After a summer in Kenya, Elizabeth Roney's journey forever changed. That's when she started to notice not just the price on items, but the stories behind what she's buying, and the people crafting each of them. With a degree in fashion, the wheels started to turn and it wasn't long after that Liz Alig came to life.
Hope from Fabric to Sewing
At the start, Elizabeth wanted to create hope from fabric to sewing - the entire journey of each piece. So she set out to use recycled material as the fabric. Today Liz Alig still continues to use recycled material in a large portion of its product line, along with organic cotton, and handwoven fabrics.
Impact in Every Purchase
Liz Alig works with fair trade cooperatives, workshops, and NGOs in developing countries to provide women hope and meaningful work. The partner organizations strive to improve lives by offering free skills training, free nursery care, paying the artisans well, and giving paid holidays and benefits. On top of that Liz Alig then donates a portion of sales back to the NGOs. So every purchase you make has an extraordinary impact.
Elizabeth Roney, Liz Alig Founder
Elizabeth joins Love Justly to explain why the entire journey of what you buy matters, how they incorporate native and ethnic textiles, and what she loves most about the work Liz Alig does.
Why do you feel it's important to incorporate native and ethnic textiles into your designs?
Incorporating ethnic and traditional textiles in our designs is a way to celebrate the cultures we work with. In addition to these traditional techniques being really amazing, we are able to preserve skills that are many times forgotten in the new wave of mass produced goods. I also think its really amazing for the seamstresses to be able to see their work - from their country - being translated into a Western look.
Liz Alig uses a lot of recycled fabric, can you explain what that means and why the entire journey from fabric to sewing is important?
This is one thing that was important to me when I started this line because at the time it was especially hard to find garments that were made ethically from fabric to sewing. Although it can be a whole lot more work, it creates so much more opportunity for more hands to be involved in the process, which ultimately gives more good jobs. Our garments made from recycled fabrics generally start out as a previous garment.
For example, we use a lot of button down shirts and neutral t-shirts in our designs because we can purchase thousands of these to be recycled. Another great thing about using recycled fabrics is that many of these groups have access to them in their local markets. When second-hand stores in the States have an excess of used clothing, they ship it to developing countries. In Ghana alone, it is an 80 million dollar a year industry.
Once the group has bought enough shirts for an order - typically something like 500 grey shirts - they are washed and pattern pieces are cut from them (there is actually a lot more fabric in a t-shirt then you might think). Finally, a new garment is made. This process takes extra time of washing the shirts and cutting around holes and stains, but we think it is worth the extra effort.
When you think about the work Liz Alig does, what makes you most proud?
It is really exciting for me to see how groups improve over time! I have worked with several groups that were not even making clothing in the beginning and their quality was horrible. It is so amazing to me how in just a few years they can produce thousands of high-quality garments.
Sometimes people may feel like the impact of their purchase doesn't matter, what would you say to those people?
It is really hard to see the impact an ethical purchase can make. Even I sometimes wonder if purchasing fair trade makes that much of a difference. The truth is sometimes the results are painfully slow! It sometimes feels easier just to give poor people money, but I always come back to the difference fair trade makes because it actually empowers people to help themselves out of poverty - which is huge!
Visit Liz Alig, to shop for discounts on ethical fashion.
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