Tell us about your partnership and how you got started?
We met at a conference on ecology and environment in Vitoria, a beautiful city in northern Spain. We had already spoken on other occasions, since we both volunteered in a state organization but it was the first time we could share a joint space.
At that moment, we realized that we had many things and common desires, being few months later when we started to consider creating a business project together.
We found the union of knowledge about the agriculture of Javi, born in Valladolid, and all his training in relation to climate change, sustainable development and environmental management, with the health conscience and person of Esther, born in Madrid, a pediatric nurse and neonatal for main profession, with training in the field of children’s psychomotricity, fair trade and development of personal and social skills.
All this, together with an extreme sensitivity and affection for the work well done, care with respect to the animals and the desire that the Spanish handicraft be respected and endured, as an intangible heritage of great value. All of them represent common values that we believe enrich the project that we carry out today.
How did you get interested in ethical and sustainable fashion?
Our concern for the environment and people led us to find local consumption alternatives related to our food or electricity consumption. But we were missing something and like we say “We are what we eat” we can also say “we are what we wear” so we started to investigate in raw materials, farming methods, collection and production, impacts on the environment and people, textile consumption alternatives, organizations and associations, and we begin to discover all the social injustices behind the world of fashion.
In the case of Spain, after months of study, we came to the conclusion that wool was one of the few raw materials that we could transform locally in an integral way, besides having, at present, in its management a problem in which we could Have a positive impact on a project to recover the fiber and the wool textile industry that still exists in our peninsula.
How did your educational/professional experience inform fashion work?
In my case, Javi, my studies in agriculture led me to think that this is not what I wanted for the Earth, animals and people. The intensive production methods, the use of pesticides, herbicides, chemicals to squeeze our soils to the maximum, the excessive use of natural resources, as well as the forms of animal care used by intensive livestock, made me wonder a lot.
Especially to think that there was another way to obtain natural resources without wasting them, but on the contrary, generating closed cycles of product that do not generate eternal waste and give back to the earth in a positive way what is created from it.
On the other hand, in the case of Esther, studies related to health, maternity, childhood and how the habits of health and the environment influence her, make us as a team aware of the need to create textiles that empower our health and abilities, for which the wool has spectacular intrinsic qualities, suitable for any moment of life, even with very positive and almost unknown effects for the protection of health.
In addition, the therapeutic capacity of weaving and the possibilities of creative development that wool provides for all ages, social classes and genders are well known.
What is the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion designers and companies?
There is a whole social and business movement that offers and demands a change in the form of production, marketing and consumption. Gradually we are growing, organizing to gain visibility and we know that we have in our hand the power of social transformation, and offer a more fashionable view of fashion; Being an example of that can be made garments of any style and complements of design, obtaining a great benefit for the people and the planet.
Who is a personal hero or heroine within the ethical and sustainable fashion world for you?
Our heroines and heroes are those people who are already occupying a space within sustainable fashion, putting their grain of sand and effort in demonstrating that another fashion is possible.
As Eduardo Galeano says: “Many small people, in small places, doing small things, can change the world”.
What is dLana?
We are a company that works to recover the value of wool as raw material in our country.
And we recover its value both through our work of disseminating information about the properties, history, traditions and wealth that is generated around the culture of wool; As well as a very careful and studied work of production of different spinning and sale of selected products, genuine and modern high quality, in addition to other services.
What are some of its feature products?
Mainly dLana offers multiple options for work and enjoyment with pure sheep wool.
From woolen top to spinning or making crafts, going through woolen yarns for knitting or crochet; To textile garments and accessories of 100% wool of own design or a creation service for designers and brands who wish to work with our yarn.
What is your customer base – the demographics?
For the moment, we mainly sell in our country, Spain, with specific orders from some clients and stores in France, Malta, Italy, Portugal and Japan.
There have been large tragedies such as the Rana Plaza collapse, which was the largest garment factory accident in history with over 1,000 dead and more than 2,500 injured. Others were the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (1911) and the Pakistan Garment Factory Fires (2012). What are the importance of human rights and worker rights in this new movement, and to the garment industry?
Human and worker rights are for us and for the sustainable fashion movement, universal and indisputable.
Our company is born under the principles of the economy of the common good, where not only people are taken into account, but also the environment, and the effects that this productive activity exerts on all the people who participate in it, looking for a win-win at all times.
Women and children are the majority of the exploited and violated work forces. What is the importance of the status of women’s and children’s rights in the ethical and sustainable fashion world too?
We know, thanks to our work in relation to fair trade, that women and children are the most disadvantaged in any situation of vulnerability, although paradoxically they are the ones that contribute the most work and development socially.
We understand that professional development should not put women in a situation of fragility, simply because it is a basic need.
The sustainable fashion, is framed in criteria of respect to the environment and protection of the workers’ rights, where a series of criteria of safety, equality and protection of the health of the workers are fulfilled, in which everything related is included with motherhood and the care of the children.
