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Strength from sorrow: introducing the sustainable fashion label, SixChel

June 30, 2017

 

Recently I have been trying to broaden my knowledge of yoga beyond going to class and sweating out my entire body weight, which seems to be commonplace in the classes I got to in Bristol (…).  It actually came about because I went on a bit of a shopping spree after reading Alicia Water’s blog post on yoga books to read and I found myself in an unbearable heat wave last week.  Believe me, I love the heat but over 30 degrees Celsius (over 86 degrees Fahrenheit) coupled with the humidity we have in the UK leaves you with literally a wall and ceiling of heat.  I couldn’t face sending myself to a yoga studio with no air conditioning so I thought perhaps I could practice another aspect of yoga.  I picked up my lovely and compact copy of “The Eight Limbs of Yoga: A Handbook for Living Yoga Philosophy” by Stuart Ray Sarbacker and Kevin Kimple and began to read.  I haven’t finished but I hope to write a review once I have, however, I can say that I have learnt about the first limb; yama, which means practicing restraint and one of the branches of this limb talks about ahimsa, meaning non-harming.  Many people take ahimsa to literally mean becoming vegan or vegetarian but it can also be considered as doing no harm in the wider world.  It got me thinking about a new brand that I wanted to feature on my blog. 

 

SixChel is a fashion brand created by Dina Chavez who is based in Austin, Texas.  Dina’s journey to creating her fashion label was no accident and began when her sister sadly died of cancer.  Her sister’s death led her to re-evaluate the ethical, chemical and environmental impact of the clothes we wear so much so that she closed her company and started fresh, building a brand that made clothes as ethically and sustainably as possible.  It was such a personal decision and Dina explained to me that it was almost a way to regain control of a situation that had left her feeling helpless.  I am sure that a lot of us can relate to these turning points in our lives where our course is dramatically changed by one single event or experience and it is truly inspiring to turn that sorrow into strength.

 

 

Changing an entire business model can, however, be a steep learning curve.  Dina had been working in the fashion industry for the last ten years and so in order to learn about approaching creating a brand that is focused on sustainability, she worked with Factory45, a sustainable fashion accelerator.  She explained that the best way to learn is to do your research.  This is your own journey and if you are small fashion brand, you can make your business more ethical but you do need to educate yourself on the benefits of sustainability, to have a clear mission statement and be true to you!

 

Dina understands that it extremely difficult and nearly impossible to be 100% sustainable as the industry simply is not geared towards sustainability.  However, this does not mean that SixChel’s strides towards being more considerate to the environment are not significant.  Dina is committed to sourcing the best sustainable fabrics and she ensures that she keeps abreast of the most up to date practices in the industry, from fabric mill to manufacturer.  The clothes are also cut and sewn in the US and this is an important point for Dina from an ethical standpoint.  She wants to employ Americans and ensure fair practices and wages. 

 

 

Also, Dina was encouraged by the success of other brands.  Dina took inspiration from Stella McCartney in the 90s when the fashion designer followed the path of her late mother and took a stance to be vegan and cruelty free and more locally, Raven + Lily, an ethical fashion brand and boutique based in Austin.  Both brands have been extremely successful making sustainable and fair trade fashion and are a great testament to the fact that ethical fashion can be a commercially viable business.

 

Personally, I love the story behind this brand and I have fallen for the clothes.  They are chic with beautiful draping and bold colours and I can see women wearing these for a wide range of occasions.  What is most appealing is the passion behind the brand! SixChel is truly an environmental and socially aware brand and is for sure practicing the yogi limb of non-harming. 

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