Are my clothes ethically made? Interview with "Know The Origin" CEO
May 23, 2017
1. Tell us your story. How did your brand come about and what inspired you to create it?
Know The Origin came about as a necessity! We, like most people, had always known about the dark side of fashion and tried to push the thought to one side anytime we found something nice to buy. But when Rana Plaza, a factory in Bangladesh, collapsed and killed over 1000 of the workers, it became obvious that we couldn’t (and wouldn’t) settle for fashion made through exploitation. Charlotte, our co-founder, had been studying at London College of Fashion when it happened and made the decision that she would follow her desire to make awesome clothing, but she was going to do it right! Clothing that is pretty wonderful, whilst supporting the individuals and environment involved in every stage - why would we settle for anything less?
2. We all hear the words "fairtrade" and "organic" a lot lately. How do you ensure your brand is helping the local communities?
This is something that was so key when we spent time in India searching for producers! We love certifications like fairtrade and organic, but don’t believe they should be the end goal! Our producers are kick-ass in the way that they go above and beyond to support their workers and communities. We love showing off about how our 100% farmer owned cotton co-operative run trainings in food security and how the waste water from our dyeing factory is used to support local agriculture. Our final factories support their employees in their day to day life from free childcare to subsidised canteens to retirement funds. We have the privilege of working with producers that share our values of transparency and respect. Out of those values flows endless commitment to local communities!
3. What do you hope to inspire to other brands and buyers with your vision?
We hope to inspire brands and buyers to go ethical! We are completely transparent about our supply chain to show people that it can be done, that fashion can be used to support people instead of exploiting them. Know The Origin is about inspiring people to create awesome ethical clothing and have fun doing it! Talking about ethical fashion doesn’t have to be this sad, awkward, conversation killer (we’ve definitely experienced tumbleweed whenever we bring up sweatshops…) but can be really fun and something to be excited about!
4. We love your designs! What can we expect to see in the future?
Thank you! (We think they are pretty great too!) We have had a great response to our Foundation Set so will be expanding our basics range soon! We decided to build our brand the way you should build your wardrobe, from the basics up! In the future we are hoping to introduce equally wonderful pieces that have more of a Know The Origin twist. So watch this space!
5. What are some of your favorite ethical brands out there?
This is hard because we keep discovering new awesome brands! At the moment I am loving Veja, CAFIN and Brothers We Stand. I lust after Reformation but haven’t got enough money in my pocket to shop with them!
6. What are your brand dreams from here on out?
The Know The Origin dream is to become a high street name. Having physical stores on every high street that make ethical fashion really accessible! We want to use our story to inspire people to start talking about ethical fashion and demanding more from their brands!