Rua Carlota: Sustainable Wear With Style

" I am one woman, one pair of hands, giving these forgotten pieces an opportunity at another colourful life."

The future of fashion has to be sustainable. The fashion industry is the 3rd most polluting in the world and accounts for 5.2% of waste in landfills. In an industry in need of a shape up, Rua Carlota is paving the way to a unique, stylish and sustainable wear that will reinvent our idea of preloved forever. We caught up with Rua Carlota's founder Charlotte to talk about her brand ethos and starting up her own business.

Hey Charlotte, tell us a little about Rua Carlota and what you stand for as a brand.

Rua Carlota's mission is to challenge waste culture. It says that there is potential in everything. It's very personal to me - it's my creative soul on a plate, and I felt a big sense of vulnerability when I finally decided to share the pieces with the world. There are a lot of independent brands popping up these days, but so many of them use a kind of 'greenwashing' technique to promote their sustainability. It was important to me that Rua Carlota's philosophy was clear from the beginning - I am one woman, one pair of hands, giving these forgotten pieces an opportunity at another colourful life.

How long have you been making clothes for?

I've been making clothes on and off for the past few years, but I have no formal fashion training. I was taught to sew while doing my textiles GCSE and I just never forgot. Rua Carlota has been a challenge because I've been learning a lot as I go, but it has been such a beautiful process and I'm gaining so much confidence with every piece that I make. 

Why did you decide to set up your own brand?

Rua Carlota began as more of a personal project, a creative experiment, at the end of 2019. For a few years I was selling vintage / pre-loved clothing, and I began to ask myself what could be done with the pieces that didn't fit the aesthetic of the perfectly curated vintage feeds. I'm naturally very creative and it felt like the right time for me to explore something new. My work also feels necessary, because it opens people's eyes to looking at these 'forgotten items' from an entirely new perspective.

Why is challenging waste culture so important to you?

Truly sustainable fashion feels like it's being approached through tunnel vision, and online marketplaces are saturated with shops selling almost the exact same things. There is a general lack of care for the 'low grade' pieces... the undesirable ones. Rua Carlota aims to put these pieces into the spotlight, it gives them an opportunity to be seen and appreciated through a new lens. This is important, because the majority of used clothing doesn't conform to the 'handpicked' vintage ideals. Do you struggle running a business on your own?

In a single word - yes. It's tough. Behind the scenes, life is not glamorous - very long hours and the occasional tears. It has been especially difficult through quarantine. I live with my brother, and as Rua Carlota has grown it has been a big stress on our living situation. Prior to Rua Carlota, I ran my own business for almost 3 years, so I'm used to the general running of things. But I'm not used to the kind of attention that Rua Carlota has been getting - don't get me wrong, it has been incredible - but at times it has felt a little overwhelming. When I got the VOGUE feature, it was the best moment of my life, but at the same time it was so sad, because it was such a special moment for me and I was unable to share it with anyone. It was moments like that when I just wanted to hug my mum. 

What are your plans for the future of Rua Carlota?

Right now, my aim is to keep growing and learning and spreading the brand's message. It's very important for me to keep to the core values that I set out in the beginning. Demand for the pieces is huge, even at this early stage, but I do not want that demand to impact the process. When we are out of quarantine, I would love to move into a studio space and I will definitely look at hiring an assistant to do things such as postage and packing and general admin tasks - I would love to have more time to focus on the creative aspects of the business. It's difficult for me to look too far ahead. I feel like the present is still sinking in for me, Rua Carlota is so young. To be honest, I'm just taking each day as it comes and enjoying it as much as possible.

What is your advice for young creatives looking to start up their own brand?

Be yourself! If you have an idea, go for it! Don't expect it to be easy. Don't give up! I have put a phenomenal amount of work into Rua Carlota. The most important thing, in my opinion, is to be authentic and to have a message. You really have to want it and be prepared to work for it, but there's nothing more special than spreading so much happiness through something you've created.

Follow Rua Carlota on Instagram to follow Charlotte's journey,

Shop Rua Carlota on their website.

Interview by Isobel Gorman-Buckley