The Spring/Summer 2022 collection was designed with sustainability at its heart. In a year that saw COP26 and climate change protests, you might think that it would be quite easy to design a sustainable collection, but it was much harder than I had anticipated.
Research began in 2020 and will be an ongoing process as sustainability becomes an ever more important issue for consumers. The super-beast that is Covid/Brexit obviously hindered my research but necessity is the mother of invention so I went online and signed up for online courses, webinars and spoke to anyone I could.
I had to give myself some time to experiment with new materials, as I found that the alternatives didn’t behave in the same way as my usual fabrics – for example, bamboo silk is beautiful and dyes really well, but it is very lightweight and can’t be manipulated in the same way as ordinary silk. Creating the luxury look whilst using hemp silk (a fabric that is made in the UK) is quite tough, but through experimentation, I feel that I’m beginning to get the right balance between beauty and sustainability. I’ve opted to use vintage and deadstock websites for fabrics where I can’t source current alternatives.
I found some beautiful fabric options from a tradeshow but sadly, none of these were in the UK and, being a small business, Brexit’s import taxes have priced me out of importing fabrics from the EU. I’m looking into fabrics and trims made in the UK, using more vintage and deadstock supplies or thinking outside the box and buying from UK-based wholesalers who can shoulder import costs while having the traceability that I want for my products.
Something I hadn’t considered is “green guilt”. I was chatting to a client about designing the new collection and was taken aback by her reaction as she felt that the choices she had made for the design of her own hat were “not eco-friendly enough”. Obviously, I don’t want to alienate my clients by making them feel guilty about their design choices, so this will be something to bear in mind going forward.
As sustainability is coming more and more to the forefront of everyday consciousness, the hope is that designing in a sustainable way will become easier and more mainstream. I am writing this blog to document my journey to becoming more sustainable and want to be as open and honest with my clients as possible. I will never brand myself as being 100% sustainable as I don’t want to “greenwash”. Any questions or advice are always welcome. For now, even a small shift in mindset is a positive change.