tonlé: Ethical, Zero Waste Fashion with Style for Days
Posted on April 16 2020
We had the pleasure of meeting tonlé's owner, Rachel Faller, last year while shopping Spring fashions in Las Vegas. We were already impressed with the beautiful items we had been selling from this brand but after meeting Rachel, well you could say, we became believers! Read on to learn her story...
Rachel went to Cambodia in 2008 with funding from a grant to research sustainable and fair trade textiles. After working with local artisan groups she quickly realized there was a large gap in the industry for affordable, sustainable and ethical fashion.
The biggest issues she sought to address were the treatment of workers in the garment industry, most working 16-18 hour work days for little pay. The impact of pollution and climate change: air and water pollution have very tangible effects that are felt first hand in the communities doing the manufacturing of products that will be shipped overseas. This realization led her to seek out recycled materials. Starting first with second hand textiles and clothing, Rachel discovered piles of factory waste turning up in second hand markets, which is when she began to realize the scope of the problems with waste in garment manufacturing. Factory waste soon became the primary source of raw materials for Rachel's designs.
2014 was the birth of tonlé's zero waste model, and with it tonlé became a pioneer in the zero waste movement. Through several seasons of iteration, creativity, and hard work the tonlé team creates every collection without wasting a single scrap in the process. They even recycle all the thread!
Currently 30 talented people, the majority being women, are employed in their Phnom Penh workshop. This team makes all of their beautiful, zero waste clothing and sees it through from fabric sourcing to production to shipping. They all earn fair wages & benefits, are provided on the job training, given opportunities for job advancement and work a normal eight hour day. tonlé also partners with a weaving cooperative in northern Cambodia which employs 20 artisans. These skillful workers have been perfecting their craft and are the creators of tonlé's exclusive textile weaving designs.