SiiZU: Affordable, Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Fashion
Since their launch in Summer 2016, New York-based fashion label SiiZU has been rapidly garnering rave reviews for their fresh take on the sustainable fashion concept, as they manage to provide customers with designer-brand quality clothing that is both comfortable to wear and wallet-friendly. With SiiZU, the current expectation of paying a hefty premium for responsibly manufactured clothing from retailers is firmly a concept of the past.
In their continuous effort on countering our effects on the ecosystem, SiiZU donates generously to help American Forest reach its' goal of planting 2.7 million trees across 44 projects nationally this year to restore and protect critical wildlife habitat.
What made you start Siizu?
We started SiiZU based around the idea that if given the choice between a stylish dress and a stylish eco-friendly dress, most people will opt for the stylish eco-friendly dress if they are similarly priced. However,that is still not currently the case, with sustainable fashion brands often-times being more expensive thantheir non-eco counterpart. With fast fashion companies dominating the fashion world, we wanted to challenge the status-quo and try to do just that - bring beautiful pieces of sustainable clothing to our customers at an affordable price range.
What is behind the name ’Siizu‘?
SiiZU is a combination of the Finnish term “sisu”, which represents bravery and steel-like determination, and the Japanese term “Shizu”, which carries the meaning of a quiet, serene and clear world. These qualities combined truly represent our philosophy perfectly.
Why did you choose ethical manufacturing and sustainability for SiiZU?
We started SiiZU based around the idea that if given the choice between a stylish dress and a stylish eco- friendly dress, most people will opt for the stylish eco-friendly dress if they are similarly priced. However, that is still not currently the case, with sustainable fashion brands often-times being more expensive than their non-eco counterpart.
With fast fashion companies dominating the fashion world, we wanted to challenge the status-quo and try to do just that - bring beautiful pieces of sustainable clothing to our customers at an affordable price range.
What did the process look like?
At the beginning, our team spent nearly a year sourcing and establishing relationship with only the best factories and fabric suppliers around the world. We have visited every factory in person in order to make sure that our partners will hold the same ethical principles and beliefs as we do. When sourcing, we have also intentionally selected the fabric suppliers that were in close proximity to our manufacturing factories in order to minimize the carbon footprint caused by transportation.
Meanwhile, our design team in New York are not only focused on creating beautiful and timeless designs and patterns, they also consciously utilize the fabric to its full potential in order to minimize waste fabric during production.
What hard decisions have you had to make to stay ethical and sustainable?
Our dedication of using exclusively 100% eco-friendly fabric has made our sourcing process that much more complex. Polyester is the world's most popular fabric, and the price difference between a sweater made with 100% wool versus one made with 95% wool + 5% nylon can be vast. While many brands would settle for this polyester blended fabric, we were dedicated to spending the extra time on sourcing for only 100% eco fabrics from the few reputable factories across Asia.
Another difficult decision that we have to face constantly was our promise of not working with wholesalers in order to keep the markups low and pass on the savings to our customers. Many resellers around the world have already requested to stock our collection, and our competitors certainly do gain an advantage in brand awareness as they have a long stock list.
However, we believe in what we do – we maintain that our goal of delivering high quality and sustainable clothing at an affordable price will flourish with our customers.
What are your main aims of Siizu?
Here at SiiZU, we work hard everyday to deliver on the idea that sustainable, high quality apparel can also be affordable.
We're not satisfied with simply bringing 100% natural fabrics to our customers; we are also dedicated to finding new ways to deliver our concept at an approachable price point, such as cutting out the middlemenand selling our products directly to our customers.
Do you have any advice to other brands interested in doing the same?
Loving and believing in what you do really helps. As a young startup, we also have learned that keeping things simple is very important. Lastly, don't forget to keep your promises - because your customers care.
What inspires your collections the most?
Our designs are based on these three main elements – classic, minimalistic, and natural.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Just as is the case for any startups businesses, the beginning of SiiZU was also full of challenges. A closementor of mine once consoled me with a simple story about how bamboo trees come about. For years, a bamboo tree would never grow taller than a few inches tall, always staying low on the ground and would barely be recognizable as a plant, let alone a tree. After 3-4 years, however, that little bamboo bud would suddenly explode upward, growing meters high everyday. In truth, while the unassuming bamboo bud stayed low on the ground for the first few years, it was actually growing an infinite web of roots all the meanwhile. The lack of results does not mean that there's no progress.
Where do you see SiiZU in the future?
When the term “eco-fashion” comes up, most people currently may think of brands such as Eileen Fisher or Reformation. In five years time, we hope that Siizu will be the name that people think of first when they think of chic and affordable eco fashion.