Sheer Apparel is an online store that has solved a problem many of us face. Recognising that a growing number of women are turning to shop consciously online, they have created an online marketplace to showcase brands that not only manufacture their products ethically, but use only the best organic, fair trade and vegan materials, all in one easy to shop site! Everything on offer is handpicked, and chosen to help women that lead a busy lifestyle make healthier wardrobe decisions, whilst still providing stylish corporate and leisure wear, with a little bit of luxury thrown in. The hard work has been done for us! We caught up with Paula to find out more …
Where did the idea to found Sheer Apparel come from?
A number of factors came together to give me the inspiration to start Sheer Apparel in 2016. I’ve long been interested in sustainable living, particularly ways to achieve it without making major lifestyle sacrifices. As an economist by training, I’ve also always had a passion for economic development and how it benefits people, particularly in poorer countries. While the fashion industry has brought many jobs to less developed countries, many of those jobs are not what we, in wealthier countries, would wish on anyone.
So when the True Cost documentary came along and strengthened my resolve to consume fashion more mindfully, I couldn’t find a multibrand store that really offered what I wanted –sophisticated, wearable, ethical clothing for all occasions. So I decided to quit my corporate job and build that store myself.
Amazing! As you know we use sustainability stamps to help make our articles transparent and easy to identify. How do you help your customers to shop transparently?
Sheer Apparel tells the story of each brand it stocks on the website – how they fit into our collection, how and where they work and what fabrics they use. Often that means reading about a really inspiring founder story, too, as we predominantly work with small businesses.
The Aida Shirt made from 100% Lyocell (Tencel®)
When choosing a brand to be part of Sheer Apparel, what standards do they have to meet?
Three simple things. We only work with brands who can demonstrate they treat people in their supply chain fairly, which often means that they manufacture in Europe, though some also use fairtrade certified manufacturers in Asia and we are keen to find more suitable brands who do.
Secondly they work with fabrics that are better for the environment – organic cotton, bamboo, modal (a wood pulp based fabric), recycled synthetics or beautiful surplus fabric from larger brands.
Thirdly, we only stock clothing that looks great and that we ourselves would wear. I personally am not prepared, and don’t think it is necessary, to make style compromises to shop ethically, and that’s what I want to bring to the customer.
Why is sustainable fashion important to you?
It matters to me for a number of reasons, but if I had to pick one it’s that I am a feminist. I believe in decent employment and good economic opportunities for women across the globe. Around two thirds of the people who make our clothes are women and many of those do not have safe employment in which they are treated with decency and respect.
I want Sheer Apparel to help show a better way for fashion, adding to pressure on the broader garment industry to finally get serious about cleaning up its act.
The Alene Organic Cotton Dress made from 100% organic cotton
Can you give our readers any advice for buying ethically and sustainably?
First of all I would say don’t let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘better’. Many small improvements add up to a big impact.
Don’t buy things on a whim, give each purchase a little more thought. Livia Firth – the ethical fashion campaigner – coined the ’30 wears rule’: can you commit to wearing your new purchase 30 times? If not, walk away. Be proud of valuing your clothes and making them last. It’s beautiful and shows great personal style.
Make it a habit to read the fabric and country of production information on the label. This will get you thinking about the quality of the fabric and the people who made the garment. It is an individual choice, but for example I personally don’t buy anything that’s manufactured in Bangladesh or Cambodia, unless it is fairtrade certified. These are countries in which garment workers frequently risk their lives by asking for decent working conditions or just by showing up to work because buildings are unsafe.
If you haven’t already, watch the True Cost. It is an important and engaging film made by industry experts and is a real eye opener.
Discussing your clothing is powerful; we are influencers without perhaps even realising it. We talk about the new brands we find, shopping experiences we have had and of course, about the clothing we wear. Sheer Apparel has made it possible to make smart choices when we shop. Now let’s shout about it from the rooftops!
To find out more about Sheer Apparel or to shop click here.