Styles may come and go, but comfort dressing is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Consumers traded their street clothes for loungewear during the Covid-19 pandemic, and their newfound infatuation with soft fabrication isn’t going anywhere. But slouchy needn’t mean sloppy.
For Los Angeles-based womenswear brand Bella Dahl, the pandemic’s shift toward casual dressing has played into its wheelhouse. The brand has long been making easy, beachy attire such as joggers and relaxed dresses. “We disrupted things by doing, we called it the Californiacation of fashion, or this casualization of fashion, where we were already offering comfort from the beginning,” said Steven Millman, the brand’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, during a conversation with Edward Hertzman, founder and president of Sourcing Journal.
Looking ahead at post-pandemic dressing, Bella Dahl is sticking to its roots with comfortable, “elevated” styles that can leave the house.
One of the elements that gives Bella Dahl’s clothing a downy hand feel is its extensive use of TENCEL™. In addition to feeling like silk, these wood-based cellulosic fibers have a natural sheen and breathability. “There is a luxury, there’s a softness, there’s an ease, there’s a happiness to it, and it’s only in these yarns [fibers]. They’re just extraordinary to work with,” said Millman.
What originally led Bella Dahl to TENCEL™ was an “expensive mistake,” Millman said. A designer at the brand chose a fabrication for a shirt style with snaps, and many of the snaps popped off the tops. After a week of fielding phone calls asking for replacement snaps, Bella Dahl found a 100 percent TENCEL™ indigo textile from Spain that solved the problem. Eleven years later, the label is still using the same TENCEL™ textile within its collections.
With a slogan of “Soft on you, softer on the planet,” Bella Dahl also works with TENCEL™ Lyocell because of its sustainability credentials. The fibers are made using a low-impact closed-loop production process, which earned them superior scores on the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) compared to generic lyocell.
As part of its partnership with TENCEL™, Bella Dahl is hosting a popup within Selfridges’ London flagship this summer. The centerpiece of the shop-in-shop is a tree installation by local artist Anu Ogunmefun, which pays homage to the key ingredient in TENCEL™: wood pulp.
For Bella Dahl, sustainability is a priority, but it’s also a work in progress. Recently, the brand has made moves like cutting back on air travel, reducing plastic bags and using recycled tags, all in service of shrinking fashion’s outsize impact on the planet. And Bella Dahl is not stopping there.
“We’re not perfect, but we’re going to take it one day at a time to try and get better at it,” Millman said.
Click the image above to watch the video to discover more about Bella Dahl’s sustainability perspective and its partnership with TENCEL™.