This week we spoke with Know The Origin, a cool and affordable ethical clothing brand. Making everyday basics like hoodies and organic cotton tops, Know The Origin are giving the high street a run for their money. We chatted with Charlotte about what manufacturing means to them and whether ethical fashion can ever really be affordable and attainable.
Q. Tell us a bit about Know The Origin
Know The Origin is an ethical fashion brand based in London. We create clothing that is stylish and affordable whilst being fully Fairtrade and organic from seed to garment! We ensure that the people involved in producing every garment has been treated with dignity, paid fairly and valued for their work. There is 5 of us on the dream team myself (Charlotte), Rosie, Josephine, Ollie and Molly! We are essentially just a bunch of overly eager, social justice fans who want to share that with the world, in the form of beautiful products.
Q. How did it all start?
During my Fashion Buying and Merchandising degree at the London College of Fashion I was learning how to make clothing, from drawing to shop floor. Yet I had never stopped and asked myself those important questions on who was making the clothes that we were producing. Then in 2013 Rana Plaza, a factory in Bangladesh, collapsed. It was a physical symbol of how the fashion industry was holding profit above everything else. I didn’t want to be a part of that. Know The Origin was born out of the desire to do what I love but also support amazing producers along the way that wanted to create positive change in the fashion industry.
Q. Your entire brand is traceable in terms of manufacturing, how important was this to you before launching your brand?
Very! We started with the name - as a test of whether we could actually do it. Make affordable, fully ethical cool clothing. It’s definitely been a learning curve. As I researched and saw for myself how to make fashion ethical I realised that it is so important to be traceable at every stage. There's so much work and awesomeness in each stage - it would suck not to know and appreciate who grew the cotton, spun the thread and dyed the garment.
How can you claim to be ethical when you don’t know who is doing each process. Now we are a stage where I have personally met every producer group in our supply chain. It’s these relationships that make Know The Origin what it is.
Q. In your opinion can ethical fashion ever be affordable?
Definitely! Know The Origin is all about affordable fun ethical fashion. The reputation that ethical fashion is currently that its expensive, weird or unfashionable. That is what we want to challenge. There is definitely a cost to make a garment whilst ensuring that every worker is treated with respect, and this is higher than what fast fashion prices lead us to believe. However, this doesn’t mean ethical fashion should be an unaffordable luxury but instead the standard across high street.
Q. How important do you think Ethical fashion is to the future of consumerism?
I think ethical fashion is the future of consumerism! It is has been so encouraging to see how more and more people are take control of their purchasing power and asking questions like who made my clothes? Is clothing really disposable, when there are so many other environmental costs? For example, it takes 2,700L to make one t-shirt.
Consumerism as we know it can’t continue. The impact on the environment and communities is showing us that. Ethical fashion is a way of shifting consumerism to being sustainable. Empowering customers to make decisions that value clothing and the people that produce them.
Q. What is your favourite piece from your latest collection and what’s your advice on dressing this up/down for a day-night look?
I personally love the Black Cropped Sleeve Sweater! It is so soft and cool that even with a pair of jeans it looks stylish. The clean shape of it also makes it a great evening look that matches with almost every smart pair of trousers or skirt. I pretty much wear it most days, not going to lie!
To read more about the brand or to view their entire collection please click HERE