This is Bo, she is head designer and founder behind her namesake label Bo Carter
We sat down with her to talk about the way they produce in the UK, England, and also about how they use one particular raw material. The fashion industry is renowned for the excess it creates. To combat this Bo Carter buy unused ‘roll end’ fabric from larger fashion brands in order to consume excess within the fashion industry before it becomes waste.
Roll End Fabric as raw material
JF: Hi Bo, we are curious to know, what is Roll End Fabric? Bo: Roll end Fabric is larger or smaller leftovers from the conventional fashion industry, considered to be waste, as they are from previous collections.
JF: How did you come up with the idea to use this type of material? Bo: We don’t follow trends and we love taking advantage of fabric that would go to waste only because they are not ‘in the season’ anymore. That’s just pointless.
JF: That’s so true, and it is all about the context, isn’t it? So how do you choose your roll, and how does it affect your collections? Bo: We ‘rescue’ whatever is available at any particular time. We don’t always use them straight away, and sometimes they are saved for years before they fit into our collection. But they are always used, and nothing is thrown away.
JF: So, what is the impact you have when you choose to use this type of source for a product? Bo: We save fully usable fabric from gong to landfills, and by that making a positive difference to our planet.
Bo Carter uses whatever fabric is left on the rolls until it runs out. Consequently, they typically make less than 30 pieces in each style. Due to this limited production method their roll end garments are very exclusive and can’t be repeated. Every piece is produced locally in the UK. Bo Carter is morally opposed to sweatshop manufacturing and the exploitation of cheap labour. Instead they commit to supporting local businesses and helping to rebuild the UK textile industry. By keeping production close to home, they can ensure high ethical standards are upheld throughout the supply chain and keep their carbon footprint as small as possible.
This is Fretex’s main reception for collected used items in Oslo.
Fretex is a Second-Hand chain and a social enterprise established by the Norwegian Salvation Army. They are the main recipient of used materials from Oslo’s inhabitants.
So this is a quite chaotic place, and not at all luxurious. Every day, stuff that people don’t want anymore rolls down the lane and gets sorted. A lot is also discarded and considered to be waste.
Upcycled fabric as raw material
This spring we initiated a collaboration with Fretex, to take some of these discarded materials and elevate them into new high quality products.
We started out talking with the designer we considered to be the right one for the project, and through a collaborative and long process with her, a product was developed.
Designer Eline Dragesund and Marte presented the idea for Fretex, and it was well received. Our overall goal will also be to try to establish a permanent sewing studio at Tøyen in Oslo, where we can do both training and give work to people who do not get to use their tailoring skills today.
At the assembly line
Even though designer Eline may stand for hours and hours to find the right fabric for the project, both destroyed enough to be considered waste, and high quality enough to get a second life, we’ve faked it a bit so that you can get a feeling of how it is at the facility
JF: So Eline, what does This project mean to you? Eline: For me as a newly educated fashion designer from The National Academy of the Arts, it is a great honour to be able to collaborate with a company on this level. It is a springboard for me as well, and to be able to take local resources in use, like we do here, and make them into beautiful products, is just huge.
We collect resources from a sorting facility and elevate them and lift them into a luxury setting. It is modern alchemy. Marte is also really nice to collaborate with. The collaboration with Fretex has gone beyond expectations, even though they are really busy and have a lot to keep track of. Both JF Curated and I, we are so thankful and proud of the time and trust they’ve given to this collaboration.
After Eline has found the fabric it is taken to her studio or delivered to one of the tailors connected to the project, and the process of making it into a new and shiny product starts.
JF: So how did this project come to life from your side? Fretex: Well, Marte and Eline attended an early morning meeting at Fretex Alnabru with an idea and sketches. They were engaging and as Fretex don’t have their own redesign department now, we felt it was a great time for a collaboration. For us it is important that the upcycling happens in accordance with the resource-pyramid, which implies that if a fabric can be used in its original form or current state when delivered to us, it should continue its life in that state. When it is not possible to sell in current state, if it is destroyed, e.g. , we are open for upcycling these fabrics into new ones.
JF: Why did you support this collaboration? Fretex: When it comes to a project like this, one that aim to give people work and create added value to the material, we see it completely as a win. If these fabrics were not to be used here, they would be exported out of the country and be ground into small pieces. Every little thing that can stimulate people into new thinking and reuse is our focus!
