It has been, and will remain, a steep learning curve for us. Establishing our own brand and acknowledging that we were going to be bringing new creations into this world, really forced us to articulate what our core values are. The last thing we wanted was to spend our time adding more meaningless stuff to a world that is overflown with waste. We wanted to prove to ourselves and others that it IS possible to make beautiful things that have a positive impact on the makers, the people who buy and use the product, as well as the environment and animals that support us in this process. Thinking about these things our priorities became clear and it brought our values into focus, which was an enriching experience.
>What's your typical day like?
We don't really have a typical day. There's one constant: Johanna is a night owl and I'm an early bird. So there's only a couple hours a day where we are both in a productive state at the same time, we try to take full advantage of that window of opportunity.
>What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Don't be shy about what you believe in.
>What are your thoughts on today's fashion cycle?
First, the last decades we have come to believe that clothing is a product that ought to be cheap, and ought to be something we can all easily purchase whenever we feel like it. As a result we are careless with clothes, and we don't stop to think about them; do we really like the design, does it fit my personality, I wonder who made it, where did the wool come from? Let's be clear: it is simply not possible to make ethically responsible clothes at dumping prices, nor should that be the goal of the industry, and I feel that both industry and consumers are still unwilling to accept this. They want sustainable clothes at the same prices, but to that end corners WILL be cut and people, animals and nature WILL be the collateral damage. Another side effect of this fast, cheap fashion is that clothes often completely lost their soul and have become meaningless products.
>How do you believe the fast fashion industry can begin to fix itself?
As long as there are no global, binding political agreements to enforce fair and environmentally friendly practices it is up to each individual to decide for themselves what kind of business they want to create. Where do you want to put your energy? What do you want to put into this world? Fortunately more and more designers are thinking about these things and creating a positive example of how positive change can be made.
>What brands do you look up to?
From a sustainability standpoint the concepts of brands like LN Knits, Eileen Fisher and Asket are interesting. Sydney Brown is a pretty amazing sustainable brand! From a purely esthetical point of view we love everything that comes out of The Row.
>What advice do you have for other designers interested in sustainability?
Be curious about your product. Look deeply into the raw materials and resources that you use, because they touched other people’s lives before getting to you. Don't forget that as a designer you are but one link in a long chain that will result in your beautiful design. Unfortunately the fashion industry and social media put ALL the focus on the designers or the models wearing the designs, completely ignoring the fact that they are but a small parts of the production chain. Think critically, be bold and think about money not only as a means to provide a living for yourself, but also as a way to contribute to positive change.
>And now for some fun stuff. If you weren't a designer, what would you be?
Johanna would be a secluded artist making crazy paintings in her basement at night and be a professional haircolorist by day. Laure would be (and might still become) a sheep herder.
>Who would you love to see wearing Ida & Volta?
Never really thought about that one... Lara Chedraoui and Dalila Hermans come to mind.
Emma Watson would also look pretty good in our stuff.
>Where do you like to shop?
Second hand and at "In Level 5" in Leuven. We love the shop’s holistic approach and their owners are really lovely people. They have our entire collection in store and love to tell our story to their customers.
>What is your most favorite thing to wear?
Baggy pants and oversized second hand men’s shirts.
>How do you wear your values?
>How can we, as individuals, help support the growth of a better way of doing a business? What kind of impact can we have as individuals and as communities?
Every person has the freedom to choose how to treat other people, animals and the nature around them—this extends to the freedom to choose where to put your money. Money has generally gotten this bad rep, but we forget that money can also be used as fuel for creating and supporting the good. So that's something we can do: think about what you put your money towards and if you feel good about it. Educate yourself and inform others, but don't be too hard on yourself or others, it's not a competition. Let's all try to do what we can to make small but significant changes that make you feel good.
> What convinced you to choose Solid?
The personality of the company: Solid put effort into a personal relationship with us, listened to our needs and ideas and answered all our questions honestly. Because Solid is intensively present on site, we can be confident that everything is done correctly and Solid clearly has a strong passion for what they do.
> Do you have your own favourite from the collection?
The oversized long shirt from assam eri peace silk "Cocoon shirtdress" is our top favourite!
> What inspires you?
People who dare to say what they stand for. And humor.
> What is the meaning behind your label’s name?
Ida & Volta in Portuguese means "back and forth". The name symbolises our holistic vision of a circular creation process. We believe that we should go back to the "roots" of the creation process (raw material, farmers, animals, keeping heritage crafts alive...) to inspire sustainable change towards the future. Why Portuguese? Laure has recently moved to Portugal and Johanna has an emotional bond with Brazil.
> What is your specific approach or concept?
We work exclusively with material that we can trace 100% back to its origin, i.e. the plant/farmer/animal that provides us with the valuable raw material... This is the only way to ensure that our principles such as animal welfare, fair price and respect for people and the environment have been respected. And it is the prerequisite for an ethical product and structural change.
Furthermore, our policy of 100% is quite unique: we make a point of proactively explaining where the raw material comes from, why we make or don't make certain choices, etc. In the future, we would even like to make a kind of price breakdown, because our customers are welcome to know how the price of their garment comes about.
> What idea do you start from?
Fashion is not only the story of self-expression, fantasy, creativity and beauty, it is also the story of soil, farmers, water and animals. Fashion is political.
> What drives you?
Producing ethically responsible clothes is fully feasible and has an impact on many levels. Just like the food on our plates, it is important that we get to know where it comes from, who worked for it and what the impact is on people and the environment. All our choices and actions have consequences, you can see that as a burden, or you can see it as an opportunity.
> What do you hope to share with those who purchase your garments and bring it intimately into their lives?
Something that is made with respect for all those involved translates into true elegance. We hope people are proud to wear what we made for them. We hope to inspire them to express their thruth, in this case through the clothes they choose to wear on their bodies.
Buy their beautiful pieces at inLevel5 Leuven or online at www.idavolta.eu/shop