Discovery Knitting knit the jersey and loopback with certified organic yarn for our t-shirts and sweatshirts and are based in South Wigston, Leicestershire just over 20 miles from our office. They knit high quality knit fabrics for fashion designers in the UK and across the world including organic and merino wool.
They are a first generation family run business with mum, dad and daughter all working in the business. They have a proud heritage of manufacturing dedicated British knitted fabrics since 1986 and employ seven full-time staff. They supply to Garbstore, Margaux Lonnberg, Nigel Cabourn and Private White VC as well as some other very well-known designer names.
They use ribber, striper and French terry 3 thread machines and can produce 8,000 too 10,000 metres a week. Jacquard circular knitting machines are used for stripes, French terry and rib/interlocks and a range of Flatbed trim machines for Jacket and Polo shirt cuffing and collars. They have recently bought a Heritage British Blackburn 12 gauge Striper S/Jersey which is the original machine the England Rugby shirts were knitted on. Another new refurbished addition is a the only British built Camber heavy gauge French Terry Loopback machine outside of the USA to knit 550gsm soft handle, big loop sweat fabrics.
Discovery's ethos has always been, as much as commercially possible, to produce fabric sustainably with as low a carbon footprint as possible. They source the best organic GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)/natural yarns while also paying the living wage to their experienced, hard-working team of staff.
The Oeko tex pre dyed yarn is from a German yarn dyer who is the very best low impact dyer in Europe. All of Discovery's fabrics are scoured (washed) or dyed all within 10 miles of their Mill, so they have the lowest carbon footprint of any knitted fabric supplier in the UK. They also recycle 90% of all their waste produced and have an ongoing reduction energy program.
All UK dyers and finishers have had to be Azo free for over 15 years and are monitored by the British water companies every month. The UK have some of the best standards in Europe. Discovery's dyers and finishers are all using soft flow low water consumption jet dye machinery. Most of Europe has legislated to be Azo free and harmful chemical clear but Eastern Europe still has issues. China and the Far East are still far from transparent with harmful chemicals still being used.
As part of their energy reduction program Discovery plan to install Solar energy panels on the side of their warehouse. This power will charge their ongoing upgrade to a hybrid vehicle and power their finished fabric warehouse and offices with a view to being 90% fossil free within 5 years.
They are also upgrading all of their machine motor drives to invertors at a cost of £2000 each, which will reduce their energy consumption in the knitting mill by a further 30%. This is being funding this entirely themselves, which gives you an idea of their commitment to reducing the impact on the beautiful planet we are guest of.
We are very proud to be working them on our collection.
#meetthemaker #madeinbritain #ethicalfashion
Unfortunately since special occasions have become so commercialised they now have high environmental and social impacts. Life should definitely be celebrated, but the mass consumption we indulge in at these times cost us and our planet heavily. But it doesn’t need to be that way, we can rethink things that are much more special than the usual stuff in the shops…. Here are some ideas on how to avoid the excess waste and still enjoy this special day.
“A single red rose could have the same carbon emissions as four and a half kilos of bananas.”
Most cut flowers are grown abroad and so generate a lot of air miles as well as using excessive amounts of chemicals and water. Even those grown in the UK generally need energy guzzling, hot houses to grown in our mild climate. Seasonally, locally grown flowers are better, try Flowers from the Farm or ask at your local florists.
The excessive packaging and cellophane wrapping is also a problem with cut flowers, so do look out for those that use biodegradable versions. Arena Flowers are stated to be Britain’s most ethical while Appleyard Flowers are all British grown. Look out for Fairtrade or Florverde symbols or use the Ethical company index. Aldi, Asda, Co-op, M&S and Sainsburys all stock Fairtrade flowers. This guarantees decent working conditions and wages, women’s empowerment and community projects and investment.
Even better alternatives are to buy planted flowers instead from your local nursery, rather than a supermarket or big store or why not cut some from your own garden? You could buy some seeds or bulbs instead, along with a second-hand quirky container like a vintage mug or colander. Or best of all why not donate to the Woodland Trust, Trees For Life or the National Forest to plant a tree instead, helping to drawdown CO2 in the process.
Look out for ethical, organic, palm oil free or vegan brands that use recyclable & biodegradable packaging. Divine, Booja Booja, Seed & Bean, original beans, Eat your Hat from Traidcraft and Raw Halo are all recommended.
You could also buy handmade treats from a local chocolatier or deli and use a reusable container. You could even make your own, it is very easy and you can add in your favourite flavours from ginger to caramel. Silicone chocolate moulds are available from Lakeland or online if you want something fancy. But you could even use ice cube trays that you already have rather than buying more stuff.