JF: So what does this collaboration with JF mean to you guys? Fretex: It means a lot, since we get to collaborate and be seen in arenas that we normally don’t. Both from an environmental and a social perspective. And we love that this project, both aims to build something that will give people work, and wants to prolong the lives of all these fabrics that would otherwise be destroyed. Somebody is going to love it and cherish it and that is a great thing. It is also a great way to use local resources. Fretex wants to give new opportunities for the used items that we receive and for people, and this project does both.
Last, but not least, JF Curated and Fretex have a common ground in our values. It is therefore a good way for us to be able to trust that our values are continued and passed on in this project.
We sat down with Anna to get to know more about the way they’ve built their brand.
Merino wool and recycled cashmere as raw material
JF: Hi Anna, we are wondering, what is Recycled Cashmere? Anna: Recycled cashmere is a precious and earth-friendly yarn that is regenerated from industrial surplus of 100% pure cashmere. It is carefully selected and then mechanically transformed into woollen fibers. Then these fibers are blended with pure premium merino wool in a ratio 95-5 and spun again into this premium recycled cashmere.
I fell in love with the wonderful recycled cashmere at once. The way it close the loop is great. On average four goats are needed to be sheared to get enough yarn to knit one cashmere sweater. That makes this fiber not only precious but difficult to sustain on a large scale. So choosing recycled cashmere feels the most respectful option towards the planet.
JF: That’s brilliant use of surplus material! So how did you come up with the idea to use this type of material Anna: When we discovered that qualified Italian mill that developed a wonderful and pure recycled cashmere (95% recycled cashmere and 5% merino wool), things fell into place. We wanted to include it in a couple of our designs to get that exciting mix of tradition and innovation.
Cashmere is one of the world’s finest fiber. The demand of cashmere has not stopped growing, and grasslands of Mongolia (which exports one third of the world cashmere) are suffering from desertification because an overpopulation of goats. That’s why it is important to find new solutions.
JF: What about your other raw material, the merino wool, how do you work with the shepherds to collect it? Anna: At Lana Serena we buy all the merino wool yarn through the initiative Transhumance by Made in Slow. In Spain, transhumance is a centenarian practice that consists on moving the flock of sheep from the valley to the adjacent mountains in order to feed them with fresh grass the whole year around. This initiative is important because it agrees with local shepherds, and gives them a fair price for the wool. Thus encouraging them to keep this tradition. In Spring they collect the wool (fleece) and the whole process of the yarn is also made in Spain.
We wants to support shepherds and their flock of sheep and we also want to contribute to the preservation of Spanish rural traditions and cultural heritage. The goal of the initiative Transhumance by Made in Slow is to make sure the shepherds can make a living off the wool and by that encourage more shepherds to recover that centenarian practice. Traceability and transparency is crucial in our collaboration.
JF: What is the impact you have when you choose to use this type of source for a product? Anna: It was the summer of 2015 when I discovered that some Spanish shepherds were discarding the wool of their merino sheep. I researched on Spanish wool heritage and wool happened to be the purpose to start this project. By sourcing Spanish merino wool from transhumant flock of sheep, we are contributing to the protection of our cultural and natural heritage.
Sheep play an important role as part of the countryside’s biodiversity and also contribute to clean the underwood and thus preventing wildfires. By shearing, cleaning, spinning and knitting in Spain, we are helping to preserve the old professions associated to the wool trade and reduce the CO2 impact of the whole process.
The remaining shepherds practicing transhumance, comes from families who have been this for generations.
Transhumance means to follow the old traditions of seasonal migration of livestock, and the people who tend them, between lowlands and the adjacent mountains. Transhumance in Spain has been a key factor for the merino wool quality. The reason is that sheep who roam get better quality of grass and that turns into a better quality of their fleece.
Made in Slow is a platform, founded and directed by Alberto Díaz, whose mission is to preserve and recuperate Spanish cultural heritage at risk of disappearance.
Supporting Traditional Skills
Lana Serena’s merino wool comes from transhumant merino flock of sheep from Castilla y León and Extremadura (Spain). They migrate twice per year with their shepherds from the grasslands to the summer pastures up in the mountains using the centenarian Cañadas Reales or Royal routes.
“Lana Serena does not follow trends and seasons. We conceive our designs as timeless, and our quality is premium. We encourage you to wear them year after year because they will never seem out of date. We mostly produce made to order. And in the unlike possibility that a piece is discarded, you must know that pure wool is 100% biodegradable. It decomposes into the earth acting as a natural fertilizer”
The artisan pieces which are more avant-garde than the mainline are hand knitted by Artisan women from rural regions in Castilla and Leon. By that, Lana Serena also supports the recovery of centennial trades and the empowerment of women. Right now they are working with a group of 5 women who do the knitting the pieces. They decide over their jobs.
