The key to building a sustainable wardrobe is to buy pieces that will provide you with endless styling options so that you can mix and match no matter the season or occasion. Here I share two sustainable wardrobe staples to love now and forever from Melbourne brand Lois Hazel, which is built around honesty, transparency and to do as much as you can with what you have.
Fashion designer Lois McGruer-Fraser launched the label in 2015 after graduating from RMIT and interning with several prestigious international brands. This experience gave her insight into how these businesses were being run – the good and the bad, and ultimately taught her that she needed to work for herself, and build a business in her own way.
“When I made the choice to start Lois Hazel I knew I wanted to be as transparent as possible when it came to my supply chain and be able to have a real relationship with the people that were making my clothes. It would have to focus on bettering the planet and looking after people because we are all responsible for the welfare of everything and everyone around us and we have to make sure we act on that responsibility too.”
While sustainable and ethical practices are at the core of the business, design is still at the forefront. Sculptural, minimalist and classic are the three words that best describe Lois Hazel, which creates multifunctional pieces that exude effortless luxury, provide the wearer with ultimate comfort and will fast become your go-to wardrobe staples. Here are two of my favourites that will easily incorporate into your existing closet and build a great foundation for a sustainable wardrobe.
Every well-considered wardrobe needs a little black dress and the Fold Dress in black is my key pick. It’s made from textured cotton deadstock fabric and features pockets (yes!), pleats at the hem which gives it beautiful volume and movement and a flattering open back to subtly show a little bit of skin. It’s simple, relaxed yet elegant silhouette means that it can be worn anywhere and everywhere. It’s the perfect dress that can be thrown on to take the dog for a walk, to wear out on a date or to drinks with friends – and it’s currently on sale too! For winter I’ll be layering it over the Skivvy Rib Top and wearing it with sneakers or ankle boots.
The humble t-shirt is quite possibly the most worn item in our closet because it is so practical and useful, it’s the thing you grab when you don’t know what to wear or when you want to feel as comfortable as possible. That’s why I believe you should invest in a good quality t-shirt in key colours but in different styles.
I had yet to add a grey tee into the mix, so when I came across Lois Hazel’s luxurious Smooth Rib Tee I was sold! It’s made from a Japanese organic cotton which is GOTS (The Global Organic Textile Standard) certified and soft to the touch. It has a slightly relaxed fit, ribbed detailing, a wide scooped neckline which makes it a bit more formal and a split on each side, perfect for tucking into your trousers. It’s such a versatile piece that I can dress up or down, I wear it every day with blue jeans or tailored track pants, I dress it up with wide-leg trousers and heels as pictured, and for winter I’ll be wearing it under large coats and fluffy jackets. It’s on sale at the moment too, so if you’ve been looking for the perfect tee – this is the one!
All Lois Hazel’s pieces are either crafted in house or by a network of local seamstresses in Melbourne, I spoke to Lois about the importance of local production, the fabrics she uses and how her sustainability journey began, read all about it below.
Has sustainability always been important to you, can you tell me about your journey?
To be honest I wasn’t truly aware of the impact I was having on the planet until I started studying Fashion Design. I remember the reactions I would get when I wore something that I had made, and it really got me thinking about how all clothes are made by people, and why is it that some are celebrated and praised, whilst others aren’t.
I started looking into sweatshops and the awful labour practices that took place in many factories, trying to understand why and if there was a way to stop them from existing. From here I started to understand more of the environmental impact fashion had on the planet and also my personal impact. Through taking the time to learn more about different areas, and watching a range of documentaries, I really started to realise I had to make changes in my personal life too that ensured I was doing what I could to help our planet and the people in it.
Your clothing is produced in Melbourne and you source a lot of your fabric and trimmings locally as well, can you tell me a little more about this and why it is so important to you?
I think supporting my local community is so important; it’s a reciprocal relationship and helps build a support system around the brand as well. Also being able to work locally means I have a lot more control over quality, communication and being able to build honest relationships with the local businesses that I get to work with. Some of my suppliers I have been working with from the beginning, and they’ve been so patient with me when I started out with my smaller orders.
It’s been so wonderful being able to grow with them. I also love that I can drive five minutes up the road to the factory that produces my clothes and because of this I have been able to build not just a working relationship but also a personal one. I love dropping in and having a chat, knowing that my business is supporting them and vice versa. Especially in this day and age a lot of business can easily take place over our computer screens, so being able to have face to face connections with people who helped me build my brand is a beautiful thing.
You use deadstock fabric in quite a few of your designs, reuse is one of the easiest ways we can be more sustainable. Can you tell me more about why you decided to use deadstock fabric and the other fabrics you use?
When I started, I wasn’t big enough to meet the minimums for a lot of organic, traceable and more sustainable fibres such as GOTS certified organic cotton or Lenzing Tencel. So, using deadstock fabric meant that I was able to use a resource that already existed, that would otherwise just sit in a warehouse somewhere, gathering dust or go to landfill. Being able to use deadstock fabric allowed me to access some beautiful fabrics that I could give a second life to, whilst being able to grow my brand organically and not having to commit to huge quantities.
In saying this, I don’t think deadstock is the answer, but I think it is a great path to take when you start on your sustainable fashion journey as a designer. As Lois Hazel grows, we are able to invest in more certified fabrics such as GOTS organic cotton and really look into the entire fabric supply chain to ensure that every single step of its creation is having a positive impact on both the people and the planet. As the brand grows, I hope to increase the number of traceable fabrics we use, and hopefully be able to work directly with the farmers, growers, weavers and mills who make our fabrics.
This is a question I always ask, other than investing in beautiful Lois Hazel pieces, what are three ways we can live a more mindful and sustainable life?
A lot can be said for simple changes in your life that can ensure you are living a more mindful and sustainable life. Three things I would recommend would be reducing the amount of meat you eat in your diet. If you can, start by having one meatless day a week and then slowly increase. Switch from takeaway to reusable, again start somewhere easy like getting a keep cup. And composting! The more things we can keep out of our rubbish bin, the better. Composting will reduce the amount of food waste going into landfill and give you some pretty healthy and happy soil too.
Photos by Kai Ridley