Conversation with Solai
This week I had the joy of catching up with Sarah Krause, the founder of Solai. Solai is one fo the most interesting sustainable brands I’ve come across. Not only sustainable but actively climate-beneficial. They work with regenerative farmers, weaving artisans and second hand sourcing to create beautiful garments that come at no cost to the planet. We talk about sourcing, Covid-19’s impact and changing attitudes.
IH: What is Solai and how did it come to be?
SK: Our mission is to create climate-beneficial clothing. Solai was born from a belief that we can and must go beyond sustainability ~ we need to take steps towards actively reversing the effects of Climate Change. We're putting this mission into action by working with Regenerative Farmers to grow our clothing fibres ~ this goes beyond mere Organic farming. The far
mers are implementing specific practices (e.g. composting, crop rotation, cover crops, no-till, no-pesticides) to increase soil fertility, revive biodiversity, save significant amounts of water and ultimately, capture & store huge amounts of carbon in the ground. This has proven to be one of the most effective solutions to combating Climate Change and restoring the natural balance of our atmosphere!
If our fabrics aren't second-hand & upcycled by our amazingly talented designer Sara Seb, they are hand-woven by a cluster of incredible artisans in Erode. With immense skill & ancient knowledge, they employ the traditional technique of weaving with a hand-loom, which uses next to no energy. This craft is sadly being increasingly lost to mechanisation, so it's super important to us to support this fabric-making technique to ensure the tradition endures!
"Nothing is wasted ~ everything in nature is circular. That’s the model that we want to replicate in our business."
IH: Where do you get your inspiration from both creatively and sustainably?
SK: Art history, French & Japanese fashion, and nature itself are just a few sources of inspiration that manifest in our collections! Sara also cites the classic designer Martin Margiela as a big source of inspiration- he was one of the first designers to bring upcycling to the runway. Nature is also the best inspiration when it comes to approaching sustainability. Just look at a forest: when a leaf falls, it becomes food for the ground. Nothing is wasted ~ everything in nature is circular. That’s the model that we want to replicate in our business.
IH: How important is sourcing to you?
SK: Sourcing is one of the most important parts of building a truly sustainable brand. There are so many opportunities to actively do good throughout the production process, so it’s really important that we work with suppliers who fully align with our values.
IH: What do you think are the main barriers for sustainable fashion?
SK: I think one of the main barriers is the cost of production. Although demand for sustainable fashion is growing, it’s still not competing with the demand for fast fashion, which is ultimately built on exploitation and cheap labour. It’s all about shifting our mentality away from cheap, throwaway consumerism, to a more thoughtful & minimal approach to shopping.
IH: Do you feel the Covid- 19 outbreak has changed consumer’s views?
SK: For sure. I think people are taking the time to reflect on the state of our world and how we can collectively begin to heal; both the planet and ourselves. Hopefully we can channel this momentum to bring about real change in this industry.
IH: How can we be more conscious consumers?
SK: Curiosity is key. Always ask the questions: who made my clothes? Where were they made? And what are they made of? That way, we can work towards making better, more informed choices and vote with our wallet, where and when we can.
IH: What is next for Solai and where can we find you?
SK: We have so many exciting things in the pipeline! Artist collabs & working with some of the latest sustainable tech innovations, which I think are going to revolutionise the fashion industry. Watch this space! You can find us online at https://solai.uk and on Instagram at @solai_uk :)