There has been an evolving paradigm shift in the fashion industry where consumers are now more aware of the products they buy and prefer brands that are participating in sustainable fashion and practicing ethical business. With documentaries like The True Cost and big brands like Nike and Alexander Wang coming under fire in the past for inhumane sweatshop practices, people are disappointed and crave a company that doesn’t put profits ahead of human rights. Consumers want a brand that has meaning, a purpose, and is giving back to the community. All this while still producing good quality and stylish products.
As an answer to this prominent issue in the fashion industry, two passionate and socially conscious women with a keen eye for design, created TRIBE.
Sarah Hidey and Rebecca Taylor of Denver, Colorado started TRIBE with the intent to “provide opportunity and sustainable employment to women in Denver and Cambodia.” Their brand seeks to counter the very controversial issue of sweatshops while encouraging local designs and the ability to provide women victimized by oppressed environments, a healthy way to make income.
As TRIBE strives to make a difference, they have partnered with three great philanthropic programs to achieve their goals:
- Children’s Future (a nonprofit serving vulnerable children in Battambang, Cambodia),
- We Made This (sewing and job skills training program designed for refugees in the Metro Denver Area focusing on self-empowerment),
- and Sox Place Screen Printing (Sox Place Screen Printing was created with the mission to provide homeless and at-risk youth with the means they need to exit life on the streets).
They are strong supporters of finding ways to empower women. Their brand, TRIBE, allows them to accomplish just that while simultaneously making women look and feel good about themselves.
TRIBE is not merely known to have a social cause behind its business, but a brand that also produces quality womenswear with a global flair. Their main target market (and muse) are career driven women who is just as passionate about her career as she is with her wardrobe—that’s you Modern Alice! She has a knack for standing out and isn’t afraid of design and injecting bold prints and vibrant colors into her closet.
Not only does this brand offer a variety of styles that can easily compliment whatever is in your closet at the moment, they also know the importance of authenticity. Another beauty about TRIBE is that the fabrics they use can only be ordered in small quantities which results in creating limited looks that are not only unique, but very exclusive. You won’t have to worry about another person wearing your gorgeous shift dress or TRIBE’S highly coveted honeycomb pencil skirt.
If you’re looking for that perfect icebreaker outfit at networking events, TRIBE is your brand.
With bold eclectic prints inspired by their worldly travels, a bright color palette, and classic silhouettes aimed at the working woman, it’s hard not to buy-in and support the brand’s cause.
Let’s meet the masterminds with hearts of gold behind the brand.
Name: Rebecca Taylor
Current Title: Co-Founder, Creative Director & Designer
Location: Denver, CO
Name: Sarah Hidey
Current Title: Co-Founder, Business & Partnership Director
Location: Denver, CO
With a combined professional history deriving from social enterprises (Sarah) and fashion design (Rebecca), the founding of TRIBE was inevitable. This inspiring story was a result of two roommates merging their passions together.
Both Sarah and Rebecca understood early on that businesses could be a force for good in the world. This mentality pushed them to begin their venture in establishing a brand that caters to their expertise while addressing values that they held dear: empowering women.
Now that we have been introduced to TRIBE let’s dive a little more into the inception of the brand and how your professional backgrounds helped you find your way to this business venture.
REBECCA: I’ve been a designer for 13 years and I’ve always had a side business along with working full-time for a design firm. For a good solid year, Sarah would see me bring out all these prototypes and samples I would do and she always loved them and would model them. So we’ve always had these conversations and through one of these, it blended both of our lives. We wanted to do more with our skill sets and give back and help grow a community. All of that combined, TRIBE came out.
SARAH: So my background is in international and community development and social enterprises. It’s the idea of using businesses as a way to accomplish a social mission than just starting a charity. I worked around the world and I have a passion for helping women. In a lot of my travels something that stood out to me was the lack of opportunity for women or when they did have work, it was very low paying jobs. So fast-forward, Rebecca and I were roommates and she’s got such a creative mind, so when we were living together, I thought how amazing it would be if we joined forces. Combining what’s in her wheel house with fashion design and my expertise in social enterprises, there was really no second thought about it.
Two minds definitely work better than one! Since both of you have traveled so much and have been exposed to various cultures, how did the aesthetics of TRIBE come about? What went through your minds when the initial capsule collection was being designed?
SARAH: When we started thinking about this, I was actually in the process of traveling; I kind of became a nomad. I had contracts that were overseas. I traveled a bunch in Southeast Asia. So right before I left, I gave Rebecca all this fabric I had accumulated over the years. In both our travels, we noticed that in other countries, women were so vibrant, especially in Africa and Asia. They had all these beautiful fabrics and the colors were amazing. We both felt like that there weren’t many clothing—fashionable clothes—being made from these beautiful fabrics.
