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We’ve had a lovely conversation with the founders of IMperfectionists Dilayla and Olina. Who have launched their brand during pandemic and refused to give up with the challenges to provide high quality, durable and 100% natural genderless designs (currently being tested for their biodegradability). The company is also supporting ethical manufacturing through local suppliers.
Tell us a little bit about your experience with starting the imperfectionists?
We met in University and wanted to do something sustainability vise for a while and all the time we’ve spend together have evolved into IMperfectionists. Knowing how harmful the fashion industry was becoming to our planet which is our home. It was crucial to take action.
What inspires you when designing the pieces?
I am inspired by the cultures and lifestyles. I want to make people feel comfortable and stylish at the same time to empower themselves through my sustainable designs and vision that is no matter where anyones background they feel themselves good as they already are rather than trying to become someone that was marketed to them rather as a body shape or anything else.
Who makes the clothing and where?
My designs are created by a lovely team in Istanbul, Turkey. The atelier we work with is owned by a female entrepreneur and she has 3 other employees herself. Transparency and traceability has always been a key factor in my creative vision not only because it adds more value to the product in customers eye but also helps me to stay motivated to provide to a community.
How do you tackle your environmental impact? Do you do something to offset water or CO2 impact? And how is tech a part of your production process?
One of our key values is innovation and we never limit that to textiles only, I admire technology and define innovation as being able to keep developing and searching for better.
As a designer I always search up for innovative ways of finding new tech that can decrease the wastage, CO2 emissions or anything to keep ourselves developed.
To minimize the wastage I prototype all my designs on CLO 3D and create only 1 real life prototype as final. We also apply the digital patterns of each design onto the width of textile on Browzwear which enables us to maximise the usage of textile and see how much wastage we’ll be creating. By doing this we have decreased our wastage by 10% on our sweatshirt production.
We also had our first launch campaign fully in 3D and we have our own digital avatar Fei Fei.
What are the fabrics and dye used in your clothing and accessories?
We believe less is more so we have developing design portfolio less in amount but high in quality. For the sweatshirt designs of mine they are made from raw organic hemp and organic cotton blend and the dyes we have on our labels has an OEKO-TEX certification. All the yarns that we use for embroidery to stitching is also 100% cotton yarn making the entire design 100% natural.
We are working on the biodegradability of my designs so there isn’t hazardous chemicals or dyes on the designs to ensure its nature basis.
Do you have to repair or take the garments back in order to avoid textile waste?
We are thinking of launching a repair campaign soon because we love this idea even if the designs don’t really need it since they are high quality and durable. But why not to have it. Is an ongoing question we have at the moment within IMperfectionists. For textile or product wastage we are working on the biodegradability of the designs to ensure there is no landfill issues with our authentic designs.
Which certifications do you have and/or strive to have in relation to your company and the production facilities?
We have GOTS on our textiles, OEKO-TEX certification our label’s dyes and we are Fairify approved. We are aiming to be B-corp as we grow bigger 🙂
The factories that you use, how do you control their sustainability commitments?
We work with small local suppliers, and during our production we have our own sustainability goals to achieve such as being zero-waste. We do not throw away any of the textile leftovers and they are turned into new designs after the production.
The modern fashion industry promises more and more ethnic and body diversity when it comes to models. How do you approach body and ethnic diversity when you make photoshoots for your campaigns?
Name IMperfectionists is a reflection on our scars, we believe that what we see as a weakness or ugly is a strength and makes us who we are. We believe that fashion is a reflection of the society in a sense so we are open to work with all types of models and we do not limit clothing by gender. It’s a big point on our creative vision. We are a unisex brand and on our social media you can find that we have worked with BIPOC influencers as well and on our upcoming product launches these can be seen further too.
What are the main values behind your brand?
Sustainability, innovation and ethicalness. It was always important to us to build a brand that doesn’t create harm, whether that is harm to the environment, harm to the people wearing our products, or harm to the hard-working people in value-chain. For us, this has meant thinking sustainability and ethicalness into every decision we have made, as well as implementing new and innovative solutions throughout.
Which are your bestseller pieces and your personal favorite ones?
They are all my designs, it’s almost like asking which one of your kids you like the most 🙂 All equally. I believe our customers do like the Tiger drawing the best which is my hand drawing embroidered onto the textile with 100% cotton yarn. So Tiger tote bags and tiger sweatshirt might be the most loved pieces.
Do you have a 5 or 10 year vision for your company that you could share with us?
We are action oriented, we don’t like to just talk about it but take action. Because words without action will not help us tackle the climate issue neither the fast fashion. To mention briefly, we’d like to continue working and develop with digital softwares and digital fashion to achieve less CO2 in terms of production and also continue working to develop our product portfolio by being biodegradable (currently being tested) and focus on bringing in more genderless designs like we do now.
What is something you wish customers knew about sustainable fashion?
The extra money you pay to wear sustainable clothes is completely changing someones life, and possibly a whole community. Garment professionals world over are being paid a wage they can’t sustain themselves on, and often have to go starving, or see their children starve – so while paying €50 extra for a product might seem like a lot, it goes a long way in ensure that the person harvesting the cotton, spinning the yarn, and sowing the clothes have a home to sleep in and can feed their kids.
I wish that every time someone paid a little more for a sustainable product, they could see the happy smiles of the people behind the garment, thanking them.
What is the most challenging thing in running a sustainable fashion business?
So many things 🙂 Finding the right textile supplier has always been a big struggle and long research because bigger textile suppliers have high MOQ amounts. We had to find both ethical and high quality textile suppliers. Plus finding the right niche is a struggle at the start but entrepreneurship is a journey you don’t know what will happen. You just need to put in the work, make sure your products are good in quality and keep going.
What are you as founders most proud of?
Actually having a product to sell. So many people talk about opening a company, and maybe even get to the planning and research point, however, few people actually get far enough to finish a production. Even if IMperfectionists had to close tomorrow, I would leave the brand behind feeling incredibly proud that we had a dream, worked to make the dream a reality, and successfully completed a production during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Do you work with any NGO’s or special projects to give back to communities?
At the moment we give back to the Turkish community by partnering up with local suppliers in Istanbul who provide fair pay and equal pay to all employees and all genders.