Zero-Waste Fair Fashion: Shopping tonlé
Sustainable. Equitable. Stylish. Affordable.
The four key values I'm looking for in my clothing.
I found all four in the cream dipdye Keang top by Cambodian-based label tonlé.
This label is not like the others. And it's one I'm honoured to finally bring to my blog. I don't think it'd be possible to stress enough the eco-credentials of this brand.
I was so impressed receiving the package thanks to the founder Rachael Faller, as it arrived in recycled paper with minimal packaging. The top is recycled cotton jersey, hand printed with natural plant-based dyes. While tonlé salvages materials and therefore cannot oversee the entire production process, I was assured that to the best of their knowledge, the top is vegan-friendly. Their Keang tops are cut in a slouchy, boxy style allowing you to take it from day to night, or on the road! This top makes a great staple in a minimalist, monochromatic wardrobe. For reference, I wear a size Small as an approximate size 10.
The entire factory runs off a zero-waste model. tonlé use leftover fabrics from mass clothing manufacturers that would otherwise become waste. They then save all materials throughout the production process, going so far as to invent their own method of creating recycled paper using leftover threads for the hangtag.
Straight from their website:
"The journey of a tonlé product begins in an unlikely place: a heaping pile of factory scrap material. Our design team frequents the remnant material markets to scavenge through piles of factory castoffs before they end up in landfills. Creativity is key, as size, color, texture, and material continually vary. But we don’t stop there. tonlé designers work side by side with the production team to plan collections that incorporate even the tiniest scraps into original looks."
The dyes are derived from natural and biodegradable materials, and even the off-cuts from the sewing process are hand sewn together to create a unique yarn-like fabric that is then woven into beautiful and unique necklaces (available in the US store).
This rigorous attention to detail and thoughtful design includes attention to detail such as the recycled wood buttons, locally sourced clay beads, or leftover zippers sourced from the large industries.
I for one am thrilled to see this kind of innovation in what is typically a highly polluting and wasteful industry. I'd love to see Rachael's vision influencing more brands around the world.
Does knowing you aren't contributing to the waste in the garment industry encourage you to support such a brand? Will you be buying your own? The cream Keang top has sold out but they have a variety of alternative colours in the store.
Learn more about founder Rachel Faller's tonlé journey on the Spirit of 608 podcast and quickly meet a Cambodian employee in Walk Sew Good's short video: