In honour of Fashion Revolution week, I’m interviewing the people behind some of my favourite responsible fashion brands. Since Fashion Revolution is all about asking who made my clothes lets get to know the people who make our clothes a little better. Today I’m talking to Paula from Sheer Apparel which is one of my favourite stores for ethical and sustainable clothing.
Could you introduce yourself and tell me about your brand?
My name is Paula and I run Sheer Apparel, a multibrand store for beautiful sustainable fashion curated from across Europe.
Some time ago I realised that I only wanted to shop ethically, but found that it took ages to find a really good selection of ethical clothing that is well designed, suitable for a range of occasions and fairly priced. I love casual outfits but sometimes need to dress a little more sharply for work. I like to exercise and want great quality, ethical sportswear. And I love feminine underwear. But I just don’t want to spend my weekends searching for all of this in different online stores.
That’s why I built Sheer Apparel, which lets women with a busy and active lifestyle and a keen eye for style and quality shop for the best sustainable fashion in one place.
It’s Fashion Revolution week right now, why do you think Fashion Revolution and the slow fashion movement are important?
We all wear clothes and so we have an opportunity every day to support businesses that produce great clothing while being mindful of the environment and the people who skillfully craft our garments.
Luckily there is a growing awareness of some of the shocking disregard for people and planet evident in the majority of the fashion industry, but progress is far too slow. We need initiatives like Fashion Revolution and all its collaborators and supporters to show that we must continue to challenge fashion brands and ourselves, as consumers.
Could you tell me about how you ensure your brand remains ethical/sustainable?
We have a close relationship with all the brands we work with, who are mostly still very small businesses, so we get to quiz them in detail about exactly where they source fabric, design and produce. As brands grow and they start producing on a somewhat larger scale, certifications become more important, so we work with businesses that use Fairwear factories and of course GOTS certified cotton. There is an ongoing dialogue.
Price is often given as a barrier to ethical fashion. Could you tell me the average price of your pieces? (If they are £100+ please explain the higher cost eg fair wages, quality, materials etc)
All of our pieces are made of high-quality sustainable materials and are fairly produced, regardless of their price point. But I’ll give you some examples. We currently have a classic Breton Stripe organic cotton long sleeve for £34, a super soft shirt dress for £79 and amazing quality Bamboo sportswear around £50. We also have a few more luxurious items that are priced between £120 to £150. This is largely because of the fabrics – 100% wool, silk, vintage lace, or more intricate prints.
What are your top tips for consumers looking to make more ethical purchases?
Slow down and rediscover the joy of thinking about an item for some time before buying. With virtually all brands having online stores, there is no need for impulse buys as you can shop whenever you are ready. You’ll end up with a wardrobe stocked with things you truly love.
Look for quality. Some high street brands charge £150 pounds for jumpers that are mostly cheap acrylic, or £300 for coats whose buttons fall off after a couple of weeks of wear, just because of the brand. Or you’ll get cheap T-Shirts from cotton that’s been woven and cut in a way that the seams twist after two washes. All sustainable fashion brands I have talked to are obsessed with quality fabric and finishing, so you can trust them to get amazing quality for your money.
Is there anything else you would like to tell me?
I’m so inspired by your work and that of other fashion bloggers with a great sense of style and ethics. You are key spreading the beautiful message about sustainable fashion.
*Photos published with permission from Sheer Apparel