Their main line is manufactured in a family owned workshop near Barcelona. There is a long textile tradition in Catalonia that comes from the nineteenth century.
This is Hila, the woman behind Yoster Jewelry brand
Hila works with two main suppliers, the caster and the plater, and both are small family run businesses. The 3D printing is a growing part of the jewelry industry and this combination of new and old is a necessary part of the development of the craft. With this process you also leave no excess material behind, and it can save a lot of waste in the production process.
We had a talk with Hila about the way she’s been trying to implement 3D printing in her production process early on.
3D printing as production process
JF: Hi Hila, nice to have this talk with you! So, we are wondering, how does 3D printing of jewelry work? Hila: In the past few years, the jewelry industry has been transformed with the introduction of 3D-printers, which are capable of producing easily-castable, high detail parts. “3D printing jewelry” doesn’t mean directly producing end-use pieces of jewelry. In other words, jewelers don’t 3D print golden rings. Instead, we 3D print highly detailed wax models of the desired rings, which are later used to make molds, like the traditional of the disappearing wax technique.
And all Yoster’s pieces finishes are done by hand, so the evolution of the jewelry is quite interesting. Backwards form tech – to handmade! :)
JF: How did you come up with the idea to use this type of process? Hila: I studied 3D print during my BA degree in jewelry design. We studied the software for 2 semesters, and in the following semesters we had some projects that we must produce by 3d printing. To be honest I was one of the worst in my class, I am not “a computer person” and this software is very complicated for me, though the benefit of it is amazing! Actually my ‘3D climber earring’ is the result of a class project in my 3th year degree (six years ago) – and it is the first 3d printing jewelry that I ever did, it was such a success and it goes with me ever since (it is funny I named it after it- but it is a reminder for when it all started)
JF: That’s so cool! How does it affect your collections to use this process? Hila: Yoster’s designs are accompanied by a sense of timeless objects that was found in nature which are delicately treated to make fine jewelry. When I start to work on a new model, I start by sculpting with wax, when I get to a point where i see i don’t get the result i wish, not precise enough or i see it is going to be very heavy, or just that I don’t have enough time to develop it, so I understand it should be by 3d printing. before i go to 3d printing i must have a wax model (to gain an appreciation of a form and structure), drawing and images of inspiration reference. So the result of it is by combination all of it. As i mentioned before that working on that software is not easy for me, so I have an amazing engineer digital technology modeler who I work with to help me build my designs. We sit together with the wax and drawing and building it up together.
JF: What is the impact you have when you choose to use this type of process for products? Hila: By 3d i have control on everything (weight, dimensions etc..) it allows me to express my creativity and imagination without limits.
I can see the exact result without spending 1gr of materiel. Yes, of course, it happened to me that after I printed I was not satisfied and then I print again, but as I have more and more experience with 3d it happens less.
In addition, manually crafting jewelry molds can be quite expensive, whereas 3D Printing is a quick manufacturing technique that also allows you to easily change the design of the digital model. Working with a 3D printed piece versus a wax piece takes a quarter of the time. It’s not just the time I saved, it is what else I’m able to do with that time that has been the biggest savings.
This is Giada and Margherita, the women behind UND Swimwear
We decided to sit down and have a talk with them about the way they do things behind the scenes, and to get to know a little bit more about their raw material, which is made from recycled plastic.
JF: Hi Giada and Margherita, thank you for sitting down with us! So, we are wondering, what is recycled Lycra? Giada&Margherita: The recycled Lycra we chose to craft our swimwear in, is an Italian sustainable techno fabric, made of a regenerated Nylon obtained by recycling plastic waste materials, like fishing nets recovered from our oceans. This incredible fabric, together with being sustainable, has high technical properties, such as 50+ UV protection and a bi-stretch extra comfort feel structure, which provides a perfect “silk glove” fit to our swimsuits.
JF: How did you come up with the idea to use this type of material? Giada&Margherita: We discovered this incredible fabric as we were looking for the most sustainable material we could find to craft our garments. Furthermore, this fabric is not just sustainable because of its composition, it is also a very high quality technical Lycra that will allow the swimsuits to last in time in all their beauty, to be durable. We wanted our collections to be long lasting, not disposable. We are aware that fashion is currently one of the most polluting industries and we don’t want to become part of the problem.
