Ensuring the ethical production of our clothes was paramount to us from the start, and we do not intend to compromise on this. There is an abundance of garment factories in Sri Lanka that are largely employed with female workers. Although not all, most have to bear long working hours and therefore lifestyles that are hard to be sustained alongside domestic priorities.
Working as a part of a mass scale operation does not allow employees to take on new skills and rarely allows for career progression and space for empowerment.
Manufacturing through such factories would provide brands like ourselves the benefit of lower costs, given that we mass produce and thereby be yet another fast fashion brand.Instead, we opted for all our clothes being crafted by small (1-5 employee) production units, owned and run by females with flexible working conditions and appropriate pay.
All prices are set by the artisans themselves, based on their evaluation of the complexity & time needed for each design. And that’s it; no negotiations, no attempt to lower prices.
They set their own timelines based on the volume of work, and we plan our collections’ launches according to that. Since we do not intend to release multiple collections a month – this works perfectly for us, and it simultaneously eliminates the pressure of having to abide by strict deadlines for them.
At LEO, we only use fabrics that are either biodegradable, compostable, composed of natural fibres, recyclable or recycled. Currently, all our fabric is locally sourced. We use new as well as dead-stock fabrics in our production process, which are those that have been discarded by factories as excess and would otherwise most likely go to landfills. For instance, our entire debut collection Abundance is made out of dead-stock fabric.
In adopting this approach, we make a conscious decision to minimise the use of new synthetic fibres. These fabrics, although cheaper, have a highly energy-dense production process whilst also shedding harmful micro-plastics that contaminate the environment.
We know that when it comes to eco-friendly fabrics & sustainability in general, it’s not as simple as being able to categorise a certain approach to be 100% good or bad. There are pros and cons to them all, and no matter what, there will always be a carbon footprint of some form. Therefore, our approach is to do the best we can based on what is most accessible to us currently.
For our local packaging, we have partnered with a local organisation named Ananta Sustainables. All their paper bags are handmade with love by a group of ladies from the Kirikiththa Village in Sri Lanka, and they are actively trying to spread this paper bag making movement to more groups in Free Trade Zones in the country.
All our bags are made out of repurposed factory off-cuts and are both biodegradable and compostable – in good conditions, it can break down into natural compounds within 120 days! They are all handmade which includes everything from the cutting, folding and pasting, and they are also hand-printed using traditional screen printing methods
For our international packaging, we’ve partnered with Noissue to get 100% recycled mailers, helping to give plastics already in circulation a second life!
The principles of conscious business and social responsibility will be embedded within LEO throughout it’s journey. We are committed to equipping ourselves with the knowledge and resources to keep learning and effect growth both within LEO, and this industry as a whole. We will always maintain transparency in our processes, which will allow you, our fellow LEO girls, to partake in this journey with us.