A shared passion for ethical fashion led to the reconnection of two friends, Sylvia Schroer – who founded the company, and Karin Barter. Both in our 50s and 60s we wanted to wear clothes that made us look and feel fabulous, and did not make us look invisible – as clothing for women of our age can so often do. Sylvia’s mother (a song some might remember!), Irmgard Chapman, had been a fashion entrepreneur in the 1960s and 70s, importing clothing from India, Peru. Turkey and Morocco. Irmgard started fashion trends like the wrap skirt – a one size circular skirt made of cheesecloth, that fitted everyone and she designed beautiful dresses for her boutiques in London’s Kensington. Customers included the much loved novelist Jilly Cooper, and the legendary Jimmy Hendrix dated her shop assistants. Olga Naccache, a wonderful friend of Irmgard’s who is now a filmmaker in the Lebanon, remembers a warm, vibrant woman who always welcomed people and tried to support and help them as best she could – especially people who came from other countries to the UK, looking for a better life. When Irmgard passed away in 2013, Sylvia, who was an academic, found herself drawn to fashion as a career and she started working at a much loved ethical fashion boutique in York (Maude & Tommy) – until the boutique closed, due to the business owner’s retirement. Sylvia decided to branch out herself after this, and invited Karin, who had recently retired from teaching, to join her to take Conscious Apparel forwards.
The two friends initially met many years ago when travelling on a bus to India and enjoyed more travelling adventures together – in the days before this became a popular thing to do in a gap year. We were lucky and travelled through Iran and Pakistan – as well as seeing beautiful Syria. We lost touch over the years as our lives went in different directions but through re-connecting recently we found we shared so many interests and values in common.
We are both totally passionate about environmental issues, and about business practices that are ethical and kind. We decided to work together to develop the company further. We also noticed that there was very little available in terms of ethical fashion for larger ladies. So we launched Curvaceous Apparel. When friends told us ethical clothing seemed too expensive we launched our preloved marketplace – offering women a chance to buy and sell quality clothing that is too good not to be worn.
Conscious Apparel is value driven company (rather than being product driven), based on the principle of kindness to both garment workers and the environment. We celebrate the amazing work of skilled artisans who make our clothes.
We love the way fashion is becoming more conscious and ethical and we totally applaud local initiatives like the ‘grow your own jeans’ project by BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee’ presenter Patrick Grant. However our taste is for more exotic clothing. Something more glamourous than jeans- but no less practical or comfortable.
Times are changing and we all need to start to wear more sustainable fabrics that are manufactured ethically with workers rights being respected. So please join us and celebrate ethically made clothing that will make you feel fabulous and look amazing!
To read more about ethical fashion and how you can help please read this blog
Join with us! Please spread the word about ethical clothing & be part of the ethical fashion revolution!
Help us change the world – if only scarf by scarf!