JF: How does it affect your collections to choose this kind of raw material? Giada&Margherita: We are now projecting our fourth collection and each one of them was crafted with the same sustainable Lycra. This is a silver lining as it provides coherence and continuity to our collections, making them timeless and unseasonable. This means that a swimsuit belonging to our ss17 can be worn with one that will belong to ss20 collection. Same aesthetics, same fabric. Fast fashion offers very seasonal and trend related garments that age fast, both for materials and aesthetics. Choosing to stick to this one incredible fabric allows us to avoid this unsustainable mechanism.
JF: What is the impact you have when you choose to use this type of source for a product? Giada&Margherita: In terms of production, the choice of using this kind of recycled material means sustaining the companies -and the people- who work for a much cleaner ocean, for a sustainable way of producing. As they say, by producing that material, “they turn waste problems into fashion solutions”, and we love to actively be part of this philosophy. But the choice of a sustainable fabric is just a part of UND swimwear being sustainable. All our
creative process is focused on building a sustainable brand
Where workers get paid and are appreciated
Not only is this swimwear made from plastic waste, it is also handcrafted in Italy. The Italian label has a thought through process from start to the product is delivered to customers.
The factory producing the Lycra is ISO 14001 certified, which means that their management system must work towards meeting all UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
For the production of the swimwear, UND work with Monica and Marco, and their factory which has 30-years of experience in crafting high-end swimwear. The volumes are low, and the growth of the production-volumes slow.
Und work closely with the artisans and every season they fit their models together with the team, to listen to their feedback and keep the dialog close. The artisan lab is located in Rimini, a small town by the sea in Emilia Romagna, the best known Italian spot for production of swimwear.
Dive a little deeper into the topic of regenerated synthetic fibers
People: What about the microplastics!!? JF: So, this issue with recycled plastic made into new products which are plastic, is a disputed topic. For Just Fashions part, we’ve been reading and following each discussion with our usual nuanced position. We don’t think anything is either or. And we do think than when it comes to swimwear, it is really difficult to use anything else than a stretchy material that can tolerate wear and tear in the sun and salty or chlorinated water. A product that doesn’t sag or use several hours to dry. So we’ve settled with the fact that swimwear in recycled plastic waste is a pretty damn good solution. And of course, quality trumps everything! If it doesn’t last it doesn’t need to exist.
Recycled synthetics may not be the worst starting point for high quality wear. According to the MADE-BY Fiber Benchmark, which considers the whole life of a fiber, the water and energy use, and the lifespan, recycled synthetics are at the top of the chain as one of the fibers with lowest footprint, together with recycled wool and cotton. Sadly MADE-BY lost their funding last year and will not carry forward this independent non-profit index.
We also consider sportswear brand Houdini a label to trust and be guided by. This is a company that we feel closely linked to in philosophy and their Environmental Audits are a study in how to look into and measure every step you take. Read their take on fiber here
For Performance and Leisure Wear we can recommend regenerated synthetic fiber, but from sources and brands that also take care of other parts of their supply chain. We also recommend using a Gruppy Friend bag when you wash your product. To date it is the best way of fetching microplastics from running out into our ocean. The washing machine industry is also catching up, making new filters fetching these tiny particles.
Ingrid Pettersson is a young Norwegian designer based in Oslo. She’s got her education from Oslo National Academy of Arts, and caught our eye the moment we saw her first runway show.
We sat down and had a short talk with Ingrid about her latest drop, two pieces made in original Harris Tweed, made with that extra personal tweak that only Ingrid knows how to do.
JF: Hi Ingrid, we would like you to explain, what kind of raw material is Harris Tweed?
Ingrid: Harris Tweed is a tweed from yarn which is dyed and spun in the Scottish Outer Hebrides and woven by hand in homes of local crofters. Harris Tweed is a truly ecologically sound textile, with low-impact VOC (volatile organic compound) absorbent production process, non-allergenic and biodegradable.
JF: How did you come up with the idea to use this type of material? Ingrid: I wanted to use tweed in several of the looks in my new collection. I got help to source and find an environmentally friendly supplier from Just Fashion. Harris tweed is known for its high quality and I was very happy to find out that they also had a sustainable way of making their fabrics.
