Alexandria Main is really thrilled to be the subject of a story by US based blog, Sustainably Chic. Natalie Kay (pictured), founded Sustainably Chic in 2014 in order to help consumers find socially conscious goods. If you are looking for other socially conscious brands Sustainably Chic has a wonderful community directory here. And for a list of other blogs devoted to sustainable fashion, take a look here.
Fashion has always had a transformative power. It changes the way we think and feel about ourselves, and it affects the way others see us. Conscious consumption means considering the entire supply chain and ensuring our buying choices have a positive, not harmful impact on the environment and on the lives of the workers who make our goods.
Alexandria Main has chosen to focus on the capacity of fashion to transform lives by economically empowering women. That means I seek out manufacturers who have a particular commitment to improve the lives of their female seamstreses.
I've written a bit about what that means in my FAQ section:
Alexandria Main calls itself 'Ethical Luxury'. What does this mean?
Everything Alexandria Main has been made by socially responsible studios or community organisations that were specifically established to empower and give skills to their employees. The garments are luxurious because of the quality of the work that has gone into them. Seams are french seams, which means they are stronger and will last longer, buttons are covered, cutting has been done by hand.
All Alexandria Main beach coverups have been made at Fair Sew in Phnom Penh. Fair Sew is a light, airy and safe working space where the seamstresses are paid more than a garment factory minimum wage, and more than many NGO run workshops. It offers benefits and training programs which give employees greater stability, and better work life balance than a garment factory could offer.
My beautiful obi belts have been made at Watthan Artisans in Phnom Penh. This studio is run by Cambodians who employ men and women who have been disabled by polio or land mines accidents. The fabrics have been hand loomed and dyed in Cambodia.
All the beach bags have all been made by graduates of a sewing school in Siem Reap, Human and Hope Association (HHA). HHA was established to provide skills to the poorest people in the community. 20% of the profits of every beach bag is given back to them, thus contributing to their important work.
What is the difference between something that is 'ethical' and something that is 'Fairtrade’?
Fairtrade is always ethical, but in order to receive a Fairtrade mark a company must go through a rigorous process of certification which is set by Fairtrade International. As a small start-up company I have not elected to go through the process at this time. I have however ensured that all production has been done ethically as outlined above.
The fabric label on my Alexandria Main robe says it is of ‘fabric of unknown content and origin’. What does this actually mean?
I buy the fabric to make Alexandria Main beach robes at textile markets in Phnom Penh in order to support local business. Much of the fabric sold at the textile markets are ‘end of roll’ from the local garment industry and comes without labelling. If it wasn’t on-sold it would have gone to make landfill. Solid waste landfills are potent contributors to greenhouse gases because they emit methane gas. I’d like to think that Alexandria Main is helping the environment by utilising products that are reducing landfill.
Who do you use to make your clothes?
Transparency of supply is one of the most important ways to ensure an ethical fashion chain. With the exception of the jewellery, which I sourced online through a fair trade supplier in Thailand, I visited and have personal relationships with the people who made all Alexandria Main items. Please see my supplier list below (and if you know of other ethical garment makers please feel free to share with me!)
- Fair Sew
- Human and Hope Association
- Watthan Artisans