Mulch California - Sustainable ClothingDec 20, 2018 08:37PM ● By Rebecca Parsons
Photo by Sage Burgess
by Rebecca Parsons
Mulch California was born in 2014 as San Clemente’s first anti-fast fashion shop.
The brainchild of brothers Mehr Alejandro and Philippe Zarif, Mulch California has a strong focus on quality, responsibility, sustainability and ethics that is woven into every aspect of their company.
Fashion is a multi-trillion dollar industry, making it one of the most profitable industries in the world while simultaneously being one of the most destructive and inhumane. Driven by short-term profits and trends, the majority of the fashion industry employs low-wage workers and oftentimes provides them with cruel and immoral working conditions. Manufacturing processes are quick, crude and harmful to the planet. While the majority of fashion companies are focused on making the biggest bang for their buck, Mulch California is focused on the quality of their products and the ethics behind them.
“Short-term profits, trends, and consumption drive the industry at a considerable cost to the planet, our future and to the low-wage workers who sustain it. This trend-driven, fast- fashion mentality pollutes the air, water and soil across the globe,” says Philippe. “We aspire to make the world a better place. Our vision is to create positive change by significantly improving the way the fashion industry thinks and operates, making it ethically and environmentally responsible-to create a brand that people are proud to wear.”
Mehr Alejandro earned a degree in cultural anthropology from UC Riverside and Philippe graduated from UC Irvine with a degree in international studies. While in college, Mehr Alejandro began researching the negative impacts the fashion industry had on poor communities and the environment and began experimenting with his own designs as a result. Word of his unique designs quickly caught wind and he began receiving custom orders from not only family and friends, but from celebrities and professional athletes as well.
“Our dad promised to invest in us if we committed to sustainable practices and never compromised the ‘goodness’ of our products,” Philippe recalls. “He told us we should not worry about cost but instead focus on doing the right thing and we’d be successful at the end.”
And so, sustainability was added to their mission.
At Mulch, their products are made to last. They search long and hard for quality, responsibly made fabrics. Each and every garment is made with care, in California, and fair, living wages are paid to the craftsmen and seamstresses. Unlike most southern California clothing brands, Mulch California is not a surf/skate brand but instead is a mix of laid-back California style infused with tailored European cuts.
For the first three years of the business all pieces were custom made to order. In the past year, Mulch California launched their first ready-to-wear collection: Willie Boy. Inspired by the American Indian tale of forbidden love and defiance in the Mojave Desert, Willie Boy features vintage styles with weathered details reminiscent of turn of the century California desert culture.
“Stitched with distinctive elegance, relaxed attitude and the detailed craftsmanship of the modern era, this collection is made to last for decades. It gets better with wear and is the vintage of future generations,” says Philippe. “Every piece in the Willie Boy collection is designed to take you to a time when California was truly a land of opportunity, a time when people took pride in making quality products and an honest living.”
To further their sustainability efforts, Mulch California offers a repair and recycle program. Their motto is: wear, repair, reuse, up cycle, recycle. If there’s a construction problem on their end, you can send the product back and they will fix it free of charge. If you damage the garment, you can send it in for repairs for the cost of labor. If the clothes are beyond repair or you no longer want them, you can send them back to Mulch California in exchange for a 10% coupon.
Looking forward, the Zarif brothers have big plans. Pieces from the Willie Boy collection will continue to drop through 2019 and a new collection is already in the works. Additionally, they’re working on some exciting collaborations and hope to extend their reach into new markets and geographies in the near future.
“Our mission is to make high quality clothing that lasts for decades and get better with every wear, reflecting our vision for positive change,” says Philippe. “In pursuing our mission, we do things that we believe to have long-term positive impact, even if the near term financial returns are not obvious. We are proud of the products we make, and we hope that those we create in the future will have an even greater positive impact on the world.”
It only takes one spark to light a fire-the folks at Mulch California hope to be the spark that ignites change.
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