When I began shopping ethically, my own closet was the first thing I overhauled. I threw out pieces I hadn't worn in over 6 months, researched ethical alternatives to my favorite stores, and started thrifting often for the pieces I couldn't afford to buy new. But when it came to my daughters' wardrobes, I was oddly hesitant to jump onto the slow fashion bandwagon. Not because I didn't see the value of buying them ethically made items, but because I had a much harder time finding options that were (A.) affordable, (B.) available for toddlers and not just babies, and (C.) something that they wouldn't outgrow in .34 seconds.
My girls are 2 and (almost) 4 now, and the vast majority of their closets are gifted (thank you Mimi and Nona ;) but when I need to buy them clothes, I'm working on compiling a list of sustainable and ethical brands that I can feel good about shopping from.
Today, I'm so excited to introduce one of the brands that I've fallen in love with for their ethical standards and clothes that my girls love wearing too. Sha-de is an Australia-based brand that designs clothes for both women and children, all with 50+ UVF sun protection and made of sustainable, natural bamboo.
After a few months of wearing Sha-de's pieces, my girls have already embarked on so many adventures, made messes, and grown in them. One of my favorite parts (other than the sun protection, which we'll get into in a bit), is that the pieces fit both of my girls simultaneously. Even though Evie is quite a bit taller than Mara, Sha-de's leggings are stretchy enough to fit them both and easy to scrunch up or pull down to adjust the length.
Along with their versatility, Sha-de designs all of their products to be naturally beneficial for your skin and to protect against the sun (something that is SO important year round, not just in the summer).
I had the chance to chat with Julia, the brand's founder, to get a bit of insight into their production, her dream for the company, and how she got her start:
Can you tell us a little bit about what led you to start Sha-de?
Sha-de started as an accessories range of wraps and shrugs that women could carry in their handbag and when they were caught out in the sun they had a fashionable accessory to wear. I have fair skin and in my mid 30’s after 1 too many sun burns, started to look for clothing and accessories that I could wear to weddings, festivals, at café’s or anywhere else that I was caught out without adequate protection.
Everything I saw online was beige and targeted to the over 50’s. We have sold these wraps and shrugs online and through Cancer council in Australia for 6 years. 3 yrs ago we decided to expand the range to clothing so that you had a range that was designed with sun protection in mind with fabric that was comfortable and clothing that looked on trend. I have 5 nieces and 1 nephew, and all but 1 are red heads or pale skinned. It concerned me that the only time the fashion industry thought of sun protection was when you were in the water at the beach. In Australia the sun is strong and can affect you every day. I have been burnt in the car on the way to work at 8am. It should be thought on every day. The climate and lifestyle in America is very similar to Australia.
Why did you opt for ethical/slow manufacturing and what does that phrase mean to you specifically?
I have worked in the fashion industry for over 22 yr. The increase in interest in Ethical/slow Fashion has been very exciting to me as it is the ethos I have always believed in. Throughout my career I have worked with large overseas manufacturers for fast fashion companies and did not believe in the speed, the quantity, the lack of quality garments and fit or the constant demand to cut manufacturing prices for the benefit of profit.
I now own a business called Sample Room which is a full development house for designers around the world to ensure the products they produce the best quality and fit, consistent in sizing and set up for local manufacturing as much as offshore. My passion lies in reducing landfill through supporting designers to produce great quality and the right quantity so they sell all their garments and their customer return as they were so happy with the pieces they have bought.
I also run a mentoring program called the Fashion Label Launchpad which helps those looking to start a fashion label in how to navigate the product development and manufacturing aspects. We have a strong focus on ethical/slow fashion in the course. This Course is available to people world wide as it is online.
Can you explain the benefits of your fabrics for skin, especially for children in the warmer months?
We have specially designed our fabric with a local knitted so be a high sun protection fabric. It rates at UPF + which is very rare for a natural fibre. You will normally only see this with Lycra or other synthetics which are fine for the beach but we spend time in the sun aside from at the beach. I have designed a range for everyday wear so when you kids are at childcare, the playground, playing with friends they can be comfortable and protected. This is essential if you are concerned about the damaging effects of the sun but more so for parents of children who have sensitivity due to illness such as cancer or heart disease where the medication can cause extra sensitivity. The softness of the bamboo fabric is also perfect for kids who have sensory issues.
What are your goals for the future of Sha-de?
We are looking to expand the range of women's and kids' wear and change the business model to ensure our ethical/sustainable business practices are the best they can be. I am very fortunate to have in house manufacturing in our Sample Room Business so we will look to creating more styles produced throughout the month and launched monthly to unique colours which are sold in limited amounts. Waste and dead stock is a huge problem in the fashion industry. A business model like this can reduce waste and landfill which would be an amazing thing to prove to the industry is possible with smart business practices.
And finally, just for fun, what are a few things that most people don't know about you?
I am a winter girl. I guess it comes from my own sensitivity to the sun and summer heat. I love the cold and the snow (I am currently writing this from a lodge in the Australian Alps before a day of skiing, yes we do have snow in Australia). Winter gives me energy, whereas summer zaps my energy.
*This post is in partnership with Sha-de. As always, all sponsored posts are authentic and hand selected by me. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Simply Liv & Co. possible! #sponsored*