In our journey to try make our brand as ethical, sustainable and non toxic as possible, we have learned that the most eco-fabrics are hemp and linen. All the others have issues and we have been faced with making tough choices that are going to define our brand.
Early on, we knew we wanted one high-end, luxurious dress - the creme de la creme of our first collection. We wanted it to look and feel beautiful, and of course the making of it be as close to our ethos as possible. After searching for a sumptuous recycled or cellulose type alternative, we came to the realisation that silk really was the only option, not only in terms of environmental impact, but also it was the least toxic, and moved and breathed the way we envisioned for our luxury resort wear brand.
We started researching how silk was made and discovered something called Peace Silk. This is a method where the silk worm is allowed to fully develop within the cocoon and hatch as a moth, allowing it to live not just as a caterpillar, but to complete its full life cycle.
We loved this idea, but when we looked further, it wasn't as perfect an idea as we had initially believed. It turns out, that after thousands of years of being bred purely for the silk trade, Bombyx mori no longer do well in the moth stage, being unable to fly, barely able to crawl, and are not even capable of eating.
The males live only one day - long enough to mate with the females, who live just a couple days longer so they can lay their eggs, and then they die as well. Since silk farms have a limited supply of food, most of their offspring will starve or die from dehydration within a few days of hatching. This no longer seems cruelty free and as such, PETA will not endorse it. This coupled with the very act of allowing the moth to hatch means a hole is cut into the cocoon, breaking the continuous strand of silk thread results in a highly labour intensive fabrication process which results in a nubby textured silk, which albeit it beautiful, is not as smooth and shimmery as traditional silk, and more than double the price.
We then decided to research the traditional Chinese silks. In this industry, the silk worms munch away on the mulberry trees which are planted near ponds. The fish below feed off the worm waste, and the fish waste then fertilises the mulberry trees.
Soon after the worms have completed their cocoons, they are boiled so as to keep the silk thread in one piece. The boiled pupae are then fried up and eaten as a low carbon protein source.
This system is also far from cruelty free considering the boiling of the transitioning Bombyx mori, but in terms of a sustainable industry, traditional silk making is closed-loop ecosystem and for a country with an exploding population, the edible by-product is an added bonus.
We have accepted that the silk we will be using is not vegan, but in terms of a sustainable option, it ticks the boxes, and also, we love that it is a natural non toxic fabric that also happens to feel heavenly on the skin.
We are absolutely thrilled with our new silk collection! The watercolours are so vibrant and the way they shimmer is just divine!