Camille's Sustainable Fashion Journey

Camille's Sustainable Fashion Journey

Halloween was always an exercise in tearing through my closet looking for something that could be turned into a costume since we definitely didn’t grow up in the type of house where we bought a costume off-the-rack.  I remember my mom magically turning my sister into a palm tree one year because we had green felt scraps from the previous year’s Christmas craft. This ethos carried on until adulthood when I worked at a millennial-dominate office that insisted on an annual costume contest.  Without missing a beat, I whipped out my red leather jacket and paired it with some white socks, black shoes, and one glove and went as Michael Jackson (this was pre-documentary, so don’t judge me).  

But somewhere between these two Halloween memories was a dark period when I treated clothing like it was disposable because it was just so freaking cheap.  I kept Forever21 and virtually every other fast fashion brand in business by buying a new top, skirt or dress for every occasion. And by occasion I mean, every night out, Sunday brunch, vacation, and any other event that resulted in a photo opportunity (because who wants to be photographed in the same thing over and over?). I also considered an occasion to be any time I felt sad, happy, excited, lonely, or bored.  I was able to support this habit because shopping for one new item of clothing was the same price as a grande iced chai at Starbucks. It was just so easy to snag something fresh and trendy and I must admit, the high made me feel good. 

My entire approach to shopping changed after watching a documentary on Netflix called The True Cost.  For the first time I started thinking about the environmental effects of all the clothes I have disposed of throughout the years.  I imagined heaps and heaps of my tiny, sparkly clubbing tops and flouncy mini-skirts that were ubiquitous in my twenties. They are probably sitting in a landfill somewhere along with the other tons of textile waste we Americans generate.  And as someone who has always strived to support other women, I was doubly mortified when the documentary brought to light the struggles of garment workers who get paid pennies so that a tank top can be sold for under ten dollars. These garment workers, most of whom are female, often work in dangerous conditions as building repairs and safety are sacrificed to maximize corporate earnings.  Pennies are pinched to bolster the steadily shrinking profit margin driven by low prices. There was something about this documentary that really affected me. This was a new experience for me since every other documentary I’ve seen has had absolutely no positive impact on my daily habits (e.g. I still have never achieved ketosis, been content with a tiny house, or endeavored to eat like a caveman). 

So what was I supposed to do with this newfound knowledge of my wasteful habit?  I did what a lot of us probably do--an internet deep dive. My trip down the internet rabbit hole made me stop buying fast fashion cold turkey and I bought vintage and secondhand clothes while researching ethical brands.  For some reason, it still didn’t feel like enough.  

Meanwhile, while contemplating green fashion choices, I was simultaneously watching a lot of The Great Interior Design Challenge and kept hearing the term “upcycle” as they turned flea market furniture into “bespoke” showstoppers by transforming them for each episode’s challenge.  Then it hit me...what if I could do this with clothes? There are so many beautiful vintage finds that are stained, have holes, or need new zippers. I could mend them and style them, or repurpose them altogether!  Then reality sunk in...would this be like that time I started an inspiration t-shirt brand for girls and realized I had great ideas for slogans, but had a limited artistic ability to create graphics? 

ENTER FROM STAGE LEFT: the cloud of self-doubt.  

Fortunately, I have a cousin who is an award-winning FIDM graduate and actual clothing designer who has made it in the fashion industry.  I could do the buying (something I had no self-doubt about) and she could do the design, conceptualizing and execution. Then I thought about how we could market and sell this stuff...well good thing my sister has a PR background and could probably sell flip flops to an eskimo. She could also plan that eskimo’s wedding and streamline all aspects of said eskimo’s life because she is that person.  Obviously, I had to rope them both in. 

Months and months later, here we are. Three cousins, one dream--making fashion sustainable.  We don’t want to sell flip flops to eskimos, but we do want to sell them (and you) beautifully upcycled tank tops.  I know, its weird we are launching our tropical vibe clothing in the fall, but it is 90 degrees in Los Angeles, so whatever.  My guess is that you’ve been drooling at those tropical insta pics. And anyway, summer is a state of mind. 


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