Brand Spotlight: Lois Hazel

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Founded in Melbourne, Australia in 2015, Lois McGruer-Fraser, armed with a background working for large fashion houses overseas and a desire to combine fashion with honesty, set about creating her timeless and chic label Lois Hazel. Almost three years down the track and Lois has created a brand that epitomises what it means to be transparent, achieves responsible and sustainable fabric sourcing, and has built it's foundations on strong relationships with local factories and seamstresses. Read my Q&A with the pioneer herself to learn more about this game changing fashion label and visit Lois Hazel to view the latest range...you won't be disappointed!  

What was your inspiration behind starting Lois Hazel?

I wanted to create an honest womenswear brand. A brand that didn’t just offer more fashion to the world, but something that gave back too. I wanted to create pieces that my customers would cherish for more than a season, and allow them to be engaged with the brand's story as much as I am, by communicating a transparent supply chain. 

Why do you think transparency is so important for the fashion industry? 

I think the consumer needs to be more in touch and aware of what is actually involved with making clothes. We interact with them on a daily basis without even really realising that each piece that we wear is made by someone, somewhere. Even the fabric, or the trims have gone through multiple people's hands and it’s time to start bringing that journey into the light and I think being transparent is a great start. 

In letting the consumer see the list of people and other businesses involved in each garment hopefully will help them understand why it is so important to make sure each level of the supply chain is being looked after, paid fairly and in a safe working environment. Consumers have the most power to see change happen in this industry, so the more people who ask for transparency in the brands they love, will hopefully shine the light on areas that need improvement in the way the fashion industry currently operates.

Your range is manufactured in house or locally, why is this important to you and the Lois Hazel brand?

Being able to pop over to one of our factories, or have dinner with one of our makers is so incredible. I don’t have to wait months before I can finally touch the final product but rather, I am able to be involved in each step. Making sure everything is being made well, and knowing that the people who make my clothes are able to earn a decent living out of it, and provide more jobs within the industry here in Australia.

How do you go about sourcing fabrics for your collections and why do you choose to incorporate dead stock textiles? 

Wall Fabrics is a New Zealand company who specialise in offering dead stock textiles to the market and we work with them each season. Often, I start the design process by heading to their Melbourne showroom where I find at least one fabric that sparks a new range. 

I want to start each range here as I know I want to incorporate or even offer majority of my range out of these textiles. In doing this means instead of creating more, I’m able to reuse what is already available and prevent more textile waste going to landfill. It also helps my design process, as often I’m limited in choice which helps me narrow down the concept for each range. Not having the world to choose from in a range does push your creative juices a bit further, allowing me to create unique, limited pieces. 

What’s your advice to women who want to build a more sustainable and timeless wardrobe that they’ll love for years to come?

Invest. Don’t be afraid to invest in good quality clothing. Yes sustainable pieces are normally a slightly higher price point, but they are more likely to last you longer, be with you through multiple phases and won’t go out of fashion as soon as the next trend appears. I also feel when you spend more on something, especially with a strong ethical focus, you end up taking more thoughtful care of it and feel a lot prouder when you wear it. Why not look great, feel great and know that you are contributing to something great like a fairer fashion industry. 

View the latest range at Lois Hazel

Brand Spotlight: Nature Baby

 Images: Nature Baby

Images: Nature Baby

Wether you're having a baby, already have kids or simply have some special little people in your life, Nature Baby is a brand you need to know! New Zealand owned and operated since 1998 this pioneering childrenswear label was founded by husband and wife duo, Jacob and Georgia Faull. After having their first child the pair discovered a number of other parents like themselves wanting their children to grow up in a pure, beautiful and chemical free environment. With an abundance of commercial clothing options available Nature Baby set out to provide an alternative to parents that offered quality, purity and design plus cared for the earth and it's workers. 

With a range focussed on organic cotton and merino wool fabrications this brand ensures it's garments meet babies needs for softness, breathability, warmth and durability while taking care of the world in which they will grow. Sourced in India the brands organic cotton is GOTS certified and produced on farms that have become self sustaining and offer factory workers fair conditions by paying above the minimum wage, while also providing equality between male and female workers and having zero tolerance for child labour. Merino wool is locally sourced in New Zealand and is ZQ accredited to ensure it comes from happy, healthy sheep that roam free outdoors and are provided with adequate food, water, comfort, shelter, and prevention or treatment of injury and disease.