Or do something different like bake some sweet goodies instead like heart shaped biscuits or some delicious gooey vegan chocolate cake.
If you have to buy a shop bought card then look out for recycled or seed paper cards and avoid glitter and cellophane wrappers If you have time then make a really special card yourself using recycled materials. . Try rifling through a junk or antique shop and you may find some lovely vintage cards or photographs you could use or remake. Other low impact options are sending an e-card with Paperless Post, Jib Jab or Open Me or why not write a love letter or poem instead?
Wining & Dining
There are more and more zero waste & vegan restaurants these days. Try using the Happy Cow app to find one near you. Avoid chains and use local family run restaurants that will appreciate your patronage much more. If not then look out for vegan options on the menu as these are a much greener and more ethical choice.
Better still cook a special romantic meal yourself. You don’t even need a cookbook as there are so many wonderful recipes online. Set the mood with some candles and music and enjoy the comfort (and peace and quiet) of your own home. Breakfast in bed for your loved one is the best valentine treat in my opinion, with freshly ground Fairtrade coffee, freshly squeezed OJ, homemade pancakes and lots of blueberries and maple syrup!
If you can’t resist getting a gift to show your love for your valentine then try to purchase thoughtfully. Buy something that is long lasting and good quality with strong ethical credentials. Please avoid plastic junk and foil balloons at all costs. With candles choose unscented natural ones from beeswax or soy, with lingerie choose ethical underwear like some listed here, with jewellery always purchase from a jeweller who is certified for sourcing precious metals and gemstones in an ecologically and responsible manner.
But why not do something nice for your loved one instead of consuming more stuff? Give them a back or foot massage, make a special meaningful playlist, run them a candlelit bath, offer to wash up for a week or take them to an art gallery. Creating a special memory or doing something you know they would really appreciate means so much more.
You could also donate to charity instead on your partners behalf. Try Oxfam, Unicef, Water Aid and Save the Children as they have some good donating options.
Do please spare a thought for those on their own on Valentine’s day. As a single, widowed mum myself I know how hard it can be to see other couples together on this love filled day as it is on many other special occasions. So, why not make a card or do something nice for a friend as well? I shall be buying myself a box of chocolates and remembering my wonderful late husband.
#greenvalentines #zerowaste #lowimpactliving
How to have a Green Easter
How to have a Green Halloween
How to have a Green Christmas
Zoe here from The Big Swap, I was glad to swap a few words as guest blogger in return for Ismay’s support at my zero waste event. My first encounter with Boy Wonder Brand was at a Nottingham board game café, when I interrupted a game on the neighbouring table to find out more about the cool fish and chip print sweater the young boy (Ismay’s son) was wearing. It wasn’t long after that, when I approached Ismay to say a few words about her ethical clothing range at The Big Toy Swap. An event designed to for help the average person take steps to becoming greener and recognising they have the power to make a difference.
I grew up in a ‘far left’ household as a happy child with 2 parents and brother, with all the things in place to appear a regular family. However, even as a young girl I had an inclination there was something unique about our home, but simply put it down to having creative parents, making a living through being artists. My family shared a car with two other families, often leaving no choice but to cycle everywhere. We minimised holidays and almost never did international trips, my first being a school exchange in my teens. Monthly dried food packages arrived to our house and were exchanged and shared accordingly. My parents never upgraded things for newer models simply because it was current or no longer complimented the interior of a room. Objects lasted and if they didn’t, they were fixed or repurposed. That was the 70’s and around the time of first environmental movements towards air pollution. It turns out my family was pretty green, led by conscious adults.
Like so many people today I have a boot in each camp, a desire to make changes for a better world, one less damaged by humanity and a passion to have lovely things and maintain a lifestyle I have worked hard for. More than anything, as a parent I want my behaviour and attitude to transcend the right message to my young family as the living earth faces crisis.
In 2018, UK consumers spent £370 million on toys and this is showing no signs of slowing down, which is bad news for the environment. A survey by the British Heart Foundation found that, on average, children in the UK have four toys they have never played with, in the same survey all parents admit to throwing broken or just unwanted toys away. A large number of toys are made from materials not accepted at recycling plants and it is estimated that 80% of plastic toys will end up in landfill.
The good news is that quality consumables like children’s toys and clothes are not designed for ‘single use’, however our children do grow out of things pretty fast. I have considered a number of ways in which a family can make changes and lower their environmental impact and an easy one is to pass pre-loved items on and get something in return. Most people I speak to are doing a good job at charity runs and hand-me-downs to younger siblings and friends, but we need to buy less to begin with and slow consumerism down. The fossil fuels used at manufacturing and shipment of toys and clothes is the initial villain and the biggest threat.
