ethical fashion interview
MilliOnAir has recently discovered Maemo – a new transparent, ethical fashion destination formed on the ideals that self-love and love for our Mother Earth are fundamentally intertwined. Maemo launched at the start of this year with a range of sustainable leisurewear.
Keeping Mother Earth at the heart of everything that they do, Maemo intends to share their sustainable journey every step of the way. The wins, failures and learnings that it takes for a fashion brand to realistically work towards the sustainable UN Goals in 2022.
We caught up with Maemo’s Head of Brand, Kate Nightingale, to hear more.
Maemo is an interesting name. What’s the meaning?
Our name comes from the Finnish word ‘maaemo’, which means Mother Earth. But the way we pronounce it sounds like ‘me amo’, meaning ‘I love myself’ in Spanish. Everything we do is with love and in honour of Mother Earth, yet we know everything starts with loving yourself. Striking a balance between self-love and love for our planet is what drives our actions every day.
What is your definition of sustainability? How does Maemo incorporate this?
For Maemo, a truly sustainable company looks at how this affects all areas of the business; we want to incorporate sustainability in all aspects of our brand.
The definition of sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance and ultimately to try and save our planet earth. We have seen the destruction that fast fashion manufacturing can bring, from polluted rivers to the loss of biodiversity and families living in landfills and ill children.
We truly took these issues to heart and have worked to create an ethical and sustainable brand that cares about the planet and our talented employees. Our team at Maemo are passionate about ensuring that each step in our production process is as ethical and sustainable as possible. This involves continuous research into the best ways to design, produce and sell our product.
Our factories have taken the Green Clothing Sustainability Pledge, which means sourcing and producing responsibly, alongside supporting labour rights and taking care of our communities.
What would you advise consumers to do who seek to create a sustainable closet and lifestyle?
There are many ways to become a more sustainable shopper and lead a more sustainable life. An excellent place to start is to pause and think about your shopping/buying habits.
We would encourage shoppers to categorise purchases into need and want. Then think about how often they will wear/use this item. Do you know the environmental cost of buying it? Some key questions to investigate are: was it made using eco/sustainable fabrics? Does the production company treat their workers fairly? Do the company use sustainable packaging?
We understand that it can be difficult for people to find some of this information. We want to be completely transparent with our customers and make it as easy as possible to find out information about the journey of how their clothes were made from start to finish. Our team created an icons system to inform our customers about the processes our clothes have been through and find out about the impact customers make when they buy a piece. You will see these icons on our website and on every item of clothing we produce.
What’s the smallest change a consumer could make to start this journey?
For many people beginning to become more eco-conscious can be a journey that takes time. But every little step helps, so even if someone starts by finding one sustainable online brand/shop that they can support, rather than opting for the many fast-fashion outlets in the market, it’s a significant first step.
Another great way to become more sustainable whilst enjoying the fun of a new outfit is to embrace the rise of clothes hire sites. Rotaro or Hirestreet are great ones, or amazing apps like Whering, which allow users to upload their current wardrobe and gives you styling tips on how to re-wear your pieces.
Where do you find your inspiration?
The inspiration for our launch collection was to create comfortable yet stylish pieces that could be worn for many occasions. Maemo leisurewear includes pieces that can be dressed up or down depending on your mood/occasion and can be worn again and again.
For the mainline, we selected a colour palette that looked to nature, taking influence from the four natural elements of the divine world we live in, Earth, Water, Air and Fire, echoing the tones of the sea, sky and soil. Our earth shades provide a connection to the natural world around us. Letting the outside in, they are authentic and grounding colours that work naturally together.
We have developed the Undyed range with pure, uncoloured pieces for our latest capsule collection.
This eco-friendly range was created using 50% less water typically needed for production and dying of similar garments. We will donate 5% of the sales from the range to our water charity partner, Just A Drop.
How and where are the products produced?
When we make these changes it creates a knock-on effect, and we can see positivity radiate. This starts with production for us; we produce our pieces in collaboration with local communities in Pakistan. We work with carefully selected factories to achieve the most sustainable production possible. Our partners have taken the Green Clothing Sustainability Pledge, aligning with our mission to keep us in harmony with nature.
From sourcing responsibly to reducing our carbon footprint, supporting labour rights, and taking care of our communities, we’re playing our part in protecting our people and Mother Earth.
Our love for Mother Earth also transcends into the way we create healthier spaces with cleaner air, access to daylight and environments free from harmful chemicals. The factories we operate out of work to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification system. These include ways to save energy, reduce carbon dioxide, improve indoor environmental quality and water efficiency.
We know that using less-polluting virgin fibres, such as organic cotton, does not address the growing amount of cotton waste globally.
Our current solution is to use recycled cotton made from repurposed production scraps and retired textiles. Using recycled cotton saves 20,000 litres of water per kilogram of cotton and reduces the amount of energy used.
The real power of using recycled materials is in offsetting the production of new materials by restoring the utility of materials already in circulation and diverting fabric waste from landfills.
Mechanically recycled yarn tends to feel less soft than virgin organic cotton due to the shortening of the fibre in the process; ours are currently woven or knitted in with the organic cotton yarn to maintain a quality feel, resulting in our ultra-soft blended fabrics.
Our highest blend is currently 50% recycled and 50% organic cotton. We are constantly reworking our blends to increase the percentage of recycled materials.
Plans for the future?
Where to start? We have many exciting projects in the pipeline! We’re currently exploring new materials and other ways we can contribute toward the UN goals. We intend to explore a physical presence on the high street this summer, and we are looking at new technology, including digital fashion and the metaverse and how we might be able to incorporate these into our model, perhaps negating the sampling process moving forward.
This is an on-going process and one in which we are committed to finding as many new ways as possible to evolve our practices to make our products as accessible and sustainable as possible.