JF: So, How does it affect your design to use this type of material? Ingrid: Sometimes it can be hard to find the right suppliers, the fabric stores in Oslo have very little information about the textiles they are selling. Its always easiest to look online, but still it is very helpful to have skilled people to help sort out what is good and what is “bad”.
JF: What is the impact you have when you choose to use this type of source for a product? Ingrid: Every garment will have a longer life and I know that the material is made in a sustainable way, and hopefully the customers will appreciate this. The price is higher, but I think people are starting to understand that we have to choose differently, spend money on quality and not quantity.
Harris Tweed is made of 100% Pure New Wool, dyed, blended, carded, spun, warped, woven, finished, examined and stamped in the Scottish Outer Hebrides by local crofters and artisans.
The weaving process is done in the artisants homes, as the laws outline in the 1993 Harris Tweed Act of Parliament.
At the heart of the Harris Tweed industry lies the relationship between the weavers and the mills. Neither can survive without the other and they are connected through the process of making the tweed. There are also professional wool dyers and blenders, yarn spinners and warpers, cloth finishers and stampers and many more roles in between. They are all part of a slow traditional way of producing.
“The long, barren archipelago on the far north west tip of Europe is home to every dyer, blender, carder, spinner, warper, weaver, finisher and inspector of HARRIS TWEED. No part of the process takes place elsewhere”
Quote Harris Tweed website
Harris Tweed is a handmade fabric, and the only fabric produced in commercial quantities by traditional methods. It was originally developed because it was ideal for protection against the colder climate in the North of Scotland, but that also means today that it is made for longevity, and guarantees the highest quality,
Before finishing it up, it is washed and beated in soda and soapy water, before it is dried, steamed, pressed and cropped to a perfect, flawless condition. The final process is the examination by the independent Harris Tweed Authority, before application of the famous “Orb Trademark” which is ironed on to the reverse of the fabric as the ultimate seal of approval.
Your product is warm in winter and cool in summer. It resists water and wear and tear with ease, cleans easily and can be repaired with the simplest of tools.
The sheep that gave their wool to this fabric lives on the Scottish mainland. In the early summer, the island communities join together to round up and shear the local sheep. Like the whole process of Harris Tweed, this is also done in a slow manner with care for animals.
The wool fabric is also biodegradable and can be composted in a compost bin with other biodegradable materials a long long time from now in the future when they are worn out.
From the beginning, Harris Tweed was coloured with natural dyes, but this process can no longer be carried out, as the vegetation is now protected. The colouring process is still truly ecologically sound, and done with low-impact VOC (volatile organic compound) absorbent production process, it is non-allergenic and biodegradable.
Supporting traditional skills
Harris tweed have been woven for centuries and was originally made by crofters for familial use. The The Orb Trademark was registered in 1910. Each inch of wool is dyed and spun in an island mill and every yard is handwoven in the home of a Harris Tweed weaver. These skills are passed down from generation to generation of the island’s community with pride. When you buy a product made from Harris Tweed, you support a tradition that needs to be aknowledged and continued. You are now supporting low-impact handwoven production methods and true artisans.
This is Grace, the woman behind the label Graciela Huam.
She is born in Peru, but her collections are born in the Netherlands, and then manufactured in her homeland.
We sat down with Grace to have a talk about how her beautiful high quality pieces are made, and we were especially curious about the use of alpaca wool as raw material. For us Norwegians, they are quite dreamy strange and really, really cute animals, so we wanted to know a little bit more about them.
Alpaca wool as raw material
JF: So Grace, what is an Alpaca? Grace: An Alpaca is an animal native to the Andes, where they’ve been domesticated for around 5000 years. They are in the family of the Camel, but don’t have the humps. In addition to Llamas that are also domesticated, you find two wild types, the vicuña and guanaco, who still continue to roam in wild herds today.
There are again two types of Alpacas, one is fluffy with the softest fleece that makes them like a teddy bear. The other grows silky loose fleece in beautiful locks.
The alpacas are sheared once a year, usually in the spring, before the heat of summer begins, to not make them feel uncomfortable. Since the Alpaca is such an excellent insulator, cold winters don’t bother them as long as they have their fur.
JF: What are their features, and what are the qualities that you like best with this animal? Grace:’ For one, they are recognized globally for their soft and luxurious fiber that is lightweight, durable and has excellent thermal qualities.
But something that I like and love about Alpacas is their personality. They are smart, adorable, gentle, calm and pretty social. Many times also nervous, curious, shy and quiet.
