The founder of the online womenswear brand Alyssa Lloyd said that while the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the global garment industry, it has provided an opportunity to transform.
Chloe Win, founder and designer of the New Zealand brand Alyssa Lloyd, said the pandemic has impacted not only many much-loved clothing businesses but also the vulnerable garment workers in places like Bangladesh.
But the silver lining is the fashion industry now has an opportunity at transformation, Win said.
“We have all spent the last few months learning the importance of slowing down and developing a greater sense of appreciation for the essential workers who keep our society ticking along.”
In a post-COVID world, she said she was hoping to see this applied to the fashion industry too.
“Things like rethinking the seasonal nature of the fashion cycle, more conscious purchasing, and a greater emphasis on local manufacturing.”
Win said at Alyssa Lloyd, they are very much conscious about paying respect to those involved in the production process and using fabric that won’t harm the environment.
She said in recent years, she has seen more and more ethical fashion options available in the market and she wants to see it grow.
“I try not to think about ethical fashion as its own separate industry,” Win said. “The only way to make fashion sustainable is to make the existing fashion industry more ethical, rather than growing a separate industry.”
Win said the movement for sustainable brands to repair their own garments or look after the end of life on behalf of the customer has also grown but is something she would look forward to becoming even more popular in the future.
“I think this is great,” she said.
But, according to her, sustainability and ethical fashion is not only the responsibility of the garment industry. The consumers should also do their part.
“Well designed clothing takes skill to produce and participating in fashion is a privilege,” she said. “If we all understood a little more about the people who made our clothes and the impact they have on the environment, then I think we’d all take a bit more responsibility.”
Win said while fashion brands absolutely have a duty to be more transparent and ethical in their manufacturing processes, the choices made by their customers have a huge impact too.
“I encourage everyone to ask more questions about how their clothes get made, be more conscious about the clothes they do buy and consider how they dispose of them,” she said. “Because, sustainability is a mindset; it’s not only about the production of the piece, but also how you use and treat your clothes once you’ve bought them.”
Win said at Alyssa Lloyd, the team is focused on choosing environmentally friendly fabrics, cutting down on waste in all areas of the business and creating beautiful, quality garments that will be worn with respect, cared for and treasured for years to come.
All garments are designed, cut and sewn at the designer’s Auckland studio.
“As this brand continues to grow and develop we will continue to support the local garment industry ensuring the same level of care and attention is paid, while also keeping the important skills of clothing production in New Zealand,” she said.
What she would also like to see in the future is more people getting more aware about sustainable clothing and how it has the potential to last for years. She also wants consumers to be more aware that these can also be responsibly recycled or refashioned.
“I am a massive fan of slow fashion and I try my best to practice what I preach,” Win said.
“When I buy new clothes I always consider the ethics of the brand I’m buying from, how much a piece fits with my personal style, and how well it will serve me in the future. I’d much rather save up and spend a little bit more on something that I know fits all my criteria.”
Win said unlike fast fashion, which encourages shoppers to buy cheap, trendy pieces that are made to only last a season, slow fashion prioritises durability and considered design.
“All garments at Alyssa Lloyd are designed with the principles of slow fashion in mind,” she said.
“They’re made of durable fabrics, designed to last and can be worn across styles and seasons because we believe there’s nothing more satisfying and empowering than having a small but curated collection of items in your wardrobe that you know you can turn to time and time again.”
Win said the online brand had been hit hard during the COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown in New Zealand.
“During those five weeks, I struggled a lot with motivation and with fears around the impact of COVID on my business as well as the wider fashion industry,” she said.
One thing that was amazing to see though, she said, was the desire for Kiwis to pull together to support other New Zealand businesses.
“I’ve seen many online marketplaces popping up to support NZ made products, and I hope this is something that will continue in the future.”
Win, who launched Alyssa Lloyd in April last year, said once they have the New Zealand market a bit more in hand, she would love to bring the brand to Australia.