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The future of FASHION

Milan Comley is the founder of CO AND CO, a company that produces sustainable denim and corporate wear right here on the North Coast. She tells us what it means to have launched a new eco-friendly brand.

Milan loves fashion – the way it allows her to express her creativity, the way it makes her feel. But what she is really passionate about is sustainability. She has been working for the family business, Celrose Clothing Pty Ltd, which manufactures clothing in factories around KZN, for the last six years as the representative for sustainability. In 2020, the company began experimenting with denim, soon realising there was a need for sustainable production. So, they invested heavily into this side of the business and opened the first-ever eco-laundry in the country, which allows them to wash denim in an eco-friendly manner locally.

With encouragement from her dad John, the CEO of Celrose, she started developing a sustainable brand that could work as a division of the family business and make proper use of the eco-laundry. She consulted with experts from Turkey and Italy who taught her and her team about using eco-friendly chemicals and water recycling, and after plenty of research, realised it was possible to produce denim locally with the added benefit of limiting their environmental impact. And so, late last year, CO AND CO was born. “In developing the concept of CO AND CO, we worked with the idea of circularity, closing the loop in fast fashion and creating value for everyone,” she says. “Both the environmental and the social aspects are important to us.”

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Milan began her career at the factory after completing a degree in marketing. “I’ve always had an interest in innovation,” she says. “I wanted to help improve things so that they would benefit the environment and the community at large.” To gain more experience, she embarked on a Master’s programme in sustainability from the Swiss Institution of Business, becoming the second student from South Africa to ever complete the course. Her interest in the environment comes from her own love for animals and the outdoors. “I grew up as a nature girl,” she says. “And I’ve always had a heart for helping people. Giving has always been a part of my life and I like putting myself into positions where I can improve something.” When it comes to business and problem-solving, Milan takes inspiration from her dad who she has always admired, while she credits her creativity to her mom.

Milan’s dreams for CO AND CO are to grow the brand, but also to spark more conversations about sustainability and its importance in the world of fashion. “I honestly don’t believe there’s a future without sustainability now,” she says. “We can make a big impact and that’s really important for me.”

Details: IG co.and.co_biz

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