Swap culture is happening globally, only this week I read the glitterati have been encouraged to reuse dresses or swap for the BAFTA’s red carpet. The Big Swap events are designed for people wanting to make change, they are accessible and offer a pocket of sustainability closer to home.
Swapping not only keeps great items in circulation, giving them new life, they are a great way to save money. Swaps are the new guilt free way of shopping. With less waste and more money in your pocket it opens up more opportunity to make smarter investments in brands that are taking the eco stress out of purchasing. Choosing to buy less but from more ethical brands like the Boy Wonder brand, will ease your conscience and have a much more positive impact on the environment.
The Big Swap – reuse, rehome, relove. A little sustainability one swap at a time.
Happy New Year everyone!
This is Philippa again, guest blogging for Ismay while she has her Christmas break.
It’s that time of year to be thinking of New Year’s resolutions, what changes to make to your personal development or lifestyle or at least make some attempt to change something! I had a prompt recently from the Ethical Consumer asking what New Year’s resolutions I had in terms of saving people and the planet. I do have a few resolutions; one resolution is to phase out completely the use of plastic bags on a community allotment that I’m very involved with. Why use plastic bags? Well, we need something to carry home the vegetables that we’ve grown. Why not use cloth bags? Well, the vegetables certainly at this time of year tend to be caked in mud so we would need to wash the cloth bags every time we used them which given the volume of mud involved is not easily done! Why not wash the vegetables before taking them home? Well, the water on the allotments is currently switched off for winter and we probably won’t have water again until April. Why not use a box? Well, boxes that are easily washed tend to be plastic! And so, it goes on. I’m sure one day there will be a solution however it will probably take a while to get there. Clearly, we need to think about this problem a bit more.
If any of you need some inspiration in terms of wishing to make changes with your clothing habits, I wondered how many of you had heard of the Sustainable Clothing Goals? These goals are taken from two major reports, The Public Understanding of Sustainable Clothing (1) and Well Dressed? The Present and Future Sustainability of Clothing and Textiles in the United Kingdom. (2). I’ve put the goals from both reports together to make the following below. (The actual goals are in italics, I have then commented on them).
1. Buy Second-hand clothing where possible. Buying second-hand clothing prolongs the life of garments, giving them a new lease of life.
2. Buy fewer more durable garments. In contrast to fast fashion where cheap garments are often worn very little, then discarded, invest more in your wardrobe by buying fewer garments but ones that are of better quality so that the garments last for much longer.
3. Hire clothing that would otherwise not be worn to the end of their natural life. Many items of clothing, particularly occasion wear is bought for one event and often not used again. Perhaps think more about hiring an item rather than buying particularly for special occasions.
4. Wash clothes at lower temperature and using eco-detergents, hang-dry them and avoid ironing where possible. These three goals are all about saving energy as the care of clothing does take a phenomenal amount of energy during their lifetime. Washing at 30 degrees is also good for garments as it helps to retain the original colour for longer.
5. Buy clothing that is sustainable. “Sustainable clothing” is quite a large category which covers both the ethical treatment of clothing workers and clothes made from more environmentally-friendly materials such as organic natural fibres and recycled materials.
6. Repair or adapt clothing to prolong its life, and return/recycle it at the end of its life /when you no longer want it. Obviously the longer the clothes are kept the better, so looking after clothing and repairing when necessary can keep a garment in use. Adapting garments such as changing a pair of favourite jeans into a pair of shorts also prolong a garment’s life. When finished with a garment, there are different ways to recycle such as donating to a charity shop or selling a garment or passing on a garment to someone else. Repurposing can be a good idea too. I once heard of someone who took pairs of jeans that people no longer wanted and turned them into handbags.
I hope that this list gives you some inspiration for the coming year, the goals may look relatively straight forward but I know from research (and experience!) that life tends to be more complex. Just as my allotment example demonstrated a simple aim in practice turns out not to be so simple after all.
Whatever your new year resolutions are, I wish you the best of luck. If you have any thoughts about the sustainable clothing goals, I would be very interested and happy to hear them.
(1) Fisher, T. Cooper, T. Woodward, S. Hiller, A. Goworek, H. (2008) Public Understanding of Sustainable Clothing: A report to the Department for Environment, London, Food and Rural Affairs, Defra.
