Behind the Scenes // Starting a Sustainable Clothing Line
I’ve been working since last year on launching a responsibly made clothing line called VETTA. It’s a five piece capsule collection that can be mixed and matched to create 30 different outfits.
I thought it might be fun to give a behind the scenes look at how an ethical clothing line is created, both for those interested in starting their own line and for those who are just interested in learning more about it!
To start, I wanted to give an overview of what I’ve done over the past 6 months before the launch, and the basic steps that I took to create the clothing line.
1. Determine your focus
Much like conscious shopping, it’s important to decide what you will tackle first when it comes to sustainability. If you try to do it all, you will get overwhelmed and you may never actually start.
For VETTA, we decided to focus on two things: responsible factories & eco-friendly materials. We wanted to make sure that the factory we used treated people with respect and dignity. For the first collection, we decided on a family run factory in New York City that we could walk into at any time and see what’s happening on the factory floor. As for fabric, we wanted to use materials that had as little negative impact on the planet as possible.
We could have focused on a number of different things, such as using sustainable vegan leather, investing in fair trade coops in developing countries, or finding cotton that was made from seed to shirt in the US. There are so many ways that fashion impacts the world around us, and it’s a good idea to decide what your focus will be.
2. Design the product
It’s important to create a product that fills some kind of void in the market. A great way to start is to think about a pain point that your ideal customer has.
With VETTA, we realized that women were buying more and more clothes and still had that feeling of “I have nothing to wear.” We decided to create a five piece capsule collection that was convertible and interchangeable, making 30 different outfits.
In addition, we realized that a lot of responsibly made brands were out of our customer’s price range, so we created products that had multiple uses and inherently had more value. We decided to sell the products direct, rather than through traditional retailers, so that we could keep the prices down.
3. Source the fabrics
The hardest part of this process for us was sourcing the fabric. It’s really difficult to find eco-friendly fabric that has the quality and characteristics that you want for a garment, but also has a low impact on the environment. There is no perfect fabric – every single fabric has some kind of impact – so you have to do what you can to reduce the negative output.
For VETTA, our favorite fabric that we’re using is tencel, because it’s made from sustainably harvested wood pulp that is biodegradable, and it’s created in a closed loop system that recycles the solvents. We’re also using some deadstock fabric, which is leftover fabric from another brand. There are pros and cons to every fabric, but these were the fabrics that we found would meet our sustainable criteria and also make beautiful garments that people would wear for years to come.
4. Find the factory & Creating the Samples
Finding a factory can be daunting. We worked with an amazing program called Factory45, which takes sustainable fashion companies from idea to launch. They provided a list of vetted factories all over the US, and guided us in how to reach out to them. It saved us so much time, and we highly recommend the program to anyone wanting to start his or her own sustainable fashion brand.
We worked with our factory to create the samples, but you can also hire a freelance patternmaker and samplemaker to help you create prototypes of your designs.
5. Market & Sell The Products
In order to market the products, you will need professional photographs, social media accounts, and a landing page with an email opt-in. It’s important to start spreading the word about what you’re doing even before your launch.
You also have to decide how you are going to sell your products. We decided to use Kickstarter, because it gets people involved and it also limits your initial investment. You can see whether people are excited about your product, and what their reaction is, which is really valuable.
We are launching VETTA on kickstarter TOMORROW! I can’t believe it. So many late nights and long hours, and so many wonderful friends have come together, to make this happen. I am excited and nervous, and really proud of what we have created. I can’t wait to share it with you!
If you want to be on the email list to be notified of the launch, head on over to www.vettacapsule.com.