The design dilemma

I am currently researching the potential for sale of a limited run of warrior jumpers. This will be a test of my limited business skills, hopefully provide some brand development, and also be a market test for my products. I’m hoping that the popularity of this design makes it the perfect place to start this process.


The starting point for this garment, was that people could customize the wording on this sweater, I want my customer to personally identify with the design, so they are more likely to wear and use it, loved clothes last apparently. Of course, this means more work for me, as I’ll be cutting a new pattern with each new word I emblazon across the wearers chest.


As I’m considering construction/suppliers/cost/ethics there are a few minor considerations:


Is the jersey made from a sustainable crop?

Is the jersey farmed ethically?

Is the jersey made ethically?

Will the product be made ethically?

Will I be able to create the design cheap enough to sell?


Answering each of these questions is an absolute minefield, so take a deep breath and I’ll stumble through it with you.


Bamboo is supposed to be pretty good, but it would have to be organic to ensure that it’s really eco-friendly, also (my own concern) what will cute little pandas eat? Organic cotton gets plenty of good press, but actually cotton is still awful stuff, and as a result of our mono-cropping for this thirsty little fluff sprouter, entire lakes are drying up in India, that means lots of very thirsty people. Then there’s hemp, general consensus is that hemp is delightful stuff, it’s a great crop and much better for the environment. So I have an order of Bamboo jersey and hemp jersey samples, as the hemp doesn’t seem to be available in white, and I need white for this design to work. The bamboo does also come in a range of colours so options are increasing for my custom sweater.


Birmingham rag market was the first choice when trying to find fabric I can make my designs from, despite the travel from Devon, this offers the potential to price my design competitively. A remarkable resource for any designer or enthusiastic dress maker.


It’s really difficult to tell whether the fabric has been made ethically, essentially the more you pay for it, the more likely it is ethical in its creation, but really, despite a bunch of people saying that it is ethical, short of visiting all the factories which produce this stuff, I’ve no way of knowing. My idea of ethical vs a corporation, no doubt differ vastly. The same goes for farming.


Will the product be ethically made? Well yes. Here I can offer some assurances. I will be making the product, at my desk, in my front room, no doubt while the children squabble over who’s turn it is to watch their favourite show on Netflix. Unless you’re concerned about my offspring’s long term intellectual development, I’m pretty sure only I will be injured while this sweater is produced, certainly no workers’ rights will be violated, I will not be paying my workforce a joke of a wage, and the process will be completed in the relative safety of my home, although living with 3 children is only ever a borderline safe environment.


Fabric research in the Birmingham rag market, this involves lots of stroking, pulling and musing, before becoming over excited and buying almost everything that isn’t nailed to the stall.


Prices vary wildly as you look at different sustainable options for the sweater. Cost of fabric in bamboo jersey is £40, so that clearly makes the selling cost greater. I have found seconds fabric in the rag markets in Birmingham. I can use it by cutting around the imperfections of fabric that is too inconsistent to sell through shops, this is significantly cheaper option, although the fabric isn’t a sustainable resource, it could potentially have little to no consumer value in the greater market, and could be a wasted resource. As the daughter of an ex-market stall holder, I also feel pretty good about paying for fabric from people who are probably not earning the most in the UK, but are trying to create an honest living in the real UK economy.


So the choice is yours, the Warrior dress will be produced to order, and you will have the choice to make it as sustainable or not as you wish. Come back next week, for the full sales pitch, and some jaunty photos of the Warrior jumper dress, priced from £80.

About The Author

Eve Copper