Introducing Fabric for Freedom.
An interview with Fabric for Freedom, an ethical and sustainable fashion brand.
From impactful documentaries to in-depth stats and figures, there’s now a wealth of knowledge out there about the impact the fast fashion industry is having both socially and environmentally. Armed with the knowledge of the devastating impact the industry is having and the throwaway culture this is nurturing, there’s been a really positive swell in brands offering alternatives - from using good quality ends of rolls that would otherwise go to waste, to selecting organic fabrics, being fully transparent in their production lines and paying a liveable wage to all the workers throughout the chain, it’s been such a breath of fresh air to see new brands cropping up that bridge the gap between style and taking a more thoughtful approach to production. One of these brands is Fabric for Freedom, a design-led brand who wants to change the way clothes are manufactured and consumed by offering a sustainable and ethical alternative. I chatted to Fabric for Freedom’s founder, Esther, about setting up her new line, her philosophy and where she envisions taking her brand.
Hey Esther, tell us a little bit about yourself and your brand “Fabric for Freedom”
I am the founder of Fabric For Freedom Ltd, a new sustainable womenswear brand that was created to offer people an alternative.
This expanding world has given rise to the world of fast fashion, where companies are mass-producing their pieces in order to offer low prices and keep up with ever-changing trends. Poorly made with low price tags, these sorts of brands are contributing to massive amounts of waste within the fashion industry. In response we are making efforts to promote sustainable fashion with eco-conscious practices. Designed for longevity - our ethos is to be responsible, honest and modern.
Fabric For Freedom is a low impact, charity based organisation, designed with nature in mind. With our bold shapes, trend led designs and being constantly surrounded by creativity in the bustling city of London, we have incorporated travel, fashion, lifestyle and art into each collection.
Our fabrics consist of organic and recycled materials, including ends of rolls. Products are all ethically produced in the U.K, where we guarantee fair wages and good working conditions.
What was the catalyst for starting Fabric for Freedom?
We were started after seeing first hand the issues in the industry. Fueled by the passion to fight against Human Trafficking we assist with charitable initiatives to combat exploitation and help poverty-stricken communities. I was a buyer for both designer & high street fast fashion brands and as a buyer I was the one that was dealing with and producing clothing to hit margin targets no matter what to cost was to people or the environment.
I thought that there must be a better way to do business, one where people didn’t suffer and one where clothing wasn’t promoting climate change issues. Because after all Clothing is the new plastic.
As a millennial myself that is interested in looking good and fashionable I didn’t want to buy from the high street anymore but there was no ethical shops to buy from at the time that offered contemporary clothing. I wanted trend-led, modern clothing that was authentic, unique and different to what everyone else was wearing but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Only hippy clothing or sustainable exercisewear and basics. That’s why I started Fabric For Freedom - to offer the consumer that wants design - led clothing but that also wants to shop sustainably.
I want to see a fashion industry that instead of exploiting people we empower them, instead of disrespect we create respect and rather than exclusion we create acceptance.
We believe in a fashion industry that values people, the environment, creativity and profit in equal measure. We will inspire “fashion that’s fair” empowering and influencing the current industry.
What are the current practices in the fashion industry that you think all consumers should be aware of?
Fast fashion is leading to global exploitation. Contributing to the 36 million people living in modern slavery with migrant workers and the most venerable being forced into labour.
The short product life cycles, use non-recyclable textiles leads to the clothing industry being the second largest polluter in the world.
For too long businesses have built supply chains to drive financial profits at the expense of people and the environment. Systematic exploitation remains rife, basic H&S measures do not exist, millions of workers live in poverty and with excessive hours, unpaid overtime, poor health, exhaustion, sexual harassment and slavery, practices need to change.
Children are working instead of going to school, workers cannot provide for their families, and 300,000 cotton farmers commit suicide each year.
Not to mention the environment - 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide is emitted annually and 2.1 billion tonnes of waste is produced each year. 2 million tonnes of clothing and textiles are thrown away each year in the UK and 80% of textile waste goes to landfills which could actually have been reused. Doing business as usual will not be an option any more.
We develop seasonless collections encouraging a circular consumption model and desirability. Educating the customer to buy to last and removing the idea of fast fashion. By quality not quantity - buy wiser - clothing that you can see yourself wearing for a long time, invest more in the one off pieces.
Now we are at the time where we can buy a dress for a £5 – price of a coffee or sandwich. Stop thinking that anything is disposable. Even it if cost £10 love it. So much has gone into it. So many people have worked on it. For example, a garment is made from polyester, drawn into a fiber, been spun into yarn, yarn has been knitted into a fabric, this fabric has then been printed or dyed, then cut and sewn and you can buy all of that for £5? Including VAT there is no value in this. Then we as consumers do not value it… Respecting those making our product that is revolutionary.
Fashion has been incredibly stupid for a long time, lets bring it back to a place of intelligence and respect.
What are your aspirations for Fabric for Freedom?
In 5 years time I see myself back in my city Leeds, another reason I started this business it to provide young girls the opportunity to work in the fashion industry that otherwise wouldn’t necessarily have had the opportunity or the resources to do so.
I want to be running and growing my company providing jobs up north where I came from. I hope to have grown significantly by then and have a few small bricks and water stores and a large online presence.
I see our charities and partners growing and making huge differences in communities, working with organisations to teach artisan skills and helping those with less opportunities, that come from poverty or that have been subject to exploitation within the industry.
Any final thoughts?
Instead of accepting things we cannot change, change things we cannot accept. It is all about mind set, make the decision to step out, what difference are you going to make in this world?
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs