The Bower Byron Bay speaks with Founders Libby And Vanessa | The Harmonic
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The Bower Byron Bay speaks with Founders Libby And Vanessa

If you're heading to Byron for a weekend escape do yourself a favour and look up The Bower. The most achingly hip boutique hotel, combining the laidback barefoot ambiance of Byron Bay with effortless elegance of a New York upscale boutique hotel.

We recently sat down with them to talk all things circular fashion, here's their lovely write up on our chat. You can read the full article at The Bower Blog

We go out of our way to use paper, not plastic, and shun businesses that don’t visibly commit to sustainability, yet do we really stop to think about the astronomical effect our lust for new outfits is having on our planet?

The global fashion industry produces more CO2 emissions than the shipping and aviation industries combined. In fact, The World Economic Forum identified fashion, and its supply chain, as the planet’s third-largest polluters. Outrageous, no?!

Thankfully the up-cycled clothing trend has been brewing away for a while now with re-seller sites like eBay, Depop and Vestiaire, as well as the boom in clothing rental sites.

The only downfall is that these sites require endless trawling, and many a let-down when the item received is most definitely not in the condition described.

Step in sisters, and best friends, Vanessa and Libby, who have recently launched The Harmonic. The Harmonic is a curated site of once-loved quality pieces with a focus on brands showcasing a commitment to sustainable practices, particularly local Australian and NZ brands who we believe are leading the way globally.

The platform is presented in a beautiful ‘easy to shop’ format. And you won’t need to scroll to find your favourite brands – Lucy Folk, SIR, St Agni, Lee Matthews… they’re all here, curated to perfection by these incredible sisters!

Where Did The Idea For The Harmonic Come From?

We have always wanted to create something together that fused our love of fashion with our desire to make a real difference.

Our idea centred around changing the way we consume – buying less, buying quality and wearing consciously. We believe that by doing this we can truly make a difference to the health of our environment. However, this shouldn’t have to mean sacrificing on style or that high-end online shopping experience.

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.

And the timing was perfect! With Libby’s return to Australian shores for the first time in ten-years, we had the opportunity to make our dream a reality.

From there, The Harmonic was born.

How Long Did It Take From The Conception Of Your Idea To Bring It All Together? (Please Include The Process Of Your Business Journey)

We started planning The Harmonic in January 2021 – literally the day Libby landed in hotel quarantine in Sydney. Vanessa had been thinking about an idea centred around circular fashion for over a year, and after just one conversation it was decided – we would make this a reality together!

Our goal was to challenge consumers to think differently – not just about which brands they buy from, but also about pre-loved fashion. We wanted to be a catalyst for change and prove that there’s no shame in buying second-hand.

Our plan was to launch predominantly with ethical labels, and Australia and New Zealand in particular are leading the way on the global stage when it comes to sustainable fashion. We wanted trans-seasonal pieces that you can wear time and time again, and we needed to take a considered approach when curating the collection.

The garments are primarily sourced from influencers who want to see their beautiful pieces re-loved, women with vast wardrobes who would like to clear out anything they don’t wear anymore, and those who are trying to adopt a more circular wardrobe.

Right from the beginning we decided it was crucial to photograph each of our garments on real women, not lifeless on a hanger. We have met with so many beautiful ladies in Byron Bay and have shot with a Pilates instructor, an entrepreneur, an artist, a student, a past model and many other wonderful women.

We were lucky enough to shoot our launch campaign in the Byron Hinterland, with the talented Claudia Smith. It was amazing to see pre-loved garments from seasons past brought back to life and treated as new again.

Our platform and first drop was ready by October 2021, and we launched with over 200 pieces from labels including Maggie Marilyn, Matteau, Bassike, Artclub, KITX, St Agni, Lucy Folk and Nagnata.

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.

But for now, we’re just going to enjoy the ride!

What Was The Most Challenging Part Of Launching A New Business?

We were both in Byron Bay together 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.

Vanessa: 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!

Libby: I recently moved to Sydney with my family, so Vanessa and I are now working remotely. We speak about 8-10 times a day and there are lots of Zoom meetings, but it’s so much easier when I get back up to Byron and we can work together.

What Are The Benefits Of Purchasing Second-Hand?

Thankfully, there are now so many resources out there documenting the damage the fashion industry is doing to the world around us, as well as the human toll of poor working conditions created by fast fashion. Slowly but surely, it feels like we are heading in the right direction and beginning to work harmoniously 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. And with that, gone will be the days of fast fashion.

Shopping for once-loved pieces will become the new norm, and consumers will think twice before purchasing a brand-new item and instead prioritising trans-seasonal, high-quality pieces from ethical brands with a commitment to sustainability.

Just one pre-loved purchase saves 1kg of waste, 3,040 litres of water and 22kg of CO2 (when compared to buying new).

What Do You Look For When Purchasing Second-Hand?

We believe there is such a big gap in the market for pre-loved fashion presented in a beautifully curated way, and a shopping experience that doesn’t feel ‘second-hand’.

We take a very considered approach when sourcing our collections; choosing pieces that may have sold out, were cult favourites in seasons past or simply styles that stand the test of time.

All of our pieces have been treated with care and arrive beautifully packaged and presented. We believe that circular fashion should still feel special.

What Should Everyone Have In Their Wardrobe?

Here in Australia, you can’t go past the perfect sundress – think Matteau’s tiered sundresses or a timeless Lee Mathews linen maxi. Or for something simpler, a St Agni slip dress will be a staple for years to come.

A classic white shirt is always a must – we love Camilla and Marc or Anine Bing. For more impact try Blanca’s colourful oversized shirts that are perfect as a beach cover-up or just as good paired with jeans. Speaking of jeans, Agolde’s 90’s pinch waist jeans work on almost every shape.

Moving into Autumn the oversized blazer is still an essential in every capsule wardrobe, it instantly turns a slip dress into a chic evening look, and gives denim a cool update. Maggie Marilyn and Camilla & Marc both have exquisite tailoring, or try Venroy’s linen blazers for a more cost-effective option.

Bassike’s leather slides are an absolute essential every season. And finally, Lucy Folk has made terry towelling a summer staple!