We could tell you 20 stories about why buying a five-euro T-shirt isn’t healthy for anybody: not for the person who made it, or for nature, or for the person wearing it. Surely, a five-euro T-shirt has been made by a person from a developing country under subhuman working conditions, using harmful chemicals and substances, which are then poured into rivers and oceans of said developing country, and, even worse, which rub against our skin because they’re still on that shirt when we buy it.
We could tell you another 20 stories to wake up those who still strut out happily from a Primark store with 6 shirts instead of 1, but no. Today we’ll only tell you one story, that of Alexis Assoignon and Kachen Hong, founders of the urban and eco-friendly brand Les Sublimes, created in France as an alternative to the crazy world of fashion.
Changing to look for a dream
Alexis Assoignon and Kachen Hong quit their jobs in 2014. They decided they wanted to do something special on their own but weren’t sure on what to do or where to start. They travelled to Nepal and everything began to fall into place.We went to visit a group of Tibetan refugees spinning yarn for weaving and a small group of knitters making sweaters in a remote village. We saw the women working so hard, for so many hours, and earning so little. Speaking with the women, they felt hopeless about their employment situation. Beyond writing them a cheque. we wanted to find a permanent solution for women in underprivileged communities. Suddenly, at that moment, they discovered that everything fit perfectly with their fashion and sustainability skills. And then… ta daaaa…! Les Sublimes was born, an ecological and ethical fashion brand as a tool for the change.
Les Sublimes’s fashion clothing is made with high quality designer fabrics that have an amazing touch and offer incomparable comfort. Being eco-friendly is the brand’s priority.
Their friends and family backed their project from the very beginning. The biggest challenge was to make themselves known outside their social circle. The big challenge was getting the word out to people outside of our networks. We are so grateful for all of the press we’ve received from bloggers in the weeks after we launched on Indiegogo. None of it was paid promotion – everyone wrote about us because they believed in our purpose and liked our products. That showed us that we are on the right track. That we are creating a brand that people can really connect with. And that is all we need to keep going.
Ecological and comfortable clothing, yes!
Sustainability is at the heart of everything they do in Les Sublimes, but they prefer to call themselves a responsible brand. We feel that the word sustainability can mean a lot of things and gets overused quite a lot today. As a responsible company, we integrate ethics and transparency into every element of our business, from design and production, to corporate culture and customer service.
Every piece we sell directly supports garment workers, artisans, farmers, working mamas and families with a healthy wage and the freedom that comes with it.
Designed in Paris and developed in skilled French ateliers, Les Sublimes’s fashion clothing is made with high quality designer fabrics that have an amazing touch and offer incomparable comfort. Being eco-friendly is the brand’s priority. Collections are made from organic, sustainably-harvested natural resources, using innovative technology that reduces water consumption, recovers waste and preserves neighboring ecosystems. As they underline: Every piece we sell directly supports garment workers, artisans, farmers, working mamas and families with a healthy wage and the freedom that comes with it. We offer a permanent collection of essential items, rather than products that change with each season. Basically, we want to encourage people to invest in quality over quantity pieces – items that provide long-term satisfaction over temporary gratification. Pieces that you love to wear all the time.
Basically, we want to encourage people to invest in quality over quantity pieces – items that provide long-term satisfaction over temporary gratification. Pieces that you love to wear all the time.
By creatively reducing our supply chain and cutting out the middleman, we are able to offer our products at 1/3 of the price of the designer brands using the same fabrics and workshops. Available 24/7, worldwide.
We asked what without the compromise means. By “Made without compromise” we mean that customers don’t have to choose between which values to support and which to temporarily sacrifice. People are sick of having to choose between price, quality, integrity and style. There’s no reason why they can’t have them all. They deserve it all – it’s not true that a sustainable product needs to be much more expensive, or that organic must feel rough, or that affordable fashion can’t be produced at a fair wage. We believe that there will be a global shift. Shoppers will demand better products from the big brands, and soon the former practices of the industry will no longer be socially acceptable or even legal!
