Zero-Waste, Fair Fashion: tonlé Partner Spotlight
Driven by their sustainable production approach the company has been entirely zero-waste since 2014, their pattern making process uses 100% of a given material while generating garments from remnant materials. The brand offers a range of Women’s clothing and accessories that are dynamic in design and offer an unconventional style to everyday basics.
The brand’s designers work side by side with the production team to plan collections that incorporate even the tiniest scraps into original looks. Each year tonlé’s production, in contrast to a typical manufacturer, saves 10,000 kg of materials from landfills.
Given that their existing wholesale distribution spans throughout Australia, Asia, Europe and the Americas, Rachel and her team are on a path to total world domination. With a belief that style is about more than just what you wear, tonlé is pioneering the zero-waste fashion movement by closing the textile loop.
1. What was your inspiration to start tonlé and what is your proudest moment thus far?
I moved to Cambodia in 2008 to do research on fair trade and sustainability on a Fulbright grant. The artisans I met in Cambodia through that research were what inspired me to start a business there. Although I met many people who were talented, skillful, and made beautiful products, they had a hard time getting their products to a wider audience. At the same time, I witnessed the direct impact of the garment industry both on the people who worked within it and the environment around them, and I believed there was a better way to do things. Although I didn't know what I was getting myself into at first, I was lucky to be surrounded by some amazing people in my team. Some of my proudest moments have been seeing the people that work with tonlé grow personally and professionally and being able to see what we have built together.
2. In which direction do you see the future of sustainable brands going? And how do you see the future of your own brand?
Right now the market for ethical products seems to be growing significantly, though it is still a challenge to break into the wider market. At the same time, more and more unsustainable products are sold as well. I think we have to figure out how to not only make things better, but consume less. I hope to see larger brands really embrace changing their ideologies around production as well, because even as a whole the market for ethically made products is still dwarfed by the fast fashion industry. I think we have to all work together to make a dent in this.
3. How do you as a brand ensure ethical production and transparency throughout your supply chain?
Our entire production is vertically integrated, so the artisans we work with are directly on our payroll, which makes us different from many of the other brands out there who contract other factories to do their work. We are able to ensure much more transparency and adherence to best practises as a result. Our company is also a benefit corporation, mandated legally to create public good. This is something that is embedded into our company values and how we have always operated.
4. Where can readers currently find your brand (cities)?
tonlé just opened its very first brick and mortar store in the US, located in San Francisco! You can also find us in stores across the UK, Asia, Europe, Australia, Canada, and the US. For a detailed list, please visit: https://tonle.com/pages/stockists
5. What excites you about partnering with Kanekta?
I'm very excited to be a part of a platform that connects ethical brands to each other and to retailers. Kanekta is the first of its kind! It's a great opportunity to cultivate a connected community in the ethical fashion world.
Discover and shop their wholesale collections through Kanekta starting late 2017. To learn more about tonlé and Rachel’s story visit https://tonle.com/pages/about-us