An Inside Look into Past Life the Collective — A Sustainable, Slow-Fashion Brand That’s Changing the Game

The other week I visited Past Life the Collective’s pop-up shop located at 935 Pearl Street here in Boulder, CO! This pop-up is here for only a few months, so I wanted to get the word out ASAP. Keep reading to learn more about the face behind the name!

  1. 1. Meet Berkley

    Berkley Bering Gamble is the founder, CEO, and creative director of Past Life the Collective, a zero-waste, slow fashion brand with a mission to #unfuckthefuture. She was born and raised in Boulder, CO, and is a CU Boulder alum. As a kid, she would buy jeans, paint them, rip them up, and sew beads in them to sell. Throughout college, Berkley got involved in climate change and humanitarian issues. She thought she would work for a non-profit but genuinely didn’t know what she wanted to do, was “passionate” about, or who she was. Sound familiar?

    Berkley got the idea for Past Life while meditating. “We would take fabric from fashion houses that would've otherwise been piled up in a landfill and use it to create wardrobe staples—all while paying talented local seamstresses livable wages,” she explains on her website. With zero experience of running a company or knowing anything about the fashion industry, she dove right in! 

  2. 2. Past Life was Born

    Her first step was researching and learning as much as she could about running a business. Then she shadowed the owner of Whimsy & Row for a few days in LA to get some first-hand experience. After that, Berkley found a business consultant, production team located in Denver, and designer to bring her brand to life. Past Life the Collective was launched on Sept. 14, 2020.

  3. 3. Sustainable Production

    The clothes at Past Life are made by designers at Clothery Studio, an ethical fashion and textile collective based in Denver, CO. They use deadstock fabric sourced in downtown LA. Deadstock is a fabric that was not used by fashion houses in the mass production of clothing. Usually, 80% of fabric bought is used by these companies and the rest is burned or thrown into landfills. By using deadstock, they are giving dead fabric a new life. “Things of the past are still beautiful,” she says, and I couldn’t agree more. By literally turning trash into treasure, resources or new materials aren’t being used to produce more fabric. This also means that there is a limited quantity of each piece per collection. Past Life drops two small-batch collections each year, and once the pieces are sold, they’re gone forever which is what makes this brand so unique!

  4. 4. Eco-friendly Everything

    To be completely zero-waste, all leftover fabric is used to make hang tags and masks. During the pandemic, 500 masks were made! Instead of zippers, eco-friendly buttons are used because zippers are extremely hard to recycle.

    All packaging is 100% compostable and plant-based, so over time, it will break down. Every purchase also comes with plantable basil paper instead of a regular thank you note which I absolutely love!

    If you end up thoroughly wearing a clothing item, Past Life will gladly take it back to recycle/upcycle and give you store credit in return.

  5. 5. Inside the Pop-up

    If you’re in the Boulder area (or even Denver), you can shop the collection in person at 935 Pearl Street! They are open Wednesday - Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m, and you can also shop by appointment. The pop-up also features other local artists and designers like Lucky Eleven Vintage and Sankalpa.

  6. 6. For All Shapes and Sizes

    When I visited the pop-up, Berkley told me that inclusive sizing is a top priority. I sometimes find it hard to find clothes that fit since I have a petite figure. When I tried on a few pieces, they fit like a glove and I couldn’t have been more impressed! However, because they use deadstock fabric, no two fabrics are alike. This means some of their pieces will fit differently than others, so each garment has its own sizing chart!

  7. 7. Pricing Sustainability

    Sustainable clothing is going to be more expensive. Period. At Past Life, ensuring people get an ethical wage is also going to increase the price. However, when you buy something from a sustainable brand, you know that it was made with respect for the planet and care every step of the way. It can be hard to break the cycle and habits of buying from fast-fashion brands especially if you don’t know whether they are or not, but Past Life keeps it real every step of the way!

  8. 8. #unfuckthefuture

    As consumers, we need to be mindful of our choices now and how they impact the future. We shop mindlessly and these actions have consequences even if they don’t directly impact us. Berkley says that the thing she continues to learn every day is “how challenging it is to grow a brand but how inspiring it is when people share that they have made more sustainable choices because of Past Life.” That is what keeps her going.

You can find Berkley here: Website, Instagram, Facebook!