The sustainable fashion story stops before it starts for most people because of the single biggest misconceived notion- sustainable Fashion is either boring or over priced. We bet the minute we said sustainable fashion you thought of boring, dull pieces in all shades of brown! Well UrbanMeisters.com is out to prove to you that sustainable fashion is sexy & affordable. With regular fashion features we try to bring the spotlight on funsustainable fashion brands that are making gorgeous sustainable clothing for all occasions- from ethical active wear to leisure clothes and everyday fashion! And today’s spotlight is on TAMGA- a brand that was established on the very same two fundamental premises- is it too expensive to produce a socially and environmentally responsible piece of clothing? Does style have to be sacrificed for this responsibility
THE ECO FASHION STORY OF TAMGA
TAMGA Designs was founded by Yana Barankin & Eric Dales in the capital of the dark fashion underbelly Dhaka in 2014. The couple were working in the field of international development and saw first hand how many big and small fashion brands were flouting all norms of ethical management and getting fast fashion produced in disturbing conditions by ‘cheap’ labour. That was a turning point for both Eric & Yana. They decided to give the fashion industry a positive example of sustainable clothing which is good to wear in aesthetics and ethics!
They started TAMGA with a small group of tailors in Dhaka, who benefited from good wages, a clean working environment, and professional training. And the consumer response to their first endeavours proved to them that people were ready for a responsible fashion option that didn’t break the bank or cramp their style. In 2016, TAMGA Designs moved to Indonesia to scale-up and produce a full line of clothing. Joined by the amazingly talented designer Anna Valero Domenech, the team travelled the islands of Indonesia meeting suppliers, artisans, and organizations. The result is an innovative, responsible and quality-driven supply chain that is based on shared goals for the future. The TAMGA tribe is stronger than ever, and the future is bright! Let’s meet Yana Barankin for a tête-à-tête on their journey so far……
So what inspired you to start TAMGA Designs? How did it all begin?
Well my fiancé and myself are originally from Toronto, Canada, but we lived and worked in Bangladesh for three years. We saw the conditions in which many Western brands are manufactured, and knew that fashion could do so much better. Consumers back home simply aren’t given enough information to make an educated purchasing decision.
So we decided to do something about it! We started TAMGA Designs in Bangladesh as an experiment, to prove that great fashion can be produced in a responsible way. We began selling on Esty and soon enough, the demand outgrew our little supply chain. We eventually quit our full-time jobs and set out to Indonesia to scale our supply chain and become more environmentally accountable for the clothing we produce.
We spent 8 months traveling through Indonesia on a pretty epic search for the right suppliers. The result is our Dreamweaver collection, made entirely of sustainable fabrics, and using low-impact and natural dyes. The entire supply chain is shared on website, and our journey has been documented on our Instagram @tamgadesigns.
What’s the story behinde the name TAMGA?
The TAMGA name actually stems from my mother’s side of the family, who has Crimean Tartars roots. The ‘TAMGA‘ is an abstract seal or stamp used by Eurasian nomadic peoples such as the Tatars, usually as a mark of a particular tribe.
At TAMGA Designs we are all travellers, inspired by different cultures and traditions and people – TAMGA is like the seal of our modern tribe.
What is the design philosophy behind TAMGA?
Our bedrock is sustainability. That seeps into everything we design- from fabric to form. But we believe strongly in designing fashion that is functional without compromising on style. And lastly each collection is an ‘inspired’ collection drawing from stories we gather along the way on travels, meeting new artisans and encountering new experiences.
What is the inspiration behind the Dreamweaver collection?
Dreamweaver was inspired by the beauty and rich culture of the Indonesian islands. We spent a number of months visiting remote villages all over the country to learn about their textile traditions. Inspiration was around every corner to be honest, but we were especially moved by the batik wax dyeing and ikat weaving techniques. Our Dreamweaver prints are based on these amazing art forms.
The inspiration really comes to life in our premium line, which incorporates actual hand-made textiles from weaving cooperatives and natural indigo dye from Indonesia. We only produced a small amount in each style so each piece is truly one-of-a-kind!
That sounds really cool, how do you source the hand-made textiles from Indonesian artists?
We have partnered with Threads of Life to source the materials for our premium line, an organization focused on poverty reduction and the preservation of Indonesia’s textile heritage. Threads of life works with remote weaving and dyeing cooperatives across Indonesia, providing a market for artisans and, in turn, keeping their textile traditions alive. Their knowledge of Indonesia and passion for their work is super inspiring; we’re stoked to be working together.
We’re curious about the eco-friendly fabrics that TAMGA uses, can you tell us more about them?
At TAMGA Designs, we believe that great design can’t exist without great materials. We use only sustainable fabrics that are as good in feel and style as they are for the planet.
The majority of TAMGA clothing is made from woven and knit TENCEL®, a fibre that’s harvested from eucalyptus forests that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Over 99% of the solvents and water used in producing TENCEL® are recycled in a closed loop process, and it uses 10-20 times less water than cotton. The best part though is that the fabric is light, flowy and feels amazing on your skin. It’s a win-win for the planet and fashion.
We also use Lenzing’s Modal which comes from beechwood. While other Modal has contributed to clear cutting of forests and the dispersal of harmful chemicals into the environment, this fabric is made from 100% sustainable forests with over 95% of water and solvents being recycled in the process of production. Many people don’t know how much deforestation is caused by the production of rayon fabrics – the incredible Leuser rainforest in Sumatra, home to several endangered species, is being severely threatened by a combination of rayon and palm oil production. It’s very important to choose rayons that are made from responsibly harvested wood.
Our Men’s Tees are made from GOTS certified organic cotton from Bhamedi Farmer Group in Gujarat, India. The label ‘organic’ really goes deeper than the fact that it’s grown without the use of pesticides and chemicals – the seeds used are also GMO-free, maintaining biodiversity in the soil where it’s grown. These tees are super soft, light and comfortable, we like the feel of it much more than conventional cotton!
[Yana Barankin, Co-Founder of TAMGA Designs wearing the Novi Jumpsuit]
So what’s being tailored now at TAMGA?
We’ve launched the TAMGA Kickstarter campaign because we have such a unique product and story to share! We already use Kicktarter to find for innovative products that are pushing the envelope in their respective industries; it’s a great way to connect with people who are looking for progressive products. We want to garner support from crowdfunding for scaling production and reaching out to more and more green stylish fashion lovers.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs who want to get into the sustainable fashion space?
Just go for it!
It’s an on-going learning curve and but it will open your eyes to possibilities in fashion you never thought could exist. There is so much innovation happening in the industry right now, from natural and synthetic fibres to low-impact dyes and energy-saving manufacturing processes. It’s a very exciting time. However, for this innovation to continue we need consumers to continue to vote with their dollars! As long as there is a demand for responsible fashion, manufacturers and brands will respond.
Thank you Yana! Now that is a truly inspiring journey and spirit! TAMGA is really making a mark in the eco fashion space. They’ve been picked up by various marketplaces and consumer response has been extremely encouraging. Their clothes have a story to tell with a strong aesthetic. You can view their complete product range on TAMGA kickstart campaign page.
So go ahead and support the campaign. We’ll be scouting for more eco fashion brands for you and if you have any suggestions then write in on firstname.lastname@example.org