Can you give a background on both yourself and your gorgeous fashion label Silk Wolfe?
I grew up in the English countryside and after not getting into my first university preference I decided to take a gap year starting with 3 months in Australia. 11+ years later and I’m still here. I’ve always had an interest in fashion, working in retail for most of my time here for brands such as Sass and Bide and small boutiques selling well known Australian brands.
When I was working at my last retail job, before I took @charispixie full time, I was also assistant buyer for the boutique and I loved seeing the collections in advance and picking out what would work best for the store. From this I decided that I had an advantage that other brands didn’t, I was working on the shop floor so was hearing what customers loved and what they were looking for but also I was seeing the trends and styles that were coming out - Silk Wolfe was born. @charispixe is a great way to express my love for fashion and styling as well.
What is sustainable fashion to you and why is it important?
I think looking after the planet is so important and sustainable fashion is a big part of that plus I’m definitely a quality over quantity sort of person. It took me quite a few months to source the perfect fabric as I wanted to make sure every process used to create it was sustainable and environmentally friendly. I originally was going to use a different fabric but then my amazing fabric lady found out that they were underpaying their workers and we decided it would be better to look for a different option.
I think sustainable fashion isn’t just using a sustainable fabric, it’s also making sure that the workers are paid fairly and have safe working conditions - it’s about the whole process not just part of it.
Was it always your intention to become a sustainable and ethical designer? What initially raised your awareness on the issue of fast fashion?
Tbh it really wasn’t - I knew I wanted to create a label that wasn’t in the fast fashion realm and made sure my first factory in Bali was definitely ethical and treating their workers fairly - to do this I spent a little more money and went through an agency but after having to adhere to minimums and ending up with way too much stock I decided I needed to rethink my business strategy for collection two.
I’m very into learning from my mistakes so I went to a sustainable fabric expo and just had a look around and talked to different people and then started the process of finding the perfect fabric and later an Australian manufacturer who didn’t have minimums. I also follow some great Instagram accounts who have really educated me on this topic including: @yemagz, @danni__duncan, @carmitive
Your line is not only sustainable and giving back to I=Change but it’s all Australian made and owned with each launch being an exclusive print! Please tell us more about your current capsule range.
My current capsule collection has definitely lead the way for how I want to create all future collections - limited stock with special pieces that are one of a kind. I don’t want people to be walking down the street and see five other people wearing their dress, I want them to feel like they own something that is entirely theirs.
I also want to keep the collections small with 3-4 styles. Due to COVID I am actually in the process of adding a rental option to my website which means that if my customers want a dress for a special occasion but don’t have the budget then they can rent the pieces too - it’s a bit of a process but hopefully it’ll be live mid- November.
All of the styles are pieces that are very much my personal style but that can be worn again and again all year round - I want my collections to be non-seasonal - I think this is so important for sustainability too.
Your thoughtful and exclusive fabric selection is undoubtedly an integral part of your brand. We love the material, bold prints and colours and the effortless timeless style. Tell us more about the commitment to quality fabric that is both gorgeous and responsible.
As I said above, when I knew I wanted to go down the sustainable route I headed to a sustainable fabric expo where I met my fabric supplier, the amazing Alison from STSC Sustainable Textiles - she is so passionate about sustainability, the environment and worker’s rights.
I am definitely more of a hands-on person and need to feel and touch fabric options before I even consider them - I want to know how it drapes, how it feels on the skin and it’s breathability - these are definitely the top three things I look for when choosing a fabric. After my first choice fell through Alison came to my house and bought along all of her similar fabric samples so I could see them in person and work out which would be best for my collection. We are hoping that we can find another supplier for the original choice but that hasn’t happened yet.
From high fashion to everyday casual, what inspires your personal sense of fashion? How would you describe your go to style?
My go to style has definitely changed over the years! A few years ago I only used to wear black but now my wardrobe is full of colour and I can’t see that changing. I love to mix high fashion pieces with high street but refuse to buy from brands such as BooHoo, Pretty Little Thing etc.
I also love supporting Australian designers where possible. My go to labels at the moment are Steele, Rue Stiic, Ganni, Brie Leon. I’m also not massively into designer labels - I do have a pair of Balenciaga’s that my friends bought for my 30th but other than that I’ve never really seen the appeal.
I definitely get inspired by other influencers but definitely make sure that I keep my personal style when I put together an outfit and don’t just copy someone else. For example, I might love someone’s pants but then decided to pair them with chunky sneakers over boots. I think Instagram is a great place to figure out your style – what you love and what works for you. I also know that a lot of people use Pinterest for styling tips as well.
What has been your biggest hurdle in starting a sustainable fashion brand?
I think my biggest hurdle has probably been having to increase my prices by a substantial amount compared to collection one which maybe my original customers weren’t expecting. Having a collection made in Australia with sustainable fabrics if definitely a much more expensive process and the price of the items definitely reflects that. But when you buy a piece of Silk Wolfe you know that someone made it who loves their job and is working in an environment that isn’t a danger to them plus that the fabric isn’t harming the environment.
My second hurdle was launching at the end of March 2020 but I’m hoping it will start to pick up again with the new rental option and summer around the corner.
How do you see the future of slow fashion? Any insight into what’s next for both you Charis and Silke Wolfe?
I think the future of slow fashion is definitely going to take off as more and more people are being made aware of the effects that fast fashion is having on the planet and a lot of people are starting to change the way they think. It’s not about calling people out but more about educating them.
I would love to be in the process of designing a new collection for Silk Wolfe but with the current climate I don’t think it’s wise so instead I’m going to be putting my focus into more marketing of the two collections that I do have. For Charis Pixie I’ll definitely be hustling and hopefully working with more amazing brands.
What quote do you live by?
“If you’re not making some notable mistakes along the way, you’re certainly not taking enough business and career chances.” - Sallie Krawcheck
What is your go to self-care ritual?
I’ve recently got into swimming and I find it so relaxing - it’s a great way to exercise and switch off for 40 minutes and not check my phone. I also love relaxing with a glass of wine and cooking.
We live by the motto one action and one person CAN make a difference! Other than your everyday fashion choices, what is one small action you take to live a more sustainable life?
I think the one small action that I take to live a more sustainable life is definitely being picky when it comes to the brands I work with. I work with limited skincare brands because I know what works for my skin and I don’t need to be using 20 different cleansers.
I have also turned down Boohoo and Nasty Gal this year as I don’t want to support fashion brands who are always in the media for negative reasons. Even though this is my full time job and main source of income I do try and hero and support small Australian businesses where possible because I know how hard it can be to start and run a successful label.