Our Week 2 Sponsor for 100 Acts of Sewing July '19 is Offset Warehouse. They have very kindly donated some beautiful fabric to me to make a garment (news of that later this week!) and also a prize of a 2m length of fabric for one of our Instagram prize winners this month (see below for more details of the luscious fabrics available to choose from).
It's been a pleasure to use these gorgeous fabrics and knowing they are kinder to our environment and the society in which they are made makes them feel even better.
So let's find out a bit more about this unique fabric retailer.....
Offset Warehouse was founded by Charlie Bradley Ross, who left the Royal College of Art with a Masters in Menswear Design in 2009. Throughout her education and design career with some of the biggest names in fashion, she was determined to work only with ethically sourced raw materials and production, but found incorporating sustainable textiles and eco-friendly dyes into her collections a real challenge. Resources, particularly for small purchases, were very limited. Even information about the sector was difficult to access. As a result, she made the decision to put her design and consulting work on hold to focus on solving these problems – and Offset Warehouse was born.
I caught up with Charlie to find out a bit more and ask some in depth questions.
1.Your business has grown from your own struggle to find ethical and eco fabrics. Why are they so difficult to source and identify? Are things getting any easier?
Part of the struggle comes from higher up - the systems that are in place, and who our leaders are; whether that’s in Government or at the head of brands. It’s a lot about communicating what the alternatives are, and why they’re a better solution not only for our planet but for the people on it too. The other part of the struggle comes from demand from consumers and brands alike, though again this is lack of or miscommunication when it comes to fibre origin, supply chains and production. It is definitely getting easier to source more sustainable alternatives, and consumers are quickly waking up to the effects of cheap labour, thanks unfortunately due to the devastation of Rana Plaza and similar factory tragedies. It’s a balance between consumers being curious, brands being open and Governments taking the vital steps to implement systems.
2. There is lots of fabric out there that seems to be described as eco or natural - what should we be looking out for to ensure we purchase wisely?
The term greenwashing refers to misleading and unsubstantiated claims about the origin of materials or products, and unfortunately sometimes it’s not even a deliberate attempt to cover something up for good marketing, but instead because of lack of knowledge and information. Accreditation and certifications provide us with hard facts that a material or product has been tested and controlled, and that labour standards are rigorously scrutinised. As consumers or makers, the best thing we can do if there isn’t an adequate amount of information to make informed decisions is to ask questions. Until all brands and producers can provide transparency, we do have to do the digging ourselves, so the more we question, the more we will know.
3. And what about aftercare? Could you give us three things that we could do to extend the life of our fabrics/garments?
Turn that washing machine temperature down to 30˚. Undeniably there are items we need to wash higher, like bedding, but for general cleanliness either don’t wash at all, or wash at 30˚.
As soon as you spot a hole or tear, mend it. You’ll not only have some mindful stitching time, but you’ll extend the life of your garment.
Line drying can be tricky in cities, but even air drying can dramatically reduce your energy consumption, as well as protecting the textiles’ life for longer. If you’re concerned about damp, look to use a botanical refresher spray. Using a mild detergent for your general washing is also advised.
4. Tell us a bit about your Member's Club - who is it for?
The Sustainable Fashion Collective was launched in 2017 after we realised just how much knowledge and resources we had to offer, as well as the plethora of stories out there that could help other fashion industry professionals navigate the complexity of sustainability. This is a platform that offers holistic guidance and expert advice, drawing together technical tutorials and conversations into specific monthly-refreshed masterclasses. It is for anyone within industries around fashion, whether an individual, start up or established business - including interiors, bridalwear, accessories and beauty - who want to learn how to be more responsible in their business practice. We offer a no-contract monthly-subscription as well as free resources, including online webinars for those across the globe and physical events such as creative workshops and panel discussions.
5. If people want to learn more about the ethics of fabric and fashion, where should they look?
The Sustainable Fashion Collective would be a great start! We have so much information available, gathered across nearly 20 years of fashion design experience, and with a team that spans wide-ranging backgrounds.
6. Finally, how would you like to see Offset Warehouse go forwards - what will be the focus?
We want to be able to continue providing small quantities to makers and designers, so we’re always sourcing interesting sustainable and ethical textiles. We’d like to be able to update our haberdashery and trims, as well as showcasing textile innovations through our webshop. The creative workshops and panel discussions we lead and collaborate on offer us such a wonderful experience to connect with people, so we most definitely want to continue with these - not only are they incredible networking opportunities, but a chance for us to learn as well.
A massive thank you to Charlie and Stephanie for their help and for sponsoring Prize A for 100 Acts of Sewing July this week!
HOW TO ENTER:
To enter for this prize, all you need to do is post any finished garment made from a 100 Acts of Sewing pattern on Instagram by 9am GMT Monday 15th July.
Always use the hashtag #100actsofsewingjuly19 – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!
plus follow and tag @beyond_measure_uk plus our sponsors this week
The winner will get to pick a 2m length of one of the following gorgeous fabrics from Offset Warehouse: