Journal

Sustainable manufacturing processes creating longevity in wardrobes

Following the ongoing media discussion over various online and offline retailers selling clothes at a price you wouldn’t think you could even buy the buttons for, we thought you may be interested in knowing a bit more about the inner workings here at Protected species.

Now, I’ll start by saying we are a small brand, which means we haven’t the finance to do everything we would like to, but it does mean we can be nimble in responding to our discussions we have with you, our customers. Manufacturing ethically, responsibly and sustainably, I would hope would be most clothing brands’ driver these days, with larger businesses, such as Patagonia, doing an amazing job with their environmental strategies. However, producing anything at all, does by its nature, use resource, have a carbon footprint, and in some way, will impact the earth. As we tirelessly recycle, at some point the question must be raised about how much we actually consume. In an ever-growing population with much of the world following the consumerism habits set by the west, is the only real answer to sustainability to buy what we truly need and therefore consume less?

Our Philosophy here at PS, has truly grown with our continual two-way conversations with our customers. From the start, we always set out to create products which are the antithesis of the cheap throwaway “wear it for the weekend” culture prevalent in certain sectors of the clothing trade. But, when we started on our Journey five years ago, creating something new in the market which looked good, had a true multi-functional benefit, and was manufactured to last, was the exciting bit. A few years on, with our customers reporting back on the regularity of wear and how long they’ve had their garment, has really made us think. Developing clothing not just for this season, but for years to come, must be one of the ways we can truly reduce waste. From the start, we knew we wanted to create iconic modern designs, rather than faddy here today gone tomorrow fashion, but in all honesty, this was more about our taste in clothing and with our love of being outdoors a want for products we loved wearing when we were under our great British grey skies.

But, as time has moved on and we’ve become so acutely aware of the perilous environmental position we are now in, the arguments of fast fashion are fast running out and a move to style and longevity is surely the only way forward. As you will know if you have seen our collection, The Mac and The Parka are a great example of this. By modernising timeless iconic designs using fabric technology to create a ladies lightweight waterproof jacket which both functions beautifully and transcends the fashion cycles, we believe is the best women’s waterproof jacket option when it comes to cost per wear. Do we really want to change our clothes because someone tells us this seasons’ colour is yellow, pink, or something which simply doesn’t suit us or the rest of our wardrobe? – as Coco channel famously said: “fashion fades, only style remains the same”.

 

 

Vivienne Westwood – Buy less, buy better

So, onto the frontline and a snapshot of our manufacturing base. There are many misconceptions about clothing manufacturing process and procedures, this is a sticky subject and I won’t pretend to know all the answers. I have never worked in fast fashion, so have thankfully been in a place where my relationships have not been fraught by driving rock bottom prices, or dictating impossible deadlines, but I have visited many factories in many far-flung parts of the world and I have witnessed first-hand what makes some of the issues to do with international manufacture so grey. Interestingly, and encouragingly I have seen things change radically over the years working, travelling, and being fed weird and wonderful things! What I have seen is thankfully no longer a master and servant relationship, with a picture not of a sweat shop, long hours, unruly practices but of ethical, inspiring places with strong social comradery, expertise, efficiency and dare I say it a sense of fun. Believe me, I know not everyone benefits from this type of workplace which is why it was so important for me in forming our relationship with Carrie, who owns the boutique factory based in a small town in the far east where our collection is made.

We, like so many other brands, produce overseas primarily because we cannot do what we do closer to home. New innovative performance fabrics have evolved in the far east, and as a result, so to the people and machinery with the skills to manage these fabrics. Carrie is a young entrepreneur making a difference in her local area. She specialises in producing ladies waterproof coats with hoods so her team are the perfect partners for us here at Protected species. Her machinists are her friends and family who she has expertly trained in every process to complete an entire garment from start to finish which, in our opinion, is the way to make the best womens waterproof jackets. As they all live locally, Carrie and her family work and socialise with her team and it’s really good to feel a happy, harmonious environment which all the corporate check lists in the world cannot capture. Carrie and I have a mutual respect, and I trust her implicitly. When Carrie says she can’t do something, it means she can’t do it, I know she will have exhausted all avenues. She describes her work as “art” and I would agree. From my time studying at the London College of Fashion many moons ago, a pattern can be cut or it can be crafted, the true value experienced in wear. Having a small collection, we work together pouring over minute details, and there is genuine excitement between us when someone has a lightbulb moment.

 

 

Carrie: our factory manager

In my former life working as product director for the golf brand PING, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the top tour players in the world. I bring this up as you might like to know the Protected Species collection has derived from this work developing fabrics essential in their ability to offer zero restriction in movement, protect from the elements on some very wet and windy Scottish 18 holes, and at the same time look smart. I was privileged to hang out on many a beautiful golf course around the world, but my true love is getting my hands dirty working alongside my inspirational colleagues based in the far east.

So, as I said at the beginning, we are a very small business on a mission to make the best womens lightweight waterproof jackets for those who want both style and function. New performance products are in the pipeline (extremely exciting) which have our signature: multi-functional, performance and style-led. We are looking at new ways to minimise packaging, and use biodegradable materials. Our fabric mill, managed by Greta, uses eco energy, eco materials and eco engineering. Their business achieves Oeketex standard, is Blue Sign certified, and they declare their carbon footprint and have the testing required to show that no harmful substances are used or released into the environment.

So, we are working hard to do things differently, like most businesses we have a long way to go but we will continue down our path of producing products that we believe are for the long term, clothes which can be worn not just to work or play, but for both. So, if you are interested in finding out more about our technical collection of womens waterproof coats just type in “Protected Species” or “waterproof jacket womens uk” and feel free to order some complimentary fabric swatches to select your favourite colour and see the water roll off!

 

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