Today’s fashion victim, more victim than fashion?
Indeed, much to our regret, this is the reality of the current fashion system. The problem is that most fashion consumers still don’t know it, or can’t even imagine it… If we read more about where, how and who has made that shirt, it’d be a different story. We must put a stop to the pollution caused by factories that is destroying the environment. The devastation that results from processing and dying our garments is unbelievable. As passionate as we are about supporting workers’ right, we can’t ignore the urgent need to slow down climate change.
The perception of ethical fashion is definitely shifting, but we do think that ethical fashion is still perceived by many as being unglamorous, unattractive, hippie-esque, or super ethnic. Products are rough, poorly packaged and overpriced because they are labeled organic. But this is all changing. There are many incredible brands emerging that are disrupting this old attitude towards sustainable products.
People are already starting to care about the quality of their foods, and eating organic has become really big, but as far as that expands into fashion many people are still learning. The public perception of ethical fashion is definitely shifting, but we do think that ethical fashion is still perceived by many as being unglamorous, unattractive, hippie-esque, or super ethnic. Products are rough, poorly packaged and overpriced because they are labeled organic. But this is all changing. There are so many incredible brands emerging that are disrupting this old attitude towards sustainable products.
We then asked them how is the people who buy Les Sublimes, they say: Our customers are predominantly urban, university-educated women aged 26-34. But much more important than a statistic, she is a global citizen. The Les Sublimes woman cares about leading a healthy and conscious lifestyle, loves to travel, and isn’t afraid to chase after her dreams. She knows that she is part of something bigger than herself and wants to contribute. She’s beautiful on the inside and out.
It’s no piece of cake
Everyone’s been very encouraging, but the truth is that there are still a lot of people who don’t understand why they need to pay more for something ecological. They need to understand that it’s extremely challenging sourcing fabrics that are high quality, comfortable, and also both eco-friendly and socially fair in terms of wages and workers rights. We were shocked to discover at Premiere Vision in February, the largest fabric show in Europe, that there were almost no sustainable fabrics offered at all. They remain such a small portion of the fabric market. But that doesn’t mean that they are impossible to find.
Sustainable fashion is not only the new luxury, but it’s the future. It’s a luxury that should be available and accessible to everyone. Nature has no voice and we are running out of time.
This has forced the founders of Les Sublimes to be more creative. As we start out, we can’t produce using a wide variety of fabrics. We have had to start with just a few, and make all of our styles out of those same materials. That’s not all, Les Sublimes state that it’s also very difficult to find workshops with affordable prices who are willing to work with new brands who can’t make huge orders like Zara or Primark, but who only want a few clothes, enough to satisfy their needs. That’s why Alexis Assoignon and Kachen Hong believe that sustainable fashion is not only the new luxury, but it’s the future. It’s a luxury that should be available and accessible to everyone. Nature has no voice and we are running out of time.
Definitely, at this stage, it’s extra challenging for all of us to behave ethically, but this is the future, which is why designers shouldn’t be discouraged. In this sense, Les Sublimes advises designers to form partnerships, share costs and advice with people that are in the same situation. Pull together! – they say.
On the other hand, to those who still haven’t adopted a sustainable lifestyle, they say: Living sustainably is about taking baby steps and slowly shifting to a more conscious lifestyle. We don’t try to be militant about it, because it can be overwhelming. We choose to live simply, in small apartments, with less – which incidentally also means we save money and have less stuff to clean, manage and store.
We recycle, reduce our energy consumption, walk or bike when we go out, buy organic at the supermarket, eat less meat and dairy, and invest in quality, long term products. In the end leading a sustainable lifestyle generally leads to less stress, better health, more time and saving money. It just takes a little time to get there.
In the meantime, it’d be good to read more about the subject. Yvon Chouinard is our superhero. His book “Let my people go surfing” is absolutely amazing. Stella McCartney is obviously doing a great job and we adore Livia Firth. She really makes a difference. You should watch The True Cost. It will change the way you see fashion forever. We have already watched it, and you?