It’s Fashion Revolution Week. Founded by Carrie Somers and Orsola de Castro, after the Rana Plaza tragedy, this year’s international campaign has over 1000 events raising awareness about ethical practice and sustainability within the clothing industry. Fashion Revolution’s #whomademyclothes initiative helps to encourage brands to consider garment worker’s health, wellbeing and working conditions and to be more transparent (get involved HERE).
With this in mind, it seemed like the perfect time to introduce you (or re-introduce you) to Community Clothing. Founded by British fashion designer Patrick Grant (a Savile Row tailor who you might also recognise from BBC 2’s Sewing Bee) Community Clothing is dedicated to manufacturing British-made women’s and menswear, creating jobs for skilled workers and restoring pride in our textile communities. And the company now has a fully transactional website. Hip, hip, hooray.
‘We have a tradition of making the very finest textiles and the very best clothes but the British clothing industry faces serious challenges,’ Grant explains. ‘For several months of the year even the best British factories are nowhere near full. This can lead to seasonal hiring and firing, zero hours contracts, or worse – factory closures.’ His solution? Use the spare capacity in slow periods to make affordable, quality clothing, and sell directly to the consumer thereby cutting out the usual wholesale and retail mark-ups.
We should all think before we buy. As I’ve said before I am a firm believer in considerate consumption, try to follow the buy less, buy better approach and advocate long term style over landfill fast fashion. It might sound a bit rich coming from a journalist whose job may seem to promote the constant purchase of new stuff, but I would always encourage shopping responsibly. We all know that fast fashion pushes prices down and that if you pay a few quid for a new dress, someone further down the supply chain is probably being exploited.
‘Every factory we work with receives a fair price for its goods, and every worker is paid at least the National Living Wage,’ continues Grant, ‘And by designing with simple manufacturing in mind, the products can be sewn in the same premium fabrics and with the same quality as the best high-end designer clothes’. The collections are simple, pared-back and cool. Think Gentlewoman Style raincoats, chinos, cotton shirts and shirtdresses. The cotton t-shirts (a steal for £22) and slim-cut selvedge jeans (£65) are made in Blackburn and the waterproofed cotton twill raincoats are manufactured in Rochdale and cost £129. I’ve got my eye on the indigo work trousers (£55) and collarless stripe linen shirt (£54.95); to help support the British textile industry, of course…
‘We want to create a cycle of positive value for workers and for customers – making clothes we can all feel proud of,’ Grant adds, ‘This means we don’t go on sale or slash our prices at the end of every season, we don’t need to entice you with an artificial bargain. Our clothes are made to last and they represent great value all year round.’