Our Journey to Sustainable, Slow, and Ethical Fashion

We’ve had so many questions lately about our journey to creating The Simple Folk, so I thought I would share more about this ambitious endeavor and why exactly we’re dedicated to leading the way when it comes to slow and ethical fashion.

Abi and I began to fantasize about the idea of The Simple Folk shortly after the birth of both of our second children: my son, Valentine, and Abi’s daughter, Sage. We both had wellness businesses at the time, and had intentionally set up our lives to prioritize our families which, among other things, included nurturing healthy minds, bodies, and a loving respect for our world.

It was during this time that we discovered that very few children’s clothing brands are simple, non-toxic, ethical, or sustainable (let alone all of the above). And those that did seem to fit this criteria lacked the softness, style, and minimalist sophistication we desired for our little ones.

So, we began to talk seriously about the idea of starting a children’s clothing line ourselves, not because it was a logical choice given our other work and life commitments but because we shared the belief that childrenswear can be non-toxic, stylish, ultra-soft, and practical, and that slow and sustainable fashion is chic. As mothers, we could no longer bear to dress our children in clothing that wasn’t optimal for their health and well-being or that was the result of unfair wages, poor working conditions, or environmental destruction. Simply put, we had had enough of “fast fashion”.

With a shared vision of leading the fashion revolution for our little ones keeping us up at night (who I am kidding, we were already up!), the momentum overtook us and we finally took the leap. We got to work on building out a supply chain of family-run and ethical companies that operate far above the business standard and that prioritize our planet at every turn, and we committed ourselves to supporting a non-profit organization that we know is truly making an impact and changing our world for the better.

So if, like us, you’re looking for a meaningful way to get off that dizzying merry-go-round of fast, disposable fashion and have dreams of honoring our planet and the beings who reside on it, welcome to The Simple Folk, and to the world of sustainable, slow, and ethical fashion.

Why Slow and Sustainable Fashion is Here to Stay

Thankfully, our culture has finally begun to examine our impact on planet Earth, its people, and animals, and it’s becoming more and more clear that in order to live sustainably we need to slow the consumerist train that has come to define us in the last few decades. Back in the 1980s, this realization sparked the birth of the popular slow food movement with its emphasis on clean, ethically-produced, whole foods.

Inspired by these principles, Kate Fletcher coined the slow fashion movement in 2007 in response to the need she saw for a slower pace in the fashion industry. The ultimate goal of slow fashion is to design, manufacture, and purchase clothing in a way that respects designers, workers, consumers, animals, and the environment.

Slow fashion considers all the resources and methods necessary to bring clothing to consumers, and embraces these important principles:

  • Buying fewer high-quality garments and keeping them for a longer time (as opposed to purchasing lots of cheap, trendy pieces and replacing them constantly).
  • Choosing clothing that is manufactured with fair wages, equal opportunities, and respectful treatment for all workers involved in the process.
  • Favoring clothing made from natural, safe, cruelty-free fabrics, dyes, threads, and other materials—and that’s manufactured in ways that don’t harm living beings or the planet.
  • Celebrating creative designers and artisans locally and worldwide by wearing original garments sold locally or through organizations with fair trade practices.
  • Having fun with DIY fashion and creating or customizing garments and accessories at home.

And even better? Embracing a slow, sustainable wardrobe means fewer clothing pieces and less waste. The end result is an authentic fashion lifestyle that is long lasting, ethical, and ecologically responsible.

It’s Time to Ask, Who Made Your Clothes?

Let’s face it, we’ve all indulged in a little “retail therapy” from time to time, and frankly, it can be fun. So, if you’re wondering if you are truly ready to commit to slow fashion—and if maybe continuing to treat yourself and your little ones to the latest new, trendy styles every season isn’t really such a bad thing—there are some important factors to keep in mind.

Unfortunately, behind those cute new shoes and bright new tops lurk some very ugly and damaging truths. For starters, most of the cheap clothing sold in the U.S. is manufactured abroad by garment workers enduring poor treatment, unsafe conditions, and low wages.

Some have even lost their lives to job related hazards, like the Rana Plaza building collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2013, which killed 1,138 garment workers and injured 2,500 more. Rana Plaza housed five garment factories full of workers—mostly women—facing incredibly poor labor conditions. And when garment workers in Bangladesh dare to peacefully protest the abysmal minimum wage ($0.45 per hour), they are often fired, arrested, and even physically assaulted.

So, what can you do to make a change? The #FashionRevolution campaign urges every consumer to ask brands the pivotal question: Who made my clothes? April 22-28 marks Fashion Revolution Week, a time to stand up for workers’ rights around the world and demand answers from companies who profit greatly from the fast fashion that is so detrimental to people and the planet.

The Downside of Cheap, Trendy Childrenswear

Fashion can also be a very toxic enterprise. Over 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used to manufacture clothing, and most of these are known hormone disruptors or carcinogens that hide within the mass produced fabrics you and your kids wear. And, these chemicals are often then released into the water supplies, affecting the quality of life for local residents, wildlife, and impacting the planet overall.

The bottom line is that when you look beneath the surface, all that cheap, mass-produced stuff is terrible for people, animals, and the world. What’s more, it creates a stressful and dehumanizing mindset of always needing more—and feeling like it’s necessary to slavishly conform to passing trends rather than express your individuality in a more selective, high quality way.

How to Slow Down (and Upgrade) Your Fashion

Embracing a slow fashion lifestyle may seem like a huge step, but it’s really one of the simplest things in the world. After all, you’re slowing down and doing less, not more! Here are a few ideas to ease you in:

  1. Wear and take good care of what you already have.
  2. Share and recycle by checking out second-hand, vintage, and thrift stores.
  3. Avoid mass-produced, poor quality garments, as well as trendy colors and silhouettes that will be passé by next season.
  4. Choose to only buy from brands that are committed to ethical, sustainable fashion practices and choose fewer  high quality, timeless, pieces made from natural materials and certified non-toxic dyes that are designed to last.
  5. Leave the stress of having too many choices behind by purchasing simple, sophisticated foundational clothing pieces that can be mixed and matched throughout the seasons.
  6. Express your individuality with a new sense of fervor. Rely on your own creativity to create new looks and combinations as opposed to big box retailers.

Simple, Conscious Fashion Starts Early

Here at The Simple Folk, we work to make the lives of families better: from those who knit, dye, and sew our fabrics to those who romp around in our high-comfort play clothes each day. We decided to embark on this journey because we’re so passionate about furthering a sustainable, wholesome, and authentic lifestyle for ourselves, our children, and those who make the clothes we wear.

That’s why all of our children’s play clothes, sleepwear, and accessories are designed to be simple, durable, luxuriously soft, chic, and timeless and are crafted from GOTS certified organic and natural fabrics and OEKO-TEX® dyes. This means that every garment is free of damaging levels of over 100 known harmful substances, and only the safest clothing comes in contact with your little ones’ precious skin.

Our line is handmade with love in small batches, in a sustainable factory in Portugal where joy and dancing are in the air. Both the artists who make our clothes and the environment are honored at every turn. Our pieces are cut and sewn in a building that:

  • Runs entirely on renewable energy
  • Adheres to strict environmental protection policies
  • Is Green Energy Certified
  • Functions daily with energy produced by its 70 solar panels
  • Uses recycled well water
From gender neutral pjs and playsuits to leggings and tanks, our whole line is designed to stand the test of time so every one of your kids—and maybe even their kids and grandkids—can keep enjoying them from year to year. For us, life just feels better when we slow down and simplify and when our daily choices reflect our core values. We hope you’ll join us in our quest to create a healthier today and a better tomorrow.

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