Fairly-made, zero-waste women’s wear, out to prove that “every thread matters.”
Intentionality. Of all the words that come to mind when I look at the amazing brand tonlé, intentionality tops the list.
They have thought of everything when it comes to human rights and environmental ethics—to a level that might surprise even the most seasoned ethical shopper.
tonlé, a zero-waste women’s apparel brand, believes that “every thread matters,” and when they say every thread, they mean every literal thread.
These products are impressive by themselves. Their chic, simple, unique women’s wear—shirts, dresses, shorts, jewelry, accessories—are great-looking and good quality. But the impact of tonlé goes way beyond well-made and good-looking clothes. So what exactly sets them apart?
tonlé began in 2009 as an effort to provide both fair employment opportunities to artisans in Cambodia and fairly-priced ethical clothing to consumers. Ten years later, tonlé employs 30 people in their Phnom Penh, Cambodia workshop.
This team is a group of people “brought together by the common belief that garment manufacturing can mean more than the exploitation of people and resources. That fashion can (and should) feel good, look good, and do good at the same time.”
(It’s no wonder tonlé is a DoneGood-approved brand. I mean, with that attitude, we were meant to be.)
All tonlé team members earn fair wages and benefits, including a vacation package, free lunch, training opportunities, and team retreats. Team members are also trained in several different aspects of the production so they have the opportunity to rise up into management positions.
And if you want to know which of their amazing, talented, fairly-paid artisans made your clothes, you can! Each item on their website lists the names of the workers who make that particular item.
I told you, they’re all about intentionality, baby!
tonlé believes that clothes that are ethical for people also need to be sustainable for the planet.
Remember their motto that “every thread matters?” They take that literally. tonlé is a zero-waste company, and that means that even the tiniest scraps of leftover fabric from their bigger projects are upcycled (and upcycled again!) to make something beautiful.
They begin their manufacturing process by using leftover fabric—that’s still in perfect condition—from large clothing manufacturers. Using careful cutting techniques, artisans are meticulous to utilize as much of the fabric as possible when making their pieces.
Of course, there’s always going to be some leftover scraps, but tonlé artisans weave those scraps into a special kind of yarn that is used in their handmade jewelry and accessories.
Upcycling scraps into yarn—that’s eco-friendly enough, right? tonlé thinks not. Their workers then use the tiny little scraps and fuzz leftover from the process of upcycling yarn to produce a special, handmade paper.
For those keeping score at home, that means that tonlé has upcycled the same fabric three different times!
But their eco-friendliness doesn’t stop there. They have thought through everything, including a solar-powered workshop, sustainable notions (buttons and zippers), and 100% recycled and recyclable packaging, and natural, non-toxic dyes for their products. Here’s the real kicker—they even use their leftover, natural dye as fertilizer for their garden (of course they do. It’s tonlé!)
To help you see the environmental impact that you’re making when you shop with tonlé, each item on their website comes with a graphic of how many days of drinking water you’re helping save by purchasing that tonlé item versus a conventional fast fashion garment.
Ethical manufacturing is all well and good, but it’s got to produce a product you want to wear, right? I think that tonlé has that taken care of. From beautiful, colorful woven tops to fun tie-dyed dresses, this brand truly cares about making products you look and feel good in.
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tonlé acknowledges that their process requires a lot more time and effort, but they believe their products—handmade with the highest degree of intentionality—are worth it. Give them a try and we bet you’ll agree!
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