What is sustainable fashion and what does it mean to us?
by Stephanie Vermaas on Jun 12, 2020
Sustainability is a hot term in fashion at the moment but what does it really mean for a brand to be sustainable? Before starting this topic we would like to say that fashion itself cannot be 100% sustainable and that is the naked truth, as consumerism is inherently unsustainable. Even transporting fabric from the supplier to the production facility sets a carbon footprint whether that’s through land, sea or air. Pre-washing this fabric for production means that microfibers are already mixing with water and being disposed of into drains. This process alone uses water (of course), electricity and detergent - so therefore is not 100% sustainable from the get-go. At this point, the fabric has not even been cut but the impact has already started. Of course, switching into eco-friendly detergent means that the negative impact is lessened, but there is still no way to produce clothing with zero environmental impact and that’s something we would like to shed light on.
Being honest to our customers is important to us, and we want to be open and transparent with you about the details of the ways THIS IS A LOVE SONG is ethical and sustainable. We believe that as a customer you deserve to know who made your clothes, where they come from and what they are made of so you know that you are not supporting exploitation, human rights abuses and environmental destruction.
Let’s first talk about when and where our brand started, as this is an important part of our business model and DNA. Although you may have seen us featured in a music video or worn by an international influencer or celebrity, people are often unaware that our brand started in Bali, Indonesia, the birthplace of our founder.
As an online brand, we are seen as international and we have been branded that way since we extended our sales regions and stockists in the U.S.A and Europe. However, no matter where we sell or have sold in the past, 90% of our products have always been made in Bali.
What is the remaining 10% you may ask?
In our collections between 2013 - 2018 we released accessories such as iPhone cases, hair scrunchies, and sunglasses that were manufactured outside of Bali since we did not have the resources to produce these items in-house. The small number of times that we have outsourced from our fair trade factory, we have always provided the country of origin in the product tag to avoid confusion. From time to time in the future, we may release products that are made in the USA, but this will never exceed more than 10% of our total product line. Our goal will always be to provide transparency by ensuring our customers are informed about where the product comes from and you can check this in the each product page before you ‘add to cart’
So where in Bali are they made?
THIS IS A LOVE SONG was born in 2010 and before we made the products you see on our website today, we made organic cotton unisex tops with pockets made from recycled vintage materials that we collected from worldwide travels. Here’s a look at our first campaign from 2011.
Yes, we have grown a lot since then! Even though we have changed much of our aesthetic, the brand has always stayed true to its core of doing everything with love and keeping our core team in Bali that now make up the THIS IS A LOVE SONG aka TIALS STUDIO Family. That is what we name our very own studio consisting of a team of talented local seamstresses, pattern makers, cutters and our office team that handle all operations in Indonesia for the brand. We create all of our samples, finalize production, process pre-orders and even fulfil your orders from here. We are a small team but mostly, we are a family.
An insight into our ethical practices at TIALS STUDIO and why we are fair trade:
- All our workers get paid a fair wage above the national standard.
- The working hours are 9 am to 5 pm and overtime hours are compensated.
- We encourage all our staff to take breaks with a mandatory one-hour lunch break and lunch is on the house!
- They are provided health insurance and retirement plans to secure their future.
- We compensate 12 paid holidays every year on top of public national holidays
- We maintain a safe working environment which you’re always welcome to visit when you’re in Bali.
- Indonesia has a lot of religious and cultural backgrounds so it was important that our hiring process reflects this diversity and does not discriminate
- 85% of our workforce is female
Our ethical practice also extends into our production…
- By producing from our own factory we are able to minimize waste by creating small batches at a time or working on a pre-order basis
- We support the community and improve our Carbon Footprint by sourcing locally
- We produce with sustainable fabric options when we can. About 70% of our collection.
- We are the only certified SEAQUAL manufacturer in Indonesia, meaning we can produce garments made from upcycled marine plastic.
- We support a zero plastic policy in Bali
- We encourage off-cuts to repurposed so nothing goes to waste
Here are some of the faces behind the pieces you see...
Risa (Quality Control)
“Hi my name is Risa and I am from Java. I’m 46 years old and I have been working here for 5 years but I have been in the industry for 20 years. I like working here because all my coworkers are kind and we are like family.”
“My name is Kadek, and I am 36 years old. I come from Singaraja, Bali and I have been working here for 6 years and I love working here because of the family system.”
Samini (Quality Control & Sequin Artist)
“My name is Samini and I am from Java. I am 44 years old and I have been working here for 7 years and I like working here. It feels like home.”
“Hi I am Ibu Iluh and I am 47 years old. I have been working here for 2 years and working here makes me happy.”
Our lovely staff in Bali also work in synergy with our graphic designer/art director who is located in California and is responsible for handling all creative strategies remotely, creating all the artwork and graphics that we include in our mailers, packaging and our designs. She’s the only remote hire besides a warehouse in California that we contract to fulfil some of your orders. The TIALS Line which is 25% of the products you see in our online shop was shipped in bulk to a 3PL warehouse with an amazing facility in Newbury Park, California and they are now responsible for fulfilling worldwide orders for these specific products.
You will now be able to see in each product description where our products will ship from so you can make a conscious buying decision when placing your order and understand your carbon footprint. Our product packaging may vary depending on where your items come from too but you can expect them to come in a recycled poly bag or a bio cassava bag.. These bio-cassava bags are made by a local company here in Indonesia as it’s important for us to source locally as much as we can and the cool thing is you can reuse it as compost to fertilize your plant.
Besides our logo elastics which are imported into Bali and the pinstripe fabric we used in the Mia and Kate leggings which we sourced from an LA company that has a fabric mill in Taiwan, all of our fabrics and trims have been locally sourced from suppliers on the island. Supporting the local community and economy is part of our sustainability pillar to off-set the non-sustainable and eco-friendly components that make up parts of our design. By components, we mean the labels, hook/eye closures, eyelets, wires, and other small non-biodegradable parts that are part of some of our designs. In our next blog post, we are going to go into more detail about our products and discuss what they are made from and where we have incorporated eco-friendly choices into our garments.
We appreciate you taking the time to read this article to understand the ways we implement ethical practice in THIS IS A LOVE SONG and what it means when we say ‘sustainably made in Bali’
THIS IS A LOVE SONG Family