The range features clothing, footwear, toys, bedding, skincare and more, so Nature Baby has your little one covered from newborn to 4 years old. Plus there's a selection of necessities for Mum on offer and setting up your gift registry couldn't be easier! Most importantly though, you can rest assured that your precious one is stylishly wrapped in comfort, free from any harmful chemicals and in garments that haven't caused harm to the planet or the people who made them. 

I've bought the sheepskin booties for multiple friends now and all have loved them and mentioned that they are some of the only booties their baby couldn't kick off. Now as a mama to be I'm so excited to have such an incredible brand to purchase not only beautifully designed and chic clothing from but also ethically made and chemical free fabrics for my little one.  Visit Nature Baby now, shipping is worldwide so everyone can enjoy this incredible kids brand!   

Brand Spotlight: GRAMMAR

 Image:  GRAMMAR

Image: GRAMMAR

A self proclaimed adopter of the work uniform, dressed in black pants and a white tee, I met Althea in her Brooklyn studio to discuss all things GRAMMAR. The NYC based designers' emerging label is focussed on white shirting for women with her debut range centered around five unique designs. Each one caters to a certain style and ocassion but all offer sustainability and ethics. With organic cotton poplin the fabric of choice and all production completed locally in NYC's garment district, these shirts check all the boxes! At the heart of the range though is quality, each style is meticulously thought through and fit to perfection. After having the opportunity to try on all five shirts it was hard to choose a favorite but easy to identify their value and longevity in your wardrobe.

Learn more about the brand and the face behind it all in this Q&A with founder Althea Simons and pre-order your shirt now through Kickstarter before September 30th.


What was your inspiration behind starting GRAMMAR?

I’ve always wanted to start a sustainable fashion company. Well, I’ve always wanted to have my own business, and since I went to Parsons I’ve wanted to start a sustainable fashion company. I didn’t feel ready at the time, and in retrospect it’s clear that since then I’ve been collecting experiences to help me feel confident enough to run my own business. The catalyst to finally starting was in January 2016 when I was starting my last semester at business school and my apartment building burned down. I lost all of my stuff, and had to replace my carefully curated wardrobe. It was really hard. I realized that there wasn’t a brand made for me; I wanted classic, go-to pieces that were well-designed and different – and bonus points if it was sustainable – but I couldn’t find anything that I wanted to buy. I thought, I’ve always wanted to start a sustainable fashion business…if not now, when? That’s when I started to really think in earnest about what that would look like. 

Why did you choose to focus your range on white shirts for women?

I realized early on in the process that I needed focus. Because I was starting the business on my own and bootstrapping, I needed to be really lean and purposeful with my operations. It makes sense at the beginning to focus on one fabric – you can meet higher minimums and therefore have more options. I liked the design challenge of picking one type of garment and creating different versions of it, and from a brand perspective it’s strong and clear what Grammar is about. I love white shirts – they are so iconic and versatile, they look good on everyone, and they work for every occasion. When I was working in branding I developed a work uniform: white shirt, black pants or skirt, black shoes. The benefits of a work uniform are numerous (see Huffington Post), but best of all it saves time in the morning and reduces decision fatigue. It was powerful to be able to throw on one of my white shirts and feel like I could take on anything my day would throw at me. I want to empower women to feel that way too.

What made you choose to use organic cotton and have GRAMMAR manufactured entirely in NYC?

Organic and local are part of my value system. My mother started a natural food store in the early 90's when I was young; knowing where your food comes from and understanding how it’s grown or made has always been a part of my life. Many people don’t realize or think about the fact that cotton is an agricultural product; conventional cotton is subjected to chemicals and pesticides just like fruits and vegetables. Everyone understands how bad this is for human health and the environment, and yet less than one percent of all cotton grown in the world is organic. I want to be a part of changing that statistic. The change has to come from the demand side, because farming organically is unequivocally more difficult than conventional. Producing locally, I get to see with my own eyes that the factories are ethical. I have a relationship with the people who make Grammar shirts. I would love to have a factory one day and produce in house, but in the meantime there are so many amazing factories in the Garment District who produce for some of the most prestigious brands in New York. The talent here is unsurpassed in the U.S..  

How did you come up with the 5 shirt designs that make up the range?

