Atmos x Polite x Lonely Whale:
T-Shirts For The Ocean

 

INTERVIEW BY LANDON PEOPLES

To raise awareness to the critical issues our ocean is facing, we partnered  with ethical slow fashion brand Polite Worldwide and ocean-focused non-profit Lonely Whale on a series of limited-edition t-shirts to raise funds for the Ocean Heroes Network, cofounded by Lonely Whale—a program that empowers young people to create campaigns that measurably reduce plastic pollution.

INTERVIEW BY LANDON PEOPLES

Text Size

Roughly 70% of the Earth is water. Water also makes up 70% of the human heart. Every other breath we take comes from the ocean, with phytoplankton and marine plants producing more than 50% of Earth’s oxygen.

 

With 80% of life on Earth being found in the ocean, we owe our very lives to it—which is why we’ve partnered with slow fashion brand Polite Worldwide and ocean-focused nonprofit Lonely Whale to raise awareness around the critical issues the ocean is facing and support youth efforts to clean it up.

 

To raise funds for the Ocean Heroes Network, a program cofounded by Lonely Whale that empowers young people ages 11- to 18-years old to create campaigns that reduce plastic pollution, we’re launching a series of three limited-edition, ocean-inspired t-shirts: the “One Ocean” tee, the “Sanctuary” tee, and the “Glacier” tee.

 

With 60 t-shirts—all made from factory seconds and damages, reimagined and repurposed by Polite in Los Angeles—each artwork embodies a unique ocean theme: the “One Ocean” tee, inspired by the ocean as a singular body of water; the “Sanctuary” tee, which speaks to the need to protect our ocean; and the hand-painted “Glacier” tee, which raises awareness around the vulnerability of glaciers and their intimate role in climate change.

 

100 percent of profits will benefit the Ocean Heroes Network and their fight to take action against plastic pollution in their local communities.

 

In the interview below, Polite cofounder Tavia Azzinaro speaks to Atmos on the values behind a truly “slow” fashion label, how to curb production waste beyond plastic, and how a made-to-order model can lead to limited-edition, sustainably made clothes.

L to R: “One Ocean” tee, $90; “Glacier” tee, $250; “Sanctuary” tee, $250.

Atmos

Tell us about Polite and what it’s like to make clothes in Los Angeles.

Tavia Azzinaro

Everything that we do with Polite is done out of our own workshop/studio here in Los Angeles. It was really important for us to be able to create something that we could be very hands on throughout its making, because we’ve been involved in fashion behind the scenes (on the production, manufacturing side previously), and saw a lot of the waste that happens in traditional manufacturing. Something we wanted to be able to do with Polite was to really step in on all ends of the processes—to be able to make sure that we could actually introduce things that were a little bit more forward thinking as far as how things are made, reducing waste, being more conscious with water throughout our die and finishing processes, [and] experimenting with color through natural and plant-based dyes.

 

We use all vegan and nontoxic inks when we do our printing and Christian actually prints everything by hand himself so that we can make sure that everything is maintained throughout the process.

Atmos

When it comes to sustainable brands who have clear and overt environmental policies, and an explicit commitment to the environment, you attract customers who either already know about sustainability (and, in turn, might be a bit skeptical) or you get people who don’t know much about it and have some questions.

 

What are the main things that you find your customers or followers are most interested in whenever they approach/first meet Polite?

Tavia

The upcycling process hasn’t really been explained properly and people are definitely interested as far as the way we try to do it—[which] is trying to eliminate as much waste that there currently is. And there is so much waste with every single brand. The process is really interesting because, traditionally, when you’re making clothing, there’s a lot of damages that would be considered unsellable for a lot of brands. What we try to do is look through those damages, and some of what would be considered a damage is so minimal, that, for us, we try to build up those small imperfections and use those as a part of what we do through Polite so that we can actually create new life around items that would otherwise be destined for trash. That specific process has become more a point of interest for our customers and then just different people that are interested in what Polite is up to.

Atmos

The industry needs a value system. And that’s where people are looking to put their money when they’re looking at new brands. Where do you source the materials from?

Tavia

We source all of our materials locally in Los Angeles. With L.A. being such a hub for fashion manufacturing and production, there are so many resources here. On the upcycling side of things, we could sustain a business for generations just collecting the waste that’s out there and then repurposing those goods. Because our artwork is also really important. It often pushes a message that’s way more meaningful than the product itself for us. The product is just a vehicle for the actual message that we’re putting out. Often, you’ll see word graphics or imagery that’s representative of something that we really want to say, and the product is just a vehicle to be able to do that. But everything that we put out has much more meaning than just an item.

