During the ongoing global COVID-19 crisis, all of our actions and lifestyle choices are being put into perspective. The things we do for leisure, including shopping for food or buying new clothes, requires an element of sustainability, which has grown to be more than just a buzzword. Saving the planet has become a global movement hinging on each of us doing our part, with women at the forefront as they make up 80% of the purchasing decisions globally. Thus, claiming to go green has become an easier way to get consumers interested in your product, but as this article from The Guardian explains, “It is a reminder that, for a company to be truly green, its attention to sustainability should extend to every level of its business – not just the one that draws consumers.” Meg Taljaard’s eponymous brand is a genuine example of a sustainable fashion brand.
Meet Meg Taljaard
South African fashion designer Meg Taljaard understands the importance of eco-fashion and launched her own label in 2019. Her label is currently a one-woman show, where she designs and sews each piece by herself. We spoke to Meg about why she chose to launch her label, how sustainability is an ongoing part of her life and the growth of her new business.
All The Pretty Birds: What prompted you to start your label and what have some of the challenges been?
Meg Taljaard: Owning my own label has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Two years ago I was working a 9 to 5 job where I felt undervalued and underpaid. Throughout this time period, I kept thinking – ‘Why work this hard for someone else, under unethical conditions, when I could work for myself?’
The biggest challenge for me as a creative and business owner, is the marketing and sales aspect. Although I love people, I am somewhat of a creative recluse and it is not in my nature to broadcast my work or engage in hard sell tactics, so I’m still figuring out this side of my business.
ATPB: You’ve made a conscious decision to be a one-woman production show, how has that experience been?
MT: Starting off as a ‘one-woman show’ is a conscious decision, but this isn’t a long term set up. It has always been my intention to first develop and perfect my own production system before bringing others on board. The best way to finetune this process is through physically carrying out each step of the production line on my own. People think it’s an impossible task, but I feel that it’s necessary to attain in-depth knowledge of my business. Now I know firsthand what I will be asking people to do before I actually hire them, and to ensure that they are paid accordingly.
It is also key in establishing mutual respect with future team members. Although it’s challenging work, the experience is integral for my future plans.
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Models @siphokazizako @picloutravel Direction assistant @iniesoo . . . #madeincapetown #ethicallymadeclothing #limitededitions #coats2019 #animalprint #boldstyle #zebraprintstyle #tigerprintstyle #carcoat #unisex #capetownmodels #capetownfashion #lookbook2019 #35mmfilmphotography #capetown #instastyle
ATPB: Sustainability is at the forefront of your brand, what are some of the practices you apply to your work/craft?
MT: I have adopted a ‘slow fashion’ approach to production. I produce on an extremely small scale in the form of custom couture, bridal jobs and bespoke pieces. I have specifically chosen to work in these realms because they allow me to produce less – with more focus on quality, creativity and sustainability – while offering exclusivity and generating minimal waste. Fashion is responsible for 92 million tons of solid waste being dumped into landfills each year.
I also produce a sustainable capsule collection in collaboration with Gallery 91, located in Somerset West (in the Western Cape) and owned by my mother. This collection is made solely from sustainable fabrics that have organic fibres. All of the fabric that I use is locally sourced, carefully calculated and considered before being purchased to ensure minimal waste generation. After the fabric sourcing, everything is done under one roof, limiting transport and energy costs. My studio is also a shop and is open to the public, ensuring complete transparency with production.
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The Anastella Jumpsuit is a sheer one-of-a-kind piece and is worn by the most beautiful mermaid I know. (sold) Model: @sarah_f_lay Agency: @thefantasticagency #capetown #fashion #madeincapetown #fashionmood #35mm #filmphotography #portraitphotography #WomensFashion #Stylish #supportlocalartists #megtaljaard #Moment #StreetFashion #conciousconsumerism #Instafashion #effortlessstyle #Stylist #pinkstyle #LookBook #Photogram #corduroypants #OOTDshare #StyleBlogger #moodyportraits #ThroughTheLens #shopcapetown #mode2020
ATPB: How has it been navigating the SA industry, especially as an independent designer?
MT: I try not to navigate too much. I just make pieces that I really love and that are in line with my values and then trust that the pieces will resonate with the right people. At the moment, I am working very intuitively and I’m loving it.
ATPB: Where do you apply sustainability in your own life?
MT: I aim to spend my money wisely, so I don’t support fast fashion retailers. Cape Town has a diverse selection of local businesses and I buy free range, organic food when it’s available. Thankfully, we have access to solar energy at home and my entire family is involved in viable eco-solutions. Recently, My father received the Joe Grygny Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the growth and betterment of the packaging industry through his company’s invention of compostable packaging technology.
Images via Meg Taljaard