of 2020, we made the goal to transform to 100% Organic Cotton, which we have achieved. Compared with conventional cotton, organic cotton has the potential to see up to 46% reduced global warming, 70% reduced acidification, 91% reduced blue water consumption, and 62% reduced primary energy demand.* Importantly, organic cotton farming does not allow the use of toxic chemicals or GMOs, instead combining tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote a good quality of life for both the farmers and the land.
- Recycled Cotton: We are continually researching new and exciting ways to do better. Occasionally we do use 100% upcycled / recycled cotton (from post consumer waste), or recycled cotton blended with organic cotton. This takes cotton textiles that is already produced and for some reason at its end of life (as offcuts or scraps, or discarded waste) and upcycles it into a usable textile again.
- Merino: We use ZQ-certified merino from 100% New Zealand merino sheep. ZQ certification is the world's leading standard on ethical wool. Animal Welfare is of the highest priority - where the sheep are completely free range, humanely treated, well fed and are not subjected to mulesing. The farmers create Land Environment Plans, to consider the sustainable longevity specific to their farm, and implementing various initiatives such as native tree planting or regenerative farming. All ZQ fibre is fully traceable right back to the individual farms that the fibre is from. And the benefits for you, the wearer? Merino sheep have adapted to thrive in the extreme, high country conditions of the mountainous South Island - their naturally super fine wool coat allows them to thermo-regulate through hot, dry summers, and sub-zero winters. Harnessing the same incredible properties as it is made into a fabric, these benefits are passed back to you, the wearer. Merino is hypoallergenic and antibacterial, odour resistant, incredibly soft and strong, biodegradable, breathable, and fire resistant.
- Hemp and Linen: Hemp and linen are two of the most sustainable natural textiles. They grow rapidly, have the highest fiber yield of all natural textiles (more than twice that of cotton in the same amount of land), and are able to be grown without pesticides and chemicals. They are the least water-intensive of all natural fibers, and in the right climate and conditions can be completely rain-fed. Hemp also has a beneficial effect on soil by replenishing vital nutrients. Its root system minimises soil erosion, and it is often used as a ‘rotation crop’ to heal and replenish soil between growing other crops. Hemp and linen are also naturally durable, antibacterial, and resistant to UV light, mould and mildew.**
- Deadstock: A few of our styles use deadstock fabric, predominantly wool or wool blends. Deadstock is existing fabric, usually surplus from a mill’s production run, that is unwanted or needed by the designer or brand that originally commissioned the fabric. Deadstock fabric is not the end goal for us – we acknowledge that there are some benefits: quantities are usually small and accessible, and there is an environmental benefit of using up what already exists. We see deadstock as a helpful stepping stone in our environmental strategy but eventually aim to stop using this.
PACKAGING: In sending out our purchases, we use minimal packaging. We use recycled, unprinted acid-free tissue paper, and include a LOCLAIRE postcard made from 100% recycled paper. Our domestic couriers are 100% compostable through our friends at GoSweetSpot. Unfortunately, we don’t have a compostable option yet for overseas shipments, however we are working to find a solution for this.
MADE IN NZ: All of our clothes are made locally – within ten minute’s drive of our office, in Auckland, New Zealand. This heavily reduces our carbon footprint within our supply chain. We visit our fabric suppliers, pattern-makers, cutters and makers weekly. It’s incredibly important to us to have open and kind relationships with them, know their names, and see their working conditions. We have also recently created a LOCLAIRE Code of Conduct, which sets a minimum standard in how all of our suppliers must act in their relationship with us.
INCLUSIVE SIZING: As pieces are made-to-order, every single item is hand cut, and therefore can be customised to YOUR body. We have come to realise that traditional sizing standards are truly archaic and so restrictive. We want to make pieces that arrive in your wardrobe, made just for you, to fit you.
GETTING OFF THE HAMSTER WHEEL: Made-to-order completely removes us from the hamster wheel of the relentless fashion season calendar - no longer do we design full collections looking to fill a gap, or based on the pressure to meet industry timelines. Instead, our creativity truly fuels us and our timelines - we design only when we are feeling our most creative, making sure that everything we put out into the world is our absolute best work.
TRANSPARENT PRICING: Fast fashion has completely distorted our perspective on pricing, and what a product should or shouldn't cost. Made-to-order on the other hand, advocates for honest pricing: as every piece we make already has a home, we don’t hold excess stock, and therefore don’t need to rely on sales or discounts to clear this at the end of the season. This means we don’t need to include extra mark up in our retail price, to allow for discounting later on, which is the norm in traditional retail. Instead, we choose to make a smaller margin to begin with, but don’t ever go on sale. To be completely transparent, we share our pricing breakdowns online - so you can see exactly what goes into each style - from fabric to sewing, to marketing and packaging, as well as our margin which makes up the final retail price. Our transparency leaves no place to hide – it is the true cost of a slow, locally-made garment. You can view this on our made-to-order product pages, under Cost Breakdown.
*Statistics from The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Organic Cotton Fiber, commissioned by the Textile Exchange in 2014.
**Information from the CFDA Materials Index
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