In the world of ethical fashion, we’re used to seeing new collections released slowly. The antithesis of fast-fashion brands that produce up to 52 collections a year, indie brands might come out with just three or four – one small collection per season to accommodate the changing weather and emerging trends. But today I want to write about a brand that doesn’t release new collections every season. In fact, their entire permanent collection is made up of just two styles of tee shirt, and they have no current plans to expand.
I’m talking about indie brand Loyale Studio, founded by designer Jenny Hwa. In its previous life, Loyale was a more traditional fashion company. Jenny was still using the highest quality materials from sustainable sources, but like most brands, she was releasing up to three collections per year. Her designs received notoriety from the likes of Vogue and the New York Times, but despite her growth and success, Jenny wasn’t even able to pay herself under that business model.
Enter Loyale 2.0. Reinvented in North Carolina after some time off and serious soul-searching, Loyale Studio focused on creating timeless wardrobe staples that can be worn all year round. There are two tees in the collection: a three-quarter sleeve ballet-neck tee (Style No.1), and a short-sleeve tunic (Style No. 2), both of which come in either black or grey stripe. The tees are produced ethically in a worker-owned co-op, and $2 from each sale is donated to a charity of the customer’s choosing
This isn’t the first time you’ve seen Loyale around here. I had my first opportunity to work with Loyale in the summer of 2018 when I was invited to be a brand ambassador. For those of you who are not bloggers, I’ll tell you that most brand ambassadorships with small brands go a certain way. The company sends you a product to promote, and you post about it. There’s not a whole lot else to it than that.
But Loyale was different. Jenny sent each one of us a tee, and then we joined a vibrant group of ambassadors who were encouraged to get to know one another, to chat not just about clothes and Instagram marketing strategies, but also about food, music, and our lives in general. Sometimes we’d get a surprise in the mailbox – a bottle of infused olive oil or a box of sugary treats – just because Loyale is sweet and wanted to appreciate us. Jenny has personally helped me through some challenging times in my blogging career with her kind words and wisdom as a business owner, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
I’ve worked with brands that try hard to project an image of being ethical and engaged in their communities of interest, but it’s often just a facade with a lot of coldness on the back end. Jenny embodies the values of her brand at every level, from sourcing fabrics to sewing garments to appreciating and supporting her marketing team. It makes me feel so good to be a part of it.
Now, a lot of you probably came here for a review of the tee itself, so let’s move on to the details. I actually own Style No. 1 in both colorways, the black and the stripe, and while I’ve been wearing the black one no less than once a week for the last six months, today I want to talk about the grey stripe. I received this tee a few weeks ago and have been working on incorporating it into my early spring wardrobe. (If you’re more interested in Style No. 2, you can check out a review by my friend Jasmine, here)
I don’t always write about the packaging for the products I review, but I want to today because I think that Loyale does something special. First of all, all my Loyale packages have all come with a really cute postcard attached to the outside. It is an actual postcard that you can (and I have) mail to someone with a nice little message on it. It has a picture of a rooster on it, so I don’t think I need to explain anymore.
The garments themselves are packed up in a paper envelope, as opposed to a poly-bag, which I really appreciate. I try to find ways to reuse the envelope as well. (Click here for a truly excellent post about sustainable packaging by Elizabeth of Conscious Life and Style)
The Style No. 1 tee in grey stripe is made from 100% Japanese milled cotton, and is cut & sewn in North Carolina. It is machine washable, but the instructions are very clear that you should not put it in your dryer. I have, of course, put my black one in the dryer several times (sorry Jenny!), but even with the near constant wear and the laundry abuse, it has held up – good as new. You know how when you wash a tee shirt a bunch of times and the seams start to twist? Yeah, that doesn’t happen with these.
The fit is what really makes this top a show-stopper, in my opinion. The ballet neck is so, so pretty, and it makes a basic tee shirt feel grown-up and elegant. It feels like it was made for my body – it accentuates my collarbone and shoulders, but not my chest, it tapers gently at my natural waist, and then it has plenty of room for my hips at the bottom. The overall effect is slimming and clean, which I love.
I’m wearing a size XS in these photos, and for reference, I’m 5’2”, with a 32” bust, 26” waist, and 38” hips. (Loyale has a helpful sizing guide on their website, here) This is definitely the kind of shirt that exposes bra straps, so I say either wear a fun bra or a cool tank underneath, or go with a strapless bra. I usually wear a skin-toned strapless bra with it, but I also wear it to the climbing gym sometimes and I think it looks great with a sports-bra underneath.
The Loyale Studio Style No. 1 tee comes in at $62, which definitely puts it in the category of luxury fashion.
Small brands like Loyale are doing their part to disrupt the status quo of clothing production, which is notoriously unethical and bad for the planet. If you can’t afford a $62 tee shirt, I do not blame or judge you, but if you can, supporting a business like Loyale Studio is a great way to put your dollars where your values are.
Jenny was also kind enough to provide me with a discount code for my readers, so, if you’re in the market for a great new tee, use case-sensitive code GoblinShark20%off for 20% off your Loyale Studio order until April 10. Just FYI, I do not make a commission from sales made with this code. It’s really just for you.
Questions? Let me know in the comments below!