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Is Making To Order The Most Sustainable Option?

Our newest designer talks us through her decision to produce this way

Bozena Jankowska on slowing down fashion

Bozena Jankowska
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Our newest designer, Bozena Jankowska, is taking another approach to sustainability  by making all of her pieces only to order. We love her approach to slowing down fashion and making consumers really consider what they want, in addition to the fact that it cuts down tremendously on waste! We asked her to explain her approach in a detailed interview below.

 

The pieces from your line are made to order, why did you make this decision?

 

As a brand committed to sustainability with a commitment to reducing our environmental footprint across our operations, I  felt it important to reflect that in our manufacturing.  Too often the fashion industry is criticised for waste and we wanted to consciously move away from the traditional fashion manufacturing business model which unfortunately has resulted in a race to the bottom in terms of working standards in global clothing supply chains and an enormous environmental footprint in raw material use, chemical use and waste generation.  For all these reasons, I made the conscious decision to break with convention and produce only when customers want to buy a piece from our collection.  The resulting impact is that we are only using the resources we need, reducing waste and ensuring that each garment is treated individually and made with care to a high quality resulting in a beautifully crafted piece of fashion that will stand the test of time and which customers can enjoy wearing for many years to come.

The Manduka Collection
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Was there push-back from your factory to produce on a smaller scale basis?

 

We are very lucky to have partnered with a factory that understands and is willing to support our commitment towards being more sustainable.  We have established a very close working relationship which is based on great communication, trust and a shared purpose.  Being London based, I regularly visit the factory to check production, monitor quality and troubleshoot anything that might crop up.  I have personally got to know the factory team to the point that I now know who made what!

Tell us a bit about the process behind made to order, what happens after someone places an order for a piece of your line? 

 

Once a customer places an online order, we forward their details to the factory simultaneously cross checking that everything is lined up for the making up of that order, following which the factory goes into production.  Unlike large scale bulk production each customer order is cut individually and sewn as a one off piece.  The target is to produce the garment within 10 days of the customer placing the order including delivery of the order to the customer.  It is a turnaround time that we have carefully discussed with the factory to ensure that we do not compromise either on the welfare of the workers (given the relatively short turnaround time for made to order garments) or the quality of the garment.  Once the garments have been made, the factory would deliver the item to us using our DHL GoGreen Climate Neutral delivery service. Once we receive the items, we would carefully package everything up in our environmentally friendly packaging ready to be dispatched to the customer with DHL GoGreen Climate Neutral next day delivery service.

Meadowsweet Dress
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Being the “see now, buy now” generation, do you think we have the patience for slower fashion? 

 

There is certainly room for slow fashion in the ‘see now, buy now’ world.  I believe that authenticity, transparency and customer trust are key to slow fashion gaining traction and there are a growing number of brands like ours that are building their businesses around these pillars.  Slow fashion is taking us back to how fashion used to be, produced with care, love and attention to detail and I think that there is a gradual return and appreciation to that by consumers.

 

 

 

Do you think this approach will help fashion to slow down? 

 

It is a start and I believe part of a growing and important movement to slow down fashion.  Our aim is to offer our customers beautiful sustainable fashion in a mindful and considered way that avoids unnecessary waste.  We want to bring our customers on that journey with us so that together we share and appreciate the same philosophy, which is, “anything worth having is worth waiting for”!

The Queen Bee
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Besides making to order, what is your approach to sustainable fashion? 

 

I am always seeking to improve the label’s sustainability footprint.  The label was founded with the intention of using fashion as a platform to communicate about critical environmental and social issues that deserve our attention.  We translate that into action by using environmental or social topics to inspire each of our collections.  For example, this Season One, Ode to the Bee collection is inspired by the plight of the honeybee and the fact that bees are under a number of pressures as a result of habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change. In tandem, I also wanted to have a purposeful impact with the message of the collection which is why we have partnered with Buglife, a non-governmental organisation that does award winning work with various bee and pollinator conservation projects across the UK.  Each purchase that our customers make will mean a donation being made to Buglife to help with their bee related conservation work – so indirectly our customers are helping bees!  Sourcing sustainable fabrics to use in my collections is an ongoing objective and challenge.

 

The aim as a minimum, is to partner and work with textile companies that we know operate to high environmental and social standards and where possible I am to source innovative fabrics which have a low environmental and social impact as they become available to me. I also look to use dead stock or end of roll fabrics that would otherwise end up in landfill which means that some styles would be made on a limited edition basis and be all that more individual!  Our packaging is paper based and from FSC certified sources, any plastic we use us either recyclable or biodegradable – but overall I aim to use the latter to a minimum.  Our logistics partner DHL offers us the option to ship items using the GoGreen Climate Neutral service which means we are aiming to keep our transport footprint to a minimum.  For me being a sustainable fashion brand is an ongoing journey to requires ongoing diligence, commitment and passion!