In The Studio With Phoebe Dahl: Talking Sustainability & Faircloth Supply
Since 2013, Phoebe Dahl has successfully led the sustainable clothing brand, Faircloth Supply. From the start, Dahl handmade her own inventory, shot her own lookbooks, created her website, and took all orders. Now, with a growing team operating out of the LA native’s Echo Park studio, the brand is influenced by travel, artisan craft and design, and philanthropy. Faircloth Supply has roots in Nepal, San Franciso, London, and Amsterdam (to name a few). With that global worldview in mind, we chatted with the designer and artist about her dream world and how she ensures that her brand always aligns with her values.
Faircloth Supply was founded in 2013—but when did the idea come to you? Has it been a project you’ve been working on for a while?
I always knew I wanted to start a clothing company, but didn’t necessarily want to be involved in the fashion industry. After college, I worked for a designer in Amsterdam who took me on a sourcing trip to Japan and India which opened my eyes to the world of artisan craft and design. The hand embroidery, colorful textile mills and cultural influence, I immediately realized this was the inspiration I had been searching for and it gave me the push I needed to start my own company. There is so much beauty in other cultures and it’s fun to see that and bring it back in a more wearable and accessible form. When I returned from that trip, I quit my job to work full-time on a sample collection. Realizing that it was not sustainable to start in Amsterdam, I moved back to Los Angeles to officially launch Faircloth Supply in 2013.
What were the beginning steps of creating this business?
When I first launched Faircloth Supply everything was handmade by me. I designed and sewed the collection, did my own photography, took orders, created the website and made every piece to order. People starting hearing about what we were doing and our work in Nepal, business started to pick up, and I realized I couldn’t continue to be a one woman show and that it was time to bring on outside production and keep inventory.
In what ways does your brand transcend the boundaries of a traditional brand?
Before I started Faircloth Supply, there was a stigma about organic clothing or companies with a philanthropic angle that they were crunchy granola. I wanted to change people’s minds, that you can buy cool clothing that is sustainable and promotes global change and knew ultimately that’s what would allow us to help more individuals.
You studied in SF and London, what aspects of those cities have worked their way into Faircloth Supply?
The pieces I design for Faircloth Supply are made to be worn globally so I pull inspiration from places that I travel as well as places I’ve called home, including San Francisco and London. Cool, comfortable clothes are essential no matter what sector of the world you’re living in and that can be seen throughout each of Faircloth Supply’s collections.
Why have you chosen to be based in Los Angeles?
I grew up in Los Angeles so it has always been a special place for me. As much as I love Amsterdam, I knew it wasn’t where I would be able to grow my business and I wanted to have easy access to textiles and local manufacturing. Also, being a native Angeleno, I loved having a support system nearby while I was just starting out!
Can you walk us through your brand’s sustainable practices?
Everything from Faircloth Supply is manufactured ethically in Los Angeles and is made with deadstock fabric from a huge warehouse in downtown Los Angeles. We stick to natural fibers like linens and cottons and I am very hands on with our factory in LA so I always know how our workers are being treated. We plan to move our production to India for spring where we will be working with artisans to expand the impact we are making globally.
What is your design process like?
I start with an inspiration board, then color. It’s rare that we use prints so color is always the main focus. A lot of my work is inspired by travel and other cultures so I pull a lot of ideas from that. In India specifically, I was inspired by the religious outfits that I saw and that’s where our drop crotch pant evolved from.
In what other ways does this focus on sustainability weave its way through your personal life?
I want Faircloth Supply to inspire a sustainable lifestyle, not just with getting dressed in the morning, and I have sustainability in mind when doing everything from decorating my home to cooking my meals. When I travel I love to bring back pieces for my own home and have also recently started putting them on our site for purchase.
Fashion aside, what other sustainable brands do you love?
I’m really loving the clean and conscious skincare options from cocokind right now. For apparel, zii ropa and Industry of All Nations are two of my go-to brands.
Your team and brand is inspired by powerful women—in the current political state we are in, how do you maintain hope?
Faircloth Supply is a team of women, inspired by women, dedicated to a common goal: to end the global gender gap through empowerment and education. It’s impossible not to be inspired by all of the strong women coming together to support one another and using their platforms to speak out over the past few years. I hope we can encourage and help more women in the same way.
Your collection donates a percentage of their proceeds towards girls education in Nepal (or your customer’s charity of choice) upon checkout—why did you choose education in Nepal?
A friend of mine has an organization in Nepal called The B Project which is a sewing school where women create the uniforms that girls are required to wear to school for primary education. Through her, I was introduced to the struggles that girls in Nepal face and knew that I wanted to get involved. For most of these girls, a school uniform is the only thing that stands between them and an education and, as I mentioned before, I want Faircloth Supply to inspire women dedicated to ending the global gender gap.
At Faircloth Supply, part of your mission reads, “We are your everyday dreamers, working hard towards a mutual success to create clothes that want to be worn, in a world we want to live in.” (Which we love, by the way). What do you dream about?
It’s difficult to narrow down because I’m constantly dreaming! I dream of a world where animals are treated with kindness and love, being worshipped instead of abused. A world where people live in harmony and treat one another with respect, where there are no gender, racial or sexual inequalities. These are both dreams that Faircloth Supply is working toward and our customers can choose at check-out which they would like to support with their purchase.
Stay tuned to Milk for more budding designers.