bamboo

interview: meet Helga Douglas of sustainable lingerie brand, Svala

svala sustainable loungewear and panties made in usa

Svala is an LA-based sustainable lingerie and loungewear company that makes delicate, feminine pieces out of surplus lace and sustainably-sourced bamboo viscose under ethical labor guidelines. I've been hunting for simple loungewear pieces to replace some of my older items and Svala fits the bill. I had the opportunity to ask founder and designer, Helga Douglas, about the inspiration behind her collection, as well as some nitty-gritty sourcing and sustainability questions. Thanks to Svala for sponsoring this post. 


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FIRSTLY, TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF!


My name is Helga and I am originally from Sydney but I have been living in LA for the past seven years. The name for Svala comes from Iceland where my mother is from. It is one of my favorite girls' names and means swallow (bird) which represents freedom and hope.


HOW DID SVALA GET STARTED?


I have always loved fashion. My first job out of high school was at the wholesale office for Versace in Sydney. I also love nature and the environment and as I learned more about the detrimental effects that the fashion industry can have, I started to research brands which were producing sustainably. I ended up writing about sustainable fashion for the Los Angeles Examiner a few years ago. Researching what other people were creating in the sustainable scene inspired me to create my own brand.


WHAT DOES A TYPICAL WORK DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?


I usually get up pretty early and try to get to a yoga class before starting work. Then I begin dealing with what needs to be done for the day, including marketing and design.


WHAT STEPS DOES SVALA TAKE TO ENSURE THAT FACTORY EMPLOYEES ARE PAID A FAIR WAGE IN LIGHT OF RECENT CONCERNS ABOUT LA SWEATSHOPS?


During production we use established companies that have a good reputation and pay their workers fairly.


I LOVE THAT YOU USE SURPLUS LACE IN MANY OF YOUR PRODUCTS. HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA TO DO THAT?


When I first started designing lingerie and sleepwear, I tried using organic cotton lace but it didn't seem to keep its shape very well and was difficult to work with. I love lace and started searching for alternatives and ended up choosing to use factory surplus materials.

svala sustainable loungewear and panties made in usa

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR ORGANIC COTTON AND VISCOSE TEXTILES SOURCING...


(...I know that bamboo viscose can be processed organically or chemically and that the latter poses potential environmental and health risks. Can you speak to that concern?)

Our supplier uses bamboo which is certified as organic by the Organic Crops Improvement Association (OCIA). The main chemical in processing the bamboo fiber into viscose is caustic soda or CS2, one of the most widely chemicals used in the world. This chemical is used in production of paper, soap making, food production and nearly all cotton fabrics including organic cotton (during the wet processing). It is approved for use on textiles under the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).


HOW DO BAMBOO VISCOSE PROCESSING PLANTS ENSURE THAT NO CHEMICALS LEAK DURING THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS?


Our supplier states that the process is done in a hermetic container where 100% of the chemicals that are used are trapped and contained, not released into the factory, environment or atmosphere and 73% of CS2’s are recycled while 26% are recycled into Sulfuric Acid (H2S04). They do not claim that the whole process is “green” but they do strive to be as eco-friendly as possible.


WHAT INSPIRES YOUR DESIGNS?


The colorful feel of Sydney and LA and the simplicity of Scandinavian design. I want everybody who wears Svala pieces to feel beautiful and cozy.


WHAT'S THE BEST SELLING ITEM OR SET IN YOUR CURRENT COLLECTION?


The Vivien lace lingerie set in beige floral and sky blue, which is my favorite set.

svala lace bralette set

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE IN TERMS OF EXPANDING THE LINE AND INCREASING SUSTAINABILITY?


I am always on the lookout for new fabrics and dyeing methods to expand the line and increase sustainability. I am currently looking for fabrics besides viscose from bamboo for the sleepwear range which are biodegradable and produced more sustainably.

WHAT'S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO LIVE MORE SUSTAINABLY?


Every little bit counts!


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Svala Pieces range in price starting at $25.00. My favorites are the Vivien Lace Bra in Beige Floral ($65.00) and the Mari Sleep Shorts ($60.00).


Keep up with Svala on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest

Shop here:

svala logo

the moral wardrobe: Gaia Couture Shabazi Top + Renee Dress

gaia couture shabazi top

The awesome women of Gaia Couture sent me a couple sustainable garments to review. As noted in Monday's interview, Gaia Couture founder Joy Martinello believes strongly in promoting companies and clothing that adhere to strict eco and labor guidelines. Each product listing on the site has an Eco Scorecard with detailed information about production and sourcing so that customers can know exactly what they're getting. 

sustainable clothing
eco-friendly fashion blogger
Outfit One: Top - Shabazi c/o Gaia Couture; Sandals - thrifted; Earrings - handmade by Hannah Naomi

This Shabazi Top is the coolest thing I've ever worn. I tried it on and strutted out into the living room to show Daniel (who didn't really care that much), then kept strutting right out the door to take photos. The draping is original and flattering, and the sash can be worn up as a cowl or kept long and loose. This top is made of a sustainable bamboo/spandex blend and is made in Canada under fair trade guidelines.

sustainable bodycon dress
gaia couture renee dress
black and white fair trade dress
Outfit Two: Dress - Renee c/o Gaia Couture; Necklace: Common Thread Refugee Co-op (Charlottesville);  Belt - swapped; Sandals - Betula 

The Renee Dress is a fun twist on black and white stripes, with free form marks that look like they've been dry-brushed onto the fabric. It's lightweight and extremely soft, curve hugging, and an appropriate length for every day wear. It's made of a bamboo/spandex blend and manufactured under fair trade guidelines in China. 

The Shabazi Top retails for $78.00 and the Renee Dress retails for $68.00 on the Gaia Couture website. Though both items are just outside my comfort zone price-wise, the size charts were spot on and the Shabazi Top in particular is definitely worth the money.