(2) Allwood et al, (2006) Well Dressed? The Present and Future Sustainability of clothing and textiles in the United Kingdom, Cambridge, University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing
I’m a guest blogger today whilst Ismay enjoys a well-deserved Christmas break! My name is Philippa Crommentuijn-Marsh and I’m a researcher in the field of sustainable fashion. What interests me particularly are consumers and what they think about sustainability and whether their knowledge positively affects their clothing behaviour (or not!).
I did some research into this area a couple of years ago and discovered that generally there was low awareness about some of the major issues affecting the fashion industry. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, the issue that people had most knowledge about was the exploitation of clothing workers in terms of low pay and bad working conditions. These are issues that have probably appeared the most in the media.
The least known issue was the diminishing Aral Sea. Have a look on Google Images and see how this inland sea has dramatically shrunk over the years, by over 80%, mainly due to water being diverted to irrigate the cotton crop. It’s a startling image and is a good demonstration of what environmental devastation the fashion industry can cause. Yet it seemed to be little known then. Given that this inland sea is in Uzbekistan I strongly suspect that a lot of people (including me) wouldn’t be able to find Uzbekistan easily on a map!
When events are happening far away in a country most people aren’t familiar with it is harder to find out what is happening. For the people taking part in the research when they heard more about the ethical and environmental costs of the fashion industry, there were some positive indications of potential behaviour change. Fast forward to today and since I completed my research there is noticeably much more information coming from the media about the fashion industry and sustainability.
Just last year I was pleased to see the Aral Sea being featured on the BBC programme Stacey Dooley Investigates Fashion’s Dirty Secrets (unfortunately the episode doesn’t seem to be available on the BBC anymore though you can watch a short clip showing the Aral Sea in its current state).(1) There have been more TV programmes highlighting the exploitation of garment workers throughout the world and almost every week there seems to be an article in the media about some aspect of sustainability.
Recently I noticed two sustainable issues affecting the current party season. Firstly, sequins, which were highlighted recently as being bad for the environment. They are mostly made out of plastic which don’t biodegrade for hundreds of years as well as containing microplastics which can harm aquatic life. Though there has been some encouraging progress towards producing more sustainable sequins this will take time. (2) Sequinned clothing is popular at this time of year for party outfits and according to a recent survey the average person will spend £73.90 on a Christmas outfit that for some people won’t be worn again. Within this season alone this adds up to £2.4 billion pounds on clothes that are hardly worn. (3) This may partially explain the overall UK spend in 2018 on clothing being a whopping £60.4 billion pounds. (Statista.com)
Apparently the spend on clothing is on an upward trajectory meaning that fast fashion is still hugely popular, and consumers don’t seem to be changing their behaviour despite the plethora of information about sustainability. If you are interested in dressing more sustainably, the charity Hubbub behind this research gives tips on how to dress for the party season (4) and the BBC have also recently produced an article on companies that offer clothing for hire which seems to be a growing area and becoming more popular (5). Will all this information and new fashion services change consumer behaviour? I look forward to finding out more!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our followers and supporters.
The campaign ended today 102% funded with a final total of £4,837 from 75 backers
Big thank you to everyone for all your pledges and support.
If anyone missed out on pre-ordering and still wants to, you can contact me as we are keeping the pre-order list open until the 6th January.
This is your last post from me from for while apart from a special one tomorrow.
Am now going to have a well earned break over the Christmas holidays and I can relax knowing that our little business is starting to grow ❤️
To those of you that backed us I will be in contact with you in the New Year with project updates.
Also, please sign up to our mailing list by clicking the button below to make sure you don't miss any of our exciting news.
#crowdfunding #kickstarter #brandlaunch
We are so close the end of the crowdfund campaign now AND WE HAVE JUST HIT OUR TARGET!!
So to celebrate we are increasing our discount to up to 30% off!!!
This is your LAST CHANCE to support us and get some amazing Boy Wonder product that are fun, unique and ethical. You can still donate as we need every penny to help our little business grow.
If have already pledged/backed us there are new designs on the site in case you want to change them. You can also increase your pledge if you want to add anything else. Otherwise again please spread the word as widely as possible.
It’s been so amazing to see you all chip during the campaign so thank you again. I have been really touched to have you all support me (and put up with my incessant pestering!) We couldn’t have done it without you.
#crowdfund #brandlaunch #kickstarter
If you are backing us on Kickstarter or thinking about doing so you will be helping us to go into production and grow our little business. With just 48 HOURS LEFT OF THE CAMPAIGN I thought some reasons why supporting us is such a good idea might help you decide to pledge;
1. Ethically Made
All our garments are made in Britain and the cloth is also made by an ethical manufacturer too. So we can you give you peace of mind that our clothes are made for kids not by kids.
