‘If I wouldn’t wear them myself, they wouldn’t be on the rail’

Mellowmoon opens store in Zurrieq to channel big thrift energy.

From upcycled pieces to crystal jewellery, pre-loved items and other unique pieces, the Mellowmoon fashion experience is the direct opposite of the fast-fashion high street formula that is so bad for the environment and for humans alike. I caught up with Rachelle, the brains behind the concept, to find out what fuels her inspiration and motivation.

How did you first become interested in working in fashion and how has your journey evolved since then?

My mother, Sheila, is a very talented seamstress, and while growing up, I saw her working with different textiles. However, when I moved in with my partner, we opted for a gender-neutral one-wardrobe experience where I sold 90% of my wardrobe. While involving myself in vintage and pre-loved clothing pop-ups to sell my closet, I got drawn to the craftsmanship that often handmade and vintage clothes possess, and how could I resist the comfortable 50s dresses and the perfect 60s pants? So again, I became obsessed with collecting anything that caught my eye that was quality. My excuse would always be that I’ll wear it for the stage or resell it if I didn’t, and that’s how big thrift energy started.

How was the concept of Mellowmoon born and can you describe what you sell?

As for Mellowmoon, wherever I travelled I used to bring back crystals and experiment with different materials to turn them into jewellery. When I was younger I remember being fascinated by their aesthetics (I still am!), and later, I got interested in learning about the crystals’ connection with spirituality and the world. Now, I have a studio in Żurrieq where I sell the pre-loved and vintage clothing I collect and the crystal jewellery.

What is your creative process like and where do you get your inspiration?

My clients get the best ideas, and I am happy to implement them. Each collection is different; for example, for the sun catchers, the creative process is learning about the client’s natal chart, choosing the beards that represent it and assembling everything according to their wish. Sometimes, I send them pictures of the design or sketches, and sometimes they trust me. I have vivid dreams, and I get my inspiration from there. 

Do you also source readymade items?

Yes, when it comes to jewellery, sometimes a client requests something specific that I use as an add-on in the design, while the clothes are primarily ready-made vintage. However, occasionally I embark on small upcycled collections with dead stock or clothes that get donated to me.

What sets your business apart from other vintage and upcycled fashion retailers in the local market?

The curation. All the pieces are things that, if I wouldn’t wear them myself, they would not be on the rail. It should go without saying, but Big Thrift Energy is size-inclusive. Then there’s the jewellery, which reflects my creative self embarking on a collaboration with the clients, who mostly end up friends, to create something representing them or the people they are gifting it to.

What are the most pressing issues facing the fashion industry in terms of sustainability, and how does your business model address these concerns?

The ‘Shein-ification’ element of consumption. I also used to be part of the problem until I learned about the lack of human and environmental rights, and how people are exploited in the process. Workers, often women, are paid inadequate amounts per garment they produce in conditions that we can’t even comprehend, while in the meantime, clothes are dumped constantly to make room for new ‘trendy’ stock. My business model is in the community, for the community and by the community. The space is used as a ground for conversation and planning for addressing environmental and social issues. During open days, we issue an open call for other small businesses in the community to come and sell their work and hold a space for creative reflection and collaboration.

Can you share some examples of successful collaborations or partnerships you’ve had with other like-minded businesses or organizations that focus on sustainability?

Yes! I’m always open to collaborations and proposals. By profession, I am a performing artist and light designer, so I am always eager to find ways to intertwine these aspects that I enjoy together.

Some of the successful collaborations I am indulging in right now are the open days we create bimonthly, inviting other small businesses to the studio, meeting with clients, hanging out, and discussing pressing issues in our industry and life. This event holds a pop-up format, and the next one is on June 3 from 09AM onwards at Mellowmoon Studio, 58, Main Street, Żurrieq.

Where can we purchase your collections?

They are available online, by sending a DM on Instagram and at the studio during popups and open days.

Follow Mellowmoon on Instagram on @mellowmoon1111. For more Pink magazine fashion features check out this piece about how Malta fashion fails to cater for bigger women or this interview with Charles & Ron.

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