I’m always excited when founders of small business are genuinely proud of what they’ve done and where they’re going. With these Shop Well issues, I hope to highlight the large amount grit and determination (and creativity!) that it takes to run a small business while still being very passionate about it. I know a lot of people who have great ideas that they just don’t know how to realize, and then their passion for it dwindles.
With a subject like ethical production and sustainability, I think it’s very easy to be extremely invested in it because these things directly affect us. Whether it’s understanding the environmental effects of fast fashion to creating a zero-waste lifestyle, I think that to some extent, all of these things are very human and emotional, and bring out our empathy in a great way.
On this issue of Shop Well, I interview Verónica Del Valle, co-owner of sustainable & ethical fashion collective Vi.Ve Apparel to learn more about the brand and her passion for curating brands that make an impact on the world and its people.
ISM: What motivated you to start Vi.Ve Apparel and what was the inspiration behind the name?
Verónica: I started Vi.Ve Apparel as a passion project, as I had always wanted to work in fashion but have spent my career working in the healthcare industry as a chemical engineer. During an unexpected medical leave I was motivated to take charge of my career and do something I truly loved, advocating for sustainability I have always been a fashion lover, until I learned about the current labor and environmental tolls that are part of that industry and I knew me and my partner could do something better and stay true to our values. The name Vi.Ve Apparel stands for Victor & Veronica. Victor is my partner in love and life. He has supported me and helped me create something we both really stand behind.
ISM: How do you choose which items to include to your inventory? How do you create relationships with the creators of the items?
Verónica: There is a lot of back and forth emails and WhatsApp calls since all our brands hail from different parts of the world. The most important aspect in quality. We first look at materials the brands are working with to make sure they are environmentally responsible. We also look at potential partners’ ethics policies, causes they are contributing to and what their production and labor practices are. Vi.Ve Apparel launches capsule collections so every item has to go together into a cohesive wardrobe. We want our customers to be able to mix and match their pieces and create completed looks, no styling required, we do it for you. With every brand and designer that is working with us, there is a real person who is making the clothes and we make sure we know who that is.
ISM: As a relatively new ethical and sustainable brand, how do you envision your brand in the future? Are there any projects or ideas you want to explore moving forward?
Verónica: To be honest down the road we hope to get to Vi.Ve Enterprises. A corporation that is constantly contributing to our culture in a positive way. We have many passions, mine is fashion, Victor’s is music. One thing we both share, besides an engineering background is a firm belief that businesses should work to serve their communities and employees and contribute to their well-being as much as possible. In the future we hope Vi.Ve Apparel is in a financial position to start to give back through Clothes Swaps, donations and volunteer work. For now just starting to gain traction and survive as a new business is challenge enough. So one day at a time.
ISM: What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned through founding Vi.Ve Apparel?
Verónica: I learned the joy of working for yourself on something you care about. When you are so personally invested in a business the ups and downs are constant. So sometimes learning to hold on to small wins is the key to perseverance and long term success. I have also learned to be cautious of who represents our brand and why. Unfortunately, not all collaborations turn out to be what you expect, but I firmly believe sticking to the positives will continue to help Vi.Ve Apparel thrive.
ISM: Although ethical fashion is gaining popularity, people are still stuck in the fast fashion world. Do you think society will ever break free of this wasteful cycle?
Verónica: I think it will take time, but we are making progress. There have been political strides in 2018 in goals for the fashion industry to reduce emissions and control what is known as modern slavery. In my role at Vi.Ve Apparel I work as head sustainable stylist and am continually amazed at what small brands like ours are doing to bring sustainable fashion into mainstream. I think a major roadblock is educating consumers in what the true cost of clothing should be for people to actually make a profit and pay fair wages. We are bombarded with cheap thrills and need to learn that there are alternatives that are more sustainable for every type of customer. You can still get designer pieces, but shop circularly. People have the accessibility and choice to buy second-hand or vintage, swap clothes or buy from sustainable brands that are honestly are putting out fashion that slays! I pride myself in finding sustainable alternatives for any fashion want or need. 🌱
Follow Vi.Ve Apparel:
Since Vi.Ve Apparel is a collective, most of my review will discuss some other aspects of the brand.
A little on the piece, though. This is made by Beaumont Organic, a British brand specializing in contemporary pieces made with organic cotton & ethical manufacturing. The cotton is SO soft that it feels like satin and I love the interesting shape of the piece for sure.
I would say that I like that Veronica has added this brand to their lineup because it shows they do their research as a collective. The piece came in eco-friendly packaging, which I liked, and was packed nicely and came pretty fast in the post!
I really like the way this shirt looks and I’m looking forward to seeing how it can be styled; it can be a bit too revealing to wear without an undershirt or high-waisted pants, but we’ll see how it goes.
Here I’ve styled it with my favorite Opening Ceremony vegan leather cutout culottes.