In a world where fast fashion dominates, Joelle Rueckert, the founder of Riel, stands as a beacon of change. With a background in Fashion from a university in New Zealand, Rueckert's journey into the fashion industry was driven by a deep-rooted interest in sustainability. "I always had a big interest and was always drawn to the sustainability of the industry," she reflects, tracing the origins of her brand. "After graduation, I worked at a few different fashion houses as a machinist and from there started developing the idea of starting my own brand."

Riel, Rueckert's brainchild, emerged from a desire to explore a different approach to fashion business, one rooted in scaled-upcycling. "Riel started as, and still is, an exploration of a different method of business. It's an exploration of the viability of scaled upcycling," Rueckert explains, underlining the brand's core philosophy.

The shift towards a slower, more mindful approach to fashion wasn't abrupt for Rueckert; it was a culmination of her personal values and beliefs. "I have always had an interest in sustainability, environmentalism, and conscious consumerism," she shares. "Riel was started because I wanted to create a brand that offered a product and idea to consumers that might stop and make you think for a minute."

At the heart of Riel lies Rueckert's personal values, meticulously woven into the brand's ethos. "Riel is a total embodiment of my personal values - everything I do is considered and aligned," Rueckert emphasizes. This alignment reflects in every aspect of Riel, from its sourcing practices to its creative process.

Redefining fashion sustainability is at the core of Riel's mission. "Riel redefines the notion of fashion sustainability by playing with the idea of 'newness'," Rueckert explains. The brand breathes new life into vintage clothing and recycled fibres, transforming them into fresh, coveted pieces that resonate with conscious consumers.

The creative process behind Riel's designs is a blend of imagination and practicality. "The process of reworking always starts with sketching and draping," Rueckert elaborates. Each design undergoes rigorous sampling and testing to ensure scalability, inclusivity, and accessibility without compromising on sustainability.

Beyond aesthetic appeal, Riel fosters a profound connection between wearers and garments. "Knowing the story behind the brand and pieces is important," Rueckert emphasizes. This narrative not only instils pride in the wearer but also fosters a deeper appreciation for conscious consumption.

Reflecting on her journey, Rueckert finds satisfaction in the collaborative spirit that Riel embodies. "The most rewarding thing has been the collaborations I have been involved in with Riel and other brands," she shares. Building relationships with customers worldwide adds another layer of fulfilment to her role as a founder and designer.

Despite its successes, Riel faces sourcing challenges inherent in sustainable fashion. "Sourcing is always the biggest challenge," Rueckert admits. However, with adept machinists and a commitment to working around limitations, Riel navigates these challenges with finesse.

Inclusivity and diversity are paramount to Riel's brand ethos. While challenges persist, Rueckert strives to offer a wide size range and promote inclusivity in imagery, with plans for further development as the brand expands.

Looking ahead, Rueckert envisions Riel as a catalyst for change in the fashion industry. "I think small brands are the perfect space to promote and explore these ideas," she asserts, emphasizing the potential for Riel to shape a more sustainable future.

Transparency and accountability underpin Riel's sustainable practices, ensuring alignment with its values. From production to distribution, every step is meticulously considered to minimize environmental impact and promote circularity.

Addressing pressing environmental issues, Rueckert believes education is key. "Our goal is to educate our customers and followers on these issues," she affirms. By fostering awareness and promoting mindful consumption, Riel aims to mitigate the industry's environmental footprint.

As Riel continues its journey, Rueckert remains committed to the pursuit of sustainability without compromising profitability. "Reworked clothing can be high quality and valuable if done right," she asserts, exemplifying Riel's dedication to striking a balance between ethics and economics.

In the years to come, Rueckert envisions Riel as a beacon of slow fashion awareness, fostering collaboration, community, and a fairer system for all. With creativity, determination, and a steadfast commitment to sustainability, Riel paves the way for a brighter, more conscientious future in fashion.

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