Welcome to The Sustainable Shopper. Each week, Stylist will talk to the people focused on creating a more conscious shopping space for all. This week, fashion editor Harriet Davey talks to Silje Vallevik – founder of womenswear label Valle&Vik – about swapping quantity for quality pieces, loving clothes for longer and how seasonless fashion is the way forward.
If you’ve been following Stylist’s Sustainable Shopper series, you’ll know that each week, we talk to a person championing sustainability in their sector. From broadcasters, podcasters and fair fashion campaigners to owners of sustainable fashion brands or most recently, rental platforms. We want to find out from those in the know why, and how, they’re making changes to create a more eco-friendly world.
This week, it’s Silje Vallevik’s turn. The Norwegian designer founded london-based womenswear brand Valle&Vik in 2017, since then the love-forever pieces have been worn by influencers including Monikh Dale, Jessie Bush and Leonie Hannie. So what makes the designs so special? Each piece is created using only organics materials in a small female-led factory using digital prints to avoid water waste. In the interview below, Silje explains the importance of having sustainability at the core of production, small sustainable changes we can all make and why buying better and buying less is the motto to follow.
Silje: I’ve always loved fashion – mixing high end and high street brands with lots vintage. But before I started my label, I would buy a new outfit from Zara every Friday because I had ‘nothing’ to wear. I didn’t care about the quality of fabric as long as it served its one wear purpose. I wasn’t alone in this mentality; all my friends were doing the same, buying more than they needed to.
I remember one day looking in my closet and realising I didn’t have anything decent to wear as most of my clothing were fast fashion and never kept their lustre after a couple of washes. I decided it was time to start investing in clothing that would last, bring me joy and are made with natural fabrics. This was the idea behind Valle&Vik; I wanted to create timeless, seasonless pieces made from natural fabric.
Sustainable fashion to me means investing in natural, ethical and timeless pieces. It used to only be considered as hemp clothing worn by ‘hippies’, but I think now the concept of sustainable clothing has moved so far beyond that. My aim with Valle&Vik is it to create the forever pieces – a sartorial comfort blanket, made with care and kindness.
Making more conscious fashion choices is all about buying what you truly love. I believe it’s better to own a few amazing outfits that make you feel incredible, and you can wear forever, than buying loads of high street clothing that are cheaply made and won’t last long in your wardrobe.
Some of the biggest challenges creating a sustainable fashion label is production. It is the hardest and the most time-consuming thing about having a fashion brand, especially in the beginning. It’s also so important to be transparent with how we’re making the clothes and the journey they go through.
The industry has lot of underpaid workers and toxic, harmful waste. I would like to see the fashion industry as a whole become more transparent – how can a piece of clothing be as cheap as £1? Someone is being cheated along the way.
For me, the leader when it comes to sustainability in the world of fashion has to be Stella McCartney, no doubt. She’s a trailblazer and has made eco-friendly fashion fit into the luxury market.
At Valle&Vik we only work with 100% natural fabrics and EOKO-TEX certified silks. Everything is made in Europe by a small female-led factory where they produce limited runs to make sure all the workers are paid fairly and to ensure wastage is minimised.
We’ve chosen digital printing to reduce fabric waste and allow the flexibility of creating less product. Digital printing reduces water waste because the fabric doesn’t need as many washes and there are no screens or colourant baths that require cleaning that release harsh chemicals. Instead of forcing garment pieces to fit into a print, we can adjust a print to fit our garment pieces, reducing our overall fabric use.
When it comes to making more sustainable fashion choices invest in quality where possible, try not to follow trends and instead invest in forever pieces. Other small changes you can make in your everyday life can be cycling or walking whenever you can. Don’t buy bottled water and shop from local fruit and vegetable stores that do not use plastic packaging.
The Sustainable Shopper edit: Valle & Vik
Be the lady in red with this silky slip dress. Each style is handmade and will look just just as good with heels, as it will with a cashmere jumper and chunky boots.
Everyone needs a classic shirt in their wardrobe and this one is the glossy addition you’ll style so many ways. From jeans to a slinky midi skirt, you’ll wear it on repeat from here on out.
If you’re a fan of a co-ord then you’re in luck, these stunning printed trousers also have a matching shirt. You’ll wear these across all seasons for years to come.
The two layered silk face masks have an internal pocket so you can add your own filter. A percentage of sales from all masks also go to NHS charities.
Bring back a hint of nostalgia with the halterneck top – because jeans and a ‘nice top’ is never a bad idea. It also comes in red, too.
The classic A-line mini has been updated in Valle & Vik’s signature print. It’s one of those pieces you can take from brunch to an evening soirée in an instant.
Valle&Vik maxi dress
It may be winter but planning ahead to summer 2021 is totally acceptable. Imagine ‘The Goddess’ dress swishing around pool-side with a straw bag and sandals.
All images: Valle&Vik