All photos by Lydia Hudgens Photography.
If you’re looking for an online store that’s about serving your needs – classic, sustainable clothing shown on real women – then you should check out Belvele. It’s a capsule wardrobe builder’s dream.
For example, I had been thinking for months about getting a duster jacket. But I despaired of finding a sustainable and/or ethical one. Belvele to the rescue!* This jacket is made in the USA of 90% wool and 10% nylon. Wearing it around New York City, I channel the attitude of businessmen in pea coats: respected, getting business done, grownup.
Belvele founder Monica Rojas started her career in retail management, visual merchandising, and buying. But it was sewing that set her on the path to opening Belvele. “A few years back I decided to finally learn how to sew, which was something on my bucket list,” she says. “It was around the same time the Rana Plaza collapse occurred. The mix between that and learning what it takes to make a garment and how much work goes into it, opened up for me that the price of fashion doesn’t reflect the amount of work that goes into it.”
Monica started designing and making clothes for herself. Some of her friends and clients asked where she got her pieces, so she started an Etsy shop, and even participated in a couple of fashion shows in Kansas City, where she was living at the time.
“I realized that it wasn’t the best use of my abilities,” she says, “because so many are skilled and have gone to school for design. So I decided to use my retail background to promote designers who are doing all that hard work and don’t have an outlet.”
She launched Belvele at the end of 2015 with an edited offering of sustainable fashion with modern and clean lines. “A lot of what I was finding was that hippie bohemian look. And I realized if I was struggling to find that sustainable, minimalist clothing, other people probably were as well,” she says.
“I look for pieces that stand the test of time. A lot of the pieces on our site are investment pieces. I try to find pieces that are exciting but you won’t get tired of, that aren’t so much about trends. So six months from now you won’t be thinking, oh my God why did I spend $300 on this dress I wore twice? We describe on the product page details on the fit, the construction, materials, and what about that garment makes us consider it sustainable.” Expect beautiful blouses, chic trousers, simple and flattering dresses, and classic sweaters.
Belvele chooses items according to its motto: design, craftsmanship and sustainability. “When I decided to switch my shopping habits and create a capsule wardrobe, I had to decide what sustainable fashion means to me, and those are the three aspects that makes a garment worth investing in,” she says. “Design that excites me and I can see myself wearing in the long term. Craftsmanship, especially if it has a backstory, who the designers are, who the markers are, where it was made and why. Sustainability, there are varying aspects to how each garment is sustainable. It’s difficult to find a perfectly sustainable garment, but at least you know what makes it sustainable.”
All the pieces are showcased on friends of Belvele outside on the street, so you can see what they look like on a real person, not a leggy 5’11” model. It’s easy to imagine yourself in the clothing in a simple Instagram photo, which isn’t true when a store showcases clothing in a well-lit studio. The pictures are all taken in San Francisco, where Monica now lives.
“San Francisco inspires me not only in its physical beauty, but what it stands for, how environmentally friendly and diverse it is,” she says. “That’s what Belvele is all about.”
*I got this jacket for free in exchange for this post. As always, I only accept freebies from brands I truly believe in and who sell things I personally love.