Interview with Morgan Hamel, fashion ethicist and founder of The Garment

Vinita SrivastavaFTA Blog

What inspired you to create a capsule wardrobe for yourself and then inspire others to do the same?

When I was on maternity leave with our first daughter, I took a sewing class. In that class, I sewed her a little dress, and in doing so experienced first-hand the effort it takes to create a single garment. The choosing of the pattern, the tracing, the cutting, the sewing, the pinning, the stitching – I couldn’t believe the work involved. And yet I loved it. I loved the ‘slowing down’, and seeing my daughter wear something that I made with my own two hands.

At the same time, I recognized that I was spending a lot of time and money shopping. Yet I didn’t love many of my clothes. Nor did I have a true sense of my own style. I learnt about the Capsule Wardrobe concept through the blog Unfancy and it just felt like a natural fit.

 

How should one go about preparing a capsule wardrobe, or getting ready for the FTA 10×10 Challenge?

I’ve developed a four part program to support women as they build their own capsule wardrobes, and it consists of the following steps: plan, pare, part and purchase.

(If you’ve got a lot of hesitations around the capsule in the first place, maybe you need to back up and read FTA’s blog busting 6 commonly held myths about the capsule wardrobe.)

While there’s a lot to be said on each of the steps, the one that’s most relevant for FTA members thinking of trying the 10×10 challenge is step 1: Plan.

First, choose a colour scheme. This matters because when your closet is small, it’s important that the garments you have complement one another. While I like my overall palette to be relatively neutral, I also like to have a couple of outliers to keep things lively.  

Then, consider the types of clothes you have in your closet, and pay attention to which garments can be mixed and matched. I have done the 10×10 challenge several times now and I have learned to select items that can be worn a variety of ways. For example, having a button down as part of the mix is a great idea: it can be layered under dresses, knotted with high-waisted pants, or worn undone over a graphic tee.

Another key thing to consider when building a capsule or trying out the concept with the 10×10 challenge is what clothes you need for your life. For example, if you’re a mom who works part time, you’ll want to make sure to include pieces for the office as well as clothes that can be worn for play dates with the kids.

Lots of people wonder how “fancy” clothes play into the capsule equation. I don’t include dresses for weddings or special occasions in my capsule, but of course people should do whatever feels right. For example, If you’ll be participating in dressier Easter activities this upcoming long weekend, I wouldn’t suggest including a special Easter outfit in your 10×10 picks just to make it part of the challenge. Go ahead and wear your outfit, then get back to the 10×10 after your events.

Feel like you need a worksheet to map this out? Check out this great one from Lee Vosburgh of Style Bee, originator of the 10×10 capsule (Did you know she’s from Guelph, Ontario?) 

Why is it so important to you that you connect with ethical brands? Can you share some of your favourites?

Since the advent of fast fashion, the fashion industry has evolved into one which centers on the mass consumption of low quality, trend-based clothing. This has had significant negative impacts, not only for the earth, but for the people who make our clothes.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are so many incredible companies out there who are making good quality, stylish, responsibly made clothes that are more functional and beautiful than people would believe. The challenge is that many people don’t know where to find them. That’s where I come in. As an ethicist and capsule wardrober, I’m uniquely situated to connect women and responsible brands, and feel grateful to be able to do it. You can find me at www.thegarment.ca, or on Instagram @thegarmentlife.

 


We’ve seen that you’ve offered a curated selection of wardrobe essentials to your followers in the past. What are your favourite brands to work with for this – what kind of items did you include? And are people still able to order them through you?

People tell me that once they’ve been introduced to responsible and good quality brands, the two biggest barriers to making a purchase are cost and fit. Through The Garment Virtual Pop-Up Shop series, we remove these barriers by providing people with a discount code as well as detailed notes on size and fit.

If you’ve realised that you’re missing some pieces in your capsule, or have been looking for a quality and ethically made piece to fill a gap in your day-to-day wardrobe, I’ve curated a selection of Capsule Essentials. You can find my pics for pieces and responsible makers at The Garment Pop Up.  

We have a pop-up series running April 6-10. The brands that will be featured include:

I think that this model can be used to shift the fashion paradigm and am excited about the power of it to result in significant change. In order to track this progress, every sale from the pop-up will be tracked towards The Garment’s #1000garmentgoal – a goal to connect women and 1000 responsibly made garments in 2017. (Use the code: 1000GARMENTS for 10% site-wide on all brands listed above.)

I’ll be participating in the #FTA10x10 and look forward to seeing what pieces you pick.  Happy planning!

Morgan Hamel is a fashion ethicist and capsule wardrobist based in Calgary. She is passionate about connecting women and responsible brands, and does this through online pop-up shops of responsible brands, as well as through Capsule Wardrobe Workshops.