A capsule wardrobe is a collection of high-quality, staple pieces that can be mixed and matched with the goal of creating an streamlined wardrobe. Done right, it can save time, money, space, and resources without compromising your commitment to effortless chic.
Over time the interpretation of a capsule collection has changed. Some of fashion’s cognoscenti say it should be 8-10 foundational pieces with room for new add-ons each seasons, others say it should be in the realm of 30 items, purchased and worn seasonally. Either way, it should keep you focused on buying only what you need. Lately though, capsule wardrobes have been picked up by the media and deemed ‘trendy’. This is all fine and dandy if consumers are actually sticking to the principles and not buying multiple collections.
Personally, I haven’t tested a capsule wardrobe yet and won’t until I finish downsizing my current closet. But If you’re ready for the commitment, I found a collection that stands out from the pack. If you’re looking for THE capsule collection to end any urge to impulse shop – Vetta is it.
I spoke with Vetta founder, Cara Bartlett, to learn more about her inspiration and the special sauce behind the collection.
Can you start by telling me about your background in fashion?
Cara Bartlett: I grew up sewing my own clothes from a young age, so fashion is something I’ve always had an interest in. I went to Parsons in NYC and studied fashion merchandising, and then worked as a retail buyer. My co-founder Vanessa is a fashion designer. She studied at FIT in Los Angeles, and has built multiple social enterprises in Africa that trained and employed marginalized women through fashion.
What motivated you to create a capsule wardrobe?
CB: So many women have learned to shop based on impulse and end up with a mish mosh of clothes that don’t match rather than a cohesive wardrobe. We’re all running out of hangers and closet space, and yet we still feel like we have nothing to wear. Vanessa and I were inspired by the capsule wardrobe idea, because of it’s versatility and simplicity. We wanted to create a few key items that would be the go-to pieces in a woman’s closet – building blocks for a thoughtful and minimal wardrobe.
What distinguishes Vetta from other capsule concepts?
CB: VETTA is not only a capsule collection, but each piece is also convertible, so you can wear each item at least two different ways. For example, the culottes have detachable suspenders and the Two Piece dress can also be worn as a skirt or top. Together, just five pieces can create more than thirty different outfits.
What’s your best advice to someone who wants to downsize their wardrobe and live with less?
CB: My advice would be to make a list of the items that would make up your ideal wardrobe (you can do this on Pinterest or on your phone/computer). Choose items with a similar color palette, that you would love to wear multiple times, and that can mix and match with other items. For example, a little black dress, a chambray shirt, a pair of black jeans, a button down corduroy skirt, a trench coat, etc. Once you have your list, limit any shopping for the next season to items on that list. You will find that you’ll start to buy things that you need (that you really want), rather than random items that are on sale or are trendy. I also suggest that you store away anything that’s not on your list, things that you’re not sure fit in your ideal wardrobe. At the end of the season, go through those items – you will realize what pieces you missed and which ones are just taking up space that you want to give away. Slowly but surely, you’ll have a wardrobe that you love, and that works together seamlessly.
What were your steps in producing the collection?
CB: We worked with Factory45, which was a huge help – they’re an incubator program that helps sustainable fashion startups go from idea to launch. They saved us so much time, by vetting different resources and helping us connect with vendors that were the right fit for us. Our steps in a nut shell were: design, fabric sourcing, sample production, fitting, costing, choosing a factory, branding, and marketing. The hardest part I would say was finding eco-friendly fabrics that had the right characteristics for the garments we wanted to make. The most fun parts were designing the products, creating a brand, and getting to see the factory first hand.
How far along are you in your Kickstarter process?
CB: We’re almost half way through the 30 day campaign, and we’ve already surpassed our goal, which is really exciting! I would encourage any entrepreneurs to research crowdfunding ideas if they are in need of funds – I must admit that we were sceptical to begin with, but we’ve been blown away by how successful crowdfunding has been. We’re continuing pre-sales on Kickstarter until the end of the month.
The 5 pieces are part sophisticated, part playful. Tell me more about your style aesthetic.
CB: We designed each piece to have a certain timeless quality, but also to feel current. We wanted to create basics, with a twist. So the blouse has belle sleeves and the tunic has these high slits. We also wanted each piece to have multiple uses, so that they can be dressed up or dressed down. You can wear the two-piece dress to the beach or to your rehearsal dinner. You can wear the culottes to brunch with friends or to work.
What is deadstock poly crepe? Tencel? Why did you choose these materials for your collection?
CB: Tencel is our favorite fabric because of its properties and its sustainability. It is absorbent like cotton, soft like silk, and cool like linen. It’s made from sustainably harvested wood materials that are processed in a closed loop system that recycles the solvents. It also uses less water than a lot of other fabrics and is biodegradable. Deadstock fabric is material that’s leftover from other brands. So you’re using something that already exists, and giving that fabric a chance at life rather than creating more waste.
What’s next for Vetta?
CB: If all goes well, we’re planning to launch a fall/winter capsule collection this year. We’re really excited!
What are your thoughts about ethical fashion? Do you think it can it compete against fast and luxury fashion?
CB: I’ve been passionate about ethical fashion for almost a decade now, and it’s been so exciting to watch the movement build. I believe that it will continue to grow, as more people learn about the exploitation of people and the planet, and as more affordable and stylish ethical alternatives enter the market. I don’t think that fast fashion will ever fully disappear, just like organic food hasn’t displaced all of the fast food businesses, but I do believe that educated and compassionate consumers will change what the fashion industry looks like 10 years from now. I hope that VETTA can be a part of that change!
You can help by backing VETTA on Kickstarter or preordering from the collection. Most pieces are available in black, mocha and chambray. But seriously people, don’t overbuy it because it’s trendy! Buy it because you need it and you’re committed to minimizing your wardrobe.