& Mother's litmus test for partnering with the right brands is the strength and authenticity of their sustainability credentials; the quality and aesthetic of their product; and does it/how will it truly serve and benefit a mother. Wol Hide exceeds on every pillar and we are so excited to be the exclusive retailer for them in Europe. We are loving witnessing our customers discovering them for the first time and falling in love with their design and ethos - just as we did!
We sat down for a long-distance chat with Leah D'Ambrosio, the founder and designer behind the brand to understand more on Wol Hide's approach (and ongoing commitment) to sustainability, and her personal take on motherhood.
&M: What inspired you to start Wolhide? How did you get started?
LD: Right out of college, I worked for a big fashion company and got very discouraged by the way business was done in the fashion world, especially at bigger companies and especially at that time. It was 2005 so things were a lot different then, no one used the word sustainable. I didn’t start the business right away but that planted a seed that business could be done in a better way where there is thought and care for the environment and respect for all of the people involved in making a product. I went back to school later for textile design and learned so much about the dyeing and chemical processes that all of our clothing and home textiles go through. That knowledge along with everything I learned about developing knit textiles led me to start the brand.
&M: How would you describe your creative process; your creative style/aesthetic?
LD: I think my style is minimal with intentional details and texture. My process always starts with the materials and stitch development. We spend a lot of time talking about what we want to wear, what we think our customers will want to wear, what we’re comfortable in at the moment and what we’re not. Then the stitches and materials come together with the silhouettes.
&M: What's the favourite part of your job?
LD: My favourite part is the initial design work and sourcing materials or new partners, I love the research involved in both. The most rewarding part is the connections with people on both ends of the business. The strong relationships I’ve built with our producers, or when a customer or buyer tells us how much they love their pieces, both make it all worth it.
&M: How important are the materials/fabrics you choose when building a collection?
LD: It’s the foundation of each collection and of the brand. Coming form a textile design background, I wanted to build a brand where textiles were the main focus of the clothing. That means a few different things, so the materials and fibres I chose for their wearability, softness as well as their effect on the environment and their effect on us as wearers. I think natural materials with the least amount of processing or dyeing are best. For our sweaters, this also means that I spend a lot of time on developing stitches and designing the textile.
&M: Why is sustainability important to you? What is your mission with Wol Hide?
LD: I think it’s important to me because I learned so much of the bad side of the business that didn’t feel right to me. We have become so disconnected with the materials we wear, where they actually come from! Sweaters are so much about the yarn which to me is intrinsically connected to farms so I think it’s important to really understand where that yarn comes from and all that goes into making it. My mission is to make clean clothes that you want to reach for season after season. My hope is that through making beautiful garments, this can also be a vehicle for highlighting materials.
&M: What would you advise customers to look out for when shopping sustainably?
LD: It’s really hard as a consumer right now to know who to trust and who to take seriously when trying to shop sustainably. There is a lot of marketing around new materials, metrics of water usage and carbon offsets, and certifications but I think it’s important to take the whole picture of a garment into account. Personally, I think small businesses are inherently more sustainable so I try to support small businesses. I also think it’s worth digging a little deeper into a brand to get a feel for them, maybe read their blog, read through their social media or reach out to them with questions. Transparency is the most important thing to me because no one is making the “best” or “most” sustainable product, there are downsides to every choice we make.
&M: Can you name three favourite, sustainable Instagram accounts that you follow?
@fibershed_ always has very insightful posts and links to stories
@readtealeaves for inspiring upcycling projects
@thelissome for beautiful imagery along with sustainability dialogue
&M: How do you balance personal life and motherhood with running a successful business?
LD: I don’t think I’ve figured this out yet. It always feels out of balance one way or another but day by day, with a few great people helping on both ends, we make it work.
Wol Hide's SS22 collection is now available and ready to be shipped on the store. Follow Wol Hide's journey over on @woldhide