Saint Rule is a brand new lingerie company out of Sydney. That isn’t a sentence I get to say a lot and I’m overly excited about it. Australia is a big country with a small population. For some unknown reason, Australians seem to really love Lingerie. Slowly but surely brands are appearing locally to quench the thirst of the local addicts. Saint rule is one of those brands and it has a very unique selling point.
I spoke briefly with the designer about the brand as I was interested to know more about how ethical a luxury lingerie brand could be. The luxury market is quite secretive in all industries, most of the time selling smoke and mirrors at a premium price. You would think that luxury also means ethical but most of the time it’s just benefiting off that assumption without having to provide any evidence. As with anything luxury, Saint Rule has a very cohesive and well presented brand, giving enough information to encourage you to buy without tell you all the ins and outs of the business.
I was curious to find out more so I asked Caitlin, the creative director of Saint Rule some questions regarding the ethics of her brand and here is what she had to say.
Q. Your items are made in Vietnam, what was the reason you chose to manufacture there?
A. Several reasons to be honest. I used to work for another Sydney based ladies RTW label which produced in Vietnam, so I’ve spent considerable time in Ho chi min city. So when I wanted to do my own thing after exploring Australian manufacturing and Chinese manufacturing I decide to go back to what I knew best and work with my colleagues in Vietnam. There are a few aspects to this. To do what I have done on this scale would not be possible in Australia at an reasonable price, and I struggled to find people with expertise I needed. I would also be importing my materials. Then at the opposite of that was meeting the minimum quantity orders for China- unless you have several thousand dollars this is not reachable for start up labels although it was something i looked into. You will notice a trend become more visible soon across the industry that a lot of manufacturing is leaving China and moving to Vietnam. I can see the incredible increase in work the tailors are taking on with new brands, particularly with an increase in British brands.
One thing I pride myself on is that I learnt everything not to do working for other people. As a new brand I can dictate the ethical stance I take. I want to do everything “correct” from the beginning and continue as I started.
In Vietnam the tailors I work with are 3 amazing women and their family companies. I have met every worker and visited every factory and work space. I know that they are good companies with good people run by women supporting women and their quality of life. They pay well above what we would call and award wage.
Q. A lot of new brands are built on sustainability and ethical consumption these days, is that something you have done with your business or will it be something you slowly build into it? If so, what are you doing to make it more sustainable?
A. All of my fabric sourcing is what’s considered stock fabric or what might be know by the term dead fabric. It’s basically the rolls of fabric disregarded or what excess is sold on to smaller brands rather than it being thrown out to waste. A lot of smaller brands do this firstly, to save money and have access to amazing fabrics at a reduced rate but it’s also a more ethical choice. There are parts of the lingerie materials you need like clips and straps and rings that unfortunately would never be dead stock, this is just referring to the materials like laces and silk blends used. In the pattern making process I’ve worked with the tailors to save as much fabric as possible, at times altering the position of the lace used to reduce wastage. Sometimes the smallest shift in design can have a big impact on fabric saving and wastage which was considered throughout. I am incredibly lucky that my main pattern maker chi van used to work for triumph and etam and left to start her own company. We happened to meet and she agreed to take a chance on my brand.
I’ve also made a conscious effort to educate my customers on the correct care for their lingerie which is provided on the website. Also having lingerie bags with ever purchase to store their pieces safely emphasises the slower lifecycle of the pieces. I’m all about buying fewer excellent quality pieces rather than cheap fast fashion that the quality won’t last.
In terms of delivery of production as much as we could we didn’t use plastic. We had paper separating styles where most factories would put each piece in plastic. We decided to just plastic line the box for weather purposes.we consciously save a lot of unnecessary plastic there too.
This will be an area of continuous growth for a lot of the business but if your heart and mind are conscious of it and constantly considering and reviewing your practices each step we make the industry a better place. I feel this new generation of designers are actively trying to make the best choice possible as it is a flow on from our eduction and the state of the world. It’s something that I struggle with the decision to market on my website as I don’t think sustainability should be a marketing tool but an absolute necessity across the board. So I’m very happy to discuss it if anyone ever wishes to enquire into the ethics of my brand.
Q—You have an impressive starting size range for a new brand, is there any plans to expand it in the future?
A— Thank you! I’ve wanted to start my brand for a long time. So when I did I knew the demand on the market and knew I wanted to do as many sizes as possible to start with. I used to work in Selfridges and brown Thomas overseas so have a good understanding of the demand in lingerie and the sellable sizes.
There are definitely plans to expand the size range hopefully in my next collection (sampling and production to begin in February 2019) we will increase the sizes of jersey pieces to include the size 4 and also I would love to increase to include the size 16 and cup scale in the wired bras but i will have to wait to when I can afford it. We have had a lot of interest in our D, DD and E cups and size 14 scale so it’s logical to expand to the 16 when possible.
Q-Without giving too much away, what are your plans for Saint Rule? Will you be stocked at any boutiques or will you remain selling direct to the consumer?
A- I have a working history in Selfridges London and Brown Thomas in Dublin in management and styling and this is my ultimate goal to have concessions within Selfridges and Brown Thomas and also have a global flagship boutique in Sydney. I would like to remain as exclusive as possible but would really like to show to a few ecommerce businesses the collections as well as the boutique 1 team. I would like to maintain a boutique feel to my brand, I plan on dropping smaller collections more often but the stock runs being quite small so when it’s gone it’s gone kind of thing.
Thank you Caitlin!
The Eden set was gifted to me by saint rule for the purpose of this review. I received the bra in a 32E and the briefs in a size small.
These are pretty much my new favourite briefs. They are ultra high cut just the way I like them, but surprisingly not many brands do them as well. The front is comprised of a lace panel with an material that is in between a mesh and jersey for the back. They are so comfortable to wear and the waist band nips in my waist perfectly without it being uncomfortable. They are quite narrow at the front but that is my favourite element of the design.
I sister sized to a 32E in this bra like I do with most of my bras. I usually wear a 28/30 band with varying cup sizes. Naturally the band is too big for me but it is wearable even though technically it’s 2 sizes too big. Because of the back design, it’s not too hard to have it taken in a few inches which is what I plan to do. Because the band isn’t as firm as I’d like, the cups gape slightly at the top. If you are a regular 32E this won’t be an issue it’s only if you are sister sizing up twice that it would be an issues. The cup construction is impeccable, but it is made for core sizes as it doesn’t have the reinforcement and power mesh that I’m used to. Again this won’t be an issue if you are actually in the size range and not being a tad sneaky like I have just because I love the design.
They have also gifted me the Haze robe which is aptly named! It’s a silk viscose blend which is unusual to see in a robe but it just gives the silk a bit of stretch and weight. It has an internal tie as well as the external sash which is attached. The sleeves are full length but do feature a split. This makes it easy to wear when getting ready in the morning as I find I can use my hands without the sleeves getting in the way. It’s now my most worn robe and I’ve only had it a few weeks, it’s just that easy to wear.
I truly love all the designs Saint Rule has out right now, I’m particularly partial to all the high cuts and bustiers. It’s like a better and more accessible vintage lingerie collection.
Saint Rule is bringing something new to the Australian lingerie scene and I can’t wait to see what this brand will do next.