This week on the journal we speak with Vanessa and Libby, sisters and Co. Founders of The Harmonic, a circular fashion destination. The Harmonic sources quality one-loved garments that transcend fast fashion. Each piece handpicked from Australian and New Zealand owned labels with a commitment to sustainable practices. Their mission? To create a more sustainable and circular fashion ecosystem, to encourage us to consume consciously, to repurpose with purpose, to revisit and re-love.
Please tell us about The Harmonic and how it came to be?
We have always been extremely close as sisters and best friends, and always wanted to create something together that fused our love of fashion with our desire to make a real difference.
Vanessa: You could say that I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I’ve been buying and selling once loved clothes for 6+ years and noticed a gap in the market for beautifully curated once-loved pieces.
Libby: I recently relocated back to Australia from London with my family, where I had been running an advertising agency for the past 10 years. We both have young children and with motherhood our priorities had shifted: we wanted to do something we felt passionate about in our professional lives while giving back to the world around us.
The timing was perfect: we were both finally in the same country so we took the opportunity to make our dream a reality.
From there, The Harmonic was born.
You only stock once-loved pieces from labels committed to sustainable practices, how have you found the process of sourcing these pieces?
We actually found this process a lot more seamless than we initially expected. Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed the fashion industry slowly move towards more sustainable business practices, as designers and consumers become aware of the importance of reducing their impact on the environment.
It is no longer just an afterthought, but at the very core of so many new and established brands who are committing to cultivating positive change - whether that be manufacturing locally to minimise their carbon footprint, working with organic materials or limiting the amount of chemicals used in production.
Australia and New Zealand, in particular, are leading the way on the global stage when it comes to sustainable fashion. We have such a wonderful selection of brands here to choose from that it makes our job much easier!
We look for trans-seasonal pieces you can wear time and time again, and also take a considered approach when curating our collection. Our stock has primarily been sourced from influencers who want to see their beautiful pieces re-loved, women with vast wardrobes who’d like to clear out anything they don’t wear anymore, and those who are trying to adopt a more circular wardrobe.
What is it that you love most about working in Circular Fashion?
Our goal at The Harmonic is to challenge consumers to think differently - not just about which brands they buy from, but also pre-loved fashion. Worn is not old and used is not worse!
By changing the way we consume - buying less, buying quality and wearing consciously - we can truly make a difference to the destruction of our planet. But this shouldn’t have to mean sacrificing on style or that high-end online shopping experience.
There’s such a big gap in the market for a platform that shows onced-loved pieces in a beautifully curated way. All of our pieces have been treated with care and come beautifully packaged and presented. We believe circular fashion should still feel special.
What are your thoughts on the future of the fashion industry? What do you see changing and what excites you most about this?
Thankfully, there are now so many resources out there documenting the damage the fashion industry is doing to the world around us. Slowly but surely, it feels like we are heading in the right direction - working in harmony with the natural environment, rather than against it.
We hope that it will become mainstream for brands to move towards more sustainable fabrics and manufacturing. Gone will be the days of fast fashion!
Shopping for once-loved pieces will be the new norm, and consumers will think twice before purchasing a brand new item, prioritising buying tran-seasonal, high-quality pieces from ethical brands with a commitment to sustainability.
How is it working with your sister and how do you juggle the work/life balance?
We were both in Byron Bay for six months while we worked on launching The Harmonic, which was a really special time as we’ve been living apart for so long.
Libby: I recently moved to Sydney with my family and we are now in lockdown, so Ness and I are currently working remotely. We speak about 8-10 times a day and there are lots of Zoom meetings, but I can’t wait to get back up to Byron when things open up.
Ness: The real challenge is juggling a new business with small children; I have a one-year-little old boy, Harry, and Libby has a 3-year-old and a one-year-old, Margot and Stella. It can definitely be hectic!
What influences your style for both your personal style and home / lifestyle?
Although our styles are different in many ways, when it comes to fashion we have always had a similar aesthetic. Living on opposite sides of the world, we would meet in amazing locations; New York, Marrakech, Lisbon, Tuscany etc. and each time we opened our suitcases to unpack, we would find the same dress, jumpsuit or bag.
Libby: I have always had a more flamboyant style, opting for colour, prints, shapes and exaggerated accessories. Living in London the last 10 years my home definitely has both an urban and European influence, I love mixing modern art with more classic or mid-century design. Our house is full of eclectic pieces picked up on our travels.
Ness: I tend to gravitate towards timeless classics with a focus on minimalist design. That said, I do love anything unique and believe there is always a place for colour! My living space is definitely more minimal and influenced by the coastal lifestyle here in Byron Bay.
If you could give your younger self any advice based on everything you know now, what would it be?
Everything takes time. Slow down, take it all in, listen and learn as much as you can from others.
Don't be afraid of making mistakes. Sometimes it’s only in the mistakes that real breakthroughs happen.
If you love it, wear it - no matter what anyone thinks!
When you look further ahead, what do you envisage for the future of The Harmonic?
Our dream is for The Harmonic to be the go-to platform for sustainable once-loved fashion, not just here in Australia, but across the world.
We’re creating a platform to educate, to promote longevity over landfill and to encourage consumers to repurpose with purpose. We want to be a catalyst for change and prove that there’s no shame in buying second hand!
We are launching predominantly with ethical Australian and New Zealand labels, but we have so many beautiful international brands that we will be adding to our platform over time.
But for now we're just going to enjoy the ride!