It was destiny. From teenagers hanging out with their shared passion for clothing and design in the 80’s in Auckland, to the obligatory OE to London, fate always seemed to throw Jules and Monique into the same place at the same time over the years. They resolved that when the time was right, they would open a shop together.
Monique returned to New Zealand before Jules, sporting her designs and being admired by her peers and friends back in Auckland. An appetite was established for the ranges that Jules sent to Monique to sell, which ended up being all the market research they needed to know the designs had found a following in New Zealand.
When Jules returned to New Zealand some years after Mon, the pair opened their first store in Ponsonby in 2007, naming it DALSTON after their suburb of residence in East London. They soon moved to Grey Lynn, and used the ample space to expand from stocking their own label to adding a curated selection of other coveted labels that shared the same values they did – slow, mindful fashion, quality made to last, from wardrobe staples to special pieces that would make their beloved customer community look and feel special.
Dalston was always destined to be about more than fashion, so the duo happily responded to their customers’ desire not to go further afield than their local neighbourhood to shop for more than clothing. Jules and Monique broadened their products to include shoes, jewellery, accessories, gifts and other beautiful things - a curated offering of delightful items that are useful, gorgeous and again, help to make their customers feel special.
Monique says their popularity and longevity is because, “We are reliable in the quality and variety of what we offer, and in the personal service we provide; we have amazing loyal staff and customers. We dress people for their lives rather than for show."
Jules adds, “We design and curate garments and gifts that we love ourselves. Everything in Dalston is there because we believe it will make our customers feel special. We are about beautifully made garments that are treasured additions to a woman’s wardrobe that keep making her feel comfortable and special in them for a long time.”
Jules, Monique and their team bring great styling skills and product knowledge to their Grey Lynn lifestyle boutique, with a versatility that caters for a phenomenally wide age range, meeting the love and needs of the market. “It’s all about the person – what is right for them - and solving their problems, not pushing the product”.
ABOUT JULES AND MONIQUE AND THE BIRTH OF DALSTON:
I started working in fashion when I was at high school on the weekends at Auckland’s Cook Street Market with friends who had stalls there (like Kate Sylvester). We were 80’s club kids who loved dressing up, going out dancing, mixing up vintage and new clothes, trawling local op’ shops for winkle picker stilettoes and diamanté jewellery.
I also had a mum who loved fashion. I have childhood memories of cupboards crammed with vogue patterns, fabric remnants and trims. I lived in my mother's beautifully kept '50s & '60s vintage pieces and loved all the stories about where the fabric came from and who had made them.
We always had a sewing machine set up at home, my first attempts were equal hits and misses I remember, but Mum was always on hand to calmly show me how to get something right.
Yes, the dolls were pretty well dressed and Mum could knit, sew, crochet and do macrame and all things craft; I really don’t know where she found the time what with the dahlias, work and running our home!
I knew I wanted to design and make clothes when I was about 15 and started planning my path to Fashion College even then.
Jules and Monique
How did you meet?
M: We crossed paths many times over the years. It was destiny! We worked for the same designer, Chlorofile. We went overseas at different times, and bumped into each other by accident in London – we were always crossing paths ever since leaving school. At the markets in West and then East London we worked together and had contacts and friends in common. Lots of parallel Universe stuff!
J: We met each other hanging out in town around the markets as we were leaving school, but the friendship was cemented during a placement at Chlorofile, then a job, when Monique also worked there. When we went back to NZ we decided to partner.
Deciding to start Dalston
M: I came back to NZ and had my family, and had always said to Jules, when you come back to Auckland I’ll help you. Jules was away 20 years to my 8, but we still nurtured that germ of an idea in our chatter, until Jules returned with her family.
That's the thing about having so much experience dressing people for years in different facets of the industry from film – clothes being not so much the trend but wearable gaps in the wardrobe – the whole lifestyle notion, current in our life stage – we had our families and wanted clothing options to be based on how you feel rather than following a trend. And the shopping experience.
Dalston is based on knowing people and the local vibe and lifestyle – dressing people for their lives rather than for show.
