Everything You Need to Know About Silk Told By Natalija Bouropoulos
Getting to know Natalija Bouropoulos, the founding designer of Australian silk wear brand Natalija, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to ask a woman of the trade all our questions about the luxury fiber and how to make it last.
Silk is a complicated topic. Some would stress that the traditional way of obtaining the material is highly unethical, as the silkworms that produce the secretion of which the silk fiber is made are killed in the extraction process. However, some would also point to the fact that the silk fabric itself is pure, natural and biodegradable, and therefore better than, for example, synthetical alternatives from an environmental perspective.
As people are becoming more conscious about these matters – ethics, environment, sustainability – many actors are currently working to improve the ways of producing silk; both in the traditional ways and by artificial methods in laboratories (Stella McCartney shares some interesting insight on the future of silk here). Read on to find out how Natalija regards the brand’s favored fabric.
Also read: Brand to Watch: Natalija
What made you fall in love with silk in the first place?
– I love the movement of silk, its fluidity and how beautifully it hangs on the body – it’s like a natural extension of you. I admire its variety of textures and contrasts; from glossy and smooth, to a matt and grainy hand-feel. It can be an airy whisper weight for a soft, billowing silhouette, or be quite weighty for those sculptural pieces.
– It’s distinctively flattering and comfortable, soft to touch, naturally hypoallergenic and breathable. Silk is also capable of keeping you warm during winter, and cool in the hot summer months. For all these reasons, and more, we as a brand have chosen to predominantly use silk in our collections. This also means that if or when our garments end up in landfills, they will biodegrade much faster than a garment made with synthetic fibres.
Silk is also a debatable fibre – unethical even, some might say. Would you care to explain the problems of conventional silk and the farming of it to those who are not aware, and share your thoughts on these issues?
– Traditionally, silk is produced by boiling the cocoons of silkworms, unwinding the strand so the silk fibers don’t break. However, this means that the silkworm dies in the process. This conventional silk production (also unfortunately) wreaks a little havoc on the environment with needless energy waste. We’re conscious about the wastefulness that is so prevalent in the fashion industry’s production systems, and it’s very important to us that our garments are produced with the lowest possible environmental and human impact.
– With sustainable fashion being a relatively emerging concept in Australia, we wish to seek constant improvements to our practices. So our aim is to find a silk producer that shares our vision, and work with these partners to revamp our entire silk supply chain, for example: Silk made with less energy; Silk grown via Regenerative Organic farming; Silk dyed and washed with 100% recycled water and renewable energy.
How are the silk fabrics you use for your collections sourced and made, and why are they better?
– As an extension of our brand philosophy, we place a strong emphasis on improving where we source our materials and the ways in which we manufacture our collections. We have been able to trace our silk from the most ethical sources available and ensured that it’s derived from sustainable cultivation processes. The mills we work with uphold ancient traditions established centuries ago, going to great efforts to maintain the same exacting standards and sourcing their mulberry leaves from the very same fields.
Have you considered options to conventional silk, like Triacetate?
– While we predominantly use silk, we also feel it’s our moral duty to offer customers a more environmentally friendly version of our core material. So yes, we’re currently exploring other sustainable materials that have the same fluidity like silk, but are better for the environment. For example, 100% recycled polyester, or with careful sourcing, even considering using deadstock silk fabric, which has been discarded by fabric mills. Both options potentially improving the overall sustainability performance of our garments.
Congratulations on your baby! Would you say silk garments go well together with motherhood – we imagine they’re rather sensitive?
– Thank you, I’m 2 months in and cherish every moment spent with her. To wear silk every day while caring for a baby isn’t ideal, but silk is perfect for a date night with my husband. There is a feeling of effortless luxury and confidence that comes with wearing silk. Simply knowing that you are wearing something beautiful feels good, and everything begins with your thoughts. If we feel good, we smile more, are more open to new experiences, and our attitude is lifted; and I think by that, you are more empowered to be a better mother.
What are the key things to know about caring for and washing silk? Give us your best tips!
– We believe a sustainable outlook starts with emphasizing care in production, but is not complete without a long-term outlook for the clothing. Silk in itself comes with the stigma of being a high maintenance product. It’s widely known that it’s not a material that can simply be thrown in with your regular machine cycle. However, hand washing is a routine that is much easier to adopt to than you might think, and furthermore it’s a far more environmentally friendly option than dry cleaning, which utilizes strong chemicals and significant amounts of energy.
– Simple changes in the way you care for your clothing can make a big difference on the environment, as well as making sure your garments last as long as possible. Our step-by-step video and associated Silk Wash product are designed to do just that: help make your silk garments last as long as humanly possible. As well as this, here follows few tips on how to care for your silk garments.
Natalija’s Top 5 Silk Care Tips
1. Hand wash your silk inside out and use a liquid detergent in cold water.
2. Silk should be stored in a cool, dry place on a hanger.
3. Silk does not absorb odors, so often a good air will help keep garments fresh.
4. Steam or cool iron on reverse to restore your silk’s lustre.
5. When traveling, place your garment in a lingerie bag to protect it from snagging.
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