There's been a lot of talk lately regarding ethics (and lack thereof) in our fashion industry. Claims are made, confusion is created, and the already muddy waters of trying to vote for the world you desire with your shopping dollar become even harder to navigate.
We were thrilled to be included in The Spinoff's recent piece written by our friends at The Good Trend, highlighting five emerging designers working in a space of purpose and care - our numbers aren't huge (yet) but our hearts are! Go and check it out if you need some inspiration for your next purchase.
Time to come clean.
I have mixed feelings about comparing businesses to others. None of us are perfect, none of us claim to be, and we certainly all stumble on our journeys towards creating pieces which do as little harm as we can manage. WORLD's recently publicized trip into PR hell (if you haven't heard, you can read all about it here) has been a boon to businesses like mine: suddenly, the talk starts revolving around small companies who can trace their production without fault or fear of mistake, and who have the luxury of only having to keep track of thirteen production lines at a time, rather than three hundred.
When you email Aida Maeby, that's me who answers. I know where everything I sell is made, because I drive the work there myself. I cut all of it, I sew part of it here in our workroom. I am the one who stands with the sewing contractor and negotiates pricing that is both fair and sustainable for both parties. I am also the one who knows there is no perfect, there is only trying to be better - because if you are willing to pay me for my product, my commitment to you means I need to do the best I can (if I want to sleep at night. Which I do.).
Personally, I would much rather we had these conversations in a way that doesn't bounce off the failings of others. My success shouldn't depend on someone else's failure. That being said, these conversations need to be had in order to turn this hulking, pollution-ridden fast fashion nightmare around. If the only way we can shine a spotlight on the people who are trying their damnedest to do right by everyone is by creating a buzz around those who could (and should) be doing better, then I'll stand in that spotlight with head held high.
Here's to asking questions and getting answers.
I was recently invited by Johanna-May, a lovely personal stylist from Auckland, to write a guest blog post about something that resonated with me when it comes to fashion. Read on to find out how 30 Wears works (and why!)
Aida Maeby’s S17’s Olafur Dress flew off the shelves, and I’ve personally worn it at least once a week for over a year making it a definite player in the #30wears challenge.
I've waited so long to share this!
A while ago, my sweet little white Olafur Dress was whisked away on a trip to the Romantic Scenery Capital of New Zealand - Queenstown - to be part of a styled shoot. The premise - One bride. Two radically different dresses. All fabulousness.
The full article is now up on Paper & Lace's divine wedding inspiration blog, along with the full shoot (you can read it here). I'm in love with the minimalist chic of a simple white dress and updo for a laid back and unique wedding approach, but because I'm a deep down lover of sparkles/sequins/all of the glitter, I'm equally entranced by the full-on romanticism of the gown provided by Rue de Seine. What do you think? Would you entertain the idea of a modernistic approach to your big day? If yes, we should talk. x
All images copyright Patina Photography and/or Johanna Macdonald Photography.
Photography / James and Michelle, Patina Photography and Johanna Macdonald Photography.
Jewelery / Zoe and Morgan
Flowers / Andrea Crawford Flowers
Hair / Beautiful Bridal Hair
Makeup / EVE Makeup Artistry
Model / Mackenzie for Unique Model Management
Today is July 14th. Fourteen whole days and counting without a grain of refined sugar, a drop of alcohol, or a desperate trip to the fish and chip shop, thanks to the urging of my sister in law Sarah (btw, if you're ever in need of any fitspo, her last video is of her doing chin-ups with 12kgs tied around her waist. The things she can do with her body are fucking a-ma-zing).
Now, I'm not the most obvious candidate for Junk Free July; I have been known to eat an entire packet of TimTams single handedly after dinner, I will eat gummy worms whilst hiding in the pantry, I've started fist fights over who gets the last four squares of black forest chocolate (wait, I think that actually MAKES me the most obvious candidate? . . . hmm.) I steal the marshmallow from the boys' fluffies, calling it Mum Tax, AND THEY LET ME because they know not to try and get between me and the marshmallow.
