Organic cotton basics are the hippest fashion trend in the world right now. It just so happens that two friends and dreamers, Charlotte Lane-Tobin and Tess Fitzgibbons, are at the cutting edge of it - right up to the lush Kapiti Coast at Raumati Beach.
You might not have heard of Bones Style Club - yet. But GIRL (OR BOY) this brand is worth knowing about. Bones Style Club is the business of two besties - Tess and Charlotte. Together they've worked long hours and hustled their cute tushies off to get people onto buying organic cotton basics which they sew themselves at their home in Raumati, where they also flat together.
These girls have a partnership based on friendship first, a love of fashion and a common set of values. They believe in tracing their cloth back to an ethical source which does minimal damage to the environment and our body. As a result, their fabrics are all sourced locally and each piece is lovingly crafted.
After our first hilarious encounter in which I managed to pour 200 gms of sea salt all over our chips at Floriditas (to which they fell about laughing), I wanted to see where they made the pieces for their collection. So, inspired by my recent blog post where I headed out of Wellington to the Wairarapa in one of their dresses, I asked my friends from Wellington Eco Car Hire company Mevo to team up with me again so I could visit Tess and Charlotte and find out why they chose to start a company making organic basics from Wellington (also - we really wanted an excuse to get back on the open road in that fine, fine electric Audi Hybrid *heart eye emoji*). Quick plug: Mevo is so fantastic because you can pick a car up for hire from Chaffers Dock Wellington, take it out for the day, knowing that you can drive it wherever around Wellington, and drop it off again when you reach the evening. The Residents hearts Mevo.
In a nutshell...
WHAT IS BONES STYLE CLUB?
New Zealand based label Bones Style Club is designed, cut and created from the workroom of the girls in Raumati. Each piece is made with love from fabric that is hand-picked from local stores and garments are made to order to suit the specific needs of every individual. The cotton and merino is locally spun. It really doesn't get much better than that.
WHY SHOULD I CARE? AREN'T THEY JUST ANOTHER CLOTHES MAKER?
The main benefit of organic materials is that the crops aren’t treated with pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and Genetically Modified Organisms. These toxins are harmful to farmers and workers, us as consumers, and entire wildlife eco-systems. And yet, less than one percent of all cotton grown is organic. If you are an animal lover, care about what goes on your body or are concerned with the welfare of others, take note: wearing organic fabrics has a major positive impact on your health and the health of our planet. Bones Style Club does all this as well as the fact that they make all their clothes in Wellington - so by buying from these guys, you're buying to support local talent. In addition, each piece is made to order.
Now that is better than Zara.
ARE THEY HUGE?
While it has been more or less simply Tess and Charlotte making Bones Style Club, these guys are on the cust of an exciting movement towards looking at the supply chain more carefully. It is changing the way we pick our clothes in the same way we now choose to buy our pork or chicken free-range. Also, their basics are to die for. Watch this space!
WHAT WOULD I KNOW THEM FOR OUTSIDE OF BONES STYLE CLUB?
Both girls hold down these jobs as full-time work, as well as growing Bones Style Club which makes them even more super-girl-boss in my eyes. Tess is a teacher and Charlotte has been a social worker with youth and currently manages a local charity store. Their hard-working attitude and desire to chase their passion shines through in their funny and quirky personalities, always laughing and making fun of themselves.
HOW DID THEY GET HERE?
Tess is from the Tutukaka Coast near Whangarei, although she finished studying at high school in Wanaka. She came to Wellington to study a Bachelor of Arts and then teaching. However, she has a history of fashion in the family. "My grandmother was in the sewing factory in Levin and so was my mum, so sewing has been passed through our bloodline" Tess explains when I ask where her love for design came from.
Charlotte, on the other hand, is from Waikane, although has moved around. "I always really loved design but I was discouraged from doing it as a subject at University," she says over tea at the workroom in Raumati. "I did psychology and ended up going down the social-worker route. I travelled to Canada and was always drawing and sewing on the side. It was after I returned from Canada that another friend and I founded Bones Style Club. We wanted a bigger project" says Charlotte.
The former co-founder later stepped back after having children and not long after Tess came on board the company. Tessa had just been to Japan and came back inspired by the level of care the Japanese have in their manufacturing. The pair had been friends since being introduced by mutual acquaintances in Wellington.
Charlotte had been buying fabric from Levana, a company that spins cotton in Levin. Tessa, however, wondered whether they stocked organic fabric - which it turned out they did. "They are incredible - because they spin it themselves they can make anything. You just ask 'can I have that stripe?' and they can do it." The duo immediately switched over. "There has to be a shift to organic cotton," Tessa says, sadly. "The fashion industry will crash and people will be forced to look at what's been happening. I hope that people will change their mindset, and stop buying from shops such as 'Cotton On'."
The brand aims to re-align ethics, pricing and style and encourage others to go organic as well. "It normalises it in society," says Charlotte. They now also make organic basics for men as well as women. "We also noticed a demand for guys t-shirts in organic cotton t-shirts. We thought it would be somewhere else, but actually, there isn't somewhere you can go and try a man's nice organic top on. People were asking so we decided to jump on board."
The pair admit that they need one another to be able to do as much with Bones Style Club as they do, on top of their day jobs. "You need someone else to be loosing the plot with you. It's much more fun to be on a journey with someone else" Charlotte laughs. "Also, it is great to have someone else to back up and encourage your ideas."
The aim of Bones Style Club is to see it continue to grow (even though Charlotte is about to move overseas with her partner for a time, with Tessa taking over the company in 2017). "My passion is to give back" explains Tessa. "I do it through my teaching and now I do it too through my sewing."
"We are both very anal and OCD" laughs Tessa. "If something isn't right, we both are obsessing - freaking out about a stitch line. It would be good to have a more rational person in there going 'Guys, this is crazy'" Charlotte agrees.
"The people are amazing. There is a creative vibe and people are very open-minded. People can wear what they want. They can say and eat and do anything and you'll connect with someone similar" Tess says. "Raumati makes us calm and relaxes us. There is a very arty and alternative vibe up the coast. It is a blessing to have this studio space. We have an amazing space and we live near the beach. What more could we ask for?"
"Visit the Raumati Social Club for live music if you head up the coast on a cruisey Sunday. Buy organic cotton. Love your friends. Love Wellington." Also "Pick your values," says Tessa.