In our case, local production allows us to create products with complete traceability, in which we could tell our clients, with name and surnames, all the people who have intervened in each process until they reach their hands.
Children are the most vulnerable population. Women tend to have less status than men in societies including the right to decent working conditions, decent pay, to vote, and so on. What is the relationship between the need to implement women’s rights and children’s rights?
We believe that there is a direct relationship between the rights of women and children, since in most countries they are the main responsible for the upbringing and care of the home, in general. Some highly developed countries in social legislation are gradually implementing plans to incorporate men into these care, but much remains to be done, starting with gender education in schools and within families, and with the obligation to companies not to penalize the reproductive processes in women, nor in families with girls and boys of school age.
On the other hand, and returning to those families and countries more impoverished, we cannot fail to see that mother who works the field carrying her baby in the back, or glimpse a path of hope and decent work as offered by companies such as Creative Handicraft in Bombay.
Every day the examples of another possible society increase and in dLana we are betting on modern and inclusive social models.
Child labour and slavery are problems, major ones. These include children throughout the world. Tens of millions of children in the case of child labour and a few million for child slavery. How can individuals get the word out about these other rights violations?
People can stay informed through NGDOs like Amnesty International, or through more specific campaigns in the textile sector like Clean Clothes Campaign (cleanclothes.org) and make decisions regarding their consumption acts.
But, in any case, we believe that there is an international law that is violated systematically throughout the world.
How can individuals, designers, fashion industries, and consumers begin to work to implement those rights so that these vulnerable populations in many countries of the world have better quality of life?
The people who work at dLana are very committed to all these issues and we believe that there are very different ways of solving, all of them complementary.
On the part of the consumers it is necessary that there is more curiosity in what is behind the garments that they buy and also that with that information they seal quality stamps and responsible commerce in their purchases.
On the part of the designers and brands we believe it necessary that there is a demand in the traceability of the forms of production of the fabrics and threads that they use, as well as in the manufacturing of the garments.
By companies, strict compliance with human rights and workers, regardless of whether they are workers in your account or outsource services to other companies.
To the international justice, in this sense there is a need for fraud and crimes to be pursued, with exemplary penalties for each of the parties involved in cases such as Rana Plaza.
And of course and not least, ask that every day there is a greater demand for compliance and improvement of working conditions by the employees themselves respecting also their right to strike.
What topics most interest you?
There are many interests that move us every day, but we believe that the most important is love. The beauty of life and being able to walk through it in a positive and calm way.
Did you have a mentor in this work?
We have learned a lot of self-taught searching for information on the internet, in books and especially doing a very important field research.
We have spent many hours listening to shepherds and artisans who have opened the doors to their homes and their lives, sharing their efforts and with those who have created a link of collaboration directly or indirectly. Something that we will never stop doing, as we continue to learn from everything we live and travel, which we consider fundamental.
Have you mentored others?
We believe that for the moment we can offer and share, but not mentorize, the experience is a degree and dLana has much to work and still learn.
What are the importance of mentors in the fashion world for professional, and personal, development?
It is important to have referrals, identify people who can influence you in a positive way and offer serious collaborations that bring benefits to all parties. All experience and information that helps you explore in your professional and personal field, which helps you grow and become a better person is something to take advantage of.
From prsonal observations, more women than men involve themselves in the fashion industry by a vast margin of difference at all levels. Why?
In this case, we cannot give you an absolute answer. We are relatively new to the sector and we imagine that there are sociological reasons that would answer this question.
While it is true that in our homes we have always seen that only women knit or sew, while men were more concerned with arranging other matters more related to physical strength.
However, we know that in other cultures it is also men who perform many textile works.
What personal fulfillment comes from this work for you?
With dLana we are demonstrating many things. Face to the public, we can work with the wool of our country in a satisfactory way, with quality and fully in the territory with our textile craftsmen, offering a complete traceability among many other things.
And in a more personal way, being able to fulfill the dream of helping people, respecting the planet, putting your little bit of sand to generate social change and knowing that you can overcome every day.
What other work are you involved in at this point in time?
Right now in dLana, Javi works continuously and on the other hand, Esther combines her work as a pediatric nurse in a public hospital, with all the activities and travels of representation of dLana.
Any recommended authors or fashionistas (or fashionistos)?
Sass Brown and his book Eco Fashion was one of the first on sustainable fashion that we could read in our research.
But at the level of our country and without personifying in particular, we would like to emphasize all the work that the different Sustainable Fashion Associations are doing in our country working as a team, each in their region.
Any recommended means of contacting dLana?
Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?
We have liked your questions, both those that have allowed us to open in a personal way as those that have offered dLana express their opinion within the world of fashion.
A style of interview different from the usual that has helped us to reflect, recover and expose many terms and knowledge that the vortex of our day to day perhaps we forget to convey but that always go in the backpack of our woolly way.
Thank you for your time, Esther and Javier.