I make close to 100% of our meals from scratch and I'm not a big drinker, but sugar is deeeefinitely a problem for me. Had a shitty day? Here, have some chocolate. Accomplished heaps of tasks today? Congratulations! Have some cake! You know the story. Feelings have been eaten for a number of years now and although I look alright from the outside, I'm not sure what things are running like on the inside.
Come with me now to a world without sugar - I know, it sounds like not much fun, right? But it is! I'm dead square in the last ten days of sampling for next winter now, and I've not felt the pull of a nanna nap all this time. A single bliss ball with coffee at 10.30 is the absolute best thing I've ever tasted - generally I'd be eating four or five "because they're good for you", but now I'm considering the glucose/fructose values of the dates inside them and deciding that one will definitely satisfy. And this, in 14 days! From the girl who has had dessert while out with friends and then asked to see the dessert menu a second time!
1.The world will not end if I go to bed slightly hungry.
2. If I'm not keeping my brain running on a constant diet of junky snacks, I can actually work whilst hungry (previously unheard of).
3. Yes, unrefined ingredients cost more, but you eat less of them and so they last longer.
4. It is possible to go to a restaurant with your husband and friend and watch them both eat cheesecake.
5. It *might* be possible after this month that I can regulate myself instead of trying to eat all the candy before someone else gets to the candy because then I would get less candy and I need that candy more than you do so GIVE IT.
6. Crunchy roasted broad beans with sea salt and balsamic vinegar will cure what ails ya.
If I can do it, beeeeelieeeeeeve me, anyone can. Thank you Sarah!!
In this day and age of rising consumer conciousness, people are wanting to know more about where their goods are coming from and we think that is ACE. Transparency being the name of the game, did you know you can ask me, at any time, anything you'd like to know about the garment you're looking at? Where is was made and by whom? What happens to waste fabric? What kind of chocolate I favour and which window to post it through?
In all seriousness though, if you have a niggling question about the label Aida Maeby or the NZ fashion industry as a whole, please, by all means - ask away! Maybe one day chain stores will be open and honest about their business choices and we'll know the true cost of their goods, but that day won't be today. So I hope you'll take me up on my offer.
My favourite song - Bjork's 'Hyperballad' - turned 20 years old last year!! I know. It's nuts. A brief listen now will show that it's just as magnificent as the day it was recorded, I'm sure you'll agree. Such a milestone, it felt right to pay tribute to such an inspirational piece.
The song tells the story of a woman who wakes early each morning and deliberately puts herself in harms way in order to make herself more comfortable living her quiet, ordinary life with her lover. I loved the visual imagery of waking at dawn, wrapping up against the chill in warm woollens and a favourite quilt. The music video, directed by Michele Gondry, is a masterpiece in itself - full of experimental double exposures, LED lighting and Bjork herself lying in a three dimensional projection of a mountain range.
It was the physical acts described in the song itself I love the most though; a blanket wrapped around the shoulders becomes a luxurious quilted cape jersey, a mans shirt discarded on the floor becomes a flowing shirt dress in white and the delicate blush of the dawn sky, the raincoat features a softly lined hood and oversized pockets for the wearer to collect the items she'll throw over the edge during her ritual (or your iphone. But don't throw that).
As always it was a fun day with my friends, many laughs, lots of cake and earl grey tea and a cute kitty - what more could we ask for?
photgraphy _ michelle and james for patina photography
hmus _ ivy mae
model _ bridie for KBM
featuring simonne the cat
shot in berhampore, wellington and houghton bay, wellington
Pre orders for the Shepherd's Warning Jumper are now open - if you'd like to wrap yourself in one of these very rare jumpers, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Made from beautiful New Zealand wool, they come in one size, are a super-chunky gauge in ivory with a contrast band of lichen moss stitch. A ribbed upper allows you to wear it comfortably under your favourite jacket or coat without bulking up in the shoulder or sleeve area. I love to wear mine under my go-to biker jacket on those colder days (in fact, many people have commented on how good this sample smells. That would be my JPG perfume because I wear this ALL THE TIME).
The Shepherd's Warning is $229NZD if ordered before December 14 2015, and $265NZD after. Due for delivery mid February 2016.
