Design.003: Luna & Soul Active
We recently spoke with Raja Soltani-Parkar, the founder of Activewear label ‘Luna & Soul Active’. She told us about the inspiration behind her clothing line as well as her experiences with ‘fast fashion’ and how they affected her perception of the fashion industry.
Hi Raja, so we’ll start with your history with fashion and what drove you to create your own clothing label?
I used to work in fast fashion, developed and sourced products and have seen the ugly side of the industry. During my career in buying and wholesale, I had to do things that weren’t fair for the environment nor the people. Everything needed to be produced cheap, quickly and at the cost of others. I had to pressure people to get a special price that wasn’t fair, cancel production because of new trends, etc. I felt like a dirty slave of this industry and thought there must be a better way. After I had my first child I thought, where will our planet be once I’m gone? I didn’t think it was fair to destroy our planet and ruin the future for our next generations. I wanted to make a difference and thought there must be a better way to create fashion that would put environmental and human aspects first. After my yoga teaching training we often spoke about dreams and fears, Luna & Soul was one of them. At the time my product idea was a baby sleeping bag, but this all changed after I encountered several health and safety regulations.
What is the design process, from start to finish?
Every time I decide to create a product I would ask myself, what negative impact will my actions have on others and take it from there. From sourcing materials to delivering the finished item, every step is thoughtfully planned. Only toxin-free, vegan, ocean-friendly, sustainable and ethically materials and dyes are used.
How do you differ from other activewear labels in the fashion industry and how have you filled a gap in the market?
I used to work in the fast fashion industry and gained a lot of experience in this field and feel this helps me to create a more conscious eco-friendly product. I’m also a yoga teacher and have incorporated the philosophy of yoga - being kind and mindful - no harm to our environment, people, planet into my collection/ values. With regards to my products, I only work with toxin-free, organic, natural, recycled, up-cycled, biodegradable and innovative materials.
My organic cotton is certified, a lot of my customers are surprised how soft and skin friendly my clothes are, you probably won't be able to achieve this with synthetic fibres unless you use a lot of chemicals.
That's why we only use natural fibres instead of synthetic fibres in order to avoid micro-plastics entering our oceans. The activewear & fashion industry is full of synthetic fibres which is a huge problem to our ocean and marine life. Microscopic fibres are being washed out of synthetic clothing during each wash. Recent reports suggest that there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050. As more plastic enters the environment, there’s going to be more plastic available for animals to ingest. With evidence of microplastics throughout the entire food chain, it raises the question what effect is it having on us? For these reasons and others we don’t use plastic. All Luna & Soul pieces are handmade by small family business instead of factories. I’m a small business and believe in supporting other small businesses; it's a great way to give others access to the global market so they can grow and keep them out of poverty.
The relationship I have with them is more on a personal level than on a business level, which was very important to me. The people I work with also have the same mindset and only work with sustainable and ethical materials. Therefore, I can ensure that all my products have been made by people who are of working age, under safe working conditions and being paid fair for my products.
My colours are not only toxin-free, naturally, hand dyed but also have zero waste. The water that is being used during the dyeing process is returned to earth. I don’t like waste and try to reuse anything I can. My fabric waste is minimal because I try to create new products such as a headband, scrunchies or care labels. Giving back is important to me, every purchase I receive I donate a proportion to a selected charity.
How many people are behind Luna & Soul and how did you build the team from the ground up?
That's a very easy answer :-) It's all me. I hope once I grow I will be able to build a mindful team who has the same vision as me.
Do you outsource your manufacturing or are you primarily an Australian activewear label?
I used to live in Bali, so it was obvious to manufacture there, I now have developed a very good relationship with my tribe and like to continue and support them. Manufacturing in Australia is definitely on my radar as I would like to manufacture in both countries.
Where do you see Luna & Soul going in the future?
I have lots of dreams and see Luna & Soul but see Luna & Soul within the sustainable and ethical fashion area.
Do you see your Luna & Soul expanding to a physical store? What are some of the challenges that you have come across, behind a vegan, environmentally friendly active label that is exclusively online?
Luna & Soul is not exclusively online; I had lots of markets, pop-up shops and events where people can see my collection. For 2019 I’m planning to do more and hope to be able to have my concept store one day