Posted in Interviews

Meet #teamVEPSI – Rhumaa

sustainability, prints and minimalism in the name of fashion for men and women

Meet Rhumaa, the sustainable minimalist yet colourful brand from the Netherlands. Using materials such as lyocell or cupro, the brand offers apparel for women and men with prints drawn by African artists. Every collection involves the work of a new artist and is vegan, fair and zero waste.

What are the concept and commitments of Rhumaa?

We have a real passion for sustainable fashion, impactful art and making an honest difference! Our collections are timeless and sophisticated with modern, soft tailoring and an inspirational art print. Every collection unveils a unique and powerful story; expressed through print, design, colour, details, and high-quality sustainable fabrics. No stone unturned!
We are focused on building up products of purpose and making tracks to a more sustainable future. We realise a journey takes time and most of our big ideas need to start with small beginnings, but we are on our way and continue to build onto our green goals every day.
On our path, we share impact art stories from sustainable art communities and donate into the Rhumaa Foundation where we support sustainable programs and projects in South Africa. Our clothes are made in fair conditions by communities and people who have a love for nature and the environment like us.
We build onto our sustainable fabric library every collection and look at building new ideas to create circular practices as a whole. We recycle fabrics, look for ways to reduce waste and repurpose where we can. Little by little, we head towards a greener future and we’re thrilled to be doing our bit.
Above all, we want our customers to feel incredible in our clothes, not just when or how they choose to wear them but also why they choose to wear them.
We support sustainable communities, collaborations and work with like-minded suppliers – all with a need to steer change in fashion and the environment as a whole.

Rhumaa is perfect for shoppers looking for…..?

Minimalistic, high-quality and sustainable womenswear and menswear fashion.

Which item in your collection best represents your brand?

Our suits are signature to our brand. They represent art stories shared by our collaborating artists and our timeless, quality, sophisticated styles best.

In another life you could have been….

A nature photographer and conservationist.

Any last words for the #VEPSIfamily?

We believe everyone has a voice and together, we can be heard and make a difference. Sharing stories can change the world and we see that every time someone buys a Rhumaa item. It’s a beautiful thing.

 

Shop Rhumaa on VEPSI marketplace


Meet #teamVEPSI – Mo’chillin

Celebrate the Wayúu community

The brand Mo’chillin was born after an encounter with the Wayúu community. In love with the magnificent country of Colombia, and fascinated by the incredible work of the women of the tribe, Clément and Amandine wanted to put the community and their work forward.

What is the concept and universe behind Mo’chillin?

The “Mo’chillin” bags are what we call here “Wayúu mochilas”. “Mochila” means bag in Spanish. All our Mo’chillin are unique handicrafts, handmade by the women of Rancheria Mañatu, the Wayúu community that is located about 20 kilometers from Riohacha, the economic capital of the Guajira region.

The Wayúu people:
The Wayúu people are Amerindian people who now live between Colombia and Venezuela. They speak their own language, Wayúunaiki, as well as Spanish, for the majority of them.
They took refuge in the Guajira desert when the Spanish settlers arrived. This desert, as intriguing as it is inhospitable, has allowed them to preserve and preserve their culture and customs by resisting invaders and maintaining control of their territory. Today, their natural resources are threatened by mining that either exploits or pollutes them.

Craftsmanship and know-how:
They therefore live mainly on weaving, Chinchorros (Guajiros hammocks) and mochilas, like those of Mo’chillin. The women of the community make the pouches, hammocks, bracelets and bags in a totally traditional way, following the same process as their ancestors.
The technique used for Wayúu mochilas is the hook, which makes it possible to obtain these bags “in one piece”, without seams. This traditional know-how of high quality is passed on from generation to generation, from mother to daughter.

Cooperative from another world:
The tribe operates like a local cooperative system: the couple in charge of the community (Yanitza and Feligno) is in charge of buying the yarn and distributing it to the different families who make the mochilas. The profits from the sales are then redistributed to the families.

Our commitments:
We fell under the spell of these bags and their colours while walking around Colombia, and we decided to bring them back to France, so that you too could benefit from them and thus support the craft skills of Wayúu women.
In our approach, and this from the beginning, we wanted to get closer to the source of production and work hand in hand with a Wayúu community. Thanks to the presentation of a local association, we were able to get in touch with Rancheria Mañatu and spend time there to understand the manufacturing process, their culture, their needs and start working with them.

Fair rates:
At the beginning of our collaboration, we asked them to define the price they thought was right for their work. This price is between 30% and 50% higher than the local market price, and we constantly adapt them according to their needs or fluctuations in raw material prices, so that they are not affected.

