In this dedicated blog post, my intention is to openly share my experiences while living and working in China as a senior designer. All events witnessed are born from my own perspective seeing things, no one influenced me in the writing of this article. I will try to provide as much evidence to back up below happenings as possible.
First, let me briefly describe what led me to starting a sustainable label, starting from as little as a 5 years old girl.
My name is Renata and I consider myself to be born with a nature-loving, animal admiring heart.
I barely turned 5. I think this when it all started.
Walking on my way back from the nursery, I couldn't help but notice white 'things' sticking out of the grass beside the pedestrian walk.
Once I got home, I tried to describe my mom what I saw but she couldn't make much out of it. I grabbed a bag and started collecting them regardless. These 'things' I learnt are cigarette butts. Only 5 years old and I sensed that this is the least aesthetically pleasing thing I had seen.
The rest is history.
Life being unexpected
We all know now, life can unfold in the most unexpected ways, twists and turns all the way.
Now, I wouldn't define my family background as 'well-off', much likely the opposite. Becoming a designer sounded like you wanting to become an astronaut.
But again- life being life, a sudden relocation finally led me to enter the world of fashion with an opportunity to study lingerie design in London. This is where I dived into a sustainable journey through fashion for the first time.
Burning desire filled my heart to find a way to contribute to a fashion revolution, committed to make a difference in my beloved sector.
First off, I wasn't too sure which direction to take. Conventional, mainstream eco-fashion seemed too boring to me. Nothing really made my heart beat, and no inspiration on the horizon.
Four years down the line in my fashion studies- I had actively been taking part in 'free-work' chores interning all across the globe to gain as much as knowledge and skills as possible.
Just briefly a mention: I interned as a seamstress in Wales, UK; technical designer in Los Angeles and spare-time e-commerce jobs in London, finally landing a position as a (paid, yeyy!) senior designer in Southern China, Guangzhou City.
Here, I was rotating between projects, which helped me gain valuable insights on how the industry REALLY operates.
Let's begin this journey :) .
The China experience
I spent 13 months in China. Saying the least I have seen it all. My entire view of fashion once being beautiful and glamorous, now becoming nasty and ugly as f*ck (excuse my language).
Being an active person, I rather walked to work than taking my personal driver's backseat (not being over-fancy but this is how it happened).
The river beside the route that lead to the design studio and the factory was the season of the colour- normally navy blue. The poorer society of the Chinese was often seen fishing from these rivers to provide for their families or to sell the fish off to nearby restaurant. My heart sank.
This chemically induced regime didn't just poison the environment but its people's health too.
Regardless of my tireless efforts to introduce more environmentally-friendly dyes and biodegradable materials as part of our 'contractor's' upcoming collections, all ideas and attempt were turned down due to failing to deliver the desired monetary profit.
(*By 'contractors' I meant: mainstream fast-fashion houses, like Victoria's Secret, Calvin Klein, American Eagle, Marks & Spencers and a lot more).
By now, you may figured that the work I was involved in- also included the overlooking of material manufacturing and relevant work-related practises of major fashion brands.
Every story has its tipping point that changes everything. Mine is this:
After weeks of failed requests, I was granted to see the waste-water management on site. As a mandatory requirement, I was asked to wear a protective mask. Let me mention, no one else (workers, weavers, site-workers) worked with one.
Being a rebel, I decided to remove my protective mask and exist in this environment as all other workers do. (Despite receiving a 'royalty-like' treatment, I NEVER considered myself being any better of a human that of my colleagues in less fancy-sounding positions).
After 10 minutes of breathing the same air as my co-workers were, I had to be physically led downstairs and admitted to the hospital for 3 days. Due to the chemical shock, my immune system temporarily shut down.
This was it. Upon handing in my resignation the day of my recovery and after all the failed attempts to introduce better sustainable measures, for some reason unknown, I ended up staying for 13 months, creating the blueprint for Qrucifix.
Back to the Roots
Once leaving for lack of growth, now I found myself again in a countryside environment settling back to my home town of rural environment.
In order to tackle the waste-water problem, without a doubt I turned to natural dyes. Initially, colours were developed by the help of a nearby professional dyer.
Due to being faced with the REAL cost of natural dying, I decided to learn and develop a dedicated colour palette. Laying a stable ground for the brand- following strict sustainable measures, (resourcing sustainable materials from local suppliers, reasonable-cost roots and plants to dye with, sturdy components) consumed 2,5 years of joyful experimentation.
It was worth it.
In 2021 summer, Qrucifix was born- with the help of a handful creative professionals and supportive friends, models, influencers- often strangers.
Qrucifix is here to bring on changes in the fashion sector in a unique style yet unknown in conventional eco-clothing. I design what I wear with the intention to bring on joy for fellow eco-warriors and like-minded free spirits who want to embrace their beauty and sensuality
fast-fashion has its negative reputation- with a very good reason. However, there are designers and creative directors who are working on introducing and initiating sustainable concepts- often going against odds.
Just as myself working in the fashion sector, I was still striving to create better practises, 'greener' methods. Not to mention, and this goes out to fast fashion with a huge round of applause:
Qrucifix was constructed from skills I gained in the industry and financed exclusively from fast-fashion savings.