I met Alix last summer in the South of France. We had travelled down from Paris for my husfriend to help his buddy Julien shoot the first lookbook for Alix's brand Statice. My French was in a really bad state after spending most the summer speaking English in London and Costa Rica and I was insecure, to say the least, so I gently got to know her by listening in on everyone's banter, rather than partaking. 

Over the course of our stay at Julien's parents (beautifully stunning) place, my language skills warmed up slightly and Alix and I finally got to talking about what I was up to and how Statice came to be. I told her about the daily blogging I was doing as part of last year's #GoneGreen2016 series, and she responded regretfully that she didn't think her brand fit my 'circular story' ideals. She had gone for the luxury sector to start off her business and had made her fabric choices based on quality and durability rather than ecology. Then we moved off the subject and talked about non-work related things, and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings we were blessed to be embraced in.


Then a few months ago she wrote to invite me to check out a pop up she was holding in Paris as a soft launch for Statice, offering me a swimsuit as a gift for helping out on the shoot (I sometimes held reflector boards for the lookbook). I ended up missing the sale due to deadlines and meeting her in a brasserie for a glass of wine and some nibbles instead, and we got to talking again about her brand and my blogging again. Alix is a transparent and vulnerable person, not the type to please you because it pleases you. She's found a way to balance being kind and compassionate while also being honest about how she feels, what she does and why, and where she'd like to improve both personally and professionally, so our conversation started off not as a transaction for a possible blog post, but rather a conversation between two people both struggling to find the balance between entrepreneurship and personal care. 


ACCIDENTLY ECO 

As we jumped from topic to topic, I found out that Alix uses Sensitive® FIT fabric which upon researching I found out is actually OEKO-TEX® certified. Now this doesn't make it the greenest of the green, but its production is far better than I would have expected (read this post about some brands using recycled or biodegradable swimsuits here). It's an incredibly durable and made to last and is produced by an Italian factory which in 2007, decided to embark on a project called 'sensitive ecosystem' with the goal to lower their environmental impact by adjusting their production chain to one which is vertical (no outsourcing). To do so, they invested in a water recovery and reuse system, decreased methane gas production to prevent carbon dioxide and oil from polluting the ear, invested in a solar panel photovoltaic system generating enough electricity to power the lighting of their facilities. They also invested in a fume purifying system, an efficient waste sorting system for recycling purposes, and eco-friendly printing services. Every year, they are able to recover about 10,000 kg of cellophane and 20,000 kg of textile scraps from the production cycle, which are given new life through their recycling and reuse process. These efforts have earned them a number of eco-certifications and as I found out in my research today (because this was just going to be an instagram shout-out rather than a full post but as I read through the info, I got excited), is most likely the same eco swim fabric producer as my other favourite eco-friendly swimsuit creator, My Marini

INCLUSIVELY ETHICAL 

Statice's suits are made in Marrakech, Morocco (where Alix lives). The production facility is run by a French woman who has been living in Morocco for 30 years and paying a fair wage. Her employees have worked with her since the beginning, and any who have joined since it's creation remain there (this is rare in Morocco where there is a high employee turnover rate). Alix visited the workshop before committing to producing with them to meet the employees and check the working conditions, then returned during the week of production to sit with the workers so she could oversee (and see) the production herself. 

WHY DOESN'T LUXURY WANNA HANG WITH SUSTAINABILITY? 

This isn't the first time that I've met a 'luxury' designer who has gone about things consciously naturally but didn't associate themselves with the sustainable industry because in the eyes of some, and perhaps most, the word 'luxury' and 'sustainability' don't mesh. If it is sustainable it must be less luxurious, and vice versa, but according to tot he Harvard Business Review the 'sustainability gap is closing fast', social norms are changing as are laws, and movements like the 'clean label' movement, pushed by the ethical expectations of millennials, are bound to push any giants who don't start to comply down. In fact, according to 2016 report by the Luxury Institute and Positive Luxury, a report by “88% of UK and US Millennials and Generation Xers believe brands need to do more good, not just ‘less bad".

Associations like Positive Luxury, magazines like Mantra, Origin and Thrive, and celebrities like Livia Firth, Emma Watson, and Leonardo Dicaprio are helping to change this face, but it's not enough just yet, to adjust the way the industry is seen, because the majority of buyers are not exactly aware of what is actually good and green. But it's begun, the rising popularity of Fashion Revolution and large brands begin making serious adjustments towards sustainability, curiosity and education rise, and thus, so will we as a species.


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ITEMS MENTIONED / PICTURED

SWIMSUIT: I got the STATICE Marine (Navy) One-Piece and wore it (sometimes just the suit) on our hikes to the Calanques, swimming, and with jeans in the evening while in Marseille last week. 

FLIP FLOPS: Are by a brand called OLLI WORLD which I've got an upcoming story on. They're eco-friendly and ethically made, and about the only sustainable flip flop I know of that fills Havaianas' shoes sustainably (plus they're way more comfortable!).  


Photos: Shane Woodward
Sources: HBR 1, HBR 2, WPP, POSITIVE LUXURY, PAREXCELLENCE MAGAZINE, SENSITIVE FABRICS