A social commitment:
In 2018, our young company decided to use all of its profits from the year to offer gifts to all the children in the community. Each child received a new and colourful outfit to start the year 2019 with. It is extremely difficult to obtain clothing when you live more than 20 km from the city, where transportation is almost non-existent, travel is complicated and incomes are limited.

Mo’chillin bags are for those who are looking for…?

Escaping, travelling, being unique and colourful. All our bags are different: whether you are a chic, bohemian or glamorous hippie, your Mo’chillin bag will undoubtedly bring a touch of originality to your style. For example, our plain-coloured Mo’chillin will go very well with a sober outfit while adding a touch of bright colour, while our patterned Mo’chillin have mostly indigenous Wayuu patterns and have a great diversity of colours, which makes it possible to stand out even more.

Which item in your collection best represents your brand?

All our Mo’chillin are unique and it is therefore difficult to choose a single one that represents us.
We particularly like the Mo’chillin with shoulder strap, which are the traditional mochilas used in everyday life by the Wayúus. We like the patterned ones very much because of their assertive style and they know how to stand out from other types of bags.

#VEPSIambassador Nina Botzen – Photo Franziska Nummer

In another life you could have been….

A needle and thread: Start from scratch and build slowly to let aesthetics, art and tradition express themselves.

Shop Mo’chillin on VEPSI marketplace


Meet #teamVEPSI: Yala Jewelery

African inspired jewelery for modern women – and true sustainable forever pieces..

1. What is the concept of your brand? Style and commitment – what do you stand for?

Yala is African jewellery for the modern woman. Every piece is ethically and sustainably handmade in Kenya by talented artisans. We use traditional materials and focus on production techniques that have a low carbon footprint. Our brand is built on social values, to improve the lives of others by creating financial opportunities for the skilled artisans who make our products. Yala embodies intricate design, sustainable materials, ethics and transparency.
Best of all, we are the first jewellery company in the UK to become a certified B Corp, which means we have made a legal commitment to treat our suppliers, customers and the environment with the respect they deserve.

2. Yala is the perfect brand for all those looking for…

Unique, handmade statement pieces that tell a story. Our customers love the way we highlight the people behind the products – we want them to know their names, faces and a little bit about their lives. We know how fun it is to have something that not many others have, but also to be able to tell the story behind what you’re wearing. We focus on small batch, limited collections not just to ensure excellent quality, but also to make every customer feel special and unique. Our pieces give the customer confidence that their piece was made by artisans in a safe, healthy workplace and that they were paid enough to improve the lives of themselves and their families.

3.  Which piece represents best your brand?

Our statement piece and bestseller is the Lela 3 way earring – our customers love the versatility of wearing them in multiple ways, and they can be dressed up or dressed down. They feature the Yala signatures of hammered brass and a half-moon shape. They are small and dainty enough to suit anyone who wears them, in whatever way they choose to wear them!

4. In another life, you could have been…

A nature photographer and conservationist

Shop Yala Jewelry Now on VEPSI Marketplace

Meet #teamVEPSI – Boochen Swimwear

Cool designs, comfy shapes and Econyl – the magic formula for a sustainable swimsuit!

We discovered the sustainable swimwear brand “Boo Surfwear” more than a year ago via Instagram – a huge crush. As a new member of the #teamVEPSI, ethical brands sold on our marketplace, we were able to meet the designers in Berlin in July during Berlin Fashion Week – and organize a photo shoot with the superb influencers Nina Botzen and Chloé Kian of our #VEPSIambassador program.

Welcome to #teamVEPSI! Tell us: What is the concept of your brand? Style and commitment – what do you represent?

Our brandname contains already what we love and stand for: boo is short for blue ocean obsessed, and -chen shows the german heritage 🙂 As surfgirls, we know the struggle when the bikini wouldn’t stay in place after an intense session. While enjoying surfing we came across some other problems, like the huge amount of plastic waste floating around. That´s why we decided to use our abilities to make a change and created a bikini that´s better for surfing and for the ocean. We strickly use only recycled fabrics for our collections and try to reduce waste in packaging, transport and also reuse our scrap fabric. We are supporting a small, independent, swimwear-specialist manufactory in China with buying off season and a commited, long-term partnership. We believe in the contribution each of us can make for a more sustainable future. That´s why we design for long term use: each of our bikinis is combinable with the rest of the collection, reversible and adjustable. This way, you can keep using your bikini with different styles, activities and even if your body changes.

