ONE MINUTE WITH
Who are you and what do you do?
I'm Paula. I run the sustainable fashion store Sheer Apparel. I live in Barcelona and work in London.
What is Sheer Apparel?
We are a multi-brand online store and we help style-conscious women find beautiful, sustainably produced clothing, so they can look good and feel great.
How / why / when did you launch Sheer Apparel?
After becoming more aware about the waste and exploitation that's so common in the fashion industry, wanting to shop in a better way became a no-brainer for me. But I also like great style and dressing well and I found it took hours and hours of research to find what I was looking for. So after some time of research and writing a regular blog on sustainable fashion, I quit my job in the City and started working on Sheer Apparel's launch.
-Why ’sustainable fashion’? What does ‘sustainable’ mean to you?
I use it as shorthand for three things: sustainable fabrics (such as organic cotton, surplus fabric, tencel), ethical production and beautiful, lasting quality that you'll want to wear forever. Importantly it also means that existing, larger players in the fashion industry improve their practices - transparent sourcing, genuine relationships
What has the journey been like?
Starting and running a business is a world away from my previous jobs in large companies. It's incredibly intense, but I love it. The amount of positive feedback I've had from customer about the brand and the products, as well as on what they've learned about sustainability in fashion makes it all worthwhile.
What kinds of brands do you represent? What do you look for?
I look for great style and a quality finish, so our customers can enjoy their Sheer Apparel clothes for a long time. We also only work with brands that use more environmentally friendly fabrics and that can guarantee good working conditions for the people making the clothes. In practice that means we predominantly work with smaller brands that don't mass produce.
Have you found it easy to find good sustainable labels?
Yes and no. It does take a lot of research, but that's exactly why I started Sheer Apparel. To save my customers having to do the research. If you are willing to put in the work and immerse yourself in the world of up and coming labels, you do find some amazing, sustainable style.
Which is your favourite brand you sell at the moment?
I like them all, as I only select clothes that I would (and in some cases do) wear myself. That said, I do have a real soft spot for Anekdot, a brand founded by a Swedish designer in Berlin, which hand-makes spectacular lingerie from surplus fabric like pre-consumer vintage lace. We are their only stockist in the UK, which I'm really proud of.
What is your typical consumer like?
Our typical customer is a women in their late twenties to late thirties - confident in her personal style, who is interested in a sustainable lifestyle, but wouldn't go as far as compromising on dressing well to make a point.
Why do you think consumers are starting to become more ethically / environmentally minded?
I think many of us crave greater connectivity to the brands we support. It's no coincidence that even global brands have been emphasising their heritage in small beginnings over the past couple of years. I think many of us are also starting to realise that sometimes we are taken for a ride a little bit by brands that present themselves as aspirational - but don't always produce higher quality clothing.
What do you think your consumers like the most about buying from a sustainable / ethical label?
I think knowing that they can treat themselves to gorgeous clothing and also know they have supported a brand that's setting a more positive example in the fashion industry is something our customers value. That said, a strong sense of style and superior quality is also something we are becoming known for. Transparent labels by definition really care about their whole supply chain and the finished product, and it shows.
Is it important that brands are more open and honest about where / who manufactures their products? Why?
Of course it is. As a consumer I don't feel I have the right to enjoy the latest trend from the high street if the only reason it's so 'affordable' and has arrived at the shop so quickly is because someone somewhere along the supply chain is suffering. So it's an absolute no-brainer that any responsible business would be more transparent and honest. But just as important is the consumer's role. Brands have no reason to give answers if we aren't asking questions.
What is next for you?
My focus as I build Sheer Apparel further is on finding out exactly what my customer wants and how I can help her enjoy great style in a more sustainable way. I am running sustainable fashion workshops and am very much looking forward to our Spring Pop Up which will be beautiful.
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