Sotela is a fashion apparel company that promotes radical inclusivity, celebrating size, race, gender, and age. They create well-designed clothing made without compromising people or the planet and offer size flexibility without sacrificing style.
The brand is firmly against sweatshop labour and treat their team as equal partners and collaborators. They employ hard-working people in the fashion industry and pay living wages, almost double the average hourly/wage for a dressmaker in Los Angeles. As they make clothing meant to empower women in their ever-changing bodies, they hope to give women the ease of dressing with flexible sizing.
They use better-for-the-environment fabrics such as Lenzing Tencel, Modal, linen and organic cotton. The chemicals that go into creating Tencel are also reused for future batches in a closed-loop water system. They dye their linen so that lessens the biodegradability, and have stated they don’t use organic linen due to limited production. Their cotton requires less water than conventional cotton and is completely biodegradable. They have thought about experimenting with deadstock, but as most of them are synthetic, the team worries about their end life – unable to biodegrade and releasing microplastics. The flexible sizing of each garment ensures customers from not having to buy additional clothing (during maternity until nursing for example), thus saving the environment and saving some money for their customers.
All of their packaging, stationery, and marketing materials are printed on recycled paper. Sotela hand-makes every piece from start to finish in their California studio.
With their made-to-order production, their bifold benefit is reducing waste and resources. They manufacture locally which helps reduce their carbon footprint. They even reuse scraps to make swatch books and look for more innovative ways to reduce their waste. The brand consciously considers the impact of their designs and question the ability for a fashion label to be sustainable as making clothes will undoubtedly lead to waste. While they encourage customers to buy less, they acknowledge that their purchases keep the company afloat.
The brand values body positivity, positive impact, humanity and the environment. Sotela operates on a made-to-order basis, so as to reduce any waste from unwanted garments. As they cut their fabrics by hand, they organise pattern pieces strategically to minimise waste, but it is very difficult without ample space in between, leading to some fabric wastage. Their sizing focuses on fit instead of labelling, as they never use the words small, medium, or large. Championing body appreciation and celebrating strength and resilience through their For All Community, they advocate inclusivity throughout.