“The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, after oil, and is also responsible for countless human rights violations, so for us it was a necessity, rather than a choice, to build a fashion website which was responsible,” Kelly Elkin, the co-founder of Well Made Clothes, tells us.
“Furthermore, the current fast fashion industry model is unsustainable, and I genuinely believe people are starting to realise that and to move away from it, so it just made sense to reflect the needs and wants of future generations of fashion lovers, too.”
As feminists, we understand we live in a world which is more difficult for women to achieve success, especially in business, than it is for men.
It was just last year when Kelly Elkin and Courtney Sanders decided to pool their respective talents into Well Made Clothes – an ethically minded e-commerce store that stocks brands like Fillippa K, Nobody Denim and Hunter the Label, and easily tracks both the environmental and ethical impact of the pieces for customers. No piece makes it onto the site without meeting at least one of the eight Well Made Clothes values: products must be local, handcrafted, while the production must transparent, fair and observant of gender equality, as well as brands that are sustainable and producing minimal waste. And there’s not a pair of shibori harem pants in sight.
Far from being their first taste of entrepreneurship, these ladies are no strangers to savvy, socially conscious projects: in addition to Well Made Clothes, Courtney is the former editor-in-chief, now creative director, of Catalogue magazine, and Kelly is also the co-founder of organic clothing brand ALAS, as well as Clean Cut Fashion Association – a non-profit advocating for a more positive impact fashion industry.
Well Made Clothes was the result of a perfect balance of industry strengths.
“I come from the content background, and I knew I wanted to connect information about responsible fashion with the ability to shop responsible fashion, and Kelly came from the production supply chain and ethical background, and she schooled me in understanding this stuff so I could cover it confidently in content,” Courtney says. “[She] also created the ethical framework of the site (our 8 Well Made Clothes Values) so we could be confident the brands we were stocking were actually being responsible in the areas we represented them as being.”
The project shifted from idea to reality once the pair secured a Walkley’s Innovation in Journalism Grant, for the content sister site, Catalogue.
“We decided that if we won, we’d start Well Made Clothes, and we won, so we started it.”
Along with Catalogue team member Rosis Dalton, the site is as much of a content destination as it is a shopping one. And while sourcing clothing that is both “well-designed” as well as ethically conscious is still a struggle admits Courtney, the contemporary brands featured on the site speak for themselves. As does their support of female entrepreneurs.
“I think that our success as a business so far is due to our different perspectives combined with a shared goal to do good.”
“As feminists, we understand we live in a world which is more difficult for women to achieve success, especially in business, than it is for men,” Courtney explains, “so we applaud and try to support all women, like ourselves, who are trying to run their own businesses… a lot of the independent labels we stock are designed and owned by young women.”
As for these two young women, it’s this same support and appreciation for each other’s strengths that have helped them build their own sound business partnership.
“I think that our success as a business so far is due to our different perspectives combined with a shared goal to do good,” Kelly says of their stellar partnership. “We both have such different skill sets and experience, which combined complement each other well. We are both critical thinkers (and perhaps quite opinionated too) so we are always questioning each other’s ideas, this ensures every concept is properly developed and watertight before it goes to the next level.”