One of my stockists mentioned today that she’d had a run of customers asking about the ethical standpoints of the labels she stocked – happily, because all but one of her labels are tres local, she could confidently say that everything was above board. It got me thinking that I should put some info out there about the Aida Maeby operation.
Technically speaking, the team is just me, Jess. Each Aida Maeby range is created in my studio on the lower level of our home in Vogeltown, Wellington. Often also spread all over the kitchen table, and sometimes on the living room floor (because that’s where the heater is and sometimes I make so much mess – creative mess – downstairs that I’m forced to take over other parts of the house), which I’m sure bothers my family no end. When you purchase an Aida Maeby garment you can be sure that every effort has been made to reduce waste in both the sampling and production process, in part because I'm maniacal about those things in my personal life. I do occasionally utilise child labour, but they’re my own children, and it’s only because they insist on helping sort scraps and recycling and sitting next to me at the overlocker, pushing offcuts down the shute.*
Aida Maeby is a true matriarchy, and I’d like to share a special group of women who’ve made it all possible so far.
This is me, and my husband Owen who is clearly not a woman but gets special mention for being my supportive other half and for putting up with all my whims. At this stage of the operation, all sampling, patternmaking, and around 70% of all production happens at our home.
Sarah Chu, Porse Educator
Sarah has the most important job in the operation – she cares for my youngest son two days a week while I work at home. Without her I couldn’t have done any of this; Arlo loves her (as do the rest of the children she takes into her home each week), and the added bonus is that she lives about 50m from me as the crow flies so sometimes in the summer I can hear them playing in her garden.
Jacki Condra, Rex Royale Boutique
As she’s done so many times in the past, Jacki took a chance on an unknown label and became Aida Maeby’s first stockist. She’s a staunch supporter of locally designed and made clothing, jewellery and art – as a community we’re bloody lucky to have her.
Harley takes care of the remaining 30% of production sewing. She’s solo Mum to Oscar, who’s two, and they live in an adjacent suburb to me here in Wellington. When I’m burning the midnight oil, so is she.
Michelle and husband James are responsible for created the last two lookbooks for Aida Maeby. They’re incredibly creative and dedicated (and award winning, cough cough) photographers who go the extra mile to make every project feel unique and special. Michelle also makes up one half of Novella Collective along with friend Ivy Mae (see below); their mission to create fine art portraiture celebrating the beauty of all women. Michelle is cute as a button and sharp as a tack, if you have an upcoming project or wedding to plan for, you’d do well to check out their work.
Ivy Mae, Hair, Make Up and Styling
Stylist extraordinaire, gentle soul. Many will know that hair and makeup are an absolute mystery to me so her cool calm and collected approach to styling shoots is an absolute joy to watch. Is it witchcraft? I think maybe a little bit.
Tamara Rakich and Lucy Clement, friends for life
Lastly we have the Cheer Squad. These are the girls who field my tearful phonecalls when there’s no end in sight to whatever I’ve gotten myself in the middle of, who’re always ready with words of encouragement, helpful advice, a discerning eye and open arms. Everyone should have a Tamara and a Lucy.
Your Name Here.
Every time you choose to purchase an Aida Maeby garment you're supporting all the people named above, so you can feel good about your positive choice. Also you look awesome :)
So, on behalf of all of us –
*I don’t want it to seem like I’m making light of the issue of ethics in the fashion industry; problems like the use of child or underpaid labour and environmental impact are widespread and serious. When we turn away from fast, disposable fashion and towards traceable, ethically produced goods we not only end up with a far superior product for our money, we make a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.
Blogger, speaker, author, activist and feminist. This quote sums up what I'd like my brand - and ultimately this fickle, judgemental industry - to be all about:
"You know what's really, powerfully sexy? A sense of humour. A taste for adventure. A healthy glow. Hips to grab on to. Openness. Confidence. Humility. Appetite. Intuition . . . Smart-ass comebacks. Presence. A quick wit. Dirty jokes told by an innocent-looking lady . . . A woman who realises how beautiful she is."
Go forth and conquer.