10 Questions for Aequem
All Images: Aequem / A Perfect Nomad
Values led shopping is growing in popularity. If you want to shop by fabric, Global Goals or ethics, then head to Aequem. We speak to co founders Ieva and Magda about creating a shopping destination without comprimising their values.
It can often be hard to find products that suit your values. Avoiding greenwashing is a daily battle, with so many people claiming to be ‘sustainable’ how are we to choose whats best for us? In our experience, it’s good to find a trusted retailer, one who places ethical and environmental values at the top of it’s shopping list. Thats how we found Aequem. The online retailer has only grown from strength to strength as awareness for sustainable fashion grows and more brand become available.
Speaking to founders Ieva and Magda, it is clear to see their passion and drive to bring Aequem into the world and make it a success. They believe that dressing well shouldn’t come at the expense of people, or our planet. In order to guide you through their values based selection, handy icons are available as you shop to indicate which values certain products or brands identify with. As their business grows, Aequem are proud to align themselves with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. And it’s not just a brag! When browsing through products, they have shown exactly which goals the brand align with. As you’ll find out, they have never compromised their values whilst growing their business.
The Vendeur: How did you meet?
Ieva Balciute & Magda Daniloaia: We met at a business conference in London. Being the youngest in the room and two of the very few women at the event, we immediately clicked and started meeting for coffees and brunches and discussing big ideas. One thing led to another and our mutual project Aequem was born!
TV: What led both to found Aequem?
IB & MD: Aequem was created from a common frustration. We were both interested in leading a more sustainable & ethical lifestyle, conscious of our choices in everyday life. However we found it really difficult to find an easy way to do so. We wanted one place where we could dress head to toe, effortlessly and guilt free, so we decided to create Aequem together. We initially started with only 20 brands, and now have approximately 80… But we never compromised our values whilst growing the business.
TV: What do you believe are the limitations, and benefits of being female founders?
IB & MD: It’s sometimes very hard to judge. In terms of limitations the statistics can sometimes be really shocking. When it comes to the number of investments made in female led businesses (for example in the UK in 2020 only 2% of all start-up funding went to female-led companies, 8% to companies with mixed teams and 90% to male led businesses, Source: Dealroom 2020). However, we try to ignore the statistics and focus on what we do and do the best job possible.
No precise benefits come to mind but it’s nice to see that there are more and more female focused entrepreneurial programmes and an increasing female founders community. However, we do believe that diversity and inclusion is very important in the workplace and having mixed teams bring great benefits to the company.
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TV: How has the marketplace changed since you started?
IB & MD: We have grown quite a bit since we started. More brands that align with our values also exist so we are able to offer many more brands on Aequem.com. This has also meant that we are able to improve the website and the customer experience.
TV: Can you tell us more about how you go about choosing brands for the platform?
IB & MD: We are ardent believers of initiatives like #whomademyclothes and #whatsinmyclothes (read more about the #payup movement here). We evaluate all of the brands across social and environmental sustainability criteria. We work with labels that employ good practices and have more transparency across their supply chains. At the same time, they make pieces out of certified organic, upcycled, recycled, or materials widely considered to be sustainable. We approached ‘sustainability’ like this to actually be able to clearly define what it is for us. That was actually one of the reasons why we decided to start this business to begin with. We were tired and frustrated with the lack of transparency and clarity. ‘Sustainability’ in recent years has become a word that is used very widely, and not always precisely so it was important for us not to fall into such a category.
In addition, we partnered with Conscious Fashion Campaign and were the first multi-label e-commerce marketplace to officially align with the United Nations SDG’s – Sustainable Development Goals. Now, under each product, our customer can see to which goal that product contributes.
TV: Tell us more about the ‘Tech’ section of the edit?
IB & MD: That’s the section that we are most excited about as it is dedicated to the Innovative Sustainable Materials that our brands use. We are always passionate about innovation so this section that contains garments made from various cutting edge materials helps us to stay in the loop with the newest developments in the fashion industry. It also helps the brands using such fabrics find their market.
TV: What sets Aequem apart from other vegan fashion stores?
IB & MD: It’s important to note that even though we have a very broad selection of vegan items, our store is not exclusively vegan. ‘Vegan’ is sadly not always equal to ‘sustainable’ or ‘environmentally friendly’. The problem with the vegan clothing options currently on the market is that often they are made of the virgin plastics that are harmful to the environment and take a long time to biodegrade.
Additionally, vegan doesn’t mean that the item is made without using harmful chemicals. It’s often the case that while producing such vegan garments a lot of pollutants are released into the environment, and these pollutants often damage and/or kill wildlife. We instead focus on the garments that are exclusively made in a socially and environmentally sustainable way. We believe this attention sets us apart from other players.
TV: Simply purchasing sustainable brands will not help us heal our planet, what else does Aequem do to help their customers on their sustainable journey’s?
IB & MD: This is so true. Simply purchasing sustainable brands is not enough and as an e-commerce brand, we try and do our best to be sustainable in any way we can be. In early 2020 we launched an initiative that ensures we plant 10 trees for every purchase, no matter how small! This way, the customer purchases their sustainable piece of clothing while contributing towards a greener world! That’s our bit for now but we are always thinking of sustainable new ways to operate. Additionally, we run the Aequem journal on our website. It’s a place where our customers can discover a variety of articles, tips and lifestyle suggestions, etc. We explore how people can make their life more sustainable as well as discover a lot of useful and interesting information.
TV: How do you think female empowerment is helping boost the sustainable industry?
IB & MD: As most garment workers are women, female empowerment as well as equal pay and female education can really help to boost sustainable practices across the fashion industry and beyond. Empowering women undoubtedly helps to boost social sustainability pretty much immediately. (Like Reda Paula right.) We have also observed that the majority of the sustainable businesses across the fashion industry are actually led by women which is fantastic. We believe that more empowered women can build a more sustainable future for all.
TV: Can you tell us about your favourite new brands to watch in 2021?
IB & MD: This is difficult for us to say because there are so many. We love the brands that we stock and we have a variety of different brands for different occasions and lifestyles. Now that summer is coming, we look to A Perfect Nomad and Oramai for their amazingly floaty and dreamy pieces. All are ideal for warm weather, whether at home or abroad. Amaella, and Olly offer super comfy & sexy lingerie pieces. We love Wires Glasses for uber cool sunnies, and SixtyNinety for affordable sustainable and chic swimwear. In terms of activewear Skimmed Milk produce joyful fitness and athletics wear. That’s just the beginning of the list. We encourage people to come on our website and discover many more at lots of different price points.
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Disclaimer: The people and models in the images featured are not associated with The Vendeur and do not endorse it or the products shown. This post may contain affiliate links. Prices correct at time of publishing.