Go into the VILDNIS with Ulla Richards

Take a look at our interview with VILDNIS, a brand that combines the edgy trends from the high street with sustainable practices:

  1. What is your role in the brand?

I’m Ulla Richards, Founder and CEO of VILDNIS. 

Can sustainable fashion create change? | Live Frankly
Ulla, Richards, Founder of VILDNIS

2. Describe your brand in a few sentences.  

VILDNIS is a sustainable womenswear brand on a mission to make ethical and eco-friendly fashion the norm, by offering a collection of carefree, stylish and edgy pieces designed to last. Whether it’s the planet, workers or animals in the supply chain, we are as passionate about defending them, as we are about creating pieces that are easy on the eyes AND the conscience.

3. How did VILDNIS come into existence? How did it all start?   

I’ve worked in fashion since for many years and was getting increasingly tired of witnessing practices that I felt were outdated; practices that didn’t take the welfare of workers, animals or the planet into consideration. I knew that there were plenty of eco-friendlier materials and processes around, and it baffled me that most brands continued (and continue) to use fibres that are really bad for the environment such as conventional cotton and viscose. Similarly, I felt it should be every brand’s obligation to ensure that garment manufacturers started paying their workers fair wages and not just minimum wages. 

Whenever I tried to nudge my former employers in a more sustainable direction, I was told that ‘customers don’t ask for sustainable products, so why should we invest time and money in it!?’ 

It made me think about how we could create a consumer demand for sustainable fashion and ultimately ‘force’ the brands to change their ways. After carrying out extensive research, it was clear that fashion consumers in general would love to buy fashion that is made in an ethical and eco-friendly way – as long as they didn’t have to compromise on style – and that they were struggling to find it. 

And this is how VILDNIS started; we wanted to give the fashion consumer a choice, offering them sustainable fashion that looks like the womenswear they can find on the high street.

4. Tell us a bit more about what goes into making your products?  

All of our production is made in either Portugal or India, using the eco-friendliest fabrics that we can find including: certified organic cottons, Tencel, recycled polyester, organic linen and recycled wool. 

All of our prints are digital or laser to save water and prevent water pollution. Our denim and other woven products are washed and softened with air, using nanobubble technology (air) from Jeanalogia, saving 200 litres of water per garment. And we rarely use animal fibres, but when we do, we use recycled fibres. 

Everything is ethically made in audited factories who pay their workers fair wages and treat them well.

5. Personally, what does sustainability mean to you?  

Sustainability to me means that we leave the planet in the same or better condition than we found it. It means being mindful about the natural resources we use and not use more than the planet can regenerate. 

In the VILDNIS world, sustainability also includes the ethical aspects. We believe that equality and fair treatment of everyone in the supply chain is the key to a more harmonious and peaceful society.

6. As a sustainable brand, what are your biggest challenges?  

One of our biggest challenges is that we are competing with big traditional fashion brands who pretends to be sustainable and does a lot of greenwashing. They have a lot more marketing/buying power than us, which is why a platform like Eco Fashion Labels is great for us; it helps us raise brand awareness.  

7. Where do you gain inspiration?  

Our collections are mostly inspired by trends we see on the street and always designed with the carefree VILDNIS customer and lifestyle in mind. 

Additionally, we always pick a country to be inspired from when we start designing a new collection, finding elements in their nature or culture to include in our bespoke prints and shapes. As an example, for an upcoming collection, Indonesia inspired our wild tiger and swirly flower prints. 

8. What is your favorite item from your brand and why?  

My all time favourite item is the Yosemite military style jacket. It’s the perfect throw-on layer in between seasons and it always makes me feel edgy and a bit rebellious.  We have a new version landing soon with an amazing embroidery at the back – I am super excited about it!!

9. What is the story behind your brand’s name?  

VILDNIS is the Danish word for wilderness with similarities to the English word wildness.  It alludes to our love of wild nature, our free spirit and our untamed aesthetics.

10. What made you choose Eco Fashion Labels to sell your products?  

We loved the look of the Eco Fashion Label website and it just felt like a good match in terms of both ethos and aesthetics.

11. What are the biggest challenges sustainable fashion is facing right now? 

Hmmm.. 

I think the biggest challenge is to change the mindset of the fashion consumer; to somehow convince consumers that we need to move away from Black Friday deals and big discounts. That is the best way to slow consumption down and pay realistic full prices year round, than to encourage overconsumption and hard negotiation with factory owners on prices (ultimately affecting the wages of the workers).   

Another big challenge is to develop and source materials that are truly sustainable. Organic cotton for instance is a much better alternative to conventional cotton, but it still requires a lot of water to grow and a lot of land. I would love to see things moving a lot faster in the R&D area! 

12. What can be improved in this sector?  

I would like to see more inclusivity. Up till now most sustainable fashion summits and conferences have been dominated by especially one big fast fashion brand in particular, rather than showcasing smaller brands who are making wholehearted efforts to be more sustainable. I would like these types of events to be more inclusive, inviting a range of smaller brands to share their experiences, doing hackathons and generally involving more people in the process, allowing for some new ideas to emerge. 

Shop the VILDNIS collection on Eco Fashion Labels here

Thank you Ulla for taking part in the interview!

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Written by: Chantal 🙂


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