Who Made My Clothes?
Though Fashion Revolution Week (22nd-28th April 2019) is a good few months off yet, I didn’t want to wait to write this post as it is something on my mind every day as I work on House of Flint and FLINT Clothing.
The Fashion Revolution brings together designers, producers, makers, workers and consumers with one collective aim: to change the fashion industry. Radical and revolutionary change is demanded to create transparency; fair and equal pay; inclusivity across all cultures, race and heritage; environmental conservation and restoration; and a sustainable, ethical ethos for the fashion of our future.
In April 2013 the Rana Plaza building collapse shook the world into taking notice, and the Fashion Revolution was born. 1,138 people died throughout the garment factories manufacturing clothing for big global fashion brands. “We believe that 1,138 is too many people to lose from the planet in one building, on one terrible day to not stand up and demand change. Since then, people from all over the world have come together to use the power of fashion to change the world.” (Why we need a Fashion Revolution)
Consumers are now asking brands ‘who made my clothes?’ in a bid to create this much needed transparency within the fashion industry. For House of Flint, this is something I’ve made clear from outset: Who made your clothes? I did!
A simple answer to this question so far. I cut and stitch every piece you receive by hand, made to order. But this is not the end of the question - what about fabric? packaging? delivery? longevity?
These considerations need to be addressed at every stage in a fashion brand. The ideal is to “close the loop”, and create a process that causes no waste, alongside ethical manufacture and garments built to last. As my brand progresses I endeavour to make this happen, but as I work towards this greater aim, I’d like to keep you as informed as possible about my practices. So here goes…
Who made your clothes?
Well, this we covered! For now it is me, Jessica, who stitches every piece. This is not only because I’m a bit obsessed with making sure every garment is exactly as intended, but also as I wanted to keep the business small and the air miles smaller. When I started this brand I couldn’t justify the amount of garments that would have to be ordered in advance of sales if I worked with a manufacturer. Slow fashion encourages you to buy less and I never want to be pushing my clothing at my customers just to get rid of stock. Hopefully, in the future, I may be able to employ a seamstress or two to work alongside me, but I have no grander aspirations than that.
Where are your clothes made?
Made in my studio in the heart of the Lincolnshire Wolds, in the House of Flint. I don’t think this could ever change as I’ve gotten too used to having my Mum and sister just a stones throw away whenever I need a (somewhat) willing model…
What fabric do you use?
This was a big decision for me, and I spent the best part of two years researching what the most sustainable options would be. It seems that NO fabric will tick every box. In an ideal world the fabric would be natural, naturally dyed, local, organic, ethically made and recyclable. With my choices I try to tick as many of these boxes as I can, and strive to research continually as new fabrics become available. All fabrics I use are made in Europe; are organic or oeko-tex; have a transparent manufacture themselves to ensure they are ethically made; and are all natural fibres. I choose fabrics that will stand the test of time, and hope to introduce an initiative soon whereby customers can return their garments directly to us when they no longer have use for them, so they can be re-used or recycled every time.
How do you package your garments?
After months of searching (there’s not as much as I’d like out there!), I found the packaging in use today. Re-useable, recyclable and biodegradable. Each piece is also sent out through Royal Mail (Special Delivery) - the public transport equivalent to a private couriers taxi. Does that make sense? In my head it does but I may have been staring at the screen too long!
How do you avoid waste?
Whenever a new paper pattern is made, I strive to use as much as the fabric as possible, I even have some zero-waste patterns for future pieces, which use every scrap in a length of fabric to create one garment. Inevitably there is some waste fabric on the cutting table for most of my work, but this never goes near the bin. Every scrap is saved, and this collection of remnants will form a new range, made solely from waste fabric. This is the Shard collection, each piece is entirely unique, even if the silhouette remains similar to another style.
How many wears will I get out of your clothes?
Hopefully? Hundreds! These garments are designed with versatility and function in mind, and I hope to prove that day by day. I have several ideas in the pipeline, including a series of photographs of myself wearing and styling a single piece every day for a month. Also, launching soon is my #wanderingflint initiative - whereby you can sign up to take part and receive 2 or 3 items of clothing to wear for a week before sending back (free of charge). Sign up to the newsletter now if you’d like to take part!
As you can see, a closed loop system is not in place yet. But I’m hoping by implementing these schemes and ideas now, it is not a far off dream for the future of House of Flint.