Ethical Basics with Les Sublimes

Since making the ethical changeover I’ve been keeping an eye out for the best options for conscious clothing companies. I don’t buy clothes that often, so when I do I want to make sure I’m getting brilliant quality and durability as well as ethical operations, and when it comes to basics this can be a little tricky to find. Enter Les Sublimes, the brand looking to provide style and luxury whilst still being sustainable. So let me tell you why these guys are one to watch…

The Backstory

Alexis Assoignon and Kachen Hong, Les Sublimes founders, met whilst working on a university project over ten years ago, and have been good friends ever since. After graduating Kachen was working as a consultant in sustainable consumption and Alexis as a fashion account executive; they’d both been wanting to start something in their own fields, but they weren’t quite sure how to begin. Then, in 2014 they both quit their jobs to go travelling, and decided to meet in Nepal for two weeks. Once there, things began to get clearer. The long, scenic treks provided them the time and space to talk, share ideas and get creative (true proof that nature is the best), and it was here that they visited Tibetan refugees spinning yarn for weaving and knitters making sweaters in a remote village. They saw first hand how long and hard these women were working, all for less than $1 a day, and they couldn’t ignore the need for better quality jobs and living wages. Situations like these are often statistics and concepts that we know about, but seeing it up close motivated them to action, to finding a long-term solution. Alexis and Kachen quickly realised that if they combined their skills in fashion and sustainability they could work towards creating solutions for these communities and fill the need for ethical fashion that is both affordable and attractive. And so Les Sublimes was born.

Now, two years on, Les Sublimes is fully operational, offering a range of essentials and investments pieces, designed to be easy, adaptable and beautiful. As they describe themselves:
‘Designed to carry women effortlessly from brunch in Brooklyn to a safari in the Serengeti, these are the stylish yet simple pieces they wear again and again. Their favorite essentials that they can’t live without.’
They’re a proudly Parisian brand and it shows, with clothing that is simple and high quality, reflecting the no-fuss, effortless luxury that so many of us associate with Paris. Through their clothing they want to help women make better quality shopping choices, with pieces that enhance style but also embody their convictions and integrity. No compromise or hypocrisy in sight! With Les Sublimes, you can have it all.

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How are they ethical?

Les Sublimes exists to demonstrate that design, thoughtfulness and sustainability can work together. They believe that integrity is just as key to their business as style or price, so honesty and sustainability are integrated into every aspect of the business. Their core values as a brand centre on love, kindness, curiosity and adventure, but they also have a more practical code of responsible conduct that they stick to:

1. Products are designed and manufactured to maximize durability and the life of the product
2. Products must contain a minimum of 50% eco-friendly raw materials
3. Products may contain a maximum combined total of 15% black-listed* fibers, such as nylon and (non-recycled) polyester
4. Any certified raw materials and production facilities must provide proof of inspection and certification on an on-going basis
5. No animals suffer in the production of our products
6. Manufacturers recover as much as possible any chemicals and pollutants used during the production process
7. Manufacturers work continuously to reduce their environmental footprint and improve their water and energy consumption
8. Regional manufacturing is prioritized to reduce the amount of transportation required throughout production
9. Artisans and factory workers involved in making our products earn a living wage and are treated according to international labor rights requirements
10. Products are packaged using eco-friendly materials

They also have a breakdown of all the ethical materials they use here, including where they source from, why they chose that location and the benefits of each material, and a breakdown of their manufacturers here. All their clothes are manufactured in a French atelier, in the small town of Renaison, which Alexis and Kachen visit in person to see how things are coming along and to ensure the workers are happy (which they are, seeing as the atelier has been going since 1974).

On top of all this, Les Sublimes is sold completely online. By engaging directly with online supporters and abandoning the traditional industry model they make sustainable products much more affordable, and easily available to more people. In fact, you can order online here, oh and for each piece you buy Les Sublimes pays it forward by supporting one month of education for a young girl in need, supporting the potential girl bosses of the future, who can make their own kickass businesses and come up with even more ideas to keep this lovely planet of ours, and the people on it, happy.


The Future

Les Sublimes currently have six pieces in the collection; two tanks, two tees and two dresses. Each piece is so adaptable and can be used in multiple ways: perfect for the shopaholic or the capsule wardrobe queen alike. I personally love the design of the dresses, the Buenos Aires is so easily adaptable from day to night and is simple, minimal and beautiful. I can’t wait to get hold of it!

Beyond this collection, their dreams are big. They want to expand into more styles and fabrics (think luxe French linen and Peruvian alpaca), and to expand their network of production partners abroad, having already begun the sourcing process for cruelty-free cashmere from nomad herders in Mongolia. A major goal of theirs is to set up their own Les Sublimes production ateliers in Peru and Nepal (among other places on our wish list) to create a new manufacturing model that offers living wages and high workplace standards, health care, child care, education, career mobility and female empowerment. In terms of next styles they’re thinking shirting, denim, a sweater collection, blue and white french style striped tops and dresses, cruelty-free handbags and accessories, peace silk tanks and dress and footwear, becoming a full lifestyle brand which eventually has menswear, children and home sections too. They’re large goals, but by no means unachievable. Here’s to Les Sublimes becoming the new one stop shop for all things ethical. I, for one, can’t wait.

Until next time, stay magic y’all.

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