The story. . .

 Let me ask you something: “What story does your clothing carry?”

The truth is most of us have no idea the real story behind the articles that we wear every single day.
I have always been passionate about fashion. Unfortunately, these days that term can represent little to no substance. Rather than becoming one of a million other clothing companies out there already, I was compelled to create something with more meaning – inspired clothing with a soul, a heartbeat. And thus, Elroy Apparel was born.

The philosophy seems simple enough - design, sourcing, materials and manufacturing as environmentally conscious and socially responsible as possible. The statistics don’t lie. We are relying far too much on fossil fuels and our daily consumption is wreaking havoc on the earth.

By now, these phrases have been embedded in our brains: organic, sustainable, green, recycled, ethical. Elroy has proven (since being established in 2007) that these statements do not ensure that style nor expense need be sacrificed. By educating consumers to become more aware of their ecological footprint and empowering their influential buying power, I hope to encourage more conscious decision making. Of course, solutions are not only found in the materials being used. There is just as much importance in where and how clothing is produced.

In the beginning, Elroy was produced domestically. Logistically and sustainably, this method made sense. However, something was telling me to look in another direction. This business could be successful almost anywhere - and help support people at the same time. By employing labour, I saw that I could transform and foster real change.

On a whim, and with only one contact scribbled on a scrap piece of paper, I set off for Indonesia. In those two months, I discovered more than I ever thought possible. I began a sustainable employment project focused around a small, family-run ‘cottage industry.’ The project is based around the framework of a small, self-run sewing cooperative. I have had the privilege to work beside an incredible group of artisans, who had been struggling to find any type of permanent work. They all have the skills necessary to be very successful, however, where they are lack are the areas of design, development and marketing. This was a meeting of the minds, and as one would expect, things progressed and moved forward quite quickly. I have made the commitment to be in Indonesia twice a year during the sampling and production times, and offer my assistance in anyway that is needed. I am still the designer, I create all patterns, and I am involved in every detail of the clothing being produced. This is the way it will remain – on location and hands on.

Making this shift in production locations has not come easily. New challenges occur daily: logistical nightmares; language barriers; corruption and fraud; running a business entirely on my own, while ‘living’ in two countries. But even with all the challenges, the good always far surpasses any struggle.

Domestically, I found material sourcing to be very drab and difficult. With the rise of more companies looking to greener fabrics, it seemed that fabrics were getting more and more similar in each designers collection. Not enough variation. In Indonesia, I have established relationships with suppliers and fabric mills, enabling us to create custom fabrics for whatever our needs. We have certificates for all organic materials used. We have been able to create our own custom digital prints. Most recently, due to the large garment industry found in the area, we have discovered ‘upcycled’ fabrics to supplement our collections. These are fabrics that are scraps or end-of-rolls from large factories that are no longer being used, and therefore are just gathering dust. By saving them we are able to create unique and limited edition pieces, and keep the fabrics from heading to the landfill unused and unloved.

In the future, I would like to think that seeing the success that we have incurred in the last year of implementing this strategy, we can expand and upgrade our project and invite more companies to join. I would love to keep the work more consistent year round, so that all those involved are making a great living on a more constant basis. At this point, because I am designing just two seasons a year, the cooperative is extremely busy during those times, and much slower during the other.

I truly believe it is more than possible to live in abundance without polluting, consuming natural resources excessively or abusing labour practices. As the sole owner and operator of this company, my commitment is to remain dedicated and respectful to our environment, to our supply and production teams, and to our customer. There can be hope in the fashion world after all.