Turning offcuts into accessories with Stella from Gliese 504
At Lois Hazel, we are always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to make fashion more sustainable, and love partnering with like-minded brands. This week, we are excited to introduce our collaboration with Gliese 504. Using production offcuts from our Scrunch collection, Stella (Creative Director at Gliese 504) has created a beautiful capsule of hair accessories that perfectly compliment the spirit of Scrunch.
We sat down with Stella to learn more about her sustainable fashion journey and her plans for the future of Gliese.
Hi Stella! Tell us a little bit about yourself and what it is you do?
Hi! I moved to Australia from a little town near Milan, Italy, in 2015. I am the Creative Director of Gliese 504. Gliese has the mission of saving fabrics and garments from landfill or incineration by creatively recycling waste/excess stock. For example, we might transform a shirt into a skirt, or we use fabric offcuts from another brand’s apparel collections to produce fashion accessories. We don't source anything new.
Is there a meaning behind the name?
Gliese 504 is the only pink planet discovered in our universe. It has a beautiful rich magenta colour. It's in the Virgo constellation and it revolves around a star. My name, Stella, in Italian means "star" and I wanted pink as the signature colour for the brand, since it's for women, by women. The idea of a planet revolving around a star has to do with the fact that there are continuous cycles. It's a parallel with the lifecycle of a garment or fabric. Instead of the usual singular, closed cycle of a garment (It is produced, sold, worn and disposed of), Gliese is all about creating but more lives, potentially endless cycles.
What did life look like before Gliese 504?
Before Gliese 504, my life was a journey of continuous change. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering fairly young and then studied Fashion Production in Milan. I then worked for Ralph Lauren in their Supply Chain for more than three years, and I was appalled at the how much waste I saw there. I wasn't generally happy with life so I though moving to the other side of the world could be a good idea. It wasn't really the case; I figured out later on that you carry your own struggles around wherever it is you go. But slowly slowly, with the help from my therapist, I started to feel better. And that was pretty much when I started Gliese, or let's say "to create fashion" in general.
What motivated you to start Gliese 504?
A series of things. Firstly, I was motivated by the number of new garments and fabrics that were being incinerated or sent to landfill that I saw while working for different fashion brands. I observed the fast growth of excess inventories in conjunction with a progressive decline of retail and a raising awareness of climate change issues. It gave me the push to start researching about what's happening in the fashion industry from a sustainability perspective. The more I researched the more I felt impelled to do something. I was, in the meantime, short of money to buy new clothes so instead I started re-working mine. I started repurposing and upcycling whatever would fall into my hands. I knew it was early days to apply this business model/ idea to other businesses, but I knew that at some point my time would come.
What does your creative process look like?
I usually start by drawing the collection, but the final result is usually different. I think in just two cases what I initially drew resembled the finished garment! I spend a lot of time looking at the fit and the possible ways to style a product. I am really messy when I create and as much as I would like to give it structure I cannot manage to do so. Because I work with existing things I feel my creativity is a bit constrained sometimes, but the reality is that I really love what I do. I like to re-imagine things, I like to have to adapt to different colours and textures from what I imagined. I like to surprise myself or see my ideas applied to different brands and mixed with other "identities". I value creativity enormously. Ultimately, I think creativity is the key to shift the industry towards a more ethical and sustainable future.
What has been the response from fashion brands to your business?
It has been positive, but I unfortunately still see a lot of resistance to change across the industry. Working with Lois has been great, because she really understands what I’m trying to do. You need to collaborate with like-minded people to grow your business, people that imagine the future exactly like you do. People that create change and are open to listen, and are honest and kind human beings like Lois. I hope in the future I will have a lot more chances to work with other brands and challenge the status quo together.
What have been the greatest challenges in starting your business?
Like many small businesses, raising capital has been a challenge. It's a tough world out there when you can't test an idea properly since you don't have enough capital to inject into the business. But passion always keeps the dream alive. In the meantime, you learn and you work very hard. I am not there yet, but I trust the process and I invest as much as I can in terms of money and time. I wish I were asked this question more! Many people think that everything happens overnight, because that's what social media tells us, but it's not the reality for most start-ups. It's tough and it takes time and work, a lot more than a lot of people realise.
How did this LH x Gliese collaboration come about?
I was looking for deadstock fabrics to create a collection in collaboration with another friend of mine. We just sent cold emails directly to the designers we knew, who we were sure used natural and good quality fabrics. Lois answered super quickly! When we wanted to purchase the fabrics she briefly spoke about the idea to incorporate upcycling into her business and here we are!
What are your brand plans for the future? Where do you see Gliese moving towards?
I would love to grow and scale, but it's too early to say. I define Gliese as a start-up, since it's not really clear which business model is the core of its activity. There is a focus on tackling the waste problem in the fashion industry and creatively re-imagine garments, but through more collaborations I would like to test different models to see which one works better. Ultimately I want to give consumers what they want, otherwise they will keep buying into fast-fashion. So, I need to keep making changes and following their lead. In the future I would like to be able to look back and say, I have done my best to help fashion become a better industry and I have given a great, long lasting product to my customers.
When it comes to your personal style what are the pieces you wear every day?
My absolute favourites are turtlenecks, men's shirts and maxi dresses or palazzo pants. I dress very simply and classic. As I’ve grown up I also started to prioritise comfort over body figure-hugging garments, but with styles like some of the ones Lois creates there's no need to give up anything. I give that bit of twist with accessories. I also love hats, the larger the brim the better, however they are not that easy to wear here; it's so windy compare to Italy!
Tell us about your self-care practice - how do you nurture yourself?
I meditate every day for at least 10 minutes. When I have time I do longer sessions. I spend a lot of time in nature, connecting and observing. It has been proven to be a huge stress relief for me. I do love a massage every now and then, just to soften the tightness in my shoulders which never really leaves me. I also practice loving-kindness, which means to be gentle with yourself as much as you would be with a friend in need. We often are so hard on ourselves we don't even realize.
You can shop the LH X Gliese 504 collaboration here
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