Fashion Is Ruining The Environment

Margate, Kent, recently labelled as “The New Shoreditch” by the Telegraph and “The New Hipster’s Paradise” by Esquire is where co-founders, Cat Crowther and Emrys Plant launched their luxury menswear brand: Crowther/Plant.

Credit: Crowther/Plant

Crowther/Plant manufactures all of their products in England and works with materials in a way which benefits both the consumer and the environment. Cat explained how one big thing they have been discussing recently is that the world doesn’t need another T-shirt. She said: “Consumer wise, we should be thinking about what we are wearing and that we don’t need to be buying a t-shirt a week or a sweater a month. “We need to be buying the right pieces” she added.

Credit: Crowther/Plant

Year on year the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters. Cat said: “We both work in the industry but only want to carry on if we can have a positive impact. Otherwise, I would drop everything and do something completely different like become a yoga teacher.” “We use organic cotton in our collections because there’s no way we would work with anything else,” she added.

The majority of high-street retailers and high-end brands are turning a blind-eye to what is happening in the interest of profit. Cat discussed how she wanted to be organic because of the illnesses and deaths of farmers farming cotton using pesticides. “The situation in Turkey in and around the Aral sea is devastating” she explained. “It was once the world’s fourth-largest lake, but Central Asia’s Aral Sea has shrunk by 90 per cent in the past 50 years. All of the surrounding sea is a crust of chemicals. It’s really bad news.”

Credit: Crowther/Plant

They dye the white fabrics with natural indigo as opposed to chemical dye which is a really important part of what they are trying to achieve. Their indigo dyeing takes place at a community garden called the Garden Gate where people with learning difficulties have an opportunity to help with the process.

Credit: Crowther/Plant

Crowther/Plant as a brand want to educate people and show society how the future of fashion can be sustainable. Cat said: “People have started eating organic, using organic products on their skin and hair, but when it comes to clothing it’s that one step further that needs to happen, even if it does take time.”

As the pair have been gathering their story together, one thing that was important to them was building a sustainable label. After spending nearly ten years of her life producing knitwear in China, Hong Kong and Inner Mongolia, ethically she no longer wanted to do it anymore. ”There are great factories in England, we wanted to use them.”

After working around the clock, 7 days a week to create and build their own company, Cat said: “We’ve come a long way. It’s really cool to start a brand and create the identity of it. Doing our own thing is great because we’ve got this freedom to express ourselves in a way we want to.”

Credit: Crowther/Plant

The company also purchase end of the line fabrics that would have been incinerated otherwise. This helps environmentally and enhances the brand’s sustainability. They use a handful of different jersey weights in production which means they don’t have large amounts of excess stock. In their newest collection, the pair has designed a patchwork sweater which is just made up of off-cuts.

Big fashion labels buy in material and the waste is quite often just burnt. There are a lot of things in the fashion industry that we don’t actually see, Cat explained. She said: “All of the fabric has taken so much energy for the cotton to grow, to be woven, to be dyed, to be shipped around the world, and it doesn’t even see life as a shirt.” “It’s important for us as a sustainable company to have this platform to re-use it.”

Crowther/Plant’s goal isn’t to keep reinventing their products, it’s to expand on the core collection that they have already built. “We can’t eliminate clothing as everyone has needs; they want to be stylish. But what we can do is produce clothing in a way that benefits both the consumer and the environment.”

Credit: Crowter/Plant

Recently there has been a huge shift in the fashion world towards slow fashion. Cat said: “I think it is now being understood by the consumer. We see the effects that climate change is having on the environment, we can see it with our own eyes now.”

There are other fashion labels that are working well and respecting the environment such as Hiut Denim and Veja trainers but so far we don’t have a direct competitor, added Cat.

Cat has high hopes for Crowther/Plant in the near future. She hopes to continue to develop the brand, secure more wholesale accounts and really work on the direct sales. “What we really want is to push our website and just keep on going. We have built our foundations now and we have a core collection that we add to sustainably each season.”

Feature Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons / Tadie88

Thomas Mackie