A seafront Skerries home has been given a luxe update with rich colours and hotel-inspired details
A seafront Skerries home has been given a luxe update with rich colours and hotel-inspired...

Megan Burns

A stylist’s guide to chic beach cover-ups
A stylist’s guide to chic beach cover-ups

Sinead Keenan

The IMAGE Father’s Day Gift Guide
The IMAGE Father’s Day Gift Guide

Holly O'Neill

Modern food and wellness expert Aisling Larkin on her life in food
Modern food and wellness expert Aisling Larkin on her life in food

Sarah Gill

Women in Sport: Para-cyclist Richael Timothy
Women in Sport: Para-cyclist Richael Timothy

Sarah Gill

The Irish fashion design graduates to watch
The Irish fashion design graduates to watch

Ruth O'Connor

New Bridgerton episodes and Inside Out 2 – what to watch this week
New Bridgerton episodes and Inside Out 2 – what to watch this week

Sarah Finnan

WIN four tickets to Taste of Dublin 2024
WIN four tickets to Taste of Dublin 2024

IMAGE

This dreamy East Cork period home is on the market for €775,000
This dreamy East Cork period home is on the market for €775,000

Megan Burns

Five fashion stylists on their go-to denim
Five fashion stylists on their go-to denim

Sarah Gill

Image / Style / Irish Design

Sustainable Style Spotlight: Má+Lin


By Yue Jiang
11th Jun 2023
Sustainable Style Spotlight: Má+Lin

Yue Jiang founded Má + Lin in late 2021, after 10 years working as a fashion buyer in Paris and London. Inspired to create a brand centred on sustainability, she focuses on limited edition collections with complete transparency all the way through the supply chain. Here she tells us more about her brand and why she’s on a mission to make linen the new black.

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.

Throughout my experiences working with various brands, I gradually became acutely aware of the lack of transparency and sustainability within the fashion supply chain. In the fast-paced fashion industry, it was common for us to overlook the origins of the fabrics we were using or the conditions under which our garments were produced, let alone where the raw materials were grown. Even the “Made in” label could sometimes be deceiving, and it became evident that companies rarely questioned these aspects. As a result, we remained unaware of the working conditions of the garment workers who contributed to our products.

Additionally, I noticed a significant issue with the excessive number of collections released by traditional fashion brands. For instance, the luxury British brand I worked for had a staggering total of eight collections a year, with four collections for both women and men!  With each new collection, the designers would demand different fabrics – they wouldn’t use the ones from previous seasons. Therefore, we had tons of leftover “outdated” fabrics sitting in our warehouse, and sadly, many of them ended up at the shredding stations.  

Inspired by these observations, I founded Má + Lin in late 2021 amid the pandemic. The world slowing down allowed me the time to reflect on my career aspirations and what I truly wanted to achieve.  Má + Lin stands in stark contrast to traditional fashion brands, placing traceability, transparency, and sustainability at the core of our values. 

Transparency is one of our main pillars, and we are committed to showcasing the entire supply chain journey of our products. From the farms where our raw materials are sourced to the final-product warehouse, we provide a comprehensive supply chain map on each product’s page. This way, our customers can make informed choices and trust that our products align with their values. 

Departing from the traditional fashion calendar, we have adopted a different approach at Má + Lin.  Instead of following seasonal collections, all our products are part of our permanent collection. In doing so, we avoid generating waste from “past-season” fabrics or garments that would otherwise be discarded. 

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 160gsm 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. 

Did you always want to work in fashion? 
Not always. I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was a child! I’m not good at manual work and I  used to think in order to work in fashion, we needed to know how to draw and how to sew, which I didn’t know how to do. I eventually discovered that we don’t necessarily need those skills to work in fashion, and creativity and ideas are the true essence.  

Despite my initial doubts, I found myself irresistibly drawn to the world of fashion from a young age.  I devoured fashion magazines, immersing myself in the glossy pages filled with stunning imagery… It  was in those moments that I knew I had found my true passion. 

What kind of items do you stock? 
We stock linen blouses and linen shorts. Our linen pieces are produced in limited edition so each one of them feels special.  

What new brands or items are on your radar? 
I recently discovered this new brand called Cosy Organic for children’s clothing.  All of their pieces are so beautifully designed and well-made. I also went to Milan during the Easter break and found a beautiful 1950s table lamp in brass and leather in an antique shop called Officina Antiquaria. I wanted it so much for my office table. 

Was money/funding a concern when starting out? 
Yes, money was one of the biggest challenges. As a self-funded business, I have to plan the budget carefully and be really mindful of how to spend money on product development, website development and marketing. I did a lot myself in order to save money. I built the website by myself (thanks to Shopify!), I minimised samples and raw materials expenses, I did the organic marketing on Instagram to build up our initial audience. I learned so much about cash flow and how to manage it. I’m still learning… 

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 as well. 

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. 

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!

Other sustainable brands you love 
Asceno, for their high-quality and consciously made pyjamas and Milldred, for their organic cotton dungarees made in small batches. 

Most useful learning since setting up a business 
As a one-woman business, I often experience the challenge of not having diverse perspectives from others. I’m now trying to discuss my business with my family and friends, to get their insights and opinions. Additionally, I have extended my efforts to social media, engaging with customers and seeking their feedback by asking questions.  

Proudest moment so far 
Every time I receive a five-star customer review… 

I want my brand to be remembered for… being a sustainable linen brand for women of all ages.

If I could dress anyone it would be… Emma Watson. She is, for me, one of the leading figures in promoting sustainability and advocating  for ethical practices within the fashion industry.