In a world where you can pick up a T Shirt or a pair of jeans at a chain fashion store for between $10 or $20, it’s easy to say “that’s way too expensive”.
And believe me, I understand that buying quality, handmade clothing is not on everyone’s agenda, or in everyone’s budget. But for some of us, perhaps even up to a third of those of us buying clothing in New Zealand today, we have to ask ourselves - if we can afford it, why aren’t we making the effort to buy locally, ethically made products which will stand the test of time?
I was first slapped in the face with this when I watched a now well-known documentary on Netflix - the The True Cost. It blew me away to see the scale at which the larger retail companies were not only manufacturing garments unsustainably with a high cost to the environment and their Human Resources, but also that many of these garments last sometimes as little as two or three wears before they are discarded.
It broke my heart. When did we put profits and consumerism ahead of our environmental futures and people working for a “living” wage?
At the time, Velma & Beverley was a pipe dream and if anything, watching this documentary told me that I had to take action and be a part of the change.
I knew when I set up Velma & Beverley that no matter what, this company was going to be different. And I also knew that it would mean a higher price point, simply because there is more cost involved in ensuring all of the most important boxes are ticked.
Let’s have a look at these here...
No more synthetics;
While some synthetic fabrics have properties which make them suitable for certain types of clothing (however I believe we can wear natural fabrics everyday - I'll be writing about this in the coming months), I was determined to find high quality, natural fabrics which would last and also provide some excellent properties to you, the wearer. I could go on about wool for years (and you can check this out here) but cotton, which we use to line our coats, is also breathable and we don’t sweat much if at all in it, which makes it superior to synthetic lining fabrics, which don’t absorb moisture and I found became smelly quite easily.
Finding out that most of our New Zealand wool is shipped off-shore to places like China, and mixed with inferior, low quality product, scoured, spun and woven with cheaper labour and then returned to New Zealand in the form of cloth was pretty hard to take. But I knew that someone would be able to provide a New Zealand based supply chain, and Inter-weave, in Auckland, are the only ones left. The cost of purchasing from them is probably 20% higher than if I bought wholesale fabrics which have come from offshore - but I was committed to New Zealand fabric, grown, spun, and woven in New Zealand.
The Right People;
There is absolutely a movement towards being able to source clothing ethically made, and even more, New Zealand made. I wanted a team based in New Zealand who were then giving back to the New Zealand economy, by living and working here. I also decided to pay no less than the living wage, and I am privileged to have a wonderful little team of happy people who love doing what they do.
One of a kind;
Although it can be a compliment when someone says “I love that garment, where can I buy it?” That’s not the case for Velma & Beverley Coats. We have committed to providing each person who supports us a “one of a kind” coat. This might be similar to another in colour or lining, but there will never be two exactly the same and like the people of the world, they are all unique and have a story to tell. The moral of the story here - if you love a particular colour, design, lining, or embellishment, snap it up fast!
Not fast, but slow;
While the larger clothing companies of the world pride themselves on speed of turnaround and having new designs in-store within weeks of them appearing on the fashion runways of the world, we do things differently, and keep mass production costs down by creating your coat just for you. In New Zealand check out our blog and pre-sales for August, and if you live offshore, check with us as it may take a little bit more time to get to you. We believe good things take time and you’ll have a product you can treasure for years to come because it’s been made well and with love right here in New Zealand.
So, if you were about to go out and buy a black coat from a chain store for the winter, and pay around $250 - $350 which is a standard cost, and that coat might last you 2-3 years if you’re lucky, here’s a challenge for you:
Why not buy a Velma & Beverley coat, which will last for many years to come and ticks so many positive boxes? Quality and comfort is remembered long after price is forgotten.
Some would say it’s our responsibility to #buylesschoosewell and make the future of the fashion industry a brighter one for all involved.