REBECCA: Ultimately, me as a designer, I wanted stuff that was going to be timeless. So making sure we pulled from the classics, things that no matter what, they will always be in style even if it is in a very bold, obnoxious print. Something that people will say in 5-10 years that, that works. I just narrowed it down from there. Also what is going to fit the most body type—that we’re not singling out to one specific person. We wanted to appeal to the masses and each one of them has a different offering. We wanted styles that had the widest range of appeal and has versatility. You can wear to a wedding, you wear to the beach to work, on the street. It can go anywhere and everywhere and that was the goal for every single piece. Diversity in fit and diversity where it can go and wear-ability.
How does TRIBE, in the sense of fashion, differ from the other companies that try to have a global inspired look to their brand?
SARAH: If you look at the bigger movement of sustainable ethical fashion, you see it more with accessories. There’s more clothing now, but there’s not much that you can really incorporate in your everyday wardrobe. We want the clothes to be conversation starters. They have that global, inspired look but beautiful that you can wear on a daily basis.
REBECCA: Sarah really noticed something. We’re not the only ones making stuff with African wax print per say, but our take on it is different. Others don’t contribute to fit and design and a lot of things are outdated or it looks heavily eastern inspired. They are not taking in the modern woman’s take and versatility. That’s something that people have constantly come across. We wanted to address that and create a solution while also helping women get jobs to provide for their families and feeling fulfilled while doing that.
Now let’s take a step away from the aesthetics of the brand for a moment and address the business side. Starting a business is hard regardless of industry (especially if you want to address social issues). What have you both learned since starting TRIBE and what advice would you give to a budding entrepreneur?
REBECCA: It all starts with your heart. You have to really be passionate about it, whether it’s the environmental or ethical pay standpoint. There’s going to be a lot of time that you are going to have to put in more than you already are, so you have to be passionate and ready.
SARAH: When starting a business, you think you know exactly what you are going to do, but then it completely changes and you adapt to things along the way. Our primary goal, through the business piece—which this is our business model—is to partner with fair trade businesses that employ women with very empowering environments. We wanted to contract with businesses and programs that can help each other attain their goals. Sometimes different opportunities come up and we choose and take advantage of that, especially when it is very much in line with our mission of giving back to the community.
Keeping on the subject of social enterprises, for anyone who is currently in the fashion industry or anybody in any industry that is looking to stir their company towards being more ethically and socially conscious, what kind of advice would you give? How should they approach this task?
SARAH: If you are already in the fashion industry, there are small steps you can take. There are opportunities out there if you look for them whether that’s through sourcing or manufacturing. I mean we didn’t know in the beginning. So often times I will put questions out there in the social media world to get answers. I’ll post a question on Facebook asking for advice. I would really recommend starting small and go from there. See where you can make the changes.
REBECCA: There’s multiple ways to go about it but you have to see which is going to make you feel the best. You can implement different things but you have to be willing to put in the time to make it happen. You can start out with reduction usage. Instead of going to thousands of units, you can go with availability and go about it with supply and demand. That or donating to your favorite charity. There’s multiple ways to implement go about it.
Well ladies thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us here at The Modern Alice! We are excited to see women making a difference and really #conqueringWonderland! We hope you all the best and as a fun little closeout we always ask your preferences.
Coffee or Tea: Coffee! Coffee!
Heels or Flats: Flats
Dogs or Cats: Dogs all day!
Coffee or Tea: Coffee!
Heels or Flats: Cowboy boots!…or wedges.
Dogs or Cats: Definitely dogs!
As we have previously mentioned, TRIBE is really a brand that empowers women and takes steps to tackle a very sensitive subject about the fashion industry. Despite fast fashion still being at the forefront, high quality and timeless pieces with an interesting spin will always be desired. There will always be a market for that.
If you have been inspired by Sarah and Rebecca’s story along with the beautiful prints of their capsule collection, head over to their Indiegogo page here and reserve your favorite piece before it gets sold out!
*** TRIBE will also be making their debut at Colorado Fashion Week on October 2nd! If you live in Denver and would love to speak with the founders and see the capsule collection first hand, head over to Event Brite to reserve your tickets now!
UPDATE: $50 tee is now $32 through Sept 30.
TRIBE would like to extend this promotion to The Modern Alice’s readers! Help them achieve their goal of selling 50 tees by the end of their campaign!