This post is written in partnership with Wallis Evera, who sent me a free product to review. No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.
My sustainability journey mostly focuses on working conditions, but one area in which I continue to learn is natural fabrics. Canadian brand Wallis Evera is bringing sophistication to the natural fabric marketplace with their ready-for-work styles made from hemp and other eco-friendly fabrics. I recently had the privilege to ask Wallis Evera founder Monique Parker about their line of sleek, professional clothes.
What advantages do you see with natural fabrics?
I like the simplicity of knowing that my clothes are made from the fibres of plants grown organically by farmers, rather than from concoctions of petrochemicals poured together in a vat somewhere. I realize the process is not that simple in reality and there are many stages of textile production that contribute to environmental damage. However, I believe that every choice we make along the way that supports organic farming and engages in environmental protection — no matter how small the impact may seem — it matters. Reducing our demand for petroleum-based products (i.e. polyesters, acrylics, nylon fabrics) is a worthwhile reason to choose natural fabrics, whenever possible.
What challenges do you find with manufacturing your products locally?
Producing locally means that our costs are higher right from the start, which makes it difficult to compete with goods produced overseas. However, I love having close relationships with my suppliers and being able to pick up the phone or visit them at any time through the production cycle — so valuable!
Do you have a relationship with a Canadian factory, or use individual seamstresses? Are the workers who manufacture your products paid minimum wage, or a living wage?
We work with a couple of small, local factories in Vancouver. The workers are paid a minimum wage and are protected by very high labour standards and full medical coverage in British Columbia.
How did you discover hemp as a basis for eco-friendly clothing?
I kept reading about hemp as this “wonder fibre” and “the most eco-friendly fibre in existence.” I saw that a number of high-end designers had used it on their runways, but I didn’t know anyone that actually owned any hemp clothing. I had no idea where to buy hemp clothing. It was a mystery to me — that if it was really as great as so many people were saying it was, why wasn’t everyone wearing it? I started sending away for hemp fabric samples and found some that were really beautiful and versatile.
I’d love to hear more about peace silk and its role in your clothing.
Some of our early fabrics were blends of hemp and peace silk. It’s been a very difficult blend to source on an ongoing basis, however, so our current collection contains conventionally harvested silk only. I love the look and feel of peace silk, and would much rather use textiles that do not harm animals in any way. As soon as we are able to source this fabric again, we’ll be using it in our collection.
What is your background? How did the business get started?
My background is in management consulting. I left a corporate career to start Wallis Evera because I wanted to create a business that reflected my values and the kind of world I wanted to live in. Rather than coming from a design background, my perspective is that of a conscious consumer and a futurist. The business got started with the help of a stack of inspiring books from the library, some great mentors, and a lot of trial and error.
Thanks so much to Monique for sharing the story behind her brand. To see more of Wallis Evera’s eco-friendly designs, be sure to visit their website and sign up for the newsletter. And be sure to check out my review of Wallis Evera’s Ana Button-Down Tunic!