JF: How did you end up with the idea to use alpaca wool? Grace: I am Peruvian, and I’ve been working already for more than 5 years in sourcing, and then specializing in alpaca wool and Peruvian cotton. I am pretty passionate about natural resources and my country Peru. I live currently in the Netherlands, now my second home, and my mission is to create a connection between Peru and the Netherlands, bringing together European design with the traditional techniques of knitwear in Peru.
Our choice of raw material is key for the development of this design. With these choices we also support Peru as a supplier and we support the small farmers.
JF: How does it affect your collections and what is the impact you have when you choose this type of source for a product?
Grace: By choosing the way we do, our customers will find collections that are built on the unique combination of superb quality, innovative craftsmanship, sustainable lifestyle and traditional techniques.
We’ve already launched 4 collections with this talented team.
The impact we have is our whole ethical supply chain, but the animal in itself is a really good sustainable choice. A normal alpaca produced 2 to 2,4 Kg of fiber each year, enough to make 4 to 5 sweaters. In comparison, a cashmere goat generally only produces enough wool for 1 sweater a year.
Alpaca fiber is softer, lighter and stronger than cashmere and sheep wool, and it doesn’t feel prickly against the skin. It is also lanolin free, unlike sheep wool, which means that it holds less allergens, bacteria and dust. Also, there are 22 different natural colours, ranging from white, grey and brown to black, which means less dying of yarn.
What’s the difference between Organic and commercial silk?
First of all, the difference between the two is not that big, but the result of choosing one over the other makes a difference. The process is almost the same, but the scale of which they are produced and what is put into the production is not.
Silk is one of the oldest fibers we know of and has its origin from China, around 2600 BC. The cultivation of silkworms in order to produce silk is called sericulture. The first step in the production is called “hatching the eggs”. During this stage, silkworms lay eggs in an artificial environment with the aim of getting them to lay as many eggs as possible. The female produces around 300 tot 400 eggs at the time. The silkworm dies right after laying these eggs. After 10 days, the eggs hatch into larvae (caterpillars), and the feeding period starts.
During the feeding period in commerical silk production the larvae is fed mulberry leaves (results in the finest silk) and grow very fast. They eat around 50.000 times of their initial weight. In approximately 6 weeks, the larvae are 10.000 times heavier than at the time of hatching, and ready to spin a silk cocoon. The silkworm needs around 3 till 8 days to spin a cocoon, thereby producing one kilometer of silk filament.
Organic silk has more or less the same processing as conventional silk here, but no pesticides, insecticides or harsh chemicals have been used to make land or larva grow faster. The silkworms get a more varied diet instead of mulberry leafs alone, and everything is organic.
When the coooon is ready, it is treated with boiling water or hot air and the silk filaments are unwounded again, getting soft by the heat, which is called “reeling the filament”.
In nature, at this point, the silkworm (e.g. chrysalis) would break out of the cocoon and become a moth. However, this would damage the silk fibers, and therefore the chrysalis is killed before the thread is collected from the cocoon.
The process in organic silk production and commercial production is more or less the same in the stage where the silkthread is collected. There is still no way of keeping the thread in one piece and make the moth survive.
One cocoon contains only a small amount of silk and around 2500 silkworms are needed in order to produce one pound of raw silk. Silk amounts to only a very small percentage of the total textile fiber market, even less than 0.2%. Organic silk is then again a marginal percentage of this. The production is small and controlled, thus also creates a smaller amount of raw material.
Organic silk still kills the silk worm to get one length of thread. If you want silk where the silk work leaves the cocoon before the thread is collected, you need to look at Peace Silk/Wild silk. Here the fabric has structure and is stiffer than traditional silk.
Organic silk is not produced in the same volumes as commercial silk. The process is longer and there are no chemicals used in any step of the production.
We must admit it; there has been a gloom and kind of a pessimistic feel in our office. Even though we are a company believing in the power of good choices, and have a general large degree of optimism, we have still been quite discouraged in regards to why the industry can’t make the BIG changes that needs to be done.
No matter how hard one works, things take time. A loong time. And no matter how much we want the world to change, we need the big businesses to want to change too, the changes that changes everything faster.
But the last few months, our hopes have been growing. The world IS changing and we hope that it is a staying change. When reading the textile business news from all over the world, we are getting positive, and want to share it with you. This is the first story of why 2016 makes us smile.
One of the main goals is to bridge the gap between global retailers, domestic micro businesses and SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises), to strengthen local supply chains and promote sustainable growth.
