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Story1: Luxury Cotton

English fine cotton getting spinning home

 

What to expect in 2016?

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.

 

Story # 1: Manchesters new cotton mill

English company English Fine Cottons and the Textile Growth Programme, are in total investing £5.8million to bring old British cotton mills back to life.

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 mills in Britain

What is a cotton mill?

  • A cotton mill houses spinning or weaving machinery for the production of yarn or cloth from cotton.
  • 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

Sea Island Cottons, know for their limited production of quality slowly grown cotton
Sea Island Cottons, known for their limited production of quality slowly grown cotton


“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. We
 believe 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.

Sources:

manchestereveningnews.co.uk

SpinningtheWeb.org.uk

makeitbritish.co.uk

englishfinecottons.co.uk

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Where do dead clothes go?

Kerber - Silk top and skirt fw15

It all starts in the store

If you think of it, during a day, we have a huge amount of choices when we are shopping. And everything is about this:

  • How we buy what we need
  • How we use and maintain what we have bought
  • How we get rid of what we have, when we can no longer use it

In 2013, there where produced as much as 85,4 million tons of textile fibers worldwide, and the number increases dramatically each year. So every move we do as consumers helps. From which fabric you choose to begin with when you buy something new, to how you wash it, and how you get rid of it in the end. A great way to start is to think about it at the store.

 

If you choose a non-biodegradable textile like polyester, spandex, nylon, and rayon, and it does not have a good recycling system, it will end up on landfills and can take from 20 to 200 years to fully biodegrade. We know that sometimes we love those products we find in the wrong materials, and sometimes it is better to choose a pant in polyester than in cotton because it may last much longer with wear and tear, but off course the best thing would be both at once.

 

landfills are growing.
landfills are growing.

 

Composting biodegradble textiles

We are making a series of blog-posts about where you can put things that die, telling you how to reuse/recycle /up-cycle them, and how to get rid of them in the end. Today we will talk about organic matter and how long it takes for them to biodegrade. It is the easiest textile to biodegrade, but it still needs to be put in the right environment though!

Choose ecological, and you can be sure that the whole process is without chemicals, also what ends up in your garden or on your plants. Coloured materials are OK to compost, but sometimes they can contain small amounts of chemicals if they are not coloured in an organic way.

 

Cotton

Cotton is one of the easiest textiles to biodegrade, especially if it is 100 % cotton. In a compost bin, it can biodegrade as fast as in a week, but also as long as 5 months.

Wool

Wool normally biodegrade in the course of a year, but can also take up to 5 years to biodegrade, depending on the tratment and type of wool.

black rat black unisex kim pants - 100 % wool jersey pants with a comfortable fit
black rat black unisex kim pants – 100 % wool jersey pants with a comfortable fit

Bamboo

Less than a year, sometimes a little more.

black rat bamboo female t-shirt, shown on model
black rat bamboo female t-shirt, shown on model

 

Linen

Also easy to brake down in to soil. It can take as short as two weeks to 6 months.

Apollonius - from AW14 collection lookbook - linen shirt
Apollonius – from AW14 collection lookbook – linen shirt

 

Hemp

Is a plantmaterial, usually not processed the way some of the materials mentioned above are. In most cases it uses really short amount of time to biodegrade, around a week to a month.

nosleepuntiljune aspectabund shirt in grey-blue
nosleepuntiljune aspectabund shirt in grey-blue, hemp and organic cotton

 

Silk

Up to a year, but sometimes longer.

Kerber - image header fw15
Kerber – fw15, 100 % silktop and silk skirt

 Composting process – how to do it!

 

Making a compost bin

If you have room for it, you could make your own compost bin, and your clothes can in time become natural fertilizer for you garden. A simpe search on Pinterest got us all these different ways to build your own compost bin. Big or small garden, you will find a DIY guide here.

 

compost bin where your biodegradable matter becomes food for your garden
compost bin where your biodegradable matter becomes food for your garden

Making an indoor compost bin

Many of us don’t have a garden, but the good news are that it is possible to make it work indoors as well!

We added an infographic from Ecowatch, but also check out this great guide from Forbes on how to make your own indoor compost bin in a small appartment.

 

how to make a small compost bin in your apprtment, source www.ecowatch.com
how to make a small compost bin in your apprtment, source www.ecowatch.com

 

Preparing the textiles for composting

  • Shred your clothes first. It is important to cut your clothes into smaller pieces, especially heavier fabrics like wool, to allow them to compost better.
  • Remove non-biodegradable materials like plastic or metal buttons and zippers before composting.
  • Make sure you add them to the bin alongside fresher, wetter items, don’t overwhelm your compost heap with old clothes – no more than 25% at a time.

You are ready for composting!

Follow our Composting-board on Pinterest to get our finds as we investigate further.