Read some Q&As about girl of the earth in This Stuff <3
Read it below or check it out for yourself here:
This is "8 Questions," a monthly series highlighting the independent designers creating great clothes that put people and the planet first.
Secondhand clothing tends to get all the love when it comes to lower impact fashion, but upcycling (secondhand's less viral cousin), is often just as exciting. Unlike vintage, upcycling allows you to buy into the creative perspective of a contemporary designer, while also adding unique textures and patterns into your wardrobe using already existing fabrics. That's what initially intrigued me about girl of the earth, an independent clothing brand designed by Ruby Sinclair.
Sinclair, who grew up in New York City, but now lives in Copenhagen, creates her line of '60s and '70s silhouetted skirts, tops, and dresses with unique textiles she's sourced from around the world. What makes the brand so interesting is that she's not afraid to work with prints that have a quirk to them. Some look like they may have been found on the curtains in the back of a restaurant at one point or worn to a disco by a man in the 1970s. Others are classic but forgotten patterns, like a tight houndstooth or painted cheetah print. And others look like book covers made into fabric.
Just scrolling through the brand's Instagram, there is something for everyone. A few-of-a-kind tomato print dress for the Italian food lover (me), there is an Elvis Print mini skirt for those who want to double up on their vintage output, and a checkered print race horse embellished crop top for the fashionable (or I suppose ironic) horse girl. It's like the clothes tell a literal story about their wearer in a way that only fashion can.
Below, get to know girl of the earth founder Ruby Sinclair and her brand in just 8 questions.
When and how did you start your brand?
I grew up to nutty antique-dealer parents, so I've been exposed to vintage and secondhand since birth and would consider myself, in many ways, an expert. After graduating with a master's degree in entrepreneurship from London College of Fashion in 2017, I wanted to start an eco-friendly womenswear brand, but simultaneously was horrified by all the greenwashing happening in fashion especially with trendy 'sustainable' brands often pushing 'organic cotton' and other fabrics that are only minimally better than the norm.
I was drawn to the idea of upcycling, where I wouldn't have to conduct research/trust dubious manufacturers/etc. to know that there's zero environmental impact in the garment I'm making. Probably somewhere at a flea market, I had the idea to create womenswear out of vintage fabric remnants, combining my newfound love of upcycling and my comfort zone of vintage.
Because of my upbringing, I'm lucky to have inherited and cultivated relationships with antique suppliers, flea market owners, eccentric grandmas, and just plain hoarders, who I consistently buy vintage fabric remnants from. It's a super unconventional supply chain and requires my expertise (and a lot of luck), but basically I'm just really really good at shopping! After a couple of failed attempts, I found my legendary seamstress in mid-2019 and the girl of the earth brand was born!
With little financial backing (except a present of $2K from my dad to start the brand), I was barely chugging along, and I was beginning to feel pretty discouraged. When the pandemic hit, I was quarantined at home with my mom in N.Y.C. and randomly sewed some face-masks for us using my late grandmother's tiny bits of leftover vintage fabric in her sewing kit. I put them on my Instagram and literally had thousands of orders that day. Because my seamstress was super busy sewing gowns, masks, etc for hospitals, I sewed all girl of the earth masks myself. It was the craziest three months of my life. From the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep I was cutting, sewing, and packing, but I'm so grateful it helped jumpstart the brand. To this day, I get orders with little notes. "So excited for this purchase, I found you back in May 2020 through face masks!"
If you had to describe girl of the earth using a song title what would it be?
"You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" — also check out girl of the earth radio on Spotify (for disco tunes to listen to while dancing in our clothing or just taking the subway).
What is the girl of the earth ethos?
The entire girl of the earth collection is made locally in N.Y.C. (by a single seamstress) from real vintage fabric remnants dating 1930-1999, with super rare and interesting true-vintage prints. This means each piece is not only sustainable (besides postage), but also what I like to call few-of-a-kind. While someone may be able to get the same silhouette, only you and on average, 4 others have YOUR fabric. Once a fabric is gone, it's gone forever (restocks are impossible!). It's hyper-individualism in a world of Zaras. Avoid matching strangers, get a piece that is uniquely yours.
What is your first outfit memory?
My mom, a vintage-couture and antique-diamond dealer, had three boutiques in SoHo where I grew up. You can imagine how fashionable she is, and I looked up to her for style advice from a young age. I remember vividly that at about six years old, I was obsessed with a top of hers: this little cotton halter top, with red-paisley print and contrasting yellow-paisley printed straps/hems. She eventually acquiesced and gave to me. Although it was from the 70s, I wore it in quintessential 2001 style with a low-waisted mini skirt and "midriff" exposed. I refused to take it off that whole summer!
Do you have a favorite piece from your collections? What is it?
Recently I've been wearing the 'mexico top' on repeat— it's a stretchy tube top that's so damn easy to throw on with jeans, leather pants, a mini skirt, or anything. Each is made of the 1970s "huckapoo" fabric (poly-blends that were mainly used for men's disco button-downs), and mine has a scene of Japan printed across it. Additionally, the 'amsterdam shorts' deserve a mention, as they are literally the most perfect fit (super high-waisted, wide-leg, and longer than short-shorts) and my year-round uniform in several colors.
Is there a style philosophy that you follow?
I have so much respect for designers who can create with others in mind, but I fully design for myself, so girl of the earth really reflects my personal style. I always use the word effortless as I hate to look too done or trying-hard. Although many girl of the earth pieces have statement prints, they're meant to be the hero of the outfit, worn with solids or muted looks. Also, when getting dressed I have this constant narrative of balance in my head. I'll pair a casual outfit of a tees and shorts with dressy little slingbacks, or a feminine flounce skirt with heroin-chic lace-up boots. There has to be some edge to every outfit I style!
If you had to pick a character from a movie that would wear girl of the earth who would it be and why?
So hard to choose! girl of the earth definitely has 60s/70s vibes, so I think Megan Draper in Mad Men (or a modern version of her) would love our 60s mini skirts, 70s halter tops, Cher-esque stretchy strapless things, etc. Also, I've just posted a little video on what each Euphoria character would wear, so of course, I think girl of the earth would be perfect for Maddy or Cassie.
What do you hope for the future of fashion?
Right now, the future of fashion feels bleak — with so many trendy 'sustainable' brands and collections popping up, there's greenwashing everywhere. On a more positive note, people are more aware than ever, and secondhand shopping has exploded — especially among younger generations but even older ones seem to be more accepting of it now. I remember people shrugging off my mom selling vintage as quaint, but now it's cool. With literally 90% of my ever-growing closet vintage/secondhand, I'm proof it's possible to fully adopt shopping this way (and in my opinion, be even more stylish than you would otherwise). I encourage everyone to find their staples used, and every now and then, purchase a gorgeous unique pieces of art from small Instagram brands like girl of the earth.