This is at the heart of what I do.
Perpetua, after all, means everlasting.
The gentle treatment and care of our natural environment is equally important to me as helping women to feel comfortable (and powerful) in their own skin.
Every material, process and service is carefully considered, from fabric choice, printing and dyeing, threads and trims to studio fixtures and signage.
The main fabrics I work with are silk, up-cycled cotton blends and up-cycled wool.
Silk is naturally pesticide and chemical free, is cool in summer and warm in winter, is the strongest natural fibre available, requires little processing to take natural colour, and is completely biodegradable. Silk is also luxuriously comfortable to wear.
In order to reduce waste and environmental damage through over-production of fabrics I up-cycle fabrics that would normally become waste.
The cotton blend fabrics I use began their working lives as sheets in luxury hotels. Just one tiny mark and these sheets are pulled out of circulation. I purchase them directly from my local New Zealand hotel supplier to make into garments, giving them a long-term purpose.
The wool I use is from up-cycled wool blankets. I scour second-hand shops for these, and particularly like the ones with stains and holes (and that would be passed over by most people).
Every garment I make is sewn with undyed 100% cotton or silk thread. The bright coloured threads I use in applique work are all up-cycled.
I print my fabrics using a technique called ecoprinting. It is a method that uses the plants' own pigments to create marks on fabric. No inks are used in this process - just the magic and alchemy of nature.
Naturally dyeing and printing fabrics is much more gentle to the environment as well as to us.
Natural colour is much less likely to irritate skin than synthetic dyes and inks. Many of the plants I use, such as eucalyptus, Manuka and lavender, have been used for centuries in natural medicine. It is possible that we may actually benefit from wearing garments imprinted with these plants.
Over time natural pigments do alter and/or fade. Exposure to chemicals and the sun can speed this up. In order to preserve the colour of your naturally printed/dyed items proper care is important.
LINKING WITH LOCAL BUSINESSES
When I need help in my business I try to find local experts to work with. This ensures that the work that is done is done within the same commercial environment, ensuring fair pay and safe working conditions. It also means that less pollution is created through unnecessary travel (for people and goods).
I am proud to work with local Wairarapa sewing machinists. I source my 100% cotton garment labels (sewn in) from a New Zealand business, and stamp my swing-tags with stamps made in Wellington.
My shop shelves were made for me by a Featherston local crafts-person.
Our window and studio signage was made by a Carterton company (that started out in Featherston).
REDUCING, REUSING AND RECYCLING
Strangely, creating can be very wasteful. I am incredibly conscious of this and, while aspiring to generate zero waste, make every effort to produce as little waste as possible.
I keep large fabric scraps to be patched together and made into new items. Small fabric scraps are re-used as wrapping and ties around the studio.
All plant materials I use are composted in the studio garden.
I keep off-cuts of my pattern-making card to be used either in making small pattern pieces or as swing tags for items I sell. If I an unable to reuse materials I prefer to recycle them.
In order to reduce possible waste output I am very mindful (at the time of purchase) of how I will use and/or dispose of materials. I work hard to source biodegradable, natural, recyclable, reusable and up-cycled materials to use in the creation of all my sustainable fashion products.