It is a well known fact that the fashion industry has become the second largest polluter after the oil industry. Worldwide an estimated 100 billion garments are produced annually, creating about 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Garment production has moved offshore and the workplace conditions of textile workers are in many cases unethical. Consumers have come to love cheaply produced fast fashion articles that don’t hold up well to wear and tear and get discarded quickly. Only around 10% are recycled, the rest ends up in landfill.
I am committed to reducing a fraction of this textile waste by repurposing discarded garments and fabric remnants. In my studio I create jackets, collages and bags mainly using recycled fabrics and vintage notions from local charity shops or donated by friends. I sew with thread made from recycled polyester, if available in the colours I need. The new linen fabric for my jackets and tops is sourced from within the UK. Some buttons are made from offcuts of acrylic material used by a jeweller. The frames for fabric collages are mostly upcycled pieces.
Second hand textiles need to be washed before I process them not only for cleaning but also to prevent shrinking and colour bleeding. I run the washing machine only when full, line dry the fabrics, and my energy provider for home and studio is a 100% renewable energy company. All packaging materials and most of my business stationery are either recycled or made from recycled paper.
Garments created in my studio are sustainable not only because of the materials I use. Hand-tailored they are more durable than cheaply produced fast fashion garments. The colourful collages that decorate them are secured with satin stitches. That is why jackets and tops need to be gently washed by hand and not exposed to the mechanically rotating drum of a washing machine. However, my garments need to be washed much less often than what we are used to. This makes them last much longer, saves energy and keeps microfibres out of the water. The reversible Japanese knot bags that I sew from recycled fabrics are meant to be used as an alternative to ephemeral gift wrapping paper.
Recycling and upcycling fabrics is at the heart of my business practice: I want to contribute to the circular economy by keeping discarded clothing out of landfill and create value from waste. It is my mission to convince my customers that on a personal level we can mitigate the dramatic damage inflicted upon the environment by the fast fashion industry and our throw-away culture. We can buy less but better, choose natural over man made fibres, extend the life span of the clothes we wear, care better for the garments we already own. Mend them instead of discarding them. And reduce our carbon footprint by buying local. Small steps, but together we can make a change.