As a designer I feel constantly torn. I have always designed and made things. It’s how I navigate. It’s the language I speak and how I connect with people. It’s not a choice, it’s the only form of communication I know. But I am torn.
The guilt of creating products with our growing knowledge of the scale of the negative impact we are having on our planet is heavy and it is real.
It plays on my mind every single day and in every single decision I make for my business.
- Will people want to wear this for their lifetime?
- If not why am I making it?
- How can I change it to make it more timeless?
- Will this material last the customers lifetime and beyond?
- How damaging is the sourcing of this material to the planet?
- How are the workers being treated in the supply chain?
- How many air miles went into getting this material to me?
- Can this material be maintained through the customers lifetime?
- Can it be recycled in the future?
- Can I reduce or eliminate harmful chemicals from the manufacturing process?
- Are there natural alternatives to these chemicals?
- Is the packaging as environmentally friendly as it can be?
- Can my customer dispose of it responsibly with ease?
- If the customer needs to dispose of it why am I sending it?
The questions I ask myself are endless and I will be completely honest and admit that I do not have all the answers.
What I know for sure is that I will never stop questioning, re-examining and learning, to offer my customers products that are my best answer at this moment in time.
Since starting my own business and digging deep into my own values, I have started to make a conscious effort to ask myself this before buying anything new…
Is this brand asking the right questions?
No-one can claim to have all the answers, but I think it’s so important to support the people who are passionate about transparency, and are willing to learn, change and grow with ethics and environmental issues in mind.
Here are my current three favourite brands who I know lovingly labour over the pressing questions to offer us beautiful products that are carefully considered, and intended to be enjoyed for a lifetime and beyond.
I hope to one day be clothed head to toe in Henri London. The combination of classic silhouettes driven by comfort, and beautiful organic hand woven fabrics create truly timeless pieces that you’ll love to wear again and again.
What I love most about Henri is their complete transparency. It’s so refreshing to see how passionate they are about ‘ethical outsourcing’ and a real inspiration to see their commitment to the communities in their supply chain.
Intuitive designs, luxury materials and a LOT of love goes into every single pair of Ottowins handmade footwear. With each pair taking up to 3 weeks to be lovingly handcrafted, Ottowin hope to promote a shift in ‘societies consumption’ towards a greater ‘appreciation for slow production’.
With over 40 processes going into each pair, I think you’d find it hard to find a more personal product.
Organic fabrics, natural dyes made from food waste and product ranges designed with zero waste in mind. Naked Dye’s products aim to promote ‘the art of slow living’.
Something I find so special about this brand is that they are actively fostering positive relationships with other independent businesses and mindfully making use of waste otherwise destined for the bin. They achieve their dusty pink dyes by using avocado stones a local cafe saves up for them!
My buying habits are far from perfect, but I've made a conscious decision to try only buy clothes or accessories second hand or from brands who I know try their best to work sustainably.
I'll be completely honest in telling you I am yet to own a single thing from any of these brands, but they are top of my wishlist and are going nowhere.
Instead of emptying my pockets on impulse purchases, I'm following inspiring journeys, making mental wishlists, and aiming to save all the small spends up for purchases from people who I admire, so I can buy less but spend well.