My process includes a lot of research – perhaps a hold-over from my neuroscience days. I’ve talked to so many women about what they want, and I try to incorporate their needs into the designs. For example, I heard from a lot of women that they want shirts they can wear under blazers for work, so I made sure that I had styles that could do that (The Conjunction and The Verb). I love this interview with Lorde in New York Times Magazine. In it, she describes her creative process, which I feel is really similar to mine. I have a vague idea of what I want and then keep working at it until it’s right. I collect ideas – details, silhouettes, shapes, functionality – that I want to include in the collection, not knowing exactly where they will fit. Then I just keep refining until it feels good. I wanted the shirts to all be really different, so part of it is pushing them away from each other design-wise so they are each distinct.  Finally, I think about what I would wear. I have to love it. If I love it, chances are someone else will too. 

Why is a white shirt so important in a woman's wardrobe?

So many reasons! I think you’re hinting at a feminist angle – or maybe I’m projecting – either way, a white shirt is really powerful. A (male!) friend of mine recently texted me: “Grammar is going to redefine and support the 2017 work woman’s badass approach to thriving in the formerly male workplace.” I love that idea, and I hope it’s true! 


With just over a week left in GRAMMAR's Kickstarter campaign time is running out to get your hands on a signature shirt from this emerging brands debut collection! Get yours HERE.

Brand Spotlight: Citizen Wolf

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Citizen Wolf is changing the t-shirt game with a range dedicated to tailor made, high quality t-shirts in sustainable fabrications like locally sourced organic cotton and merino jersey. Made to order in Sydney, Australia, this ethical leader is introducing a zero waste model to a garment that most of us wear almost everyday.

After receiving my very own custom fit, organic cotton "Almost Perfect Tee", I can attest to the brand delivering exactly what it promises...excellent fit, amazing quality and a t-shirt I will wear for a very long time! I was lucky enough to gain some inside insight into Citizen Wolf from co-founder Eric Phu. You won't want to miss the story behind the brand that was created to solve an all too relevant problem in the fashion industry and has resulted in a service and industry leading product we all need.


What was your inspiration behind starting Citizen Wolf?

Citizen Wolf started with a very simple idea: what if clothes were made to fit you, and not the other way around?

We’re seven billion different body shapes, so how on earth are we expected to fit neatly into S / M / L sizing? Especially when brands can’t even agree on what a “medium” is (don’t even get us started on vanity sizing!). If I want suiting or bridal, tailoring has existed for millennia and I can solve that problem by throwing cash at it. But what about the clothes I wear 90% of my life?

Since it’s almost fifty years since man landed on the moon, we thought surely someone has solved this by now?! Instead, we found an industry addicted to Fast Fashion and incredibly wasteful mass production. Did you know that out of the 80 billion garments churned out of sweatshops every year: 20% will end up in landfill without having been sold, and another 30% thrown out after just being worn once? That's 40 BILLION garments not needing to be made. Every. Year.

Rather than contributing to this insanity, Citizen Wolf is built from the ground up to create clothes locally on demand, ethically and with zero waste - starting with the humble T-shirt. Since every Tee is designed to your unique fit and style, you’ll look great, feel great and want to wear it more often. Everyone wins!

What made you decide to use only organic cotton and merino wool fabrications for Citizen Wolf Tees?

We believe that natural and sustainable fabrics are the best choice for people, product and planet. Our goal was to have as short a supply chain as possible to reduce the environmental impact - which was quite a challenge in Australia, given there aren’t many mills left!

After a lot of research and testing, we settled on an organic cotton milled in Melbourne. The substantial 180gsm weight is both softer and more durable than typical cotton blends, making it much more eco-friendly in the long term. As no pesticides or harsh chemicals are used from seed to stitch, it’s also safe for all skin types.

We then wanted to add a more luxurious range of fabrics, and the same mill also produced merino wool jersey (from non mulesed sheep so no animals are harmed in the process either!). Australian merinos actually produce 90% of the wool used in “next-to-skin” fabric because the superfine micron count - it’s over five times thinner than human hair - gives it incredible natural properties.

For example, it’s extra breathable to keep you cooler in warm climates, and warmer in cold climates. It dries super fast and is naturally antimicrobial, so it needs much less washing. And less washing means significantly less impact on the environment over the lifetime of the Tee.

The main reason it’s loved though is the ultra-luxe feel and drape - our customers describe it “like being hugged by a cloud”.

