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Product design, quality and finding materials

Watch this video to hear some tips from several fashion designers about how to design products with quality and sustainability in mind.
I’m completely obsessed with looking for materials. I go everywhere. I will buy anything anywhere. I’ve bought ribbons from Norway, whatever I can find. So every collection is different, and every collection has its own story, in a sense. All the fabrics we use are fully traceable. 90% of them are certified organic. All the whites that we use are unbleached. We make sure that all our clothing is machine washable. The materials that I am really enjoying working with at the moment is this that I’m wearing which is recycled plastic bottles fabric. It is something that is a yarn that comes from Italy. That’s where it’s spun.
And then the yarn is sold onto a variety of different people, different mills in that there can be different end uses. So for instance, this is a satin-based fabric and it’s for dresses, whereas you could also get fabrics that are jersey and knit and a variety of different areas. My advice, when thinking of fabrics is to start with a very strong idea of what your design looks like, what your pattern looks like, what your collection feels like, and then from the heart really ask yourself, what kind of an impact do I want to have as a brand but also on the environment?
Most people will reply, “I want to be a low-impact designer,” and then find the solutions to fit that. In my women’s couture brand, it is mostly leather, but I strive to source leather that is a byproduct. And I also find that then when I look for those leathers that are a byproduct, you don’t necessarily find byproducts that are in the finish you want. But then I’ve gone out and I’ve found ways to apply the finishes that I like and do that all within London.
Every element that we work with to be as sustainable as possible, whether it’s a Preciosa, our crystal partner, or the rivets that we’re sourcing to put into the pieces, it’s just try to get the best quality and the best option. And then I think what makes it the most sustainable is that all the laser cutting happens in the UK and all of the assembly happens literally in our studio. We also source organic fair trade cotton, many different things, tensile jerseys, it’s very much in the materials we use. But then it’s also trying to find a way to partner with people where we can make that story really interesting like partnering with Ekocycle.
I source sustainable fabrics from a huge range of suppliers because you can never find everything you want with one person. A lot of the time it’s honestly by just googling what you’re looking for, and then ringing up the people until you’ve found what you want. The design should be functional. It shouldn’t be so superfluous or unneeded. That is something which I spend a lot of time working at. And it might be meaning that I sit down with a factory or I send endless emails or I go and travel and sit down with people. And we literally go down and look at a minute square or something. And I’ll do that again and again and again.
I decided to go into it with a bit more of a business point in that I thought, first product, then how can I make it sustainable, rather than, “Oh, I’m a sustainable brand. People surely will want to buy me or buy the product. The other thing is the detailing which sets you apart again from the fast fashion where people don’t have the time. Again, if they’ve got a collection of 50 pieces or 100 pieces and they’ve got to do five connections a year, naturally quality is going to slip or the sustainable side is going to slip. With regards for example, to using sustainable fabrics is the fact they were there, so I should use them.
But then once you start opening that door, you get more interested and then it kind of snowballs into other things. I think a lot of designers these days don’t think of the end body that they’re designing for. They’re thinking of their own creation in their head. This is why I think it’s important to really remember that fashion is an applied art. An artist thinks, dreams, creates. Fashion has a function. It’s that of flattering the body.

In this video, get inside tips from several fashion designers on how to design products with quality and sustainability in mind and where to find sustainably made materials.

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How to Build a Sustainable Fashion Business

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