Happy New Year Brother.
For most of us, the challenges of the last few years and months have been very real. But with every dislocation there is the opportunity for renewal - perhaps with a deeper sense of what truly matters.
When the news and global situations can feel out of control, it can help to look at the power we do have. From the information we arm ourselves with to make decisions, to how we show up in the world and what we wear.
So at the start of 2023 we’re asking, how can we plant seeds of hope with a world changing wardrobe?
Here are 10 ideas to get you inspired.
1. Less and better
The cost of living crisis is challenging a lot of us to make more focused decisions on where to invest our money. Where the wardrobe’s concerned, finding better quality, longer lasting items could ultimately help save money in the long run.
Some tips for adding to your wardrobe. Look for colours and pieces that work well together. See something you love? Sit on it for a bit to see if it’s a priority for you financially right now… Ultimately invest in clothes that speak to your signature style and in a few years, once well worn, will have a few stories to tell themselves.
You haven’t been living on the moon, you know about Fairtrade. The Foundation’s been active for over 20 years, helping to empower people and communities involved in producing global commodities.
One of the key ways Fairtrade benefits communities is by empowering women, who make up a large proportion of fashion industry workers worldwide. Knowledge Cotton Apparel shirts are produced in a factory in India where workers are supported with access to opportunities, healthcare, and educational resources for their children
3. Fair Wear
Look out Fair Wear, an organisation working collaboratively across the fashion industry to empower employees. They advocate for better employment practices, take a stand against unethical conditions and support workers’ unions.
The Level Collective t-shirts and sweatshirts are made by Fair Wear audited factories in Bangladesh, where a team of agents visit daily to monitor working conditions.
At Brothers We Stand, we’re pro transparency - and anti greenwash.
All the brands we work with all have a clear social or environmental impact. But how do we know they’re following through?
Firstly brands provide us with a full breakdown of their supply chain, showing they know what’s going on during production. Secondly they need to demonstrate they uphold workers rights and have plans in place to improve.
You can see a snapshot of this in our product footprints (such as the one for Level Collective’s Forager t-shirt) which show the brand’s positive impacts - sometimes alongside areas they can improve.
5. Organic cotton
Over 250 million people work in the cotton industry. How cotton is farmed impacts where they live, what they can eat and their long-term health. Organic cotton helps farmers escape the health risks and financial burden of toxic chemicals involved in conventional cotton production. It also massively benefits wider communities by maintaining (rather than draining) the local water supply and keeping it clean.
Unfortunately around one sixth the world’s organic cotton is produced in Xinjiang where production relies on slave labour. But with GOTS certified cotton, you can be confident that international standards are upheld and workers have some level of protection during production.
5. Circular fabrics
Global textile waste is a growing and complex issue - and there isn’t always a straightforward way to recycle fabric, as it's often made with combinations of materials that are difficult to separate. That said, Mud Jeans have figured it out, turning textile waste into quality yarn, which is then dyed and woven into denim fabric.
6. Innovative materials
Your yoghurt pot might have a more interesting end to its life than you’d think. Brava’s Seaqual padded jacket uses an innovative new yarn called seaqual, which is made with a double whammy of consumer plastic waste and plastic fished out of the ocean. Now that’s one well travelled jacket ready to keep you company on your adventures.
7. Reducing emissions
To reduce the carbon footprint of a garment, clothing companies can address the raw materials involved, switch factories to renewable energy and even let you know how to prolong its life. (Fun fact: when you wash your favourite jumper, the water and energy you use can be estimated and counted as part of a company’s ‘downstream emissions.’)
In the supply chain, Knowledge Cotton Apparel has found ways to cut the transport emissions of garments by co-locating different parts of the production process, meaning items don’t need to travel as far when they’re being made.
8. Ethical fulfilment
We often focus on the origins of a garment - where it’s from or who made it - and overlook the people at the end of the process who are involved in packaging and transporting it.
At Brothers We Stand we’ve partnered with MailOut fulfilment centre to ship your items. MailOut is a social enterprise that provides training and employment opportunities for adults with a learning disability and autism. This means that with every BWS Basics order you make, you’re helping give people right here in the UK the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
9. Locally owned factories
The story of a garment is also the story of the garment production industry. The UK has a rich heritage of textile production, that by the ‘70s had faded as global supply chains took over.
Some companies have beaten the odds and are still carrying out production in the UK. One of these brands is workwear experts Yarmouth Oilskins, a company with 120 year heritage in the Norfolk town of Great Yarmouth. Buying their garments helps them create local jobs and supports a growing creative and manufacturing industry in the town.
Yes, you. This is your year! Have adventures as exciting as the journeys behind the clothes you wear. Go and do that thing you’ve always wanted to. Fall in love. Volunteer. Learn something new, then teach it to someone else. Keep that spirit alive! Because everything is connected.
So from your wardrobe, around the world and back to the UK’s shores, we hope this read has sparked your imagination - and given you some new year inspiration.
Did anything resonate in particular? Let us know. Or why not pick something that struck a chord and make a resolution to follow up throughout the year?
Play that hopeful melody brother!