Thursday, May 02, 2013

Putting my Money Where My Mouth Is

Ethical clothing production. Discuss.  Again.

Llynfi Hopscotch cardigan £135
It is Me Made May and I am making as much of me as I can manage.

I have culled my wardrobe yet again.  I own less, but it is probably still too much. And still I have "orphan" garments which go with nothing else I own.  Sigh.

If I was starting all over again (which would be wasteful, so I won't do it) I would want a small collection of clothes which all work together, are handmade in the UK (by me, if possible), using sustainable fabrics, in shapes which are stylish but not "fashionable".

Long pleated skirt £130
Ladies and gentlemen, hold onto your hats, because I have found my nirvana.

"About Llynfi:

•Our fabrics and yarns are sourced from the UK where possible. The wool yarn and fabrics are UK grown and processed (the yarn is certified to organic standards), cotton and hemp is from Europe and India, produced in a fairly traded and sustainable way, certified organic wherever possible.

•For our own dyed yarns and fabrics, we use natural dye extracts, produced in France to Global Organic Textile Standards. Our own yarn dyeing process is certified by the Soil Association.
Pleat trousers £150
•For screen printing, we use natural dyes and mordants and stencils – no other chemicals are employed for the process. The results in a unique individual print, but is time consuming and labour intensive.

•We use button fastenings on our garments, again sourcing buttons made from sustainable materials and produced in a fairly traded way.

•The only issue we currently have is getting organically grown sewing cotton – something to work on.
 •We aim to use colour in a minimal way – for more information on dyeing see our leaflet that we send out with the yarns. 
Silk top £95
•Most of our garments are made in house, by ourselves. Where we use outworkers, they are paid a proper rate – we do not believe that knitting is simply something to do while watching telly – and this is reflected in our prices.
Elfin Hood £35
•We make largely to order to avoid wastage and left overs.

•We throw very little away! There is always someone who can make use of small scraps – we'd rather have them available for people to pick up than put them in the bin. "


Now... I am fully expecting a flurry of comments that these clothes are far too expensive.

But how much did you spend at Primark / Zara / H&M last year?  And how many of those garments are still going strong?

It all comes down to value and values.

I stopped supporting the fast fashion industry well over a year ago, in fact it must be approaching 2 years now.  I have not bought any clothes this year.  Not at all, not even a pair of knickers.

I bored you silly with my attempts to find a clothing company I felt I could trust,  in my quest for an ethical cardigan.  And the dubious Navy Cardi of Doom is only fit for landfill, after less than a year's wear.

So here's what I am going to do:  I am going to spend £135 on a cardigan, because it is perfect in every way.

And I am going to think more about the Llynfi philosophy:  natural colour and fabrics, handmade in strong but simple shapes.  Made for each other.

How can I justify NOT supporting this small business?
Fold Skirt £85


Anna said...

There are some lovely things there and I'd seriously consider saving up for the trousers and the pleat skirt were it not for the fact that nothing appears to be vegan! Even a flannel skirts has silk in it and the vast majority appears to be made of wool.

Glad you've found your perfect shop, and I think you'd look fabulous in the vast majority of what they sell. Disappointed that my search is ongoing!

Amelia Davis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sew little time said...

oh get lost spammer above! rosie at DIY Couture posted this on twitter the other day and you might be interested: it's all eco and fair trade textiles.

beate grigutsch said...

I just wrote myself about this topic. because of the collapse of the textile factory in bangladesh. I am fully on your side - all the cheap things are at the end x-times more expensive for more than one reason than even the high-quality clothing will ever be. thank you for thinking and writing about!

Kestrel said...

I love how upfront they are with explaining what they do, so refreshing and definitely makes you think about what most companies are hiding. Especially like the bit that the recognise the importance of hand knitting as a skill too.

I don't think the prices are too ridiculously high compared to high end high street and I hope it's just another way to chip away at the horrible growth of fast fashion.