The two initiators are renovating a former Victorian cotton mill, and combining it with cutting-edge technology, to start production of luxury yarn. English Fine Cotton, which today makes material for bulletproof vests at Tame Valley Mill, Dukinfield, is to produce luxury yarn at neighbouring Tower Mill. This way, British cotton is to be spun at home for the first time in a generation. The last time Tower Mill had cotton production was in 1955.
The plan is to be re-starting cotton spinning in the UK mid-2016, and it will by then be one of the most advanced cotton spinning plants in the world, with the latest in loom technology.
The Mill is not meant to compete with mass production of China, South East Asia or India. It will be a “high end” quality product, produced with luxury cotton from Barbados (Sea Island). The same cotton that Ian Fleming specified James Bond’s shirts were made of, and the ones Daniel Craig wore in the Bond movies.
“We are almost vertical as a company and the only thing we don’t buy in the UK is cotton, which I would very much like to do. The project could hopefully utilize the abundant skills base for textile manufacturing in the UK, as we remain exceptional as a country in specialist manufacturing. From cotton spinning to pattern cutting – the skills are there to make in Britain.”
British shirt-maker Emma Willis (makes the shirts for Daniel Craig’s James Bond)
Cotton was an important product during the Industrial Revolution. The mechanization of the spinning process in the early factories was instrumental in the growth of the machine tool industry, enabling the construction of larger cotton mills.
The biggest cotton producer in the world
Britain used to be the biggest cotton cloth producer in the world. The mechanized spinning and weaving of cotton fiber into fabric began in Britain in the mid-16th century.
Manchester had no cotton mills until 1783. By 1800, there were 42 mills, and the city had become the heart of the cotton manufacturing trade. Mills generated employment, expanded population, and Manchester became a large commercial city.
The number of Manchester cotton mills reached its zenith in 1853 with 108 mills. In total there were 2650 cotton mills in Lancashire by 1860, employing 440 000 people and producing half of the world’s cotton yarn.
Then came the First World War, and cotton could no longer be exported to the foreign markets. The rise of other countries weaving and exporting their own cotton began.
By the 1930s, 800 mills had closed and 345,000 workers had left the industry. Though there was a slight revival after 1945, mills kept on closing down.
During the 1960s and 70s, mills in North West England closed at the rate of one a week in the, with the last one shutting in Greater Manchester in the 1980s.
Modern cotton mills
Modern cotton mills are increasingly automated, mainly built around open end-spinning techniques using rotors or ring-spinning techniques using spindles.
In 2009 there were 202,979,000 ring spinning spindles installed worldwide, with 82% of these being in Asia or Oceania, and 44% being within China. In the same year there were 7,975,000 open end spinning rotors installed, with 44% of these being within Asia or Oceania and 29% within Eastern Europe. Rotors are responsible for 20% of the cotton spun worldwide.
One large mill in Virginia in the United States employs 140 workers in 2013 to produce an output that would have required more than 2,000 workers in 1980.
“A number of times we have had firms coming to us saying they want British cotton. Unfortunately, up until now, we have had to say no. We owe it to the cotton industry – which Manchester was synonymous with – to put it back onto the world stage”
Andy Ogden General manager of English Fine Cotton’s parent company, Culimeta-Saveguard Ltd
“For more than 100 years cotton was the key industry in the various towns making up the borough and indeed the North West of England. The Park Road area of Dukinfield, where Tower Mill is situated, is a corridor of former cotton mills and testament to the hold spinning once had on the region. Webelieve this project shows how (…) effective a little northern grit and common sense can be in achieving successful solutions.”
English Fine Cottons
Quality focused future
It makes us happy that it is possible to focus on high quality in an ever faster moving world. Doing it slowly with attention to details and process, from the raw material to the finished product, that’s what we hope for in the future. When you buy something, it should last and make you happy. It’s the volume and pace that we want to fight.
Lastly, this video that was made by the British Council to counter Nazi propaganda and help promote British cotton to the world, during the Second World War.
This is a story about Just Fashion, and a strong woman we have gotten to know during the growth of our site. Johanna and her jewelry label JohannaN, was the fifth label to come onboard Just Fashion. We want you to know what she is up to!
Production in Bangkok
Johanna produce at two production sites in Bangkok, and they have been with her all the way from the start in 2009.
