My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Wales Creating Sustainable Clothing For A Greener Future

For decades fast fashion has ruled the high street, with items discarded after a couple wears to only end up in a landfill. However, with consumers becoming more environmentally aware, they are beginning to consciously shop for clothing that has as little climate impact as possible. Finally, slow fashion is becoming the preferred choice of shopping for clothes.

When slow fashion is concerned, buyers are looking to purchase quality clothing over quantity. Therefore, the designers and manufacturers in the slow fashion industry aim to make clothing intended to last. Moreover, the materials used are sustainable, the power used to manufacture the items comes from renewable energy companies, and the people involved in making the clothing are paid a fair wage in decent working conditions.

It is only natural that the slow fashion movement has taken off in Wales. The Welsh nation has abundant fine craftsmanship, evolving eco-technologies, with a careful balance of beauty and function. It has a long history of creative people and has actively taken the sustainability slogan “think global, act local” to the heart of its slow fashion industry.

This article explores some of the most successful welsh slow fashion brands which are taking the world by storm. But first, let us examine the core of what slow fashion entails and how we can embrace the practice into our everyday wardrobe.

What is Slow Fashion?

In simple terms, slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion. It embodies an awareness and approach to fashion that considers the environmental impact of the process and resources required to make clothing. It promotes higher-quality fabrics and construction, which will result in garments that will last longer. Slow fashions also value fair treatment of people, animals, and the planet at every stage of the garment cycle.

Slow fashion and ethical fashion have many similarities as they both follow the same general guidelines. However, the main distinction is that slow fashion focuses specifically on reducing consumption and production. This is achieved by making great quality clothes that will last for years and be handed down through generations if well looked after.

Designer Welsh Denim With a Social Conscience

Located in West Wales, there is a denim company called Hiut Denim Company. They encompass everything a slow fashion brand should. The Hiut Denim Company factory produces scarcely more than 100 pairs of jeans each week. Every pair of jeans is put together by a single craftsperson who personally signs the garment off before it is released to be sold.

As fantastic as the Hiut Denim Company’s slow fashion production process, it comes with some drawbacks. For example, when Meghan Markle was pictured wearing Hiut, it resulted in a three-month waiting list. However, as tempting as it may have been for the brand to attempt mass production during the surge in demand, they held onto their sustainability values. The Hiut Denim Company fans have respected this stance for environmentalism and show a willingness to wait for a high-quality garment that is made to last.

The founders of Hiut Denim Company formerly had an activewear brand called Howies. Five years after selling the old brand, they made the bold choice to bring the denim trade back to Cardian – a Welsh town that had been the home to Britain’s largest jeans factory before it closed in 2002. The former employees of the jeans factory now form the talented team at the Hiut Denim Company.

Welsh Woollens Gained Global Recognition

Welsh wool company Corgi has held a Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales since 1989. The brand is popular with the royal family. The Queen reportedly favours their handcrafted socks, and Prince George has been spotted wearing a bespoke Corgi jumper in his first official family portrait.

Apart from holding such high royal esteem, this Welsh company also takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously. They source all their natural cotton, wool and cashmere yarns from honest, high-quality suppliers. The energy used at the factory to manufacture their woollen products is from 100% renewable sources, and there is zero waste sent to landfills. Instead, the yarn offcuts are collected by a charity to be used by local schools in their area and craft projects.  

All Corgi products are manufactured in Wales and are a respected employer in its part of Carmarthenshire – although the brand does have a global presence. They joined forces with luxury glove maker Dents in 2008, which helped them break into new export markets. Since their international recognition, they have also collaborated with luxury brands such as Burberry and Ralph Lauren – introducing their timeless Welsh craftsmanship to the catwalks worldwide.

The Popular Welsh High Street Brand With A French Name

Some may be surprised to learn that the French named maternity and babywear shop JoJo Maman Bébé is a Welsh company. JoJo Maman Bébé is not only a well known high street shop in the United Kingdom. It has expanded its reach to more than 50 countries worldwide.

The successful Welsh company has a long-standing commitment to the three Rs: reducing, re-using and recycling. JoJo Maman Bébé has been ahead of the game for some time when it comes to sustainability. For example, they eliminated single-use plastic from their packaging before many competitors and ran a program called FAMTA, which aims to pass on pre-owned clothing to vulnerable families. In addition, back in 2000, they launched a recycled fleece collection, followed by bibs and raincoats made from reclaimed polyester. 

JoJo Maman Bébé also actively supports the Better Cotton Initiative – the world’s largest cotton sustainability programme. JoJo Maman Bébé became the first mother-and-baby retailer in the UK to become a Certified B Corporation in 2016. This is a massive step forward for the brand with their sustainability goals as it commits them to “the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose”.

Welsh Weaving Celebrated Worldwide

Since the 17th Century, the mill which now produces woollen cloth for Melin Tregwynt has sat on the same site. The fabric made at the old mill has not changed much over the centuries and is well known as “Welsh tapestry”. It is woven together from two layers to produce a durable fabric with colourful, bold geometric patterns.

It began as a simple cloth supplier to surrounding farms in Pembrokeshire and has developed into a modern fabric business with a global reputation. Melin Tregwynt now has a loyal customer base in Europe, the United States, and the Far East who love their bags, scarves, blankets, and cushions. In addition, their designers have been involved in exclusive lines for luxury brands like Mulberry, Heals, Liberty, Mujo, and John Lewis.

Sustainability is a primary consideration for Melin Tregwynt, and they have pledged to support the Dumfries House Declaration – a 10-point best-practice plan for a more environmentally responsible wool industry.

Award-Winning Children’s Knitwear

Wales is well known for its knitwear, and since the Mabli brand launched in 2016, it has gained considerable coverage in the media. The Welsh knitwear company designs quirky vintage-inspired clothing, which has won them some prestigious awards.

The centre of this brand’s philosophy is slow fashion. They ensure all their garments are hardy enough to be worn, enjoyed, and handed down from child to child – encouraging parents to buy less through choosing better quality clothing.

Mabli takes all the necessary steps to make sure sustainability is considered along their entire supply chain. They collaborate with a network of trusted suppliers in Wales, Scotland, and mainland Europe, requiring that all those involved demonstrate high ethics and workplace safety standards.

The Takeaway

Designers in the top end and small scale brands are taking part in the slow fashion movement, resulting in a complete overhaul of consumption and production of clothing. This sustainable approach to clothing has inspired many environmental changes in recent years, from the way clothes are made to consumer behaviour.

Even though there is growing support for slow fashion in Wales and worldwide, it still has a long way to go. For more people to support the slow fashion movement, they need to look beyond the desire for cheap fast clothing. The awareness of the brands that represent and focus on quality and not quality need to appeal to the masses, which Wales is succeeding at on a global scale.