Buying an Ilio Nema garment should feel like buying an heirloom, a garment to keep in your wardrobe for years to come.
At Ilio Nema, we do not design and demand, rather we partner with our suppliers in a collaborative way. This begins with a conversation to understand what fabrics are already available. We refer to these as ‘remnant fabrics’ which are often left over from other designers' collections and destined for landfill. These fabrics are of perfect quality but are surplus to others' requirements. At Ilio Nema, we choose to use what is already available, reducing waste rather than creating more.
Occasionally, we will require a custom application such as a traditional resistance dye technique or print, and in these instances, we always opt for base fabric that is locally sourced. We want our footprint to be as light as possible.
In terms of embellishments, our philosophy is "simple is best" because every component requires resources and therefore creates carbon emissions. Unless the component is necessary, we would rather forego it. This also means our customers will have an easier task to take care of their threads and, happily, fewer trips to the dry cleaner.
We have decided to create our first collection using cotton only.
30% of pieces were made on a handloom using cotton, and cut by hand, as one of a kind;
40% was made on a handloom using BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) cotton; and
30% was made from a patchwork of remnant cotton voile.
We use only natural fibres and mostly natural techniques, because we are aligned with nature. We believe in going back to basics; slowing the process down to appreciate the art of hand craft. Traditional artisanal techniques require fewer machines which means a lesser impact on the environment.
Sustainable materials avoid the misuse of resources such as water, agricultural land, fossil fuels, energy and fauna, and in turn they reduce the environmental impact of each Ilio Nema piece.
While conventional cotton still has a big environmental impact there are more sustainable options such as organically produced cotton, BCI and remnant cotton fabrics.
Our pieces are created using the most sustainable fibres we can source. We love cotton because it offers premium quality, soft textured fabrics that our customers will cherish. It is breathable, comfortable, and easy to care for.
Natural fibres make sense. Even more so when the yarn has been hand-woven by our partner artisans and turned into rich, buttery-soft fabric.
We aim to create as little waste as possible.
Firstly we make sure our packaging is fit for purpose to protect your threads and to avoid unnecessary excess. We know that 85% of landfill is composed of soft plastic and we do not want to add to this harmful damage. We have taken the opportunity to use fabric off-cuts from our collection to create cloth bags for our packaging. The hang-tags are made from recycled cardboard and a cotton thread and finally a compostable shipping bag is used to complete the packaging process.
From factory to warehouse, we have decided against the traditional shipping method (one garment per bag). Ilio Nema will ship multiple garments within one compostable plastic bag.
Naturally, our aim is to become carbon neutral. We are already taking the following steps:
1. Consolidating shipments and we purchase the carbon neutral offset with DHL every time we ship; and
2. Use of Shippit and other local carbon neutral delivery services.
The Circular Economy, in which objects are continuously circulated rather than ending up in landfill, is an important topic that we continuously research. We also want to learn from Indigenous communities, who have been involved in this process for millenia.
In order to create garments that will be long-cherished, we are focusing on the following:
We believe that the best thing we can do to ensure we have as little impact on our planet as possible is to ensure our garments are made to the highest quality. We will therefore always focus on quality over quantity.
In the cutting process, a fabric is typically layered over and over again. An automated cutting machine slices into many layers of fabric, but, of course, this causes the fabric to skew and ends up making the garment sit oddly on the customer’s body. We have therefore decided to cut our fabrics just one layer at a time to ensure optimum comfort and best quality.
In contrast to fast fashion brands that produce hundreds of thousands of pieces of the same style, we limit our production to small quantities because we understand that our customers want unique and exclusive garments. Additionally, the production of only a small run of pieces will reduce waste and the chances of dealing with leftovers.
It's been estimated that 70% of the carbon emissions created during the life of a typical cotton T-shirt are due to washing and drying the garments. That represents emissions of more than double the amount generated in its production. So if we can help our customers care for their threads then we can reduce our environmental impact quite significantly. We also know that if our garments are well cared for, their lifecycle is extended and landfill pressure is eased.
There are several ways for you to consider extending the life of your Ilio Nema garment -
1. Darning is useful and can be a meditative practice that respects the environment.
2. Pass it on to a friend or family member who you know would appreciate it.
3. Donate it to a charity.
4. Search out swapping events.
5. Sell your pre-loved garments through online platforms or designer consignment stores.