We Need to Talk About Manufacturing
As a brand with a focus on sustainability, we always knew manufacturing would be one of our biggest challenges. In the interest of transparency, we wanted to let you know the current situation with regards to our supply chain.
U.K. Based vs U.K. Manufactured
Trying to minimise our carbon footprint has always been important, and we thought we were doing a pretty good job of it so far – but it turns out we could be doing a lot better. When we first started, our immediate focus was to look for manufacturers who were based in the U.K. and could use sustainable materials as per our request. Keeping the manufacturing within the U.K. appealed to us as it would minimise emissions caused by shipping the product. We looked through plenty of candidates, keeping in mind their ethics, practices and how they treat their employees. We selected a manufacturer who ticked all our boxes, but upon further examination we discovered an issue.
It turns out U.K. based does not mean U.K. manufactured. Now that may seem obvious to anyone reading this right now, but when you are in the early phases of a start-up, sometimes eagerness and excitement to get things going can cloud the due diligence process. We hold our hands up for that.
Upon discovering the patterns were cut and made in the U.K. but the clothes were to be made in factories in Europe and Asia, we looked at potential other manufacturers we could use. Believe me when I say we looked thoroughly – this is why we’ve been rather quiet in terms of releasing new products. Here’s the thing – there’s a reason not many clothes are made in the U.K. Of all the manufacturers we looked at, the majority were based in the U.K., but their production was based elsewhere. Only a select few produced clothes within the U.K., but they could not meet our requirements in terms of materials, quantity or quality. To be clear, this isn’t an attack on the U.K. clothing manufacturers as a whole, there are several who produce quality products in their own right, but for a sustainable streetwear brand operating in the U.K. the current resources just don’t align with our mission.
As a compromise, we have decided that for the time being we will be sticking with our current manufacturer. They are a well-known U.K. based company that manufactures abroad. They can meet our requirements and we are comfortable with their practices. They can use any sustainable materials we request, and the quality of finish is high. They don’t rush production at the expense of their employees – we were even informed that production of one of our products was delayed as the factory employees were all given time off to celebrate Eid, something which we were more than happy with.
At this moment in time with the resources we have at our disposal, this is the best we can do as we continue to use sustainable practices in other areas, such as using biodegradable mailers and eco-friendly tags.
Like we said, the current U.K. manufacturers can’t seem to support our needs as a sustainable streetwear brand right now. That’s why our long-term vision is to produce our designs right here in the U.K. by ourselves. Within the next 10 years, we want to be running our own manufacturing facility on clean energy, with employees who are paid well and enjoy coming to work, creating our designs with sustainable materials. This is only possible with the support of our customers and fans in making us the next large brand in U.K. streetwear. Let’s shift away from cheap clothes made from unsustainable materials and slowly but surely make fashion more sustainable.
Written by Kieran (Kleurstof Co-Founder)