We spend roughly a third of our life in bed. Thats a lot of time in our PJ's. So we were pretty chuffed to discover the Sydney brand, ALAS The Label, makers of beautifully designed, high quality sleepwear that's good for us, the environment, and the people who make them.
Their beautiful designs have landed them in highly regarded boutiques world wide and online sites including ASOS, Shopbop and GOOP. Their fanbase includes the millennial fashion guru Tavi Gevinson, as well as Gwyneth Paltrow and Sophie Lowe. NBD.
Their international success hasn't wavered their staunch commitment to the environment and people behind their clothing, evident in the fact that all they use only sustainable fabrics, GOTS dyes, and all of their garments are made in fair trade / SA 8000 accredited factories.
We had a chat with co-founder, Kelly Elkin, to find out more...
how did ALAS come about for you two?
KE: ALAS was started by myself and Betony Dircks, we were long time collaborators - we met on the first day on university, travelled the world and worked together on many creative projects over the past decade. We have always been aware and conscious of our impact, whether this be creating a business, making a product, or just being responsible people. When we started ALAS there were very few sustainable brands and we really wanted to be able to offer ladies like us, good quality, ethically produced, well designed clothing. ALAS was really born out of a desire to combine our creativity and ethics.
What inspired you to start out with sleepwear?
KE: An aspect of being sustainably minded is to ensure you are not just making more stuff that is already out there and to ensure you were making something useful. We sleep a third of our lives, everyone wears pyjamas, so it seemed like a practical idea! Betony is a painter and illustrator and I love to design textile prints, sleepwear is a great medium to print on, bright coloured printed clothing can be a hard sell, people don't take their pj's as seriously, you can enjoy a bright print in the comfort of your own home! :)
We love your use of bold patters and colours. What or who is the inspiration behind The alas design style?
KE: We are always inspired by different things, often our travels, our favourite artists like Bridget Riley, Kandinsky, Egon Schiele, we often start with a concept, start drawing and painting and end up somewhere completely different....It can be nice to have that freedom with colour and prints as you cant stray too far from a classic comfy pj set!
What role do you believe sustainable clothing plays in the preservation of our planet?
KE: Fashion is the second largest polluter in the world, it is responsible for one of the biggest man made disasters on the planet (The reduction of the Aral Sea) and cotton uses 25% of the worlds insecticides and pesticides. It is also one of the largest employers in the world (75% of that being woman) and is renowned for being one of the most exploitative. However in saying this, it also has the opportunity to create widespread positive global change. The industry is slowly changing, consumers are more aware and brands can no longer be complacent.
What other people or businesses have inspired you along the way?
KE: That's a tough one, we have been working in the ethical side of fashion for over a decade now and we are proud to be a part of a great community of like minded people. I think we all inspire each other. Running an independent brand, we are often sharing stories and experiences with other designers. We are all very open with each other as we share the same goal, essentially.
Have there been any "pinch-me" moments during your ALAS career?
KE: We were pretty excited when we won an international award for our commitment to ethics and innovation in 2012! It opened the door to collaborating with a few major international retailers like ASOS, Anthropology and GOOP. Offering a sustainable product to such a wide audience has been very humbling.
Are you sensing a shift away from mindless consumerism towards a culture of more thoughtful consuming?
KE: I think it is very easy to feel like we are heading into a different era of consumption. I definitely think we have noticed a shift in peoples perceptions. When we first started ALAS the stigma behind ethical fashion was so terrible that we didn't push it as a selling point. The fashion industry saw it as a downfall to our brand where as now it is a key selling point. Caring is cool now. But as soon as you get out of the inner city or out of your creative circles you can see the mega malls, the fast fashion outlets encroaching at a rapid rate and you can see that there is still more work to be done.
Is there Anything big on the horizon for you guys?
KE: We have just launched into a few more lines such as activewear and a beautiful range of tencel pieces. We're very excited to get these out to our lovely customers.
finally, what is making you feel optimistic about the world right now?
KE: Once you are aware of the impact of fashion there is no turning back, you cannot un-know the exploitation of the planet and people, now more than ever there is pressure on companies and consumers alike to take responsibility for their action and use their ability to choose, for good!
We'll be giving a lucky ESH fan the chance to win one of their riducously beautiful kimono robes (as pictured above) in the design of their choice... stay tuned.