Our first interview takes place at harly jae, a Canadian slow fashion house. Designer + Founder, Laïla, from harly jae is a proud mom-to-be, a warrior who fights for love and advocates intentional living. Her acute sense of style and warm personality is apparent throughout her business. We admire her for who she is and what she stands for.
Here's our interview with Laïla, enjoy!
How did your business, harly jae, come to be?
"During my fashion studies, I discovered the ugly truth about the industry: the poor conditions in which seamstresses work in overseas and the devastating environmental footprint it is leaving on our planet. I could not see myself contributing to something that brings this much harm to our planet, so I entirely moved on from this initial career choice.
It’s only a couple years later, after finding myself unhappy in my new career, that I reconciled my relationship with fashion. I discovered a community of conscious consumers and slowly built my ethical closet. It’s during this process that I noticed a gap in the Canadian slow fashion market and decided to create harly jae.
So, harly jae is a line of feminine and vintage-inspired womenswear that was born from my desire to bring change to the fashion industry. All the garments are ethically manufactured right here in Vancouver and adopt the slow fashion framework by being timeless, versatile and made of quality fabrics."
What is your design philosophy?
"I design with purpose. When I initially started to sketch out ideas for the line, I looked at what was in my closet. Living with limited space (thanks to Vancouver’s real estate!) I had gone through many closet purges. The pieces that had made it through these purges were vintage, flattering, versatile, simple without being basics, and earth-toned. So, I applied these principles to my collection.
I also worked a full-time job at that time and hated the need to have two closets: one for work and one for play. So, my pieces are sexy without being revealing, never see-through, and can be dressed up or down. They are current but timeless and showcase your best features!"
What are you most proud of in your company?
"The amazing women who wear my clothes. They stand behind the mission just as much as I do. They got tired of having a “closet full of nothing to wear”. They have shifted their shopping habits to be more intentional and they wear clothes that reflect their values and that contribute to their conscious lifestyle. They inspire every new piece I bring to the world and I am so grateful for their commitment to making fashion more sustainable."
What’s your one favourite thing about harly jae's Signature Fabrics?
"With good care, our fabrics get better with age. In a way, you’re rewarded for all the hand washing, line drying, and ironing you do. Overtime, you end up developing a close relationship with your natural fibre garments, which I find is so special and reminiscent of how people, a couple generations ago, used to feel about their clothes."
What does the word “Sustainability” mean to you?
"It’s “quality over quantity”, “fewer better things”, “investing over meaningless spending”.
Carefully looking at your shopping habits is so important. I never buy anything on a whim anymore because I know that carefully planning out my purchases results in making intentional decisions that ensure I keep what I buy for a very long time."
What do you love the most about living in the Pacific NorthWest?
"If I can only pick one thing, it would be the proximity to the ocean. I find it healing, calming, and therapeutic. Growing up in Québec, it’s something that feels like it was always “missing from me”. I really feel at home here."
What's your vision for harly jae now and in the future?
"I want to continue to grow “intentionally slowly”, as I like to say. Since I am expecting a baby very soon, I recently hired my first full-time employee. I’m sure this will take us to new heights this year and I’m super excited to see how this new chapter unfolds. My vision for harly jae is to always provide made in Canada quality garments that empowers everyone who wears them."
How do Sömn pieces fit into your home?
"Seamlessly is the first word that came to mind when reading this question. My home is a collection of all my favourite things, and my Sömn bedding is no exception. My bed has never felt so luxurious. I know you guys put a lot of intention behind the pieces you create and that just makes my heart sings. And like the fabrics I use for my clothes, or good wine for that matter, my sheets have gotten better over time. That’s just a really nice bonus."
Why you love your Sömn bedding?
"For me, it’s all in the quality of the linen you use. As a designer, I’ve used and tested a lot of linen fabrics and I’ve become quite picky about it… Not all linen is created equal! The one you use is so beautifully textured. The weight is just right for bedding, and I love that it keeps me cool or warm depending on the season."
What's another thing you love to do outside harly jae?
"During summertime you can find me by the ocean with a good book breathing in the salty air or exploring what BC has best to offer: the views, the lakes, and the mountains. During the colder months I love spending hours at thrift stores. I find something beautifully calming in finding gems in the middle of chaos. It has taught me a thing or two about finding my inner peace in overwhelming times. And I obviously love traveling and learning about different cultures… but that’s so 2019. ;) "
We are super grateful for Laïla to share her world with us!
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