J: People liked what Mon was wearing so she started selling the designs I sent over from UK. Mon was selling them to people who liked her look from coffee mornings to acquaintances, as a young mum.
We started only with the Dalston brand but quickly moved into sourcing other labels as we had plenty of room. It was always the plan to have a full lifestyle store, more than fashion.
Where did the name Dalston come from?
Jules and Monique spent many years living in Dalston in the East End of London, Jules made clothes and sold them at Spitalfields and Portobello Markets and at her store J Clark at Gabriel's Wharf on the South Bank of the Thames, and Monique worked with UK and NZ fashion designers, jewellers and photographers.
At Dalston we pride ourselves on being a small business committed to producing quality ethical fashion n the test of time.
We are a small and dedicated team making clothes in our local workroom here in Auckland, New Zealand.
We partner with small owner-operated and family run local businesses to help us produce our garments. We love that we are helping to keep the local fashion manufacturing industry alive in New Zealand.
Our makers and suppliers are all within a 15km radius from our Grey Lynn store, so we visit them frequently.
Being a small busines means we have lasting relationships with our various suppliers and makers – from fabric merchants, to pattern-makers, cutters, machinists, printers & distributors – we love our team!
Dalston is 100% co-owned by Julie Clark and Monique Jarvis.
We work with a small team in the store and encourage the unique skills they each bring to Dalston.
We provide a safe and inclusive workplace in which they can feel empowered to do great work and share their creative skills.
Open, honest and respectful relationships with staff, suppliers, manufacturers and customers.
We pay our staff, at the minimum, the NZ living wage.
We provide a fair and friendly workplace, family-friendly, fun and supportive.
Availability of part time roles, job share opportunities and flexible working hours. Our staff are an extension of our families and we care deeply about their mental health.
We create garments ethically at a fair price providing good value for the end user and ensuring everyone in our supply chain has protected rights and quality of life.
We have created a brand that staff and suppliers can be proud to be associated with.
We are on our journey to being more a sustainable brand and store.
From fabrics and trims to transport and packaging, we consider everything we do and how we can do it in a better way for the environment.
Transparency is important to us and we like sharing information. We have begun adding fabric origins and certifications to our product pages. We strive to use more accredited and certified fabrics.
DELIVERY & PACKAGING
Local delivery: if you live locally to Dalston we will deliver by foot, pedal bike or by car if we are passing in the course of our day.
If you package is being sent we pack sensibly in a re-used box of appropriate size ( as small as can be) or a compostable courier pack.
If we can fix it we will – bring your purchase back into the store or send us a photo and we can discuss what we can do. Mending if free of charge.
Wherever possible we re-use:
- Swing tickets; when we sell a garment instore we remove the swing ticket and re-use it again and again
- Plastic Bags; it is rare that our international brands send stock in plastic, YAY, but if they do, we re-use it
- Paper printing; we avoid printing if we possibly can, and if we can’t we use both sides of the paper
- Plastic coat-hangers; we use these over and again, dropping ‘empties’ back to the presser
- Fabric cut-offs; we reduce waste by making off-cuts into masks, scarves, little purses an bags, and donate the rest to local community groups and home-crafters.
Where we source our fabrics
We made the decision to buy our fabric locally from what is known as ‘deadstock’. This is fabric that has either been made for a larger designer or production house, or the mill has made extra while the machines are running. The leftover fabric is available for a smaller design house like us to buy. This means we are using existing fabrics rather than increasing our carbon footprint by making more. Our small batch design runs, with Brian our cutter overseeing the pattern makers, result in negligible fabric waste. What we do have left over gets made into scarves, bags and purses or other accessories, or we donate it to Gladstone Primary School.
Some of our knitwear styles are made by ethical factories in China. We work with Darren Elliot, a Melbourne-based agent. This allows Dalston to add on to his bigger production runs and gets Dalston a “foot in the door’ to larger companies who would not normally produce small runs of knitwear.
