Wow, So it's been a year ago since I started on my Boy Wonder journey and have written a staggering 50 blogs! At times it's been a real struggle but when I get positive feedback about what I am doing it makes it all worth it!
You can have a look back at some of the best ones here:
Vive le Difference
Ethical Fashion for kids
Long Live Clothes
The Fashion Image
However I have been finding it harder and harder to come up with a different subject matter every week. I don't want to compromise on the quality of what I am writing because of this so I have decided to reduce my posting to every fortnight. This will also give me chance to concentrate more on getting my collection done too.
I will be guest blogging in October and December for the Ethical Brand Directory so you can check me out there! I am on the lookout for other sustainable fashion bloggers to write some guest pieces on here too, so if you are interested please let me know.
I have now set up my first newsletter that you can sign up to on our contact page. This will give you early bird offers and news and sneaks peeks of exciting things, so do please sign up. This first one has exciting news of an upcoming event so don't miss it.
The latest news on the collection front is that I am now talking to manufacturers. I am hoping to start my pattern drafting next week and to be going into production before Christmas. I have had to make a massive business decision over the last few weeks about my route to market. As my product will be premium, organic and made in the UK the high costs make it impossible for me to sell to buyers. So I will now have to retail through my own website instead. This is great news for you readers as it will make my brand more easily available to you. So watch this space!
Over the next six months I want to give you a behind the scenes look at the collection being made. This will highlight the skills our British factories and makers have and the high quality they can produce, but also you will be able see the love that is going into the clothes they are making. I also plan to create some useful infographics and how to guides on sustainable fashion as well as hosting some fun events.
Remember you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest too to get your Boy Wonder fix!
#BrandBirthday #BoyWonder #Celebration
A great way to embrace slow fashion is to buy less and of better quality. So how can we do this I hear you ask? Ok readers, so here is the low down on how to assess garment quality.
The first thing to do would be to feel the fabric, does it feel good? How thick is it? Does it wrinkle easily? Does any stretch return to normal properly? Then look at the fabric composition on the wash care label. Natural fibres such as cotton, linen, wool and silk will last longer and wear better on the whole than synthetics which tend to pill and fade. Even fabric with a high percentage of natural fibres such as 60% or more will ensure the garment lasts longer and better.
When trying the garment on does it fit well and not feel like there has been any scrimping on fabric which affects the fit? Do the seams sit smooth and straight and does the fabric hang well? If the garment has been well cut it should sit nicely on the body without it pulling anywhere. The grain of the fabric should be straight unless it’s cut on the bias- meaning that it shouldn’t look wonky or wrinkled in the wrong areas. Also if the print matches at the seams, then more care has been taken over the garment. For children’s clothes also look for more length in the body, arms and legs to allow for growth spurts.
The quicker garments can be made the less they will cost so cutting corners on construction is a common in fast fashion production. Most are not meant to last more than a few washes to encourage us to go out and buy more.
So next, turn the garment inside out and have a good look. Pull lightly at a seam on both sides and check for strong stitching and that there are no wonky lines, snags, puckering, gaps or loose threads. Even and generous seam allowance is another good indicator, as is a good hem allowance of at least 1 ½ inches to allow for letting down. Make sure there are no raw edges and look at how the seams are finished. They should at the very least be overlocked which is where there are thread loops around the raw edges of the fabric. High quality items however would have French, flat felled or bound seams. Here either the seams are turned in on themselves so you cannot see the cut edge of the fabric or covered (bound) with another fabric making them stronger and more attractive.
Look at the stitching to see if there are any broken stitches or clumping, this is an indication that the sewing machine tension was wrong so the garment will not be as durable. The more stitches there are and closer together the better especially for finer fabrics. Are there reinforcements such as bar tacking or top stitching where needed for extra strength? The finer details of a garment such as whether it has lining or not and how well the corners and points are finished are another giveaway. Collar points and cuff corners for example should have had the seam allowance trimmed so there are no lumps and bumps.
Metal zips will always last longer than plastic ones and are less likely to misalign. Are the buttons good quality and sewn on well? Do the buttonholes have tight stitching and a neat slot? Lastly is a spare button or thread provided? This is a great clue that the garment is meant to be looked after and loved.
A final suggestion is to go and look at some high end designer clothing. Of course we can’t all afford to buy such luxury goods but try some on and you will be able to feel the difference. It will then be easier to spot good quality. Great bargains on designer pieces can always be nabbed on online auctions & in second hand shops if you are willing to have a good hunt around.
#GarmentQuality #SlowFashion #ExpertAdvice
It is London Fashion Week this week so I find my eye drawn to lavish images of beautiful skinny white women appearing online and in the press. Now we all know this is not representative of us mere mortals and is nowhere near showing the wonderful ethnic diversity of Britain either. There have been some inroads on the catwalks in recent years to use black and Asian models but we need to see more and of all different shapes and ages too. As adults we can shrug this off with a jaded cynicism about what sells papers etc etc. But how does it affect our kids who are less savvy about the world?
My son isn't interested in fashion magazines so is little affected by glossy airbrushing and impossible waistlines but he is part of the younger generation that is exposed to social media as we never were. This frightens me. A lot. I use social media for the business and it is invaluable for that, but I notice how much people’s lives online are edited to unreality. (I am guilty of this too, so I hold my hands up to it!) But looking at people's feeds I sometimes wonder how I can ever live up to their happy, fun and glamourous lives. I am aware that people only project what they want us to see but I believe this plays into our insecurities as we think we are somehow not as good (or maybe that's just me!)
