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As ethical and sustainable fashion gets its moment in the sun, MURALA is an Irish brand you need to know about

Representing the West.

IT’S FAIRLY SAFE to say that the world is waking up to the impact of fast fashion on the environment. With that said, many still view the clothes they wear as being disposable with 60% of all clothing ending up in landfills and incinerators within a year of being produced.

This was something that Alan Kelly and Sandra Murphy were conscious of when they set up their label, Murala, based out of Co. Clare. 

MURALA_Alan-Sandra Alan Kelly (design director) and Sandra Kelly (creative director), MURALA

Having both experienced the fashion rat race of London and New York respectively, the former college pals reunited to create an ethical, sustainable line for women who don’t wish to compromise on style.

“I moved to London in 2000 and have been working on the high street ever since,” Kelly told DailyEdge.ie. ”I worked in pattern cutting and production.

“Like everybody, I got to a point where I was trying to find a work-life balance, and it was to the point where, living in London, I was ready to move on.”

“I moved to New York, and it was a great experience,” Murphy explained to DailyEdge.ie. “Everything a young graduate from fashion could have ever dreamed of! I lectured part-time there as well.”

Despite the distance, the old college friends made a point of staying in touch with each other, involving weekly FaceTimes. When both received opportunities to return to Ireland, to work with students in the Limerick School of Art and Design, it was a no brainer for the pair.

“Personally, I always thought that I wanted to move back, but was also like, ‘well you have this career in fashion, what are you going to do if you move back to Ireland? Where are you going to get a job?’ But it was always on the cards,” Kelly said

It was always in the pipeline, but we never really thought we’d be able to do it.”

“We had both worked in the fashion capitals of the world, but i’s so difficult to live there, never mind support yourself or a business,” Murphy added. “Even in new York, you see these small labels moving out to Brooklyn, then they move out further, than they move to upstate New York.”

It makes sense then to hear of MURALA being born out of Murphy’s native Clare, following “a few practical things falling into place”.

“The economy is totally different now with the internet,” Murphy said, explaining their decision to choose the west over Dublin. “We’re in our design studio right now that I could only ever have dreamed of having and being able to afford it.

I just got my New York loft design studio in Ennis instead!”

MURALA ELLERBY dress Source: MURALA

All of the prints seen throughout MURALA’s pieces are digitally drawn by Murphy.  would like to see consumers shopping smarter and buying less so that less fashion waste ends up in landfill. All of the items in the collection are produced in a crease-proof material encouraging less washing and ironing too. Interestingly, its scarves have become somewhat of a hero product and are made using leftover materials from other items in the collection which would be otherwise discarded.

MURALA CARNABY scarf Source: MURALA

In addition to being eco-conscious, the brand collections are and will be produced as close to home as possible. At the moment, production is based in Poland under EU regulation ensuring fair treatment for all involved.

“It’s something that you can’t not be conscious of now, especially when you’re starting something from scratch,” Murphy said on the topic of sustainability. “You’re presented with the choice of being a bit more conscious, which will be better for the brand, better for what you’re doing and contribute a little as opposed to causing more harm or problems.

“We’re given the opportunity to be ethical, and we have been. Obviously, we weren’t going to be able to produce out of Ireland unfortunately. We didn’t want to produce out of China or Ireland. We’re working out of the EU because workers’ rights are protected and we didn’t have to worry that any body would be harmed, never mind anything else.”

When it comes to consumers adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, Murphy acknowledged that it’s still a challenge for many.

“The industry as a whole has to catch up,” she said. “We don’t even have the choices that we would want as a small brand … I think a lot of it is, people need to start viewing clothing as more of a commodity as opposed to “wear once, chuck out”. 

It’s about caring for your clothes more, mending it if it needs a little bit of a mend, and also buying smarter so you end up getting really nice pieces that aren’t too trend-driven.”

Kelly reckons costs and margins are being prioritised over sustainable practices by fast fashion brands.

“For example, if they were to work with more sustainable fabrics, it would cost them a lot of money. But it would really be down to the consumer to go, ‘no, we’re not accepting this, it’s got to be sustainable.’

We are trying to be more sustainable but we are definitely ethical in the way we work within or office and with our manufacturing process.”

In terms of further efforts MURALA is making, Murphy explained that are in the process of finalising their shipping services with a provider who offsets the carbon footprint of the delivery – a fairly deadly move, admittedly.

 

“If there is an option, we will look in to it,” she said. “At the moment, we’re looking into sourcing Tencel. It could be two years or five years before we source it [...] But we’re constantly going to move and change for whatever option we have to do things better.”

You can see more of MURALA’s pieces at murala.com or by clicking here.

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