Finish the following sentence for us: Boochen Swimwear is the perfect sustainable brand for anyone looking for..:)

..Swim and Sportswear that is both beautiful to look at, made from eco-conscious materials and brings you all the functionality of “traditional” sportswear, but with a high-fashion twist. With our design concept, not only you get two bikini sides to show off, but can combine them in different ways, adjust them for the perfect fit and enjoy eye-catchy prints that stay in shape due to extra durable, high quality fabric.

Which part best represents your brand?

For us, the core piece is our Caparica Style in Painting Print. It is named after the surf beach where the idea to start the brand was coined and really represents our core values: sporty, yet sexy style that can be adapted for surfing and really can withstand the waves. Combined with our signature Painting Print, it really conveys the fun and artsy vibe we want to bring across with our brand.

In another life, you could have been……

In another life, we all wish we could have been mermaids. But with the ocean pollution going on, we want to use this life to clean up the ocean first, and then, hopefully, reincarnate as mermaids later.

A last word for the #VEPSIfamily family?

Hey guys, let´s be part of this big community and strive for change. Together we are strong !

Click here and shop Boo bikinis and suistainable swimear!

Kipato Unbranded, more than jewelry: a social and sustainable business

 

We are happy that the ethical fashion market is spreading around the world and today we want to shed a light on the African brand Kipato Unbranded. A social project and a brand that works with local artisans to make beautiful jewelry. Discover more about the brand!

So tell us, what is Kipato Unbranded and who is behind the brand?
Kipato Unbranded was founded by 5 young women from different cultures and backgrounds that created a social enterprise that collaborates with local artists, promoting their talents and skills and gives them access to markets. Our pieces are made from local materials that include brass, recycled bone, and beads.
Kipato is the Kiswahili word for income. This underscores the social justice core of the enterprise. We ensure that our artists are empowered by their work and receive fair wages for their creativity. From its’ beginnings, profits from the artists’ work, whether sold in international or local markets, go directly to the artists, creating a model that is sustainable and fair to them. We are “unbranded” because we are focused on creating jewelry by everyday people, for everyday people. We believe that beautiful jewelry should not be out of reach for everyday people and therefore are striving to create an enterprise that is accessible and approachable.
What is your brand moto?
Creating a story of beauty and empowerment: jewelry “by everyday people, for everyday people”
What are you most proud of about your brand?
Our jewelry is versatile and ethically responsible. Our collections are suitable as much for a high-profile awards event as for a casual Saturday afternoon with friends. Our products are created from recycled products and our packaging is eco-friendly, making us an environmentally responsible enterprise.
How do you see your role in the global ethical fashion movement?
For Kipato Unbranded, as a social enterprise, we envision ethically responsible growth. We envision partnering with ethical retailers with our same vision and mission: fair prices for fair wages. We envision the opportunity as breaking down the barriers between producers and consumers – to empower the everyday person to understand and stand together as one with those less fortunate. The challenge is the status quo which is the need to produce products for mass consumerism at the expense of producers.
 

 

 


Greek minimalism with MERAKI bags

 

Elina Mavrommati & Andie Skaraki, are the women behind greek brand MERAKI. Minimalistic leather handbags, clutches and backpacks. Timeless shapes, elegant colors. Discover the brand!

What’s the concept of your brand?
The MERAKI collection consists of minimal leather backpacks, clutch and shoulder bags. Inspired by untranslatable words from all over the world, Meraki bags are named after unique words that indicate imperceptible and delicate moments of everyday life. Natural elements, clean shapes and colors come together to form a simple yet special design. All products are made from 100% premium quality leather and are carefully handcrafted by local craftsmen in order to create a unique, timeless product.
Tell us about your way of creating. What inspires your work?
Meraki is inspired by sculpture, architecture, shapes, textures, smells, forms, songs, words and kind gestures.
What are you proud of?
We design and create leather bags in a responsible way.

 

 


#teamVEPSI crush of the day: ONEOFEACH

It was during our VEPSI pop-up sale last March that we met with the lovely Tamburai Chirume. Such a kind soul! She, with her mum, manged to create the ethical african brand ONEOFEACH that conveys the beauty and creativity of the African heritage. All the accessories are produced and made in Cape Town, South Africa. A powerful project that we can’t get enough of!

Who’s behind your brand? Tell us about you! 

ONEOFEACH is a mother & daughter design duo based in Cape Town, South Africa by Pauline Munemo Chirume (Mother) and Tamburai Chirume (Daughter)

Pauline is a Fashion designer and contemporary visual artist with over 35 year’s experience.

Tamburai comes from a strong fashion retail and styling background, having worked with major fashion magazines such as Elle Bulgaria. She then joined the banking world which helped her conceptualize their ONEOFEACH dream to become a business reality.

