Our Friday Night talk based around Human trafficking in the Fashion Industry will feature the very talented Esther Knight of Fabric For Freedom.
Fabrics consist of organic and recycled materials, including ends of rolls. Products are all ethically produced in the U.K, where we guarantee fair wages and good working conditions. Built on a foundation of integrity: truth, transparency, justice. Nothing is wasted. We will leave this earth with nothing other than the lives and hearts we have affected so make it count. For as Victor Hugo puts it;
“Nothing can stop an idea from whose time has come”.
Sans Pareil interviewed Esther before Meet Your Maker starts next week. To be get tickets to Esther’s talk head along to our eventbrite page and grab one for only £10
Firstly, tell us who you are and what you do?
My name is Esther Knight and I am the founder of Fabric For Freedom.
Fabric For Freedom creates modern, contemporary women’s & unisex clothing with a purpose that aims to bring change to the fashion industry minimising our impact on the environment and being a company that benefits people and prevents climate change.
What inspired you to start on this path?
I started the business after seeing first-hand the issues in the industry. Fueled by the passion to fight against Human Trafficking we assist with charitable initiatives to combat exploitation and help poverty-stricken communities. I was a buyer for both designer & high street fast fashion brands and as a buyer I was the one that was dealing with and producing clothing to hit margin targets no matter what to cost was to people or the environment.
I thought that there must be a better way to do business, one where people didn’t suffer and one where clothing wasn’t promoting climate change issues.
I saw a problem and wanted to solve it. Everything you see in a store a buyer has developed and put there, therefore if it is unethical, we know about it. I was picking cheaper fabrics to hit a margin targets, putting pressure on suppliers to fulfil my orders so they were working to 3am and demanding cost price reductions that would only have a negative impact on the workers.
This is why this industry sees child labor, unpaid overtime, long working hours and slavery and it results on there being so much pressure on suppliers that 300,000 cotton farmers commit suicide india.
I was seeing so much exploitation within the UK too, seeing young graduates so badly treated that their self-worth had vanished, they were depressed, over worked and underpaid. Only then to hear the phrase “that’s the nature of buying”.
I wanted to create a culture that was different.
Why are you passionate about sustainability in the fashion industry?
This expanding world has given rise to the world of fast fashion, where companies are mass-producing their pieces in order to offer low prices and keep up with ever-changing trends. These sort of brands are contributing to massive amounts of waste and exploitation within the fashion industry. In response we are promoting sustainable fashion with eco-conscious practices, we were created to inspire, encourage and offer people an alternative. Designed for longevity – our ethos is to be responsible, honest and modern.
The current system at the cheaper end of the fashion industry is completely broken, it is unsustainable and it is creating an extraordinary amount of harm with ethically dubious product.
Knowing this – Fabric For Freedom set about to imagine something different.
In London, only 10 years ago we were buying only a quarter of what we’re buying now. Still one body, still the same number of days in the week, and the month, and the year, and yet we are creating this habit of using up more stuff. Buying it, wearing it for a short time, and then discarding it. What does this say about the value of fashion?
We’re not actually accounting for nature. We’re not accounting for the cost to society in these garments that we’re wearing.
For too long businesses have built supply chains to drive financial profits at the expense of people and the environment. Systematic exploitation remains rife, basic H&S measures do not exist, millions of workers live in poverty and with excessive hours, unpaid overtime, poor health, exhaustion, sexual harassment and slavery, practices need to change.
- We want to be a company that changes and challenges the current fashion industry model. Creating an example on how a fashion brand should operate and raise awareness to shift buying habits and tackle the fast fashion mentality.
- making fashion have a positive influence.
- We want to see supply chains free from poverty, free from fear, violence and slavery.
- Where people can thrive, where people aren’t knocked back and but instead encouraged, equipped and empowered.
Using clothing as an expression for change, for fairness and for freedom.
We believe in a fashion industry that values people, creativity, the environment and profit all in equal measurement.
What do you love most about fashion?
I love that fashion is our identity, our choice; it forms who we are. Clothing can form our confidence and express our personality.
It is a $3 trillion a year industry employing over 50 million people who are mainly women from all over the world. Therefore there is so much scope to make fashion have a deeper meaning, resulting in a positive impact and making fashion more than just being about the clothes we wear.
There is so much opportunity to use this industry for positive change. Every one of us uses clothing and chooses what to put on each day.
Fashion should be about celebrating who you are – being a positive influence. So why can’t we use fashion to promote indigenous communities, lift people out of poverty and fund charity work?
What is the best advice you have been given?
Exchanging knowledge and experience in order to work together to change. We are all part of the problem but we are also all part of the solution
So what responsibility do we have to change the world around us?
Can we be the catalysts of cultural movements towards a powerful social good?
“WheN A LOT OF PEOPLE DO A LITTLE, IT ADDS UP AND MAKES A DIFFERENCE.”
– CHRISTINE CAINE, A21 FOUNDER
Instead of accepting things we cannot change, change things we cannot accept. It is all about mind set, make the decision to step out, what difference are you going to make in this world?
In another lifetime, what would you want to be doing for a job?
I am always going to be designer so if it wasn’t fashion it would be interior design.
Who/what is currently inspiring you?
The Fashion Revolution:
Fashion Revolution encourages millions of people to ask brands #whomademyclothes and demand greater transparency in the fashion supply chain. The more people who ask #whomademyclothes, the more brands will listen. Use your voice and your power to change the fashion industry.
Fashion Revolution talk about how fair and decent work, environmental protection and gender equality are intersectional drivers that will shape the future of fashion. They challenge governments, start petitions, raise awareness all to ensure this industry changes – to be fair and equal to everyone.
They campaign to radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased. We believe that collaborating across the whole supply chain; from farmer to consumer; is the only way to transform the entire industry. Fashion Revolution brings everyone together to make that happen.
Also Patrick McDowell the fashion designer straight out of university. Sustainability is at the core of Patrick’s practice, as he strives to reinvent luxury through a sustainable mindset. Crafted from reclaimed fabrics, organic yarns, and ethically produced materials, his pieces are designed and made in England. He is a strong advocate for reducing fashion’s global impact through designing with moral practice.