We chatted with Clotilde Lelièvre (Clo) about Rue Clotilde and Clo’s ambitions as a 21-year-old entrepreneur aiming to promote best practice in the fashion industry by launching her slow-fashion and female empowering brand.
Rue Clotilde is a sustainable t-shirt company with a mission to make their mark on the clothing world– however, not the clothing world we are all accustomed to.
At the time of the interview, we believed the launch would be early August- however in the world of slow fashion, and in starting something new, sometimes you need a little bit more time. Rue Clotilde are aiming to be up and running for August 13th. They are currently taking pre-orders for the Honnête and Angel t-shirts.
I. Fast Fashion vs. Ethical Mindsets
2020 has brought many shocks to all of our lives– one being the global realisation that our most loved brands have created a production process that keeps garment workers in unsafe working conditions, earning little to no money, to maximise the brands’ own profits. The fashion industry has been exploiting its labourers for decades.
The 2020 lockdown has really highlighted the issue. When the pandemic hit the UK, the EU and the US all our shops closed, and brands and retailers responded to the wave of closures as you might expect; they pushed the impact down the supply chain. With billions of pounds worth of cancelled orders, factories who had cashflow-ed the cost of fabrics, labour and overheads were left without income– therefore, the most vulnerable people in fast fashion were left without pay.
It’s important to note that the majority of us have been aware of this exploitation for a very long time- maybe all of us, subconsciously. Even without a strong commercial mindset, us everyday high street buyers know that a t-shirt advertised for £6 can’t possibly have been produced in an ethical way.
As lockdown has eased, high streets are busy again– stocked with clothing and fashion items produced in exploitative conditions. Retailers, brands and the UK government must take action, and ownership of their culpability in this system. Has your favourite brand paid their order, are they still in negotiations for discounts or payment instalments, or are they doing anything at all? Track your favourite retailers’ actions via the Worker Rights Consortium.
II. Feminism in Fashion
This conversation with Rue Clotilde not only highlights potential sustainable ways of manufacturing and producing clothing, but we also chat about the importance of feminism in her career and her relationship, as well as the message behind her decision to team up with Plan International UK, to try and influence change for women and girls.
Your average ‘Feminism’ t-shirt is not feminist. The Rue Clotilde prints are plastic free, cruelty free, vegan, and empowering the workers who physically produced it.
III. Education is Power
Clotilde also highlights her education journey in business school– surrounded by male educators and leaders who did not believe in her projects and ideas. Rue Clotilde was one of those ideas– an idea strongly discouraged by her tutors. Look at her now!
IV. Believe in Yourself
Clotilde’s biggest advice to small brands, and to women, is to believe in yourself, your career and your projects. Don’t be scared to be human and don’t be scared to use your voice, and tell your story.
Don’t be scared to be smart.