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An Interview with Cloe Cassandro

Cloe Cassandro’s ethical journey began with a love affair with Bali. What started as a creative project by her mother has led to Cloe discovering her passion for beautiful ethically made clothing - and thus Cloe Cassandro was born. 

At the center of her brand is a passion to make a positive impact to the indigenous artisans of Bali. Cloe Cassandro all started when her mother met a local tailor named Eric who began making their Batik pieces. Ten years down the line and Cloe’s love affair with Bali is as strong as ever. Her stunning Batik pieces exude the dreamy quality of Bali, while at the same time highlighting the fascinating skill and intricacy involved in their craftsmanship. We chat with Cloe Cassandro about her own humble beginnings, her commitment to sustainability, changing lives, and her long-lasting friendship with the local Balinese artisans. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background — what made you decide to start Cloe Cassandro?
The brand began very organically. It all started ten years ago, on a trip to Bali with my parents. My mother began working with a tailor. She started experimenting with batik prints on silk chiffon fabrics and then eventually slowly started selling her
pieces. In 2012, my mother, being a creative force of nature, moved onto her next project — and that’s when I took the reins.
I secured stockists such as Puente Romano in Marbella, Baar and Bass, By Rory and Heidi Klein (who I still work with today).  It started as a way to make some extra cash whilst I was working as a receptionist at Stella McCartney and waitressing on the side. After a couple of years, I decided to focus on Cloe Cassandro full time, and concentrate on growing the brand. 
All of Cloe Cassandro’s pieces are handmade in Bali by local batik artisans —  in what ways is Cloe Cassandro environmentally and ethically sustainable? 
It is incredibly important to me to have a positive impact on the team that work for me in Bali. My parents changed the tailor’s life that they met in Bali, and that really resonated with me. That is the real reason I started the brand. I wanted to contribute the alleviation of poverty in some way. I wanted to support the skilled tailors in Bali, by creating an opportunity for them to work. Rather than falling into fast, cheap fashion, it is important to me that my brand is produced ethically. Batik is a fascinating and intricate process, which takes a lot of patience and attention to detail. So it is very important to me that the artisans are extremely valued, have fair wages and working conditions, that help support their sustainable lives.  
We only do two collections a year with limited runs alongside that. We believe in slow fashion, and our customers seem to be very happy with that. They look forward to each collection, rather than constantly expecting more. We believe in investment-pieces, these may be a more costly than fast fashion, but you will have them for years to come. We also recycle the trims of the fabric by making hair scrunchies and hand fans. 

Today, sustainability is more important than ever, with brands becoming more and more concerned about their carbon footprint. What role does the fashion industry play in the effort to minimise our environmental impact as a species?  
The fashion industry plays a vital role in minimising our environmental impact as a species. Fashion is key in our lives. Clothes are being bought every day and so consistently, so it is important to know where the fabric is made, how it is sourced, whether it is recyclable, and how much water is used in the process. 
As consumers, how can we make a difference in protecting the future of our planet?
As consumers, we need to be aware of the amount of product we buy, and how we can reuse clothes in order to minimise the emissions per wear. All of my pieces are designed with that in mind. I want to create pieces that can be worn year after year; and are always versatile yet remain classic. In fast fashion, there is a lot of waste most of it is recycled, which has an extremely negative impact on our environment.

Interview by Hannah Tan-Gillies

Portraits by Chris Baker