View this post on Instagram

Roughly 70% of the Earth is water. Water also makes up 70% of the human heart. Every other breath we take comes from the ocean, with phytoplankton and marine plants producing more than 50% of Earth's oxygen. 🌊 With 80% of life on Earth being found in the ocean, we owe our very lives to it—which is why we’ve partnered with slow fashion brand @politeworldwide and ocean-focused nonprofit @lonelywhale to raise awareness around the critical issues the ocean is facing and support youth efforts to clean it up. ♻️ To raise funds for the Ocean Heroes Network, a program cofounded by Lonely Whale that empowers young people ages 11- to 18-years old to create campaigns that reduce plastic pollution, we’re launching a series of three limited-edition, ocean-inspired t-shirts: the “One Ocean” tee, the “Sanctuary” tee, and the “Glacier” tee. 👕 With just 60 t-shirts—all made from factory seconds and damages, reimagined and repurposed by Polite in Los Angeles—each artwork embodies a unique ocean theme: the “One Ocean” tee, inspired by the ocean as a singular body of water; the “Sanctuary” tee, which speaks to the need to protect our ocean; and the hand-painted “Glacier” tee, which raises awareness around the vulnerability of glaciers and their intimate role in climate change. 🌎 100% of profits will benefit the @oceanheroeshq and their fight to take action against plastic pollution in their local communities. Help support the next generation of ocean activists get yours today on politeworldwide.com.

A post shared by Atmos (@atmos) on

Atmos

How do you choose then what paints and dyes to use? What are they made of?

Tavia

It took Christian about nine months to source all of the paints that he uses and just to play with the botanical dye side of things; all the natural pigments, as far as turmeric and Indigo (and cochineal, which is another one that he often uses). Black tea and coffee… I’m constantly collecting my coffee grinds every single day and putting them into a bucket for him to just let him play with that color and do different things. He often plays with color and just does his own kind of version of what would traditionally be called a “lab dip”.

Atmos

How do you grapple with the concept of consumerism, then, when we’re discussing waste, as a conscious or sustainable brand? What is Polite’s stance on that?

Tavia

Our stance on that is to contribute to something that still provides consumers with an option so that they feel like they’re able to participate in getting their hands on something that brings in these core values. Because we know it’s unrealistic to say people are just going to stop shopping and consuming and buying products. We’re trying to make sure that, from the very beginning—from our sourcing to our own craftsmanship and the way that our goods are assembled and actually produced—that we bring in these values, but then also how they end up to the end customer.

 

But to say that people are going to stop consuming is definitely not a realistic thing at this point. If they’re consuming more consciously, that’s where we want to sit and just be able to evolve constantly as a brand—to be more mindful and to really create pieces that are sustainable. This is not fast fashion, this is not about trend. Aesthetic is important to us, but we do not focus at all on trend or anything that should be trying to keep up with putting things out that constantly need to grasp onto a new product. We’re not about that.

 

For us, we do something that’s called a “no-waste release” when we put out a product. So, it’s based on the demand. Oftentimes, some of our pieces are made to order—so, in that case, someone requested it, Christian will paint it, [and] spend time on putting it together. Or if it’s jewelry, we will assemble it based on the order to make sure that we’re not contributing to excess inventory (in that process, there is a huge toll environmentally and it’s just wasteful and not something that we want to be behind).

Atmos

What have you learned about slow fashion since cofounding Polite?

Tavia

When you look for an alternative—and you look hard enough and you’re committed to it—you can find some really amazing things out there. We hope that it encourages other larger brands who are some of the biggest polluters in this space to look into sourcing alternative options, as well. Because if we can do it out of our own little infrastructure that we’ve go—they can certainly do it on a much larger scale.

Africa,Asia,BiodiversityChampions,Cascade,Circularity,Cities,ClimateArt,ClimatePolitics,ClimateResiliency,Conversations,Culture,DeadWhiteMansClothes,EcoInnovation,Ecosystems,EthicalFashion,Europe,FlourishCollapse,FutureOfFood,GlobalFashion,HumanBody,Indigenous,Latitude,Neo-Natural,NewBiology,NorthAmerica,Oceania,Oceans,Perspectives,ResourceExtraction,SacredEcology,SouthAmerica,SupplyChains,TheFrontline,TheOverview,Travel,Watch,