The older I get, the less I want to have a closet full of fast fashion items. I want pieces that I can wear again and again, that are made with care, and that support amazing craftsmen(women!)
That’s why learning about sustainable fashion, and making it more of a priority to support sustainable brands, has become part of my shopping process in recent years. Combine that with an ongoing effort to support women-led businesses, and it was only natural that I’d find Past Life: The Collective. Founded by Berkley Gamble with the goal of creating beautiful clothes in a transparent, localized, sustainable way. And she did just that! So when you’re looking for a few spring wardrobe updates, Berkley will be more than happy to help…
What were some of your earliest fashion memories?
My first style and fashion memory brings me back to my parents basement when I was probably 7 or 8 years old. My mom would be working out, playing Madonna music videos and I was obsessed with dancing around, pretending I was Madonna and imagining all these wild outfits. I remember listening to the song “Material Girl” and pretending I had a big ball gown made completely from trash. Throughout my entire childhood, I experimented with fashion. In middle school I went full “emo” and had safety pins in my jeans, wore mens’ ties and my hair was styled with a heavy, swooped bang. I wore more makeup then than I do now.
How did you first get into the world of style?
I could argue that style is everywhere, and I’ve been in this world forever. I was a very serious soccer player growing up, and ended up playing in college. There was kind of this unspoken rule of what kind of player you were based off of what cleats you wore, how you wore your shorts, your hair, and your socks. “Cool girls” rolled their shorts really short, and their socks low. I had a high ponytail and a big attitude.
Post college, my first step into the style world professionally was an interior design program in Italy. Truth be told, I actually moved to Italy for a boy at the time. It didn’t last, and I didn’t finish out that program. But that didn’t stop me!
What is something people might not know about the industry overall?
Sadly, most people probably just don’t really know how corrupt the fashion industry is. It is a bummer that 98% of clothing is made overseas because it just makes the cost of the clothing that much cheaper. It is a business of exploiting both people and the planet. That’s why making sustainable fashion choices are so important.
How does Past Life Collective stand out in the industry?
Our transparency, without a doubt. We are one of the few brands out there that breaks down the cost of each item and lets customers know where their dollar is going. I don’t believe in lying to people to get something from them. That is why we’re building a true community; we aren’t just trying to be a cash cow.
How do you take your ideas and turn them into the clothes we see on the site?
We use something called “deadstock” fabric to make all of our clothing. Deadstock is basically fabric that other brands made and didn’t use. Their “trash,” our treasure. So, we go on a hunt for the fabric first. Then, based on that, we create designs. There is so much beautiful fabric out there that would go to waste if it wasn’t for small brands like mine.
Who is your dream “Past Life Collective girl?”
Maybe it’s a cliche answer but any girl can be a Past Life girl. My dream is that they feel empowered by our message and want to make more sustainable fashion choices in their life that protect both people and the planet. I still melt anytime someone buys something from my brand.
What’s your favorite piece in the current line and how would you style it?
Currently, my favorite piece is the Mae Dress. I am in a big “cowgirl” phase, so I wear it with these black thrited cowboy boots, a hat and then style with some vintage earrings I scored in Sante Fe.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part is the creative freedom I have and having the opportunity to cultivate community. When people message us on social media to let us know how much they love the brand and the mission, it keeps me motivated that I am doing good in the world.
And the toughest?
The hardest part is that I just wish the brand could be more accessible to all. In terms of price point, it is really hard to make things ethically and also make them super affordable. I want all types of women to be able to wear and support the brand.
What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever received?
To not be too attached to any specific goal or idea I have. As we all know, life can really change in a matter of seconds. It is best to just adapt and ride the waves as time continues on.
What are you looking forward to most in 2021?
I am looking forward to a freaking vaccine! I created this brand pre-COVID, and nothing Past Life carries is in the loungewear category. So, people haven’t felt the desire to buy a cute pair of sailor pants or a fun dress… because no one is going anywhere. I want the world to open back up again!
How do you see the fashion world changing in the coming years?
Brands and fashion houses are going to start moving toward more sustainable fashio practices as well as seasonless collections. I think we will stop seeing a collection or two each season, but rather just a few each year. Second hand clothing will also continue having a moment.