Why is it important to you that the manufacturing of Citizen Wolf Tees happens in Australia?

There are three linked reasons why this was critical to us: quality, speed and social impact.

Our customers expect premium quality, so it was critical to control the production process and be quick to respond to any issues without needing to book a flight. Being local gives us the flexibility to adapt and iterate rapidly.

We’re also fortunate that Australia has highly skilled workers and some of the strongest workplace protections in the world. Combining that with local fabrics means we minimise the overall carbon footprint and environmental impact while ensuring ethical production at every step of the way. By making in Australia, we also support the local supply chain rather than contributing to the exploitation that’s all too common in the industry.

How did you come up with the designs for the Citizen Wolf Tee range?

We developed the first pattern - what we affectionately call the “Almost Perfect Tee” - with an experienced pattern maker. The idea was to start with what we believe a great Tee should be: minimalist, classic, and flattering for most body shapes.

Customers then use that as a starting point to create their own style. In fact, our very first female customer got so excited and inspired by what she created that we ended up naming the “Tiffany Jones” design after her.

We’ve also had influencers - our Wolf Pack - create their own unique Tees and write about how they were inspired to choose their particular details.

Since then, we’ve created a range of other styles for both men and women to show off what’s possible. Like the “Almost Perfect” though, they’re just springboards for customisation. After all, we believe everyone is unique, and that every T-shirt tells a story; best that it tells yours!

Why do you think a Citizen Wolf Tee is worth investing in?

There are many rational reasons to choose us:

  • a significantly lower environmental impact than traditional mass produced clothing
  • made ethically, rather than in indentured slave labour sweatshops
  • get perfect fit without having to spend years hunting for it
  • look and feel better than off-the-rack
  • lifetime measured in years rather than washes

In fact, we named ourselves after the types of customers who care about these things: citizens with a social conscience that aren’t “sheep” following fickle fashion fads.

Ultimately though, the key reason is that Citizen Wolf Tees are investments in yourself. After all, your clothing is the skin you choose to best reflect who you are; why settle for anything less than the best version?


To invest in your own custom fit tee visit Citizen Wolf and become part of the Wolf Pack by following their inspiring journey on Instagram and Facebook.

Brand Spotlight: Patagonia

Image - Patagonia

All paths lead to Patagonia when it comes to the Holy Grail of ethical and sustainable fashion! Founder, Yvon Chouinard, is the original when it comes to building a fashion empire that puts people and the planet before profits. The beginnings of this pioneering brand date back to 1957 when Chouinard's love of climbing uncovered a need for reusable pitons, spurring him to craft them himself. This quickly grew into a small business run out of a store he built in his parents backyard, which just as quickly outgrew demand and saw the beginning of a business partnership. By 1970 Chouinard Equipment had became the largest climbing equipment supplier in the US. This was also the year Chouinard captured the attention of his fellow climbers by wearing a rugby jersey he'd purchased on a trip to Scotland and unintentionally created demand for more colorful and exciting clothes for climbers.   

As the clothing portion of the business increased a new name was introduced and Patagonia's varied and vast initiatives to serve the planet and it's people started to take shape. From the beginning fabrications have taken centre stage for Patagonia, with significant investments made in research and design at the brands fabric lab. This innovation extended to working with an external mill to develop recycled polyester for their trademark fleece, and the company has always been diligent to eliminate any colors from a range that require the use of toxic metals and sulfides. After commissioning an independent environmental survey assessment, which exposed cotton to be the most resource heavy of four fabrics in their range, Patagonia has maintained the use of only organic cotton for the entirety of their cotton range since 1996.

Patagonia's Company Mission:

Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

Giving back is also high on the list of priorities for this conscious company with an annual commitment to donate 10% of profits or 1% of sales, whichever is higher, to small groups working to save or restore habitat. But perhaps the most bold and talked about sustainability move came when Chouinard shocked the industry in 2011 with a full page ad posted in the New York Times on Black Friday. It read "Don't Buy This Jacket" and kicked off an ongoing campaign by the brand to tackle consumerism head on with their Worn Wear initiative. Patagonia continues to highlight reusing and repurposing through a trade in scheme that sees used garments mended and resold, educating customers on how to repair Patagonia garments themselves, and a repair truck that pops up at various events to repair Patagonia garments for free. Now that's a recycling scheme I can get behind! 

Visit Patagonia to learn more and discover a range of functional clothing with a purpose.