The factories Darren works with all have international accreditations to ensure the factories are following these guidelines:
Signed commitment to social requirements (social management system)
Workers involvement and protection procedure
Freedom of association and collective bargaining policy
No discrimination policy
No child labour policy
Protection for young workers procedure
No precarious employment policy
Code of conduct document
Dalston hasn’t yet had the chance to visit these factories in China. The quality of our knits is superb and we often chat by email with Cherry who is production manager at the main factory producing our knits.
The main fabrics we use
Cotton is a soft fibre growing from the seeds of the cotton plant, with fibres 2-5 centimetres long that are spun into yarn.
Cotton is the most commonly used natural fibre in textile production, due to the different positive properties and application possibilities.
Cotton breathes, absorbs moisture, can withstand heat and is easy to maintain.
GOTS certified cotton is one of the most reliable quality marks for environmentally friendly materials. GOTS sets many environmental requirements and has guidelines for working conditions.
VISCOSE / RAYON
Viscose is a semi-natural fibre, chemically processed from wood fibre known as cellulose. Viscose is very suitable for printing with different colours and prints.
Viscose absorbs moisture, breathes, is lightweight, falls smoothly and is colourfast.
ECOVERO™ certified viscose is more sustainable, being made from trees local to the manufacturing facility, in a state of the art process that generates 50% less emissions, uses 50% less energy, re-uses chemicals and uses 50% less water than traditional viscose. The wood is FSC certified, which means that the equivalent number of trees used are replanted.
Tencel is a type of rayon, like viscose and modal. These cellulose fibres are all made in a similar way, by dissolving wood pulp and using a special drying process called spinning. Before drying, the wood chips are mixed with a solvent to produce a wet mixture. This mixture is then pushed through small holes to form threads, chemically treated, then the lengths of fibre are spun into yarn and woven into cloth.
Tencel is skin-friendly, has a silk-like sheen and is completely biodegradable. It has very good moisture and heat regulation, falls smoothly and hardly wrinkles.
LENZING™ certified tencel is derived from certified renewable wood sources using an eco-responsible production process by meeting high environmental standards contributing to a cleaner environment.
Wool is a completely natural fibre. It consists of the hairs of animals, like sheep and oats. These hairs are very soft and thin. We mainly use the wool of sheep in clothing. The reason that wool works well against the cold is because there is a lot of air held between the curled fibres, making it a thermal insulator.
Wool breathes and insulates, is dirt and water repellant, wrinkle free, self-cleaning and very strong.
Pilling – it is impossible to prevent wool from piling. This doesn’t mean the garment is of poor quality. When a piece of clothing forms more pills than another this has to do with the length of the hairs of the wool.
Silk is a natural protein fibre, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The protein fibre of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and is produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoons. The best-known silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm.
Silks’ absorbency makes it comfortable to wear in warm weather and while active. It’s low conductivity keeps warm air close to the skin during cold weather.
MINDFUL FASHION NZ
Dalston is proud to have teamed up with Mindful Fashion NZ
Mindful Fashion is a New Zealand industry collective that aims to strengthen the local clothing and textile industry by promoting long term sustainable growth through responsible business practice and industry investment.
The collective was launched in March 2019 to unite the New Zealand clothing and textile industry to create an innovative, full-circle and thriving future.
Membership is open to all members of New Zealand’s clothing and textile community whose values and actions align with the Mindful Fashion mission.
Here is the Mindful Fashion New Zealand Code Of Conduct that all members must sign.
Mindful Fashion supports all industry participants from designers, fabric suppliers, makers, cutters, button-holers, pleaters, embroiderers and more to work towards the following -
- Create relevant, useful and measurable benchmarks for ethical and sustainable production practices to ensure that New Zealand Designers can confidently say their product has been made ethically.
- Act as a united industry body to be able to work with Government to ensure the industry is supported effectively.
- Potential to push for development of a greater variety of sustainable fabrics.
- Support the training of new and established local makers.
- Potential for collective purchasing power with fabric suppliers.
- Potential for global marketing of our industry collective leading the way to change for good.
- Continue to support Made in New Zealand and the future of our industry.