2. Stereo-type Free
You won't find any of the usual cars and dinosaurs in our prints like most boys fashion. We don't use boring 'boy' colours like grey, navy and brown either.
3. Organic Cotton
We only use certified organic cotton in our garments which is kind to your child's skin and the planet. Organic cotton is not only chemical free but also has a lower carbon footprint.
4. Circular Design Principles
We design clothes to last with extra growth room, high quality construction and special design features. Meaning less shopping and expense for you. We also sell garment care products and provide care guides upon purchase.
5. Hand-drawn Prints
All our prints are bespoke and hand-drawn by me. You won't find them anywhere else. We think boys should have as much fun with fashion as girls do!
6. Sustainable Practices
We use sustainable practices like digital printing to be as low impact as possible. We are a green business using renewable energy and an electric vehicle. We consider our environmental impact in every area of the business.
7. Made in Britain
Our garments and fabrics are made just over 20 miles from our office making it a truly local project. This keeps our fashion miles down as well as supporting local communities.
8. Premium Quality
Our fabrics and garments are all made to a high quality. Receiving a Boy Wonder product is a special thing and will arrive carefully wrapped in tissue paper in a special box.
9. Plastic Free
All our products and packaging, as well as our office supplies, promo materials and swing tags are all plastic free and made with recycled bio-degradable materials.
All our garments are machine washable at 30 degrees making life easier for you. Ribbed cuffs and necklines are in contrast fabric to reduce your washing and iron-on patches can cover any stains.
Well, I hope that's convinced you that we are worth supporting.
You can go to the crowdfund campaign page via the button below.
#crowdfund #fashionlaunch #startupbusiness
Since our ethical fashion range went live on Kickstarter we have had many visitors to the site. However, most of them are not converting to backers which suggests they are not the right customer and not willing to pay the premium prices that ethical fashion costs. So, why is ethical fashion more expensive than the high street and the supermarkets?
Most large retailers manufacture in countries where the wages are extremely low so as to maximise on their own profits. One of the biggest garment manufacturing countries at the moment is Bangladesh, where most garment workers receive just 3,000 taka a month (approximately £25) but a living wage is calculated to be 4000 taka a month (£45). Ethical brands use manufacturers that pay their staff a real living wage, as well as paying living wages themselves. Manufacturing in the UK that means paying £9.30 an hour or £10.75 in London.
Economies of Scale
Large high street retailers and supermarkets will order vast amounts of each style which means they can buy them as much lower unit costs. They will be buying 1000's of metres of fabric at a lower cost too. Ethical brands are much smaller and so would have much smaller orders meaning their making and fabric costs will be much higher. For example a t-shirt can cost a high street retailer as low as £3 to make, pack & ship based on an order of over 4000 pieces. (That's before they put their retail mark-up on it) It costs me as a start-up nearly £18 because I can only aim to reach 50 pieces.
Large companies have enormous power which they use to help drive down prices. Factories owners often have the threat or worry of losing orders unless they can bring their units costs down to the point where they make very little money themselves. This is why the garment workers are paid so little and work in appalling conditions. There are so many factories and other poor countries vying for business that a retailer can easily go elsewhere to find a better deal.
Most budget fashion is cheap because it's made with synthetic fabrics. The price of organic cotton is substantially higher than these and conventional cotton because the extra money is used to grow cotton more sustainably, to cover certification checks and provide better lives for the workers. Big brands will often dye or print vast amounts of fabrics different colours or prints to use in different ways too, so reducing their costs further.
Big retailers have huge customer bases and massive marketing budgets, whereas ethical fashion is still a relatively niche market. Until there is more demand for ethical fashion, in a similar way to the organic food movement, the prices will stay high. Investors are less likely to invest in ethical companies unless they can see evidence of customer demand, so companies wanting to do the right things struggle to grow on their own.
Because large fashion retailers are able to buy their products at such low cost prices they are able to add on high mark-ups. Fashion items are normally marked up at 2 or 3 times the wholesale price. Remember that t-shirt that cost under £3 to make? With a retail mark-up the retail price would still be only £9. These large mark-ups also give big brands the ability to discount heavily when they need to shift stock. Ethical brands have higher making costs as seen above so can't add so much of a mark-up and are therefore limited to how deeply they can discount. This affects again how many customers they can attract.
So, does this make you think more about the value rather than the high costs of ethical fashion?
Hopefully it helps you to understand how difficult it is for ethical brands to survive especially in today's world of fast fashion.
#ethicalfashion #livingwage #fashionstartup
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