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Hi, ladies! I am excited to be back with my second edition of my monthly Sustainable Talk interview series taking place every first Thursday of the month. Today, I have the great pleasure to introduce to you Emilie, founder of Dressing Responsable, a sustainable fashion and accessories online shop for women.
Emilie and I crossed paths in July 2015 via Facebook. Back then, my focus wasn’t set on sustainable fashion, but it definitely sparked my interest.
In hindsight and as chance would have it, I am happy that The Good Fairy Emilie came my way. I believe that everything happens for a reason.
When I decided to stop shopping at fast-fashion retailers end of 2016, The Good Fairy Emilie, bubbled up from my subconscious. Dressing Responsable was the only French online destination for sustainable fashion I knew where I eventually find my favorite winter travel trousers!
I had a ton of questions to ask Emilie about her pathway to a more sustainable consumption, her personal experience, and entrepreneurial career, which have led her to create her own e-shop. I couldn’t wait to share it with you!
Margot : Before launching Dressing Responsable back in 2014, how did you get introduce to sustainable fashion ?
Emilie : One day, I found myself in a difficult financial situation. Nothing very serious but it kept me away from stores for a few months. I realized that I wasn’t really missing it and I started wearing clothes that were sleeping in my closet. From then on, I became suddenly aware of all the clothes that I had, and which I wasn’t wearing. One thing leading to another, I started to pay attention on how these clothes were manufactured.
*Orélie wears this jacket, this top, and these trousers – photo by Julie Lainé Pradines*
Margot: What was your first sustainable purchase?
Emilie: For me, it was more the act of not buying. Like I was saying, I spent months without buying new garments and that’s how and when my sustainable path started to grow. My first ethical purchase was a pair of sneakers from the sustainable brand, Veja. At that time, it was one of the few brands that had met my personal style. Back then, the aesthetic wasn’t the main concern for eco-friendly brands.
Emilie: The shift went quite fast. Once I started to ask myself the right questions, it became pretty obvious. It happened that I had to purchase in fast-fashion for specific reasons. Shop responsibly it’s not only the action of buying sustainable clothes. It’s also buying fewer but better and most importantly, garments that fit our body shape and that we need to complete our wardrobes. If I really can’t find something I need among the sustainable brands and I do not wish to buy it second-hand (that was the case for shoes), I will make an exception. In the shoe case, I carefully and deliberately took the decision and I know that I will wear them until they fall apart. This is exceptional and I decided not to feel guilty.
Margot: What triggered the idea of having an e-shop?
Emilie: I first felt the urge to create something by myself that was also true to my values. The moment I decided to jump into the entrepreneurial world, I knew sustainable fashion was going to be it. I wanted to help this field to widely grow. The idea of opening an e-shop came right after my market research. I didn’t wake up one morning with the idea of opening an online shop. I noted that the ethical fashion marketplace was scattered. Gathering it in one place could have a real impact on how women shop.
Emilie: Each person has its own misconception but generally speaking, sustainable garments are not fashionable, expensive and we never know where to find them. Fortunately, those misconceptions tend to fade away. At least, that’s one of my main goals with Dressing Responsable. The two first ideas might be true but regarding the last one, you just need Wi-Fi to overcome it.
Margot: Sustainability gathers a different type of ethics. It’s sometimes difficult to combine all of all them in one product.
How do you choose the brands for Dressing Responsable?
Emilie: I would say that it’s impossible to gather them all in one product and it shouldn’t become a goal. Ethical fashion is a way of consuming sustainably and reasonably. They are so many ways to be! It can be by producing locally, in France or in Western Europe or by sourcing in developing countries but applying the same environmental-friendly and social rules. It can be by using eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton and linen or recycled fibers. Either way, those two types cannot be combined but are both a way to be sustainable.
On Dressing Responsable, I defined 6 criteria quite wide gathering different type of ways to produce sustainably. You will find eco-friendly fabrics, low impact production methods on the environment, fair-trade, recycled fibers, made in France and made in Europe products. All brands ticking at least one of the previous criteria are eligible to be on the e-shop. The style will determine my final decision. We are talking about ethical fashion not just dressing up. However, it’s still important to suggest clothes that I fancy wearing.
*Manon wears this top, this cardigan and this pouch – Photo de Marie Louise de Sight by Sight*
Margot: Is there sustainable criteria one can find more on your e-shop? If yes, which on and why?
Emilie: If that’s the case, I am most certainly working on it in order to be as fair as possible and so everyone can find what they are looking for. We don’t have the same values. One thinks being sustainable is to be vegan, someone else can’t conceive being sustainable if producing across the world. Some women are looking for sustainable clothing for health reasons and shop organic materials.
For me, transparency and being conscious of what I buy is my way to dress up sustainably. Everyone should be able to find garments they fancy that also matches their values.
Margot: Which sustainable criteria is less develop in the marketplace?
Emilie: According to my personal experience, I would say recycling. The second-hand marketplace is booming but initiatives aiming at creating new garments from recycled material are still too rare. The supply is still too low. It’s unfortunate because recycling is a way to considerably reduce our carbon footprint and it even has a lower impact on the environment than eco-friendly production.
*Manon from Happy New Green wears this top and this skirt from Carrousel Clothing – Photo by Marie Louise from Sight by Sight*
Margot: What are your main tips for a newbie in the ethical fashion world?
Emilie: There are so many ways to approach ethical fashion. I would start by sorting out my closet and really take the time to do it. Take all you clothes and accessories out and ask yourself the right questions: Do I wear it? Do I need it? Does it fit me? (not only size wise but also color wise and if the shape fits your body type). Put aside and get rid of the things you don’t like anymore. Then, put everything back in your wardrobe and see if you’re missing some staples. Give yourself 3 to 6 months to find those staples without buying anything else. That’s when you will take the time to investigate and look for sustainable brands and platforms such as Dressing Responsible. You will definitely find brands that you will love answering to your style.
With that being said, some people just start discovering ethical brands while doing their regular shopping or browsing the web and slowly turn away from fast-fashion retailers.
Others will have a backlash and will go for a fast-fashion detox.
Everyone should be able to do it the way they feel because we’re all different. I don’t want to make people feel guilty. It will help no one and in the worst case scenario, will make them walk away!
Margot: Dressing Responsable is a fashion and accessories online shop for women as well as a shopping advice platform. What is the next milestone you want to achieve for 2017?
Emilie: For 2017, I want to extend the offer of ethical brands on the eshop to reach a hundred brands. I want to introduce new products like shoes and have something for everyone no matter what their ethical convictions are. It can be organic clothing, made in France or vegan.
I want to do pop-up stores again like I did in June 2016. It was a positive experience. I also want to start building a team to help me with it!
Bigger projects will come for 2018 and I will let you more about it at that time.
Thank you, Emilie, for taking the time to answer my questions and for sharing with us your journey in the ethical fashion!
Ladies, if you’re looking for ethical clothing, Rendez-Vous on Dressing Responsable!
See you in March the 2nd for the next Sustainable talk!