Ethical fashion movement Fashion Revolution encourages us to ask Who made my clothes? To make us think before we buy, to make us question brands, and to make us appreciate our clothes and the craft that goes into making them.
This week (24-30 April) is Fashion Revolution Week, remembering the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster where over 1,100 people lost their lives as the unsafe clothing factory they worked in collapsed. A campaign aim is for this to never happen again but for this to be a reality we need changes across both fashion production and consumption. We as consumers need to demand ethical clothing and brands need to demand fair working conditions in the factories they use.
It is promising to see brands starting to do things differently by approaching their business in an ethical and transparent way. Big brands are putting pressure on their suppliers and small ones are finding innovative ways to ensure visibility and a more personal approach to craftsmanship and production. New clothing brand Know The Origin has, as you can tell by its name, based its whole business approach around the concept of transparency with its website showing the whole journey of your item, from the farmed cotton to the finished product.
The brand is honest with a genuine passion for the trade as well as the finished product and how this should be cared for with a page on the website dedicated to how we should love our clothes by taking care of them to ensure they last.
I spoke to founder Charlotte to find out more about her approach and thoughts on the industry.
How did Know The Origin come about? I think it came out of necessity! I was studying at London College of Fashion when the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh highlighted the profit-over-people mentality of the fashion industry. I knew I had a desire to create awesome clothing after university, but I refused to be a part of the current exploitative system. Know The Origin started as an answer to my stubbornness and desire to support the people and environment involved in garment production!
What makes Know The Origin different to other brands? We are uncompromising! We want people to have access to affordable, stylish clothing that celebrates the people and environment involved in making every garment. We love creating pretty wonderful clothing that recognises and respects the story behind it from seed to garment! Why would we want to do anything less?!
Your approach is focussed around transparency – why is this important? Transparency creates brand-customer accountability. This essentially means there is nowhere for any dark, not-so-green secrets to hide because consumers have all the information about exactly where each part of the garment is made. We love transparency because it’s just another way for us to show off how awesome our producers are!
Changing the fashion industry is a mammoth task, how can you as a small brand make a difference? It’s actually such a strength being a small brand. Big, established brands don’t have the flexibility we do so completely changing the ethical supply chains is much harder. As a small brand we get to start from the bottom up. Find incredible producers and then build our collections. This means as we grow, we already have relationships with our producers so we can ensure ethical practices as well as use our business to support the great work they do in their communities!
Where do you want Know The Origin to be in 10 years? In 10 years we would love to be a mainstream name! Know The Origin is all about bringing ethical fashion into the mainstream by being affordable, fashionable and uncompromising in our values. The dream would be to have high street stores proving other brands and consumers that fashion can be done differently.
Where do you think the fashion industry will be in 10 years? I hope ethical values will be the norm within the industry in 10 years! I think customers will be demanding a lot more from their brands in terms of minimum standards in the treatment of workers and the environment, we can see that happening already, but there will still be a lot of work to do in order to make that happen! It’s exciting to think of how different it will look though!