What’s the story of your brand – why did you choose to launch an ethical brand?

The inspiration for starting our business was driven by our passion for our continent, we wanted to transform the mindsets towards African inspired products by creating a product which represents Africa holistically , made in South Africa using fabrics sourced from various regions in Africa and leather offcuts however at premium quality and immaculate finish , ultimately a high end fashion product made in a Africa by a Mother and Daughter for the world, this has enabled us to appeal to the global market, we believe that through having done this we are an agent of change on the African Continent.

Tell us about the universe of your brand, its values in terms of production, engagement…what makes it different from the others?

We were inspired to create something out of nothing and started off by creating a beautiful product using waste leather pieces and African cloth purchased from various African countries with a purpose to helps with equal and sustainable wealth distribution since many of the African-inspired fabrics we see these days are imitations from China. Today ONEOFEACH is available worldwide in various outlets, small boutiques, and museums. As the brand is growing more and more products are evolving and all fashion accessories such as earrings and bangles are made using waste fabrics and plastic bases. Nothing in our studio goes to waste.

Where do you see your brand in 10 years? Tell us about your dreams!

In 10 years we hope to have grown more in terms of our impact around the world to be an iconic ethical African fashion brand that is readily available and recognized in every city worldwide.

…we heard you came with a gift?

Yes, you can win 2 ONEOFEACH bags via VEPSI’s Instagram account! 🙂

 

 


Pretty Leather Things, graphic jewelry

In 2014, Viktoriya devoted herself to her passion for leather, creating the brand Pretty Leather Things. With her leather scraps collected from professionals, she creates geometrically shaped accessories and brings her imagination to life. Discover her brand!

Viktoriya, tell us what’s the concept of your brand?
I create graphic leather jewelry and accessories. I chose leather because it is a noble material and very pleasant to work with and to wear. I mainly use scrap leather and recycled leather.
What inspires you to create your accessories?

I am inspired by simple geometric shapes, emphasizing the lightness and natural character of leather. I try to memorize what I see during the day or make a quick drawing to be able to work on new shapes or combinations of colors and textures.

What makes you proud of your brand?
I am proud of my brand because it simply exists. I have always been very manual, but it was until creating this brand that I was really able to express myself. I don’t have any artistic or creative background, but one day 4 years ago I thought to myself, why not try? Every compliment or thank you from a customer is dear to my heart!
How do you see your role in the global ethical fashion movement?
I’m thinking about making an imitation leather jewelry collection. Overall, I find it important to take up the challenge of creating new objects, jewelry or accessories with existing, recycled materials, there are so many wastes on this planet!

 

…we heard you came with a gift?

Yes, you can win a pair of earrings via VEPSI’s Instagram account! 🙂


IMM – beautiful home shoes made by immigrants

For some brands the term “ethical” isn’t accurate – because they are actually beyond ethical. That’s the case of the IMM, an uber -stylish brand that creates luxurious, uber-stylish and comfy home shoes…all made by immigrants and refugees in a sustainable and social process. One of our most inspiring discoveries during the last years.

Tell us how it all started!

The brand was created from this urge that I had that I think a lot of people have, to do something to help. We are faced with a barrage of the most appalling news every day, combined with terrifyingly xenophobic sound bites from politicians and certain extreme right groups. As a life-long migrant myself, albeit privileged, I couldn’t imagine simply not doing anything. I wanted to find a new way to help, something more engaged than simply donating money. So, MADE BY IMMIGRANTS was born!

My idea has always been that fashion can be ethical, sustainable and transparent. MADE BY IMMIGRANTS identify immigrants and refugees with outstanding talents and skills and employs them. We found that artisanship, leather work and tailoring was amongst the top skills of our initial group and so it was born IMM.

IMM is the first brand under the umbrella of MADE BY IMMIGRANTS (and hopefully the first one of many to come!). Working together with an outstanding designer, Lital Weizman, we developed the creation of a brand that facilitates the integration of these immigrants and refugees through the creation of products of the outmost quality using their existing talent and skills.

We hire them and provide fair living wages to not only support themselves and their families but also to support governments by bringing them into the organized economy and becoming taxpayers in their new countries. We are all about full transparency, meaning we showcase each step of the production process and ascribe a real cost to the work that goes into making the shoes. From the salaries to the cost of the leathers, the wrapping paper or the electricity bills, everything is public. You can see it on the website, and if you want more details, we’ll be happy to provide.

Tell us more about the fabrication process: Why is it sustainable?