Thanks for sharing your explorations into ethical fashion, really interesting.

Kestrel said...

p.s re spammers, I have set my comments so that commenters need to have some kind of ID to comment whether a blogger ID or not. Since doing that about 8 weeks ago only 1 spam comment has got through - it hasn't affected the number of people commenting and means I don't need to have word verification.
Apologies if you already use this system, I only mention as you have talked about your issues with pesky spam comments a few times before.

Mrs Finknottle said...

What a wonderful find! As above comments say, it's lovely to find a company up front about things with exactly the attitude you want AND selling clothes that suit you. Thank you for bringing this company to our attention. :-)

Alison said...

Wow, what an amazing company, and considering you would easily pay that, or more, in certain 'posh' high street shops then it is not too expensive. The sooner people think beyond their bargains and to where the clothes and fabric they buy are made the better.


clippedcurves said...


I've also got the Learn to Knit book - so looking forward to seeing your finished cardi.
I've made the scarf, mittens and fingerless gloves from the book. All the other patterns seem like a big jump up from this stage though so I'm using a few easy patterns from Ravelry to build up my skills one new technique at a time.

Margarita said...

You are so inspirational in your devotion to ethical living. I don't know how we have come to the point where nearly everything we buy comes cheaply but at an exorbitant environmental and human cost, but you help me to see how I can move away from that kind of consumerism. Thank you!

lucie said...

This is an amazing company and their clothes are so wearable. I would, if I could, get one of each and look fantastic. I do wish we had a similar design studio in Canada.

christinelaennec said...

What a great find! Another way to look at the price of garments is: if someone asked me to make that for them, after buying the fabric/wool, and spending maybe 100 hours to knit/sew and finish it, what would I charge?

Stephanie said...

Considering that they source locally and make the garments mostly in the UK, it's not too high of a price. People need to be paid a living wage, and consumers need to remember how to take care of clothing so that it lasts many years. That way spending a little more upfront ends up being more affordable than buying new clothes every year that deteriorate quickly.

Helen said...

These are expensive, but not outrageously so, and the prices are justified. I happily pay (when I can afford to) for quality, so why not pay for ethics too? I'd rather give £135 to a company like this, than to e.g. J. Crew.
This brand is not for me, because quite simply it's not to my taste (using colour minimally? I can't survive without colour!)but I absolutely love and appreciate the forthright-ness of their transparency! I wish more companies would follow suit. Even if they can't admit to these amazing credentials, it would be nice to know what they DO manage, particularly in light of the current Bangladesh situation.

Phew! Long comment! But, seriously, thanks for posting this!

Colleen said...

Wow. I seriously love a lot of this clothing -- it's rustic and oddly futuristic. As somebody who sews and knits, I almost think the prices for the knitted sweaters are too low. I know it takes forever. Don't you just love those pleated trousers???? Great find.

Linda C said...

These are truly beautiful clothes. I don't mind spending a bit for something well-made with a good background. I prefer to have clothes last and have no problems with instructions about hand wash or machine wash cold, delicate, and dry flat out of sunlight. etc.

I love the styles, but I, myself, would have to supplement with some brighter or more intense colors.

Pretty cardigan - is it a pale gray or does it have a blue-ish or lavender tone. I can hardly wait to see it and what you will match it up with.


bagqueen said...

I completely agree with your views on ethical clothing and like you I haven't bought from the very cheap shops on the high street for ages. However, just cos you pay more doesn't mean the ethics of the company are any better so Im glad to find a place like this where you know the ethics and workmanship are reflected by the price.

Lauren said...

love your blog for sewing and scenery - wish you had time for writing longer pieces...
I ordered the fold skirt & let the company know it was because of your blog - hope you get a thank you from them, but here's one from me.

acharmofmagpies said...

That does look like Roo nirvana! As someone said above, not to my taste due to the lack of colour but their attitude and forthrightness does them proud and I'm looking forward to seeing what you get from them paired up with some of your gorgeous creations.