Many teenagers now judge their popularity on how many 'friends' or followers they have on their social media channels, how many likes their posts get and so on. How much do these ideas of popularity and perfection effect things like body image and well-being? According to the UK charity Beat, eating disorders are on the rise and have risen 34% since 2005. 6.4% of adults in the UK are now diagnosed as having an eating disorder and 25% of those are male. Shockingly, as young as just 6 years old.
To give social media it's due, there are some people out there in the online space challenging these ideas. Some models are now posting alternative photos to show their wobbly bits etc., which is just amazing! The make-up free selfie has also gone viral showing us all that beauty is often just smoke and mirrors. These platforms are helping to change the face of fashion itself and get more diversity and individuality on the catwalks and in the press. It gives us power to shout about what we do and don't like so the big fashion houses, high street brands and magazines now have to listen or suffer the indignity of losing credibility.
To me fashion is about self expression, personality and individuality that should be celebrated and never judged. We are not all the same, we all have bits we don’t like but we are all deserve to be happy. This is what I would wish for my son and to all of you out there.
#Fashion #Beat #SelfImage
Where would we be without the t-shirt? This comfy and versatile garment is a now worldwide staple, and comes in a huge variety of forms from V-neck to long sleeve. Some 2 billion t-shirts are sold around the world every year and the average person owns 27 of them. The majority of t-shirts are made from 100% cotton and it takes six miles of yarn to create just one.
In 1913 crewneck t-shirts were issued by the U.S. Navy to be worn under uniform. It was then taken up by dock workers, miners and farmers who preferred the lighter weight fabric for hot weather conditions. This inexpensive and easy to wash garment went on to became the play gear of choice for mums to put their kids in (and still is today!) By 1920 the word t-shirt became official as it was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. It was defined as a ‘collarless, short sleeved or sleeveless usually cotton undershirt: also an outer-shirt of similar design’ It’s iconic name comes from it resembling a letter ‘T’.
By 1932 the t-shirt had become so sought after that students would steal them from their football team so they had to be printed with ‘property of USC’. The ‘Gob’ shirt was then introduced in 1938 by Sears and sold for less than a quarter. The earliest printed t-shirts are thought to be ones made to promote the Wizard of Oz in 1939. The cover of Life magazine in 1942 showed the first photo of a printed t-shirt and Mickey Mouse starts to adorn the ubiquitous garment a few years later. By 1948 t-shirts are already being becoming political statements when New York governor, Thomas E. Dewey runs for president. However it was in 1951 when Hollywood truly sealed the iconic status of the t-shirt when it was worn by Marlon Brando in A Streetcar named Desire.
Since then the t-shirt has traveled the world, shouted political slogans and had smiley faces, always loved and often ironic. I remember squeezing into my little sister’s t-shirts as a teenager to try to get a cute cropped look – I must have looked pretty silly!
One area in sustainable fashion that is much talked about is zero waste. 15-20% of fabric gets wasted and discarded due the expense of recycling scraps, according to fashion industry experts. Lay-planning systems such as Gerber have been around for a while and use computers to work out the best way to lay the fabrics out on the cloth prior to cutting. This clever optimisation still doesn’t totally eradicate waste however and therefore some fashion designers are now challenging themselves to leave nothing on the cutting room floor.
Although inspiring, designing the whole garment around the idea of zero waste is time consuming and highly skilled so therefore won’t affect mainstream fashion in a big way. This is one reason why I don’t believe that the zero waste initiative should be a focus nor is really achievable or sustainable. Most designers could probably improve on waste reduction, but it doesn't seem sustainable to use up all the fabric to avoid waste but rather to use less of it in the first place. Any scrap that is left can always be utilised elsewhere anyway, such as shirt waste for pocket bags, or at the very least recycled for insulation or some such. So why waste (sorry, excuse the pun!) so much time on it?
The issue of cutting room scrap fabric really pales into insignificance in comparison to the 600 million garments that fashion giants like H&M sell every year all over the world. This is driving the 2.5 billion pounds of clothing that ends up in landfill every year because customers now see fashion as disposable. Sustainable fashion needs as many champions as possible to try to combat this so any disruption or innovation to the standard models of working is a good thing. But surely prevention is better than cure? So wouldn’t encouraging people to reduce their consumption of clothes and make better choices about what they do buy have a far bigger impact?
The concept of a circular economy does incorporate the idea of waste reduction but also challenges us to rethink our mentality on waste, like Will.i.am says “it’s not waste until you waste it”. The circular concept is what slow fashion is all about and offers real hope for the future of the industry and the planet. It involves designing fashion with longevity, repair, recycling and also biodegradability in mind. Furthermore, by creating a high quality garment to enable multiple users to wear it, via swapping, renting or second hand sales, thereby extending it’s lifecycle as much as possible. Minimal waste in the design process becomes part of using less resources in the whole of the lifecycle and trying to close the circular loop.
What circular fashion ideas inspire you the most? We would love to hear from you x
Making Fashion Circular
#ZeroWaste #CircularFashion #SlowFashion
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