Did you know that good old Marks & Spencer's, that stalwart of British brands, have a clothing exchange scheme run in conjunction with Oxfam? I must have been asleep and missed it, but if you bring in your old, unwanted clothes to an M & S store and pop them in their 'shwop' box they are then either resold, reused or recycled and help Oxfam to fund lots of worthwhile charitable projects all over the world. This brilliant partnership has raised an estimated £16 million through the collection of over 20 million items since 2008. And there is more joy in this! - every time you 'shwop' you can collect 50 spark points if you show your 'shwopping' card at the till before unburdening yourself of your unwanted articles. These points entitle you to different special offers. You can also drop off your swopping at Oxfam stores instead and if you have an item of M & clothing in the bag then they will give you a £5 M&S voucher in return - not bad eh! You can also 'shwop' shoes, accessories and soft furnishings and not a stitch is wasted. Every year 1 billion items of clothing or approximately 500,000 tonnes are sent to landfill. This project is helping us to move away from the idea of disposable fashion which is well needed in my opinion. Some of the projects that have been funded in the third world include providing clean water, business training for women and community farming.
I have recently been utilising H&M's 'garment collection initiative' whereby you chuck a bag of unwanted natty threads into their recycling bins and receive a 25% discount voucher off your next shop of £25 or more. They have gathered more than 32 tonnes of garments since 2013 and have made collections from these recycled clothes. Some are sold seconde hand to be re-worn and some are turned into textiles fibres which are used for things like insulation. The H&M Foundation has partnered with the Hong Kong Institute of Technologies to develop technologies to recycle clothes made from textile blends. H&M were awarded the Corporate Social Responsibility award last week by the fashion industry's insider magazine Draper's Record. This initiative and H&M's great commitment to organic and sustainable cotton showed that sustainability has become an intrinsic part of H&M’s business.
#M&S #Recycling #SustainableFashion #BritishHighStreet #H&M
Quba & Co. are another innovational brand who manufacture in the UK. It was started by two friends with passion for sailing twenty years ago in Salcombe, Devon. Inspired by British nautical heritage they came up with the idea to re-use reclaimed canvas sailcloth and turn them into unique jackets. They had some jackets made up by a talented local seamstress that so unique that the word soon spread. The brand's popularity and orders soon grew from local sea-farers to holidaymakers and now they sell all around the world. They now have a specialist manufacturing unit and employ eight expert craftspeople and now create a whole range of sailcloth products, which are handmade to order, including holdalls, deckchairs and cushions. To date they have 15 of their owns stores mostly at seaside locations and they also sell through their website. Their distinctively British designs are still inspired by the charismatic coastline and salt washed colours of the seaside. The brand is supported by Monty Halls the broadcaster explorer and marine biologist who can be seen around Salcombe sporting their jackets. Peter Andre has also been spotted wearing their gear too, which must be giving the brand some exciting exposure!
Quba & Co. is such a good example of creative upcycling that I find so inspiring and refreshing that I now have one of their jackets on my wishlist (when I can afford it!) However I am unsure if the rest of their clothing range is made in the UK. By the way, I obviously can't use any of their imagery for this blog post so have had to include seaside pics of the Boy Wonder instead!
Check them out here: http://www.quba.com/
#QubaAndCo #UpcycledFashion #SustainableFashion #MadeInBritain
After last week's post I got thinking about some of the amazing people that are making things in the UK right now so I wanted to give them a well earned shout out. Ok, they're not making childrenswear but these guys are leading the way, and bucking the trend whilst making it more possible for start ups like Boy Wonder to be taken seriously.
The first who are well worth a mention are two guys who set up a brand called HebTroCo to save manufacturing in their home town Hebden Bridge aka 'Trouser Town'. This quirky little town in Yorkshire used to make over 20,000 pairs of trousers a week. However the last factory was now only making 176 a week and was about to close so these guys came up with a plan. They designed some trousers (with a little help), crowdfunded the project and when they launched they sold 176 pairs in in just five hours, ten minutes! They are now shipping hundreds of pairs a month all over the world. They make beautiful high specification moleskin and needlecord trousers using traditional manufacturing techniques. These trews are made to last a lifetime and promise to be the best pair of trousers you've ever had. Indeed they are guaranteed for just that, meaning that they repair and replace them if there are any faults or problems.
This is such an inspiring story and a sustainable model worth aspiring to. Here is their website if you want to check them out: http://hebtro.co/
#HebTroCo #SustainableFashion #UKManufacturing #MadeInBritain
The three keys things for me setting up this boys clothing brand are the sustainability side which I have already explored a little already, strong design and thirdly 'on shore' manufacturing. Britain is the birthplace of the industrial revolution and textile manufacturing. It all began here in this tiny but amazing island back in the 18th century. In fact, much of the mechanised textile industry started near where I grew up in the midlands and where I studied in Manchester. The first cotton mill was built by Sir Richard Arkwright in Cromford, Derbyshire and just down the road, still running to this day, is the knitwear company John Smedley, who is the oldest factory manufacturer in the world. I even worked in a garment factory myself in my home town when I was a teenager, sadly the factory shut down many years ago. This is part of why bringing back manufacturing to the UK means so much to me personally. I believe it is important to retain these vital skills and crafts in our country before they are gone. Not only that but it makes sense to me on many other levels: such as investing in our own economy and people, it is a greener option too as there would be no need to move products using carbon emitting shipping or air freight. Ethical issues would be far more easily monitored and governed by stronger rules and regulations here in the UK as well. Granted, I may not be able to source everything I would need from the UK, in particular raw cotton for fabric. But it would make me very proud to be able to have a label in my first collection saying 'Made in Britain'. There is a real resurgence in interest in British made products and their provenance which I hope will work well for my brand Boy Wonder. I hope it piques your interest too and encourages you to want to buy British.
#MadeInBritain #UKManufacturing #SustainableFashion
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