Where do my materials and notions come from?
As an ethical fashion brand, how do I source my notions - the extra bits that make up a piece of clothing, like buttons, zippers, thread, etc?
Here’s some insight into my suppliers and processes.
These relationships have taken me over a decade to cultivate and authenticate. Greenwashing is very real, and it’s really sad to see how many people are willing and ready to exploit our good intentions to do better by the planet and each other.
I can’t give you the exact names of my suppliers - I am after all, running a business here - but here’s as much detail as I can give!
Most of my notions come from dead stock sales. These are unsold items from major clothing retailers, suppliers, etc.
Instead of gathering dust in warehouses, or being sold at premiums to other fashion houses, or to developing countries, fashion suppliers have taken to having warehouse clearouts, aka dead stock sales.
So while they may not be made of organic or sustainable materials, or have paid their manufacturers a good wage, I’m buying off excess fabrics and materials which would otherwise have been sold off at exploitatively high rates.
I buy my materials from smaller suppliers in Europe, who by hosting sales domestically, prevent the prohibitively high costs of shipping everything to the developing world. Plus, with the trend of recycling materials, they’re also able to boost their own profiles by promoting these ideas.
I keep an eye out online for sales nearby, or online, and pounce. A lifetime of eBaying has made me something of a pro at this!
Vintage and Second-Hand
I also buy materials from vintage and second-hand sales. When people upcycle their clothes, they set aside the fastenings used to sell on.
I buy decorative and functional buttons from vintage suppliers I’ve cultivated a relationship with over many years. This includes online outlets, local suppliers in Europe, especially Central and Eastern Europe where the culture of recycling and reusing is much stronger, and individuals.
As an aside, I store my buttons in ceramic yoghurt pots from Spain - how cute are they! As you can also see, I also collect the small packets of buttons sold along with clothing. Many of the second-hand and vintage shops and vendors I trade with sell these button packets separately. A surprising number of people just cut these off and give them back to the shop!
All hail the internet, right? Thankfully there are loads of great producers who make their own buttons out of reclaimed wood, organic cotton zippers, and button fasteners out of recycled metal.
All the threads I use for example, are made by ethical suppliers, using 100% organic cotton. The threads are harvested from India, and hand-dyed in small batches. The dyes are all natural as well, using plants grown on my supplier’s farm. They’re even spun onto reclaimed wooden spools, so there’s no disposable plastic in anything!