The revolution hitting the fashion industry is enough to make Karl Marx happy. The world is waking up, moving on from unnecessary overhauling our style with this-seasons-must-see-pieces to curating timeless capsule wardrobes. Two women, who are committed to the latter, have created their conscious fashion label to prove to the world that clothing can be both – fashionable and ethical.
Co-founders, Dilayla Kopuz and Olina Asbæk Schytte are the brains behind [IM]perfectionists, a sustainable hemp-based athleisure label. The Danish fashion brand aims to rethink the conventional fast fashion industry by slowly producing responsibly made apparel from natural materials. Their worlds collided when they met by chance at the University of East Anglia as international students. Dilayla is Turkish while Olina is Danish, but they have a shared love and passion for fashion, the environment and climate change.
The brand has three core values – Sustainability, Ethical Production and Innovation. From the outside, [IM]perfectionists may look like any other ethical brand. But that is not the case. Instead, Creative Director Dilayla, believes that their vision of sustainability is more up-to-date than we’ve previously known. “We were [very] clear about being sustainable. Then we quickly found out [that] we needed to have a more holistic view of sustainability”, said CEO Olina.
“Our goal of sustainability [is more than cutting] carbon emissions. We need to look at the bigger picture,” she said. The bigger picture for [IM]perfectionists includes paying their garment workers a living wage, being gender-inclusive with their models and producing unisex apparel.
After spending two years researching and being delayed by a worldwide pandemic, the two entrepreneurs have released their first pieces. The materials of the two sweatshirts are 55% organic hemp and 45% organic cotton. Dilayla said: “We decided to go with something more innovative and [with no] synthetic [materials]. It is lower in carbon footprint, [making] it a perfect choice”. Dilayla and Olina have created the products from 100% natural and organic textiles, including the embroidery design, labels and dyes. Olina said: “We refuse to use synthetic fibres because of their contribution to microfibres, and our products will not be contributing harm to the environment”.
The beautifully designed sweatshirts are a mark of the brand’s desire for traditional craftsmanship. By using a family-run atelier and the tiger embroidery, which was hand-drawn by Dilayla herself, they maintain authenticity from production to final product. The [IM]perfectionists cream sweatshirts are only produced once sold to help reduce overproduction and waste.
Their current product profile also has thermoregulating abilities. The sweatshirts are perfect to wear all year round as they can keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. “Owning seasonless and timeless clothes enables you to reduce waste and purchase good quality items less”, says Dilayla. Their dedication to conscious clothing runs deeper than simply using hemp as a core material. Their products are currently being tested for their biodegradability, too. The pair are working with the Teknologisk Institut in Copenhagen to ensure that all their clothes can go back into nature and that they can stand the test of time. Dilayla and Olina are planning to expand their range from athleisure to include more formal wear. They will retain their natural materials and biodegradability, too.
A criticism that many conscious brands face is that they are adding to fashion consumerism instead of fixing it. By giving consumers the choice to purchase from both fast and slow fashion, how can we be truly sustainable? In response, CEO Olina said: “Our aim was not to add to the problem but to give consumers an accessible alternative to the conventional fashion models. We are making sure that people have another choice.
“People are not going to stop wearing [fast fashion] and start making their clothes at home. That is wishful thinking”. The autonomy of choice allows consumers to think before panic-purchasing items. Dilayla and Olina both support the Fashion Revolution and hope that people will pause and question - What materials are these? How did this get here? Who made this? Dilayla said: “We want to show [that] you can be fully sustainable. You can have sustainable items, a vision and a sustainable method of managing a company, too. We are also constantly searching for the best alternatives to create a different approach”.
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Read more in Issue 5, coming September 2021.