‘Little choices lead to great things’

  • House of Lonali on 10 years of driving sustainability 

The apparel industry has gone through many ups and downs over the last 10 years, especially during the last two years, what with the pandemic and the disruption and transformation it has brought. 

Sticking to what has been done before is no longer an option. When it comes to brands in the apparel space, what’s both old and new has to be new. And for established businesses, that means catering to long standing customers whilst evolving and adapting to new concepts. As such, getting through the last two years, in itself, is something to celebrate.

Against this backdrop, it makes sense that brands are being louder and prouder about their legacies and milestones. One brand celebrating a big milestone this year is the ethical lifestyle brand House of Lonali, who will be celebrating their 10th anniversary in December. 

From its inception, House of Lonali has set itself apart by being an environmentally ethical fashion brand in it’s true sense. In celebration of this big birthday, and in response to the times we live in, House of Lonali has launched an all-new campaign, #GREATLITTLECHOICES, to raise awareness on the importance of making lifestyle choices that are good for both people and the planet, and how that aligns with their vision to design a better future, as they reposition themselves as the country’s premier sustainable lifestyle brand.

Brunch spoke to House of Lonali Founder Lonali Rodrigo about the last 10 years, what that has meant for the brand, and what they hope to inspire with #GREATLITTLECHOICES. Reflecting on 10 years of House of Lonali, Lonali said: “Looking back through our 10 year journey, making conscious little choices has led us to the sustainable lifestyle brand we are today. The environmental cost of our resource intensive lifestyles is frightening. Some say the damage is irreversible. Some don’t even care about the repercussions. And then there are some, like us, who believe that even the little choices we make today could lead to greater things in the future. Join us – choose wisely and let’s design a better future together. 

“We believe the responsibility of reducing the impact any product has on the environment is equally divided between the producer and the consumer. It is up to each one of us to make the right choices to help design a better future”

Rodrigo also reminisced with us on how she started House of Lonali and what tough choices she had to make along the way to stay true to her vision. “The first choice (and the most important one) I made as a designer, was to design with already existing apparel industry waste, exploring the concept of upcycling. Then I realised it is something that requires a lot of time, energy, and love to pursue. Thus, I chose to work with cottage industry women. Upcycling was a whole new concept for local audiences at the time,” Rodrigo recalled. “As tough as it was, we chose to advocate sustainable fashion through talks, forums, workshops, and pop-ups aimed at different age groups, both in and out of Colombo. We also chose to minimise fabric waste even from our production process. Any remaining scraps were later used as raw material for other small products. Some of those offcuts were patched and converted into other new pieces, to achieve our zero waste goal.”

House of Lonali’s efforts, to date, have prevented approximately 3,912 kg of pre-consumer textile waste from ending up in landfills. This waste has been upcycled into 18,839 uniquely designed products. Their carbon emission saving in the upcycling process was 706.01 kg CO2e from 2019-2021 alone. In addition, they have also influenced, educated, and impacted over 15,000 people, across age groups, in advocating for sustainable fashion/lifestyle in Sri Lanka and around the world. 

The main video of #GREATLITTLECHOICES titled “This is not another fashion show” takes a stand against the rising fast fashion industry and the detrimental impact it has on the environment. Rodrigo added: “Change is not easy, but necessary. Not only when it comes to fashion, but even the simple choices we make in our day-to-day lives before they add up and become the cause of something catastrophic.” She also revealed: “We are sharing this with the hope that it will help people look at things a bit differently, just like I did when I first decided to upcycle fabric waste into unique garments, which otherwise would have ended up in a landfill. We haven’t covered all topics of importance in this video, but just enough to turn a head, or two, and we hope that will have a ripple effect on changing attitudes and perceptions on how even little choices can make a great impact – a positive one.”

House of Lonali has planned more than just a video to help realise their vision for the future, including workshops, events, collaborations with brands that have similar values, and other branded content dedicated to educating and advocating sustainability. “Help us make it go viral. Not the video, but the message – for all of us to do our part in designing a better future!” Rodrigo added.

Rodrigo concluded by saying: “From our humble beginnings as a sustainable fashion brand we have evolved as the premier sustainable lifestyle brand that upcycles pre-consumer waste in Sri Lanka. Today we design for both individuals and businesses alike, with people and the planet at the very core of our purpose. And as we move forward, we want our vision to be bigger and bolder to be responsible for each piece we create, and make sure our products last longer and to strive towards preventing our pieces from ending up in landfills. We will also continue to collaborate with other brands and businesses who share this ethos, to find creative sustainable solutions that will help us design a better future.”