Sunday, 20 December 2015

Interview with Carlie Ballard

Welcome to the first interview in our "ethical" fashion series. Today, we speak to Carlie Ballard -  a sustainable fashion advocate and also the curator of online store Indigo Bazaar. 

1. In 2012, you started Indigo Bazaar – an online store which sources and sells ethical clothes made in Australia and around the world. How did the idea for Indigo Bazaar come about?
I have always loved fashion and was also looking for something that had more depth, something I could resonate with. So it was while I was trekking in the Nepal Himalaya where I was immersed in the culture of this magical place and interacting with the locals where the idea to leap into ethical and sustainable fashion began. I could see combining my two passions of fashion and cultures could actually be an amazing business opportunity but also something that would empower people in the developing world and be better for the planet too.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Series on Ethical Fashion

I’ve been meaning to write this post about ‘ethical fashion’ for more than a year, but it has felt impossible to begin. Ethical fashion is elusive – it has been talked about so frequently over the past two decades and yet it seems that very little has actually been said. It is now more than twenty years since the global protests were held against Nike for their use of sweatshop labour and two years since the tragic collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. Although calls for more ethical practices by clothing manufacturers are getting louder, it is difficult to figure out what exactly has improved in this time.

Monday, 6 April 2015

West African Inspiration: Aissatou Sene of Bélya

One of my favourite things about being back in Dakar is being surrounded by young creatives who are all incredibly driven and determined to succeed. It seems like every second person you meet here is an entrepreneur who has given up the rat race to pursue their own creative passions.

 Today I want to introduce you to one of these people - Aissatou Sene who runs the brand Bélya.

Aissatou has been running Bélya since 2012. Over the past three years, Bélya has grown from a small passion project, to an internationally recognised brand. Here in Dakar, wax print brogues and loafers are now synoymous with Bélya. Creating and selling unique and original products in a place like Dakar where every second person has a small fashion business is not always easy, but Aissatou's creative eye and business savvy has led to her continued success.

Continually striving to create original, beautiful products, Aissatou's collections over the years have included both mens and womenswear, and a range of handbags and women's shoes.

Most recently, Aissatou has launched an initiative to produce locally-made hand-dyed fabrics by forming a women's workshop in Lompoul, in Northern Senegal, where her Grandmother lives. The workshop will train and employ at least twenty women to dye and sew fabric, and will provide them with fair wages and a sustainable income source. The fabric produced in the workshop will be recycled cotton, and will be dyed and treated entirely in Senegal by a Senegalese workforce - which will make it one of the only fabrics available here that is authentically Senegalese. 

We love the initiative - to see a young Senegalese designer like Aissatou think outside of the box, and  directly address the lack of locally made textiles available in Senegal is nothing short of inspirational, and we are very excited to see the fabric the workshop will produce!
For the workshop to come to fruition, Belya needs our help. They have launched an Indiegogo campaign and are offering some very generous thank you gifts for donations over $45 (which will all be made with the fabric from the workshop!). Belya will ship all thank you gifts internationally too, which is great news if you're outside of Senegal! 

Please watch the video, and follow the below link to donate generously to this exciting initiative.

You can support Belya's Indiegogo campain here 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Style Inspiration: Huong

NAME: Huong Nguyen
HOMETOWN: Hanoi, Vietnam
OCCUPATION: Vietnamese teacher and entrepreneur

I first met Huong at a nightclub in Hanoi and immediately loved her effortless style. With her bowl haircut and loose white dress, she stood out like a sore thumb in the glitzy club full of pumping electro beats, tight skirts and towering high heels. 

I was lucky enough to become close friends with Huong and found out that she is every-bit as down to earth and friendly as she first looked. When my friend Sarah and I randomly bought her an Angry-Bird cake for her birthday, Huong, despite her initial bewilderment was incredibly happy and gracious about it.

Huong always has a million plans up her sleeves and has this incredible drive to make things happen. She left Vietnam at the age of 18 to spend, what would turn out to be the next ten years, studying and working in Beijing and Shanghai. Upon returning to Hanoi she started her own company selling handbags. And her brother is a magician (true story! Check him out here.)

I’m not sure if it is the long time she spent overseas or her constant search for adventure that inspires her unique style. In any case, Huong’s blend of timeless grace and casual nonchalance has been an endless source of inspiration for Madame Tây. 



Photos by Allie Le and Karen Knauff.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

MT in Peppermint Magazine

Back in June we were quite surprised to find ourselves in issue #22 of Peppermint MagazineWe found out that they did a small piece on us when we got a couple of emails from some Peppermint readers.

We promptly went down to the newsagent to find a copy. It was pretty exciting finding something about Madame Tây printed on such nice paper! And the magazine is a good read too.

They gave us a really lovely write up. Thanks Peppermint! x

worlds apart

It's quite the modern dilemma - how to stay in touch with friends who are scattered across the globe. Not content with simply chatting over Skype, four ladies based in Melbourne, Toronto, Dakar and Hanoi set up their own 'hobby clothing project', Madame Tây, to keep on collaborating despite the tyranny of distance. Made in Vietnam and Senegal from locally sourced artisan fabrics including vibrant wax prints, each garment is produced in extremely limited runs by local tailors, whose stories feature on the Madame Tây blog alongside styling tips.


Monday, 2 March 2015

Madame Tây 2015

Rooftops in Dakar, Senegal. Photo by Cara.

Hello and happy 2015!

First up, thank you to everyone who has visited Madame Tây here and on our Facebook page lately. The last few months have been an important time of reflection for the Madame Tây team. We have had a few life changes, a few geographical transitions and also some exciting developments with Madame Tây along the way.

This post is just a quick update on what we're up to and what's in store for 2015.


Steph, who was living in Vietnam when we launched Madame Tây, is now living in Montreal, Canada.

Steph. weeeeeeee!

Cara, who oversaw all our clothing production in Dakar, Senegal, moved back to Melbourne for much of 2014, but is now back in Dakar again as of this month!

Cara and wax print

I'm still in Melbourne and Christina is still in Toronto.

Me and Cyrus. Surf coast outside Melbourne

Christina and Matt go grocery shopping in Toronto


So now that Cara is back in Dakar, we are really excited to be preparing another round of Madame Tây clothing. Cara has been up to her ears in fabrics, meeting people, visiting tailors, sourcing buttons and zips at the markets, while the rest of us have been skyping and emailing madly.

I'll leave Cara to blog in more detail about the fabrics we'll be working with, but there will be plenty more wax print, and possibly some beautiful hand-made fabrics! 

At the moment we're in the early sampling stages of production. We'll keep you updated.

In the meantime, you can follow our journey here on instagram, where we go by the name @madametayclothing.

Sarah x