Any one who knows me knows I care little about clothes, apart from their functionality. Do they keep me warm, or cool, or dry, as hoped? To my shame, until recently if I bought anything, I paid scant attention to its provenance, focussing on performance alone, and thus no doubt helped perpetrate immense environmental and workers’ abuses …
So when a message popped into my inbox from Fraser Wear, it was almost (as most contacts through my website are) summarily deleted. Something however made me investigate, and as I did, I wanted to delve further. Sustainability certainly seemed to be at the core, at all stages from cotton growing (organic), milling, fabrication. manufacture, printing (all powered by renewable energy sources), and distribution (plastic-free). Likewise, the website indicates that a fair deal for workers is an integral part of the process.
So far, so good. But how reliable are such claims? Certainly nothing on the website, or that of the supplier Teemill (https://teemill.com/the-journey/Find/) gave me reason to doubt the claims. And when I noticed that Fraser Wear is partnered with reputable conservation charities (Marine Conservation Society, Gwent Wildlife Trust and Wolf Watch UK), donating 5p in every £1 to those causes, any residual fears were allayed further.
So on the basis that the credentials are good, what about quality?
I was sent a t-shirt with the wolf design, and initial impressions were very favourable. The cotton felt good, the fabric appeared substantial and durable, and the design transfer seemed fast. And after a couple of washes, no sign of any of these positive impressions changing: Jude enquired about ironing, and it was suggested she shouldn’t iron straight onto the printed design, to avoid shrinkage, fading, cracking, flaking or peeling. Obviously time will tell, but there certainly have been no concerns as yet.
So would I choose to buy? In a word, yes. At around £20 for a t-shirt and £40 for a hoodie, they are certainly not the cheapest, but ‘the cheapest’ comes with a high environmental and social cost. For the high standards, and given the fact that I feel I shall have the garment for several years to come, the price is not unreasonable to my mind. Others’ impressions have been equally favourable – this is a chance to look good and feel good about it.
With the world in the grip of a pandemic, it may seem an odd time to be focussing so much on sustainability of clothing, but if not now, when? Care for the earth can, should and must be part of the new normal.