The metal workshops, she knows in and out, and they have grown with her. Tom and Boom are husband and wife-team. They have a small workshop in the first floor of their house in the middle of Bangkok. Tom is sawing all the pieces and Boom is managing their orders, checks the quality, and puts on chains before dispatch to Sweden.
They are setting their own price on their work and that’s what Johanna pay them – done deal. Johanna can now ensure them full time work – which I bet feels great!
Since Johanna has been growing a lot the last years, she now also works with a second and third family workshop, Joi and his wife Nok, and Cha and his wife Joi.
In addition she also works closely with Boy, her creative collaborator in Bangkok and he communicate with all teams and takes care of the logistics.
Watch this short film showing the handsawing in the workshop
The bigger factory that does the casting is family owned with around 60 workers. The last visit to this factory was in February 2014. This factory is also located in Bangkok, and will be a focus in January when Johanna is going back to Thailand.
The raw material
There are large deposits of zinc and copper in Thailand. These metals are combined to form brass, which is a traditional material, used in the Buddha figures and in many religious ornaments and sculptures.
This tradition means that there are people with knowledge about the old way of doing the sawing and casting process that can be given work. Over time, generations of creative artisans built a tradition of craftsmanship around brass – a craft tradition that today only exists in a few places in the world (Abareness also uses these skills in their jewelry workshop in Nepal)
It’s been a pain in the ass to try to track the raw material. With gold and silver, there are a lot happening in the world in regards to sourcing, but with brass, the doors are still closed and there is no tradition for these kinds of investigations. One believes that around 70 % of all brass around is already recycled, but we would of course like to know where OUR (our designers) brass is from. This is an ongoing process, if you are a brass wiz and want to share, let us know!!
Can a business have a personal moral?
Yes, we do believe they can!
There are so many people who are skeptical to the concept of ethical fashion. It is such a wide term, and also difficult to grasp and to see something else than a trend in it. Well, it is in these meetings with our designers, by knowing them, that all doubt about their intentions is washed away. With JohannaN, I have been sure from the start.
She has walked the hardest way, to make her brand sustainable, and now she has come full circle in so many ways. The things that are still difficult to change are really difficult to change!!! Its complicated, sitting in Sweden, trying to get access to the details around the production, not because things are secret, but because there are no tradition for these kinds of investigations in Thailand.
To manage to make a lasting change, it is essential for our designers and us to understand the culture in the country in which we operate. To make room for dialog that can stretch over time, so there are no misunderstandings.
It is about knowing peoples cultural habits, and making them understand that you want to get under their skin, working WITH them, not having hidden agendas and papers with small writing on them. And this goes both ways.
The skepticism is often grounded in fear of prices being forced down, or fair of losing the order completely, or that somebody will force changes on them that makes the production difficult. They can be scared that questions are about taking something away from them, like they may have experienced before.
In January, Johanna is going back to Thailand to visit the workshop and the factory. We are going to be with her on her journey through films, stories and pictures. The thing with great designers with good intentions is that it never stops. It’s not about either or, it is about the journey and the choices one makes along the way.
And remember, , if you buy your JohannaN products at Just Fashion, you support both of us in our work towards a sustainable future!
China was the birthplace of porcelain making, and it’s been found in the shape that we know today, as early as the 206 BC (the Han Dynasty).
Marco Polo was one of the first Europeans to learn about porcelain, but it didn’t enter the European marked until around 1517.
In these ancient times, it was very expensive and only used by the rich and famous.
Natural ancient process
Porcelain is a ceramic material, made by heating materials in a kiln to temperatures between 1,200 and 1,400 °C. The end result is always a surprise, since the colour constantly changes during the process. Kaolin is the primary material from which porcelain is made, but also clay minerals normally account for a small proportion of the whole.
Porcelain is a strong material and will last a long time! You can find proof of that in ancient ruins in the Middle East, and also in the fact that is is still used in making of teeth. The toughness, strength and translucency comes mainly from vitrification at the high temperatures it goes through.
Porcelain conserve its colour and characteristics for a long time. Words that describe it is: hard, tough, completely vitrified, whiteness, translucency, resonance. and a high resistance to chemical attack and thermal shock.
The Porcelain collection
Dutch Basics was inspired by China and the far East, and wanted to merge this with its own classic simplicity. The collection was developed in collaboration with Chantal Lensink and Gaby van Deutekom. I is also done in collaboration with a small Dutch workshop, where people with disadvantages get a chance to work in their own pace. The silver and gold pieces are made in Dutch Basics permanent jewelry workshop in Portugal.