We launched with six (very) limited editions of the home shoes buying leather that is left over from the production of luxury brands, so these are small quantities of really beautiful quality items. Part of our upcycling commitment. They are hand stitched by our team of workers in Sevilla. The design comes from our immigrant designer, Lital Weizman, who is also an immigrants in Paris and has her own amazing fashion line. Every step of the production process is sustainable, ethical, covered by the price of the final product and handled by immigrants.

MADE BY IMMIGRANTS provide the platform, the structure and the expertise for these people to flourish using this own talent.

Our ethos is simple: The more IMM shoes we sell, the more people we can help.

What inspires you as an ethical designer on a daily basis?

I’m very much inspired by shakers and movers, people who see a bad situation and decide to help. The kind of people who don’t take things for granted and overcome obstacles. It can be someone who just helps around their neighborhood, or someone like Alexandria Ocasio Cortes. I think we live in interesting times when women and minorities are aware that they have momentum, that change is possible. Lots of grassroots movements have done really impressive things lately. Despite all the terrible things in the news, I try to focus on the positives where I can.

I am also a hedonist and I don’t think the two things are at odds. I am a passionate believer in helping people, but I also like beautiful things, with a history and a heart. I am inspired by traditional, artisanal ways of creating objects of beauty. Fast fashion and trends bore me very easily. I like things that last and can tell a story because they were worn for generations or the maker put heart and soul into them.

 
You are proud of your brand because…

Because I already see the difference it has made in the lives of the people who have built it with me. This is a communal effort and I have got to know so many amazing people with such incredible stories. The brand we are building is incredibly ambitious but it is also made to last. Already in its early stages I can see it has the potential to become something exceptional and all the people it may one day help. This fills me with optimism as well as a lot of pride in what we can achieve together, because everyone who supports us is essentially standing up for the same values and that is very encouraging. It has been lovely to see people come together and embrace this project. There are far more people out there who want to help than we can see, and that’s a good thing to remember.

How do you see the future of ethical brands and social entrepreneurship?

I think in the past few years there has been a big growth in social entrepreneurship, but even for traditional companies, values and ethics play a more important role than ever. People want to buy from brands that share their values, or that at the very least aren’t hurting anyone. In fashion there is a real proliferation of sustainable, ethical, vegan and other types of socially conscious brands. Some of them give back directly to the community, but I would say that not enough of them do so.

The opportunities are there to create more transparent and fair brands that will truly create not just great consumer products but enact positive change in the world. This is a rarity now, but it should really be the norm, and enough people support this so that if they were only given the right options, I am sure they would switch from unethical brands to ethical ones without hesitation. I think the challenge will be to maintain credibility, legitimacy, and earn and keep people’s trust. Because of the lack of transparency, this notion still prevails that companies that claim to do good are mostly just making lots of cash for their shareholders and doing a little bit of good as a side project. This is an image truly ethical companies have to work hard to dispel, and those companies that aren’t that ethical should try to correct.

Overall I think things are going to be quite exciting in the years to come, because consumers are making it very clear that they will not stand with brands for whom values are only marketing tools. My idea was to create jobs and empower immigrants in that way, but there are many ways to be an ethical brand.

…and it seems that you too came with a present for the VEPSI community today?

You can win today an amazing pair of VEPSI home shoes on the VEPSI Instagram ! 🙂

 

 


CLAD, the textile accessories. #MadeInFrance

Adèle and Clara are the two designers behind the brand CLAD fabrique textile. Their inspiration: the thread! They weave it, sew it and embroider it. And one thing led to another, they give shape to original accessories. A lovely discovery!

CLAD fabrique textile, tell us about your brand!
CLAD fabrique textile is a brand of textile accessories 100% handmade in Paris. Adèle weaves the fabrics on a traditional loom and Clara embroiders and sews the accessories. We produce bags, computer covers, wallets, pockets…
 
Tell us about your way of creating. What inspires you?

The thread! It’s the basis of our work. We use our raw materials to create. We then think of colors, materials, shapes, textures, patterns. Our thinking is purely free and instinctive, we seek movement in our fabrics, color contrasts and graphic rhythms.

What is your creative process?
We create our accessories from A to Z ourselves with raw materials from resourcing. With this approach, we promote French craftsmanship and encourage short circuits and eco-responsibility.
How do you see your role in the global ethical fashion movement?
We are trying at our level to be against fast fashion (with its rather frightening human, environmental and social impacts). It is so entrenched in our society that it is difficult to cope with. But we are seeing more and more curiosities/requests/desires of the handmade in France. We, therefore, hope that ethical and artisanal manufacturing will grow and gain consumer confidence!
…We hear you came with a gift?

We offer a 50€ gift coupon to VEPSI’s community through their Instagram! 🙂

 

 


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