In Conversation with Juliet Souter, founder of Marle

 

Can you please share with our community a bit about yourself and why you started Marle?

I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand when it was still a childhood of kids playing out on the streets, climbing trees, making fun out of nothing, knowing your neighbours, sticking to your local and creating lovely, simple memories - it was a dream childhood. Holidays were spent camping or at the snow - always out in nature, which is where my love of the natural world and my complete awe and wonder was sparked. 

I grew up in a creative family where sharing your creativity was always encouraged and I knew from an early age that clothing and dressing would be the path for me. I started the typical way designers do - making clothing for my dolls, then once trusted with a sewing machine, making clothes for myself. I left school early, went to study fashion design at university and from there worked in numerous areas of the industry before becoming pregnant with my daughter, Vita and thinking the time was right to slowly work on my own brand. I majored in knitwear at university and knew that was where I wanted to start. I wanted to explore a more modern take on the traditional knitwear offering at the time with yarn and texture doing the heavy lifting of the garment and simplicity in design reigning supreme for wardrobe longevity.


Were there any defining moments in your life that lead you to be the environmentally and socially conscious woman you are today?

My grandmother used to make me the most special and thoughtful hand smocked and sewn dresses when I was a young girl, fabrics were always paramount. I think my love of fabrics and yarn come from her and also my mother and step-mother who always invested in the fabrics that were in their wardrobes - I still have and wear clothing of theirs that they’ve passed down. Becoming a mother myself made me take it all a step further, I didn’t want to put
creations out into the world that would take hundreds of years to break down, I wanted to know and trust that care was taken with the people in our business and our partners - I want my children to be proud of what we’ve created.

How do you incorporate sustainability into your personal life?

Work and life are very intertwined so the decisions I make for our home come from a considered viewpoint just like at work. Compostable products for home, supporting local artists, products that we use all tread lightly and share the same common ethos.


Sustainability and natural fibres are the first words that come to mind when we think of Marle, is this something you have always been passionate about?

For my business, yes, but it’s taken time and learning to get to where we are now and as I’m always learning, this isn’t the end point in our sustainability journey. It’s not a destination, we have much more work to do and will continue to do so. I get more and more passionate about it but also often disheartened by what is going on in our industry. I am very passionate about packaging and the use of single use plastics in business, and in our industry, it is not necessary and should be banned.

In the sustainability realm I think its important to be realistic too, to truly live and breathe a fully eco life comes from a place of privilege, it’s expensive - I wish it wasn’t the case and more people had access but that’s not reality. I do the best I can within our business and also our personal life and giving back is also imperative.

We love that you design pieces that encourage your community to love and wear forever, can you share more about why this is so important to you and the world around you?

Through the yarn and fabric we use, longevity is crucial, so we strive to use the highest quality available to us with the consideration that the piece will last many seasons to come. We encourage our community to buy once and buy right, know and invest in quality - not consumption that will last just a short while and end up in landfill. We’ve been led to believe that we always need ‘newness’
but if you invest in quality, it’s about adding to your pieces and not replacing them which is better for your bank balance and also for the environment in the long run. I also think purchasing our pieces second hand if new isn’t an option is a great way to continue the cycle of longevity.

There are little touches that always say Marle to us throughout your collections, such as shell buttons, fabric texture and voluminous sleeves. What is your signature piece or touch that you’ve become known for over the years?

I think the Marle signature is texture as a whole, whether that’s through the yarn or fabric itself or through the nuances to design details we use such as stitches, classic rib in varying ratios, silhouette or fastenings or something like our shell buttons. Along with these more visible elements, I believe the inside of a garment should have the same care taken with it - French seams or flat felled
seams are a signature for me too, I love a crisp, clean seam, those subtle details make all the difference.

 

Finally, we are always curious to know what’s next for our favourite brands, can you give is a little hint of something you’re working on personally and for Marle?

For quite some time now we’ve been working on a new category, the link to an everlasting and curated wardrobe, organic cotton and the perfect fit, I’ll leave it at that until closer to launch. Personally, I’m looking forward to doing more pottery this year!

What are your slow living favourites?

Place: Waihuka, Papamoa Beach
Piece of advice: Just keep going
Quote: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” – Leonard Cohen
Muse:  All the women I’m surrounded by
Read: I love reading books but haven’t found the right moments lately so I’ve been turning to old copies of Apartamento, I love seeing how creatives I admire live
Listen: The Last Bohemians podcast is wonderful and Advance Copy too

 

 

Slowe speaks with Juliet Souter, founder of Marle, about her defining moments that lead her...