Re-shoring: fashion for the good of ecology

Why local fashion is as good as local farming? Yes it is good for the environment and the community.

Almost all of us are now aware of the negative environmental impact of mass production. Without overflowing you with upsetting statistics on the matter, I would like to just note 1 fact – fashion industry is officially the most wasteful lining up the guilty row right after the oil industry. Not to mention the unethical monster machines called sweat-shops where kids and adults are working under the terrible conditions for a below the living wage salary. We’ve discussed these issues in some of my previous articles and certainly we’ve seen positive changes on some aspects of the supply chain in fashion. 

Today, I would like to focus on one of the main components – local production. In other terms, reshoring, especially if your business is based in Europe. Here are just a few of the main reasons why as a small business owner myself I think it is a better choice to reshore:

– Smaller production meaning increased value for the product and reduced waste.

– Improved ability to monitor the ethical and environmental aspects of your production.

– Boosting skilled labour and supporting local craftsmen.

I’ve interviewed 2 small brands from England and 1 from Portugal – all three with a specific focus on sustainable, local production. Let me introduce you to these brands that I adore products of:

Oceanus swimwear, Pink Piglet collection and Entrudo shoes & homeware. All three feature very unique designs that certainly stand out amongst the over-priced “branded” products that every other person sitting next to you at the dinner table owns. Above all, they have ethical, local and sustainable production laying right at the centre of their brand’s core values. 

Let’s start with my chat with Hannah from Oceanus Swimwear:

What’s the story of Oceanus’ creative birth? 

OS: My background was in textile design i had been working in the industry for three years developing embroidery for different labels, Oceanus started organically i wanted to create something fun and wearable. I've always been drawn to the swimwear campaign's in the 80's i loved how fun swimwear use to be mostly in southern cali in the 80's and i wanted to bring that back fusing it with my embroidery designs.  

Oceanus and environmental issues unfortunately go hand in hand. Do you reflect such issues in the way you operate? 

OS: I have specifically sourced eco – friendly recycled lycra for the fabrics and with each order we give a re-usable oceanus bag that you can take with you to the beach/pool and keep your cossie in when it gets wet. 

How do you reflect body positivity within your brand?

OS: Oceanus shapes are flattering to all body types we don't make for one type our sizing ranges from XS – XL. I hope by creating statement swimwear it helps give the wearer a boost in confidence, as a designer that’s the ultimate goal. 

After this interview I went on to speak to Millie from the gorgeous jewellery brand Pink Piglet:

Millie, firstly I must admit that as a statement earring lover I adored the pieces on your website. The best way I can describe them is that they have the rich baroque style with the free essence of nature. Could you tell us a bit more about the design process and inspiration behind it?

Yes, the free essence of nature is a huge influential part indeed! I am greatly influenced when travelling! Exploring different artwork and most importantly, nature. Majority of my designs stem from nature; from flowers, unusual plants, to even the detailed swirls on tree bark! The main focus of my earrings is colour, I am obsessed with the vibrant colours of mother nature! This is what I mimic in my jewellery. This process becomes a natural way of presenting my pieces, from source of inspiration to finished product. 

I know your brand focuses on local production. Was it difficult to achieve this in an industry lead by mass production and fast turnover?

It is difficult in the sense that I am challenged every day as my company is growing and new opportunities are popping up. I believe that if a person wants to do something, nothing is really difficult. It is only different. This difference not only helps Pink Piglet grow, but helps me to grow too. I am constantly learning and meeting new people. Managing production is always a major part of any industry, and I am still learning this.

Being a niche brand what is the most challenging aspect of being in fashion and what are the ways you try to overcome it?

I count it as an advantage of being apart of the niche market as someone once told me that we should not focus on everything altogether, we should focus on a small thing but be best on that. That is known as specialists. I am focusing on my earrings and I haven’t even thought about branching out onto necklaces and so on! For example, if we were to manufacture in making pencils then we should be best in that, no matter how niche the market is!

 

And lastly, I’ve spoken to the homeware and shoes brand Entrudo, based all the way in Portugal:

I know your brand focuses on local production. Was it difficult to achieve this in an industry lead by mass production and fast turnover?

Yes, it was not easy for an independent brand or a slow fashion, with small production and with the manual component and the attention to the details.

Being a niche brand what is the most challenging aspect of being in fashion and what are the ways you try to overcome it?

The great challenge is the creative part: to make a product different and unique, which makes Entrudo have an identity of its own. In this short journey that we have been doing already we can affirm that our customers are faithful to the brand and they love Entrudo; this leaves us very happy and with the desire to continue working always more to reach more people who value our work and identify with the brand, and thus overcome all the challenges and difficulties that exist in such a fascinating market, but so competitive that is fashion. As a niche brand, we always try to collaborate and position ourselves in physical stores and online platforms that fit Entrudo.

How does “Entrudo” approach sustainability within the company?

Environmental sustainability is a very important factor and also present in our brand, whenever we can use natural materials in the applications made by us manually, and as the manufacturing and cutting processes are manual, we can reuse leftovers from materials to other applications, the recycling of waste among other ecological measures are never forgotten. As for social sustainability, it is always present in the daily work with our employees, in the equality of human and labor rights. We argue that we can only have quality of life if we feel professionally fulfilled and that is what we try to do every day.

Gunel Hasanova