We LOVE Patrick Grant’s new book LESS

— by Alyson Walsh

Patrick Grant photo courtesy of Community Clothing


Patrick Grant is in the news. The Great British Sewing Bee is back (10 years and counting) and the esteemed judge, champion of British manufacturing, co-owner of Savile Row’s Norton & Sons and founder of Community Clothing has just published a book. LESS: Stop Buying So Much Rubbish. At a recent launch event, reported in the Observer, Grant complained about the reduction in quality of clothes – and everything else:

‘This is what’s happened in clothing, in footwear, in the homes that we live in. Our homes are built with shit, because people can make more money.’

I like Saint Patrick Unplugged; a wee bit swear-y, telling it like it is. ‘Does that make our lives any ­better? Does it bollocks. Clothes haven’t got cheaper, they’ve just got worse,’ the 52-year-old continues, ‘In the process, we’ve binned five and a half million jobs making these things well, and it’s absolutely killed communities.’

Too, right.


My signed copy of LESS


In the newspaper article, Grant ends with another pertinent point, ‘The sad thing is: the cheaper the clothing that we buy, the more likely the money is to bypass anyone that you would consider nice and end up in the pockets of somebody you would consider to be a bastard.’

The publisher of LESS has very kindly allowed That’s Not My Age to share this extract on quality, value and putting your money into small businesses and the local economy:


Saint Patrick gets down to business


Where Your Money Goes

What do you want your money to do? Where do you want it to go? There is a value to knowing that the money you are spending is doing good. The great irony is that if you buy something of poor quality, the money almost always goes to someone very rich. The owners of H&M are the richest family in Sweden, the owner of Amazon is worth $176 billion and is currently the third richest man on the planet. Yet the people who actually produce the low-quality objects these and others sell are among the poorest on the planet. When we buy cheap things we support a system which places no value on the human labour involved in its production.

By contrast, the great majority of those who make high-quality goods are well rewarded for their skill and work. High-quality objects cost a lot to make, but a much larger proportion, sometimes all of the money ends up in the pockets of the people who make them. The smaller the business, the more equitable the share; in the single-person artisanal business of course the maker takes all. Small businesses tend to spend less on expensive buildings and expensive marketing.

My friend Robin Wood now makes axes by hand in a small workshop in Sheffield. They may be the best axes in the world. If you buy one of Robin’s axes, where does your money go? A small amount goes to the manufacturer of the steel and the supplier of the wood from which the handles are made, but the rest goes to Robin, in direct payment for the hours of labour he’s put into making it, a value forged through the thirty-plus years he has spent honing the skills he needs to produce that axe. We pay Robin well for his labour, which means that in turn Robin has money to pay someone else well for theirs, and so on. Knowing that the people who make the things we buy are valued, both monetarily and emotionally, is an important part of their quality.

In both of my businesses a huge proportion, over 90 per cent, of the money you spend on our clothes stays in the local economy, in the case of Community Clothing almost half of it directly as wages. When you buy cheap fashion often as little as 1 per cent of the price goes to the maker. And, moreover, your money circles back around in the local economy doing even more good for the people in those communities.

From Less by Patrick Grant (William Collins, £22)



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  Patrick Grant is in the news. The Great British Sewing Bee is back (10 years and counting) and the esteemed judge, champion of British manufacturing, co-owner of Savile Row’s Norton &…