Conversation with our founder Yue
I have been lucky enough to be interviewed by several magazines, including IMAGE, Marie Claire Italy, ZOE Magazine, and Fashion Week Online. I love doing the interviews as each of them reminds me the journey I have gone through so far, and the reflection on what's next.
Tell us about you and your business
My name is Yue and I’m originally from Chongqing, China. I’ve spent the past decade in Paris and London working as a fashion buyer.
I never thought of starting my own clothing brand until Covid happened.
I’ve always been staying on the “backstage”, doing buying and production. I used to think that only the people with design background are able to launch their own brand, which was not my case at all.
Throughout my experiences, I become more and more aware of some significant issues existing in the fashion industry. There was no transparency in the supply chain. We barely know where the fabrics were coming from or under what condition the garments were made, let alone where the raw materials were grown.
We also have tons of wastage in terms of raw materials and finished garments due to the “seasonal fashion”. All “past-season” fabrics and garments would easily find themselves siting at the warehouse forever, or even worse, end up at the shredding stations!
When Covid happened, I suddenly have lots of time to reflect and think what I really wanted for my career. Do I want to continue to contribute to this unsustainable traditional fashion industry which is the second most polluting industry after the oil and gas sector? Or do I want to create something of my own which is all the contrary of the game and represent my ideal wardrobe for women? I was listening to a French Broadcast called Generation XX at that time, which gave me a lot of inspiration and courage to start my own business.
I wanted to show that a Fashion brand can be different and it doesn’t have to harm the planet. I also wanted to educate people that “who made my clothes ” is the most important thing to know when they buy clothes. Inspired by all these, Má + Lin was born in late September 2021.
What is your mission?
First of all, to make linen the new black. Linen, being one of the most sustainable natural fabrics worldwide, has long been overlooked in the fashion industry. Although it has made its comeback in recent years with both luxury and high street brands using it in their summer collections, it’s still considered as only “summery”. At Má + Lin, we’re on a mission to showcase the versatility of linen by offering medium to heavy weight options, ranging from 125gsm to 210gsm, certified Master of Linen®. I wanted to break the stereotype that linen is solely a summer fabric, and I wanted to show that it can be worn throughout the seasons partly thanks to its thermos-regulating property, which keeps us warmer when the temperature drops.
Secondly, I aim to redefine the fashion industry’s practices by prioritising transparency, sustainability, and responsible consumption. By offering ethically sourced and environmentally conscious products, we hope to inspire positive change within the fashion world and provide customers with a guilt-free and authentic shopping experience.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get many of my inspirations from the street looks, especially when I’m traveling to Paris. The Parisian style is such a huge inspiration for me.
What are your best tips to live / buy / dress consciously?
I think the biggest challenge for living consciously is how to cope with this desire of over consumption. It is not easy when we are in a fast-paced society where the attractions to buy are everywhere.
I have slowed down my consumption since several years ago, trying to live a minimal life, starting with the clothes. My rule is: all clothes have to be able to fit into my double wardrobe. This is an efficient way to see if I have excessive items.
When I purchase, I always make sure the products are made consciously. Of course, I sometimes get tired of the articles that I own. When that happens, I’d give the item to the local charity shop to make sure it gets its second life.
Best business advice you’ve gotten
My dad is a business man and he’s been giving me lots of good advice since I started the brand. One of the best pieces of advice he shared is to start small, test different products, try to get customers’ feedback and make adjustments when necessary. I initially started with three different styles of linen blouses, figured out the best-selling styles and eliminated the ones that didn’t work that well.
Best fashion purchase
An oversized houndstooth vintage wool blazer that cost me €2 at La Braderie de Lille, in France. I’ve worn it so many times since and it’s gotten me so many compliments!
Favourite sustainable style accounts to follow online
Venetia La Manna. She’s done so many amazing campaigns digging into the dark side of the fashion industry.