Jyoti Morningstar (pictured above) is changing the way Kiwis buy fashion with her label WE’AR. She creates ethically and sustainably made yoga streetwear that supports the people and communities who make it. We asked Jyoti why all of this is so important to her.
Do you know who makes your fabric, where does it come from and why is it important to you?<
We love working with local teams as much as possible and building long term relationships. Technology keeps advancing so it’s important to work with partners who are as inspired as us to keep innovating. Innovation in textiles means improving the quality and skin touch but is also about reducing the amount of water and energy used and developing ways to treat water so it is retuned to the whole system clean. On the other side of the fence are our artisan textile partners who hand spin, dye and weave the textiles using traditional methods. Even here there are ways to develop better process though and one of our long term partners has pioneered a water hyacinth wetland treatment system for the waste water left over in their natural plant dying process.
How important are fair pay rates to you, and how does it positively impact the women who are involved in production of WE’AR?
We are accredited living wage employers in both of our home countries (NZ and Indonesia) and are mindful about the pay split that sometimes seems to ‘occur naturally’ by the traditional separation of male and female roles in the production process. We aim to pay our own team fairly and also support our suppliers to do this by working together in negotiating the price of most labour intensive processes such as cutting and sewing garments. Our management team in both countries is headed by women. In Indonesia this is particularly useful as it creates positive roles of women in leadership and also unwaveringly addresses the gender inequity latent in what is still a non secular and very patriarchal country. If you’re interested in knowing more please click on the ETHOS tab on our homepage to read more about our social policy and social profit.
Tell us about your dye-making process and if the dyes you use are safe on the skin and safe for the environment.
We use several different dying processes. Our most standard approach uses oeko-tex approved dyes in small batches which is what yields our unique palettes with their artisanal feel. We also dye some yarn and fabric with raw plant matter such as indigo leaves, mahogany bark and mango skins – this process looks more like making large vats of herbal tea then it does dying fabric and the smells are amazing! We also work with several artisan dying companies in our neighbourhood to produce special effects like gradient dip dying, hand painting and printing. As we use predominantly high end eco textiles it’s really important that the dyes we use are safe and healthy to wear as well as for the artisans to work with. Water treatment is a hot topic with dying in developing countries as there is little to no external regulation on what gets piped into the rivers. We choose to work with partners who have good systems in place or are actively developing them. Please check out our ETHOS page online which has links to our Environmental policy.
What do you think are the main challenges of the fast fashion industry and why should people consider sustainably sourced clothing instead?
This is a vast topic but aside from the obvious environmental and social issues which have been widely discussed in mainstream as well as alternate media I think a key issue is the psychology of fast fashion. When things are very cheap (sometimes cheaper than their actual cost price – yes, true story!) we tend to devalue them. Sometimes we buy multiple versions of the same item even because they’re just so cheap and we can’t decide which colour or finishing we like better. There’s only so many clothes one person can wear though so a lot of these purchases end up sitting unworn in bags, boxes and closets until it’s time to spring clean and then they’re either thrown in the garbage or in charity clothing bins (which often still leads to garbage). In a way fast fashion encourages a type of gluttony. Like any gluttony this has a negative impact on our collective well being and at an individual level it makes us feel kind of guilty and sick.
You’re part of building a sustainable and happy planet, why it this important to you?
I’m a drop in the ocean but in yoga we consider that we are also the whole ocean in one drop. Giving an outlet to my creative yearnings, building an empowered team, developing mindful processes and more intelligent solutions are all aspects of what makes my mind, body and heart happy and healthy. WE-AR gets to model so much positivity because of the conscious choices of our community who choose to shop with us and keep sharing their ideas on how we can improve and better serve. In gratitude!