For those of us who want to buy better, trying to navigate the language of sustainable fashion can often feel overwhelming. Distinguishing misleading eco-jargon from meaningful messaging seems an impossible task; is this tee really made from ‘sustainable materials’? And what does that even mean?
Thankfully, Talia Collective have got you covered: their carefully curated marketplace is eradicating greenwashing and redefining sustainability one conscious product at a time.
Founded by Rebecca Prunali in September 2020, Talia Collective is the first editorial marketplace that aims to make sustainability not only reliable, but also desirable. Accompanied by informative editorial content and appealing storytelling, its deeply researched edit of the world’s most forward-thinking brands allows us to shop consciously without sacrificing luxury or style. Looking eco-chic has never been so effortless.
“More than ever, after the challenges we have faced in 2020 and the widespread awareness of the damage we are doing to our planet, we all need to be more conscious of our footprint in the fashion industry and beyond,” says Rebecca. “Being a little bit better, bit by bit, and making this accessible as well as aspirational, will ensure that sustainability is not a trend.”
We caught up with the founder below, talking the collective’s conception and inspirations, the importance of championing artisans and craftsmanship, and what we can expect next from the sustainable marketplace.
Check out the interview below…
Hi Rebecca, how has lockdown been for you? How has it influenced your work and creativity?
When the pandemic started, I had just relocated to Milan with my husband and so I found myself locked down in a completely unfamiliar city. Whilst it certainly wasn’t easy, this enforced enclosure afforded me one very valuable thing: the time (and courage!) to focus on turning my long-time dream – Talia Collective – into a reality. It seems that Cabin Fever is the key to unlocking creativity!
Can you tell us where the idea for Talia Collective first came from?
I’d always been very conscious about clean beauty, but I wasn’t really aware of the impact that the fashion industry had on both planet and people. This changed in 2018 when I began studying an MA at London College of Communication and was introduced to the world of sustainability and fast fashion. I couldn’t get enough of it and immersed myself in research papers detailing the impact of the fashion industry, only to be shocked by the data and stats.
It was then that I started researching sustainable fashion brands for my own wardrobe and I realised that there was a gap in the market. It took ages to find the type of brands I was looking for and to understand whether they were truly sustainable or not. I started investigating all the different criteria that make a product sustainable to figure out who were the voices leading the change and how they were doing so.
I realised that there was no high-end shopping destination that provided transparency on the supply chain of its products, and also presented them in an appealing way. So, I asked myself, why can’t I do this? Why can’t sustainability be fun, cool, or aspirational? And so, Talia Collective was born.
And why that name?
Talia Collective takes its name from the Greek muse of bucolic poetry, Thalia – “the joyous, the flourishing”- who navigates the worlds of nature and comedy with a playful attitude. By the same token, Talia Collective fosters a fun and aspirational shopping experience alongside a celebration of the environment and all the many ways we can (and should) be protecting it.
Why was it important for you to create a marketplace where sustainability is the main language and preoccupation?
Many brands are doing an excellent job of implementing sustainable strategies in production, looking at everything from their supply chains to the lifecycle of their products. However, there are many others who are simply exploiting sustainability as a trend, and it is important for consumers to have a trusted place where they can go to differentiate between the two.
100% sustainable shopping just doesn’t exist, but by encouraging better practices and promoting the changemakers of our time, I believe that a conscious and positive shopping experience is achievable for all.
In order to be featured on the site, all our brands must meet at least three of Talia’s eight sustainability criteria and commit to significant improvements over the two-year period post joining. These criteria are: Considerately Produced, Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Friendly Materials, Locally Crafted, Water Usage, Circularity Centred, Zero waste cycle and Give-back Culture.
Especially during a pandemic, why is it important for you to champion independent artisanal brands?
Artisans and craftsmanship are real assets for the fashion industry and a celebration of a country’s culture, traditions and identity. However, the pandemic has put the survival of these in serious jeopardy with many unable to rely on the financial support that big fashion corporations enjoy. The pandemic might mark the end of their story and so we take our role of raising awareness of these brands in their time of need very seriously.
And you’ve put a huge focus on relatable editorial that is easy for customers to break down – do you think jargon connected with sustainability has historically been difficult to digest?
Absolutely – the conversation around sustainability is complex and at times contradictory, and our aim is to simplify it and make it easily digestible.
We have enlisted some of the leaders in the sector, from Sophie Benson and Olivia Pinnock to Myriam Laroche and Jacqueline Shaw, to shed light on such a broad and, at times, confusing topic.
What has been the biggest challenge that the pandemic has put forth?
Sales decreased for almost everyone in the fashion sector during the pandemic and Talia Collective was no exception.
However, a positive that we have seen come out of it is the way in which it has opened people’s eyes to the impact consumer habits have on the plant. Many of us are more aware of the power of our choices and are looking to buy less-but-better from now on – which is exactly what Talia Collective is encouraging to do!
Tell us some of your favourite brands on the marketplace and why they are unique/exciting to you?
It’s difficult to pick, although a few of my favourites include Inhala, an ethical Peruvian activewear brand that uses organic local cotton and a regenerated nylon made from discarded fishing nets; Shekudo, a Lagos-based label which employs a team of 14 local artisans to make its exquisite shoes and accessories; and AAKS, a Ghanaian woven-handbag brand that uses raffia palm sourced from family farmers and preserves local craftsmanship.
On the beauty front, I am a fan of Tata Harper’s 100% natural skincare and Sicily-based Irene Forte vegan products.
Why is it important to enlighten customers on the dangers of fast fashion and the impact on the planet?
We could talk about the impact of fast fashion on the environment for hours but really, the numbers speak for themselves: textiles make up 5.2% of our landfill waste; 23kg of greenhouse gases are generated for each kilogram of fabric produced; and 190,000 tons of textile microplastic fibres find their way into oceans every year. And this is just the tip of the iceberg!
There’s also a huge human impact with issues around child labour, working conditions and fair wages. We all grew up thinking that it was fine to buy a £9.99 dress for a party on Friday, and then throw it away on the Sunday. Changing these habits is key.
What’s next for you? What are you excited about in 2021?
We only launched in September 2020 so 2021 will be all about expanding our selection of brands and growing our like-minded community. We’ve got some very exciting collaborations in the pipeline!
Talia Collective is a journey, and we believe in taking small but meaningful steps towards a more sustainable future. Hopefully, it will do some good and facilitate real and necessary change along the way.
Discover more at taliacollective.com