Harly Jae is an ethical fashion brand based out of Vancouver, BC! Read the full interview with Founder, Laïla below!
Introduction! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Laïla, the founder, and designer behind Harly Jae: a womenswear line of feminine and vintage-inspired designs. I am originally from a very small town, 45 minutes away from Québec City but moved to Vancouver 6 years ago to study Fashion Marketing. Although I had planned to jump into a fashion career right after school, things did not turn out that way. After realizing that the industry did not align with my values, I chased a different career path only to go back to my first love one year ago and create Harly Jae, a clothing brand that reflects my ethical and sustainable values.
What inspired you to create Harly Jae?
While studying fashion, it became clear to me that the industry had a lot of issues that needed to be addressed. At 20 years old, I did not think that was something I could tackle on my own, so I sort of gave up on that dream. It’s only a few years later when I found myself unhappy with the career path I ended up choosing, that I reconciled my relationship with fashion. I found a community of conscious consumers that I related to and motivated me to give up fast fashion. It’s during the process to create my own ethical wardrobe that I noticed a gap in the market. I saw an opportunity to build a brand that would not only reflect my aesthetic but also emulate what I look for when I invest in slow fashion: clothing that is inspired by the past made to last and with planet earth in mind. Clothing that transitions from work to happy hour, and transcends trends and seasons.
What is your favourite Harly Jae item?
I love the Bardot jumpsuit! It’s sexy without being revealing. It enhances different body types, is versatile, and from a design standpoint, jumpsuits are really hard to get right, so I am proud that this first piece turned as well as it did!
Where do you find inspiration when designing new items?
Vintage fashion is my biggest inspiration. If you love thrifting, you know the feeling of pulling up a piece from the racks and thinking “wow, they don’t make clothes like this anymore.” That’s the biggest compliment you can give me when looking at Harly Jae pieces. Being inspired by past trends also helps me design pieces that won’t go out of style next season. Although I consider my aesthetic to be very current, it is not reflective of fad trends that will be out a couple of weeks after they made their entrance.
What is the good cause that you promote and support through your brand?
Slow consumption and buying with intention. Fair wages and good working conditions for sewers and all people in my (small) supply chain. Sustainability by using as many recycled materials as I can.
How are you planning on growing Harly Jae and continuing to be a part of the ethical fashion movement?
Harly Jae is still a baby. We launched in June 2017, and I am still figuring out the best ways to grow the brand while staying true to my core values. I launched HJ with only three designs last June. While it was never my plan, it helped me test out the market. More pieces are coming very soon, and I am super excited to show everyone what is coming! I would like Harly Jae to be carried in more small boutiques soon, but it is also essential for me to remain seasonless , which makes it a little trickier to develop a wholesale strategy. That’s something I will be working on after the new collection launches. As far as continuing to be part of the ethical fashion movement, it goes without saying for me. If it weren’t for the mission behind Harly Jae, it simply would not exist.
What advice would you like to give to today’s women?
Regarding fashion and style I have one advice: discover your own unique style. I wrote a post about this process on my blog recently. In my opinion, it’s the only way to truly achieve a sustainable closet. The minute you start buying clothes that make you feel your best self, wonderful things happen (one being totally turned off by cheap fashion). In terms of life, I say: explore your creativity, do you, and always remember that you are enough.
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