In this edition of the business spotlight for Podengo Market Research, we talk to five UK slow fashion brands, with one collective goal. Making a positive impact on society and our environment.
Fashion is a form of self-expression. It’s a form of art. What you wear and how you choose to dress, determines how you feel about yourself. So, why is slow fashion important? Because, well, the alternative is Fast Fashion. Which basically means buying poorly made, mass-produced clothes, that don’t last. Adding to the devastating figure of 84% of clothing, which all ends up in a landfill.
Who doesn’t love a bargain though? I can happily spend my time rummaging through the best of Brighton’s charity shops. But ultimately at some point, somehow, a portion of these end up in landfill too. So how can we continue to take pleasure in ‘retail therapy’ without adding to the pile?
The answer is Slow fashion. But what does that really mean?
Slow fashion looks at breaking down the manufacturing process, takeing into consideration the whole she-bang. From start to finish. Examining the fabric, how it’s grown, where it’s made. Who is making it? How well they are treated? What is the environmental impact of growing and making the garment? What is the quality of the finished product and how long it will last?
Inclusive, sustainable fashion: In 2017, Victoria Jenkins from Unhidden created an inclusive clothing brand dedicated to bringing dignity and style back to people with disabilities. Aware that climate change affects those in marginalised groups first- Victoria wanted to ensure that the clothes they make would not become part of the problem. This is why the ‘launch collection’ is made to order using deadstock cloth. Leftover fabric from other companies who have ordered in excess.
“Fashion can be such a force for good- but to date, it has caused significant damage to the environment and to us as a population. Our relationship with our bodies and what we are taught about beauty is greatly distorted by the fashion industry, and its continuing refuels to acknowledge disabled bodies is a lot of why I created Unhidden.” – Victoria Jenkins, founder of Unhidden.
Upcycling: Priya Velusami started Pri Pri seven years ago when she first made a dress for one of her nieces out of one of her mum’s old saris. She received such positive feedback, that she opened an Etsy store. From there it grew into a full-time business. Upcycling saris into accessories and kidswear, and now partnering with a women’s empowerment organisation in India to make up designs. Priya aims to bring colour and beauty to people through slow fashion, by reusing materials that already exist. Reducing opportunities for waste and supporting those without the privileges of most.
“Making clothes from a young age, I’m aware of the time and materials required in a piece of clothing. I think we need to educate people who don’t have that same experience in dressmaking, about the resources and processes that fast fashion requires, so they can make more informed decisions when buying something. I do appreciate that slow sustainable fashion brands can be unaffordable for some, but I think taking better care of our clothes and making the effort to mend and repair is important to shift the culture of throwaway fashion.” – Priya Velusami, founder of Pri Pri.
Empowering women: For Sandra Palmer, More Than Swim naturally evolved from her original company of 1ST MAN 1ST WOMAN in February 2020. With a focus on empowering as many women as possible, to love their bodies. To feel good about who they are. And to feel great about being a part of restoring our beautiful planet. For that reason, all of More Than Swim’s pieces are made in the UK, using a print process that eliminates the use of water to transfer their designs onto fabric, whilst using eco-friendly inks.
“I’ve always been careful with my clothes. I still catalogue my wardrobe into Sunday best, home, shopping, day out and lunch with the girls. My mom has always said that if it’s the last thing you have you make it look the best it can. So hand stitching repairs, taking up hems etc and choosing clothes that will last longer has always been a part of something I do.” – Sandra Palmer, founder of More Than Swim.
Revamping the wardrobe: For Katherine Savage from Treasure Kave, it was the time during lockdown that really made her think about the environmental impact of her business. When she had a gap in embroidery commissions she cleared out her wardrobe and found quite a few items that were perfectly fine but hadn’t been worn in a while. In her words, “the clothes were looking a little tired”. So she put her embroidery skills to work and gave each piece a new lease of life.
After 12 weeks of testing designs and product development, she has created five embroidery kits, that allow you to revamp your own clothes. Each kit comes with a filmed guide to make it easy to learn and apply the pattern to a variety of garments. So, you can learn a new skill whilst having a positive environmental impact.
Preloved clothing for the kids: Monkey Threads Preloved is a children’s French, vintage and second-hand clothing brand that originally began in pop-up shops across Bath. Founder Angela Holladay was inspired to take action, after watching the alarming Stacey Dooley documentary, on the huge impact of fast fashion on our precious planet. It’s now the 2nd biggest polluting industry, cotton production uses so much water that it’s dried up an ocean with huge consequences on the climate.
“My daughter took part in the fabulous Bath Fashion & Fairytale competition and she was really moved by the short BBC World Video on Fast Fashion. We all were, we’ve started to shop more responsibly, searching out sustainable clothing. It was the right time to get my preloved business back up and running and help make shopping sustainably easier for others, in turn, hopefully, slowing down fast fashion a little.” – Angela Holladay, founder of Monkey Threads Preloved.
Sometimes the reality of climate change can feel incredibly overwhelming. How can one person make a difference? Well, each of these independent businesses are doing what they can to make a difference in their own way. It’s truly inspiring. One person can’t possibly change everything, but we can pick one or two things within our reach and change those. We’re not helpless. There is lots that we can do. Who are your favorite UK slow fashion brands? Let us know in the comments below.
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” – Anne-Marie Bonneau.
Podengo are not affiliated in any way with the above businesses. Nor, do we receive any affiliated fees if you decide to book or use the services of the above businesses. We are simply providing a spotlight for fellow small businesses. If you would like us to feature your business in our blog, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.