OK, so I fancy myself as a sustainable designer. I genuinely want to make a positive contribution to fashion, not the usual consumerist crap, but designs which have a positive impact on the wearer and the world. ‘Aim big’ they said!
Contrary to popular belief clothes are not made by elves overnight if you leave them in your workshop (The elves and the shoemaker was my favourite story as a child), I can tell you from experience that this construction method doesn’t work, even if you leave them midget gems for dinner. Clothes are complex things.
There’s the concept/design process/pattern making process/prototyping/fitting/sourcing/cutting process/construction process/selling process. That’s a super diverse playlist of skills, and a whole lot to be mastered by one woman, even if she is big (I am classified as a giant apparently) I can assure you that as a non-elf, the generation of clothing to sell within the limitations of sustainability is some challenge, and certainly not something that one manages over night.
I am about to launch my first ready to wear product. Due to popular demand, we’re going with the Warrior dress. This was something I thought about for a day, found fabric in my vast library of off-cuts and spare pieces (affectionately known as the heap), and generated the pattern the next day. Cutting was time-consuming….there’s 30 pieces in the front of the garment alone. This process took a few hours, and gave me a couple of blisters. Sewing it together was equally time consuming, as the 30 pieces on the Over-locker (also known as the Overlord) is a fiddly game, and took another 3 hours.
Finally, the prototype garment was finished, and I went about wearing it, photographing it, and writing blogs about it. I love this dress, and it certainly went down well with my audience.
When people are used to buying sweaters in Primarni for £9, they are used to cost as a part of a race to the bottom value devolving process, and I cant compete, especially if I’m working with sustainable fabrics. In fact it’s an impossibility, despite my lack of overheads (I have a corner of the front room which I use as a production studio, along with the dining table in the kitchen, 2 decent machines, and an overworked Grandad on free-childcare), unless I pay myself 23p an hour, and mastermind a break in at a sustainable jersey factory in the UK (which doesn’t exist), I have to charge more than people are used to in order that the process is worthwhile. After all, I can’t sustain my shoe habit on 23p an hour, even if they are mostly from charity shops, this surely represents an important aspect of sustainable production, the production team needs shoes.
The only place I can make drastic savings is in fabric. So prompted by a creative friend named Sugar (I can’t share the rest of her name, because it’s rude), I went to visit her in Birmingham to check out the rag markets, to find cheap enough fabric from which to construct this garment.
Well, Birmingham rag market, what a delightful cornucopia of bliss it is. After 20 minutes of stroking, pulling, and draping an array of beautiful and insane cheap fabrics over myself, I had to have a coffee break, as I was, utterly overwhelmed with choice. There are lots of seconds fabrics in the markets, and as a result they can be really cheap. I don’t know their origin, and I’m fairly certain they haven’t been ethically produced, but frankly, giving a guy an actual 10 pound note in exchange for 5 metres of viscose jersey, knowing that he’s scratching a living from the back of his van, really feels like you are contributing directly to the local economy.
Armed with cheap enough fabrics for more prototypes, and a plan to simplify the design (removing the hood, and making it from contrasting jerseys rather than the pvc fabric in the original), I was ready to go, and Warrior dress #2 was created.
So, the Warrior dress is going on sale. The cost for this garment is going to be £80 with additional £4 p&p, but it can be customized, so if you want a different word on it, please let me know, and I’ll calculate how much this will cost, as a new pattern will need to be drafted. You can also decide if you want the basic fabric option or would want to pay more for sustainable fabric (from £45 extra).
All dresses will be made to order, so you may have to wait for it, I can only make one at a time, and I will be honest when the order is made about how long production will take. Officially the dress will be launched next week, but if you are interested send me an email, I’m super excited about seeing you wearing my dress.
This week I have an additional blog, with more in depth information about the research behind this project. So please do read this if you are interested, and subscribe to my blog, so you don’t miss the Warrior launch next week, there won’t be canapes and prosecco, but there will be some fun new pictures.