We recently had the chance to sit down with Tom, the creative director of Hawthorn International based in The United Kingdom, who answered some questions about the company, its values and its commitment to sustainability.
Hello Tom and thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
We actually started Hawthorn to try and offer a solution to a problem we found ourselves when we started a clothing brand. As is the case with most startups, we had a very small budget and we couldn’t find a manufacturer who could offer the low minimum order quantities we needed to be able to get a good range of products which were also custom. We went through a number of manufacturers before realizing that what we wanted wasn’t a service that was being offered by anyone, so we went back to the drawing board and made a plan to start our own manufacturing facility. We started small of course, but as we expanded our capabilities, our business grew. Fast forwarding to today, we work with over 250 brands.
What are the values dear to your company?
As we started Hawthorn to solve the problem of low minimum order quantity custom clothing being readily available, it’s always been very important to us to be able to consistently offer the best service possible for new brands. However, one thing which started to become apparent to us and something which has really grown to be a driving force of ours is sustainability and the fight against fast fashion. We are constantly evolving and actively improving our processes to make everything we do more sustainable and eco-friendly.
Why is sustainability so important to you?
There are some quite shocking statistics around the fashion industry and the effect it is currently having on the environment. As we’re at the forefront of the industry, we believe it’s a responsibility of ours to make a difference where we can, especially as we work with the new and upcoming brands who will set the standard for years to come. We have in particular tried to become advocates for organic cotton as opposed to regularly farmed cotton, as well as water recycling. Water pollution is a particularly pressing issue with 20% of the world’s water pollution being as a result of the fashion industry.
In what ways is Hawthorn an active player in this eco-friendly revolution in the garment industry?
We are currently pioneering a polyester substitute – experimenting with ways to recycle PET (from plastic bottles) into a workable polyester yarn. Traditional polyester production creates around 706 billion kg of greenhouse gases per year.
What type of services can Hawthorn provide for a brand that is interested in producing sustainable products?
One of the most important things we have done is to develop our facilities to be able to offer organic cotton in place of regularly farmed cotton but retaining our very low minimum order quantities. Most other manufacturers would require very high MOQs for organic cotton products however we have developed our processes to make it accessible to new brands dealing with small quantities. We purchase the raw yarn from local farms and weave it into a workable fabric in-house.
How does the process work when someone enters with an idea at Hawthorn?
The first thing we do with any customer is to establish the kind of brand they’re going to be creating, as this will influence things like the fabrics we can use, the sizing which would be appropriate, and the kinds of branding they’d need. We then start to go through the specifics of their designs and advise where we can if they need to make any amendments. Once a customer places an order, we first make samples that are used to clarify that everything is understood correctly as we’re working with designs that are usually untested. We then, after making any necessary amendments, produce the bulk orders.
How do you change