Posted by Rachel Westall on 20 May 2020
How did your company start; what was the aim when it was launched? What was the response?
During my time in the fashion industry I discovered all of the awful atrocities that occur behind the scenes of manufacturing: from exploiting workers, to dumping hazardous chemicals into our environment, I was totally shocked. I couldn't believe that businesses would do anything they could for a bit of extra profit. I swore to solve the problem I was facing sourcing eco fabrics and Offset Warehouse was born. The business was founded in 2010, with the aim of providing ethical and sustainable textiles in minimum quantities so that designers and creatives could access these beautiful materials that help people and planet. Since then, the response grew so that both smaller and larger brands wanted to use eco textiles to find a niche, but also because they had been awoken to the necessity of them. Due to the questions and intrigue, we then launched The Sustainable Fashion Collective in 2017, a platform that provides designers, creative entrepreneurs and brands the information and resources necessary to benefit their responsible practice.
How often do you launch new lines and what are your best-selling designs?
We have worked with a relatively small selection of communities and producers since the beginning, the longest standing being a fair trade certified women's empowerment community in India, supporting their creativity and skill. We do source new materials, yet do not stock something unless we're sure of the origin and production methods. Our customers will want this information, and sometimes it's tricky to get at, so if there isn't transparency then we don't work with that producer. We will always try to be open so that the supplier however can themselves work towards increasing their own knowledge that will benefit the industry as a whole. This is where our Collective also comes in, as we're able to share what these amazing innovators are doing with the wider world, even if we don't stock the textiles ourselves. We also stock deadstock and reclaimed from designers, however again we ensure the origin and material information including any certifications before we retail it.
Our most popular fabric is definitely the recycled polyester satin. It has wonderful versatility across fashion, accessories and printed homewares. All of our organic cotton fabric too, due to the authenticity of the hand feel and colour fastness of the natural dyes, which can be difficult to achieve. Again, they can work in clothing and interiors like the majority of the materials we stock.
How have you found life in lockdown; how are you planning for the future of your business?
We have had to postpone our monthly networking events, which is a shame, and has also meant we couldn't make it to upcoming trade fairs. As our businesses were already based online, however, we were set up to pretty much carry on as normal. As The Sustainable Fashion Collective involves video content, and we already run live webinars, in this respect not much has changed. Our founder Charlie has just had a little baby, with the rest of the team focussing on ensuring the ethical textile community stays engaged with online events, social media challenges and creating the best Masterclass content for our Collective along with catching up on all those blog posts! We're so immensely thankful for the support of the making community, purchasing our ethical and sustainable textiles either for their lockdown sewing, or to keep their businesses going. In terms of the future, it's important for us to share stories of how this pandemic has not only affected us and the creative businesses out there on our platform, but the small scale producers that we supply from, who are generally based in developing nations and villages. We have checked up with each and every one of them so that once lockdown restrictions are lifted in their countries, we are able to open pre-orders to provide them with work and income.
Is there anything else you'd like to add or say about the company?
We stay on top of trends, whether that is in material innovations, craft production, fashion shows... because at the core of what we do is a platform for the makers of our materials. Across the textile shop and the business platform, our key goal is to inspire and inform through a passion for textiles. We're learning along with our audience, gaining awareness in new - and traditional - aspects of the fashion and textile industry each day. It's imperative that as creatives, business people, entrepreneurs - whatever title you give yourself – we're communicating openly and honestly. We cannot change what we don't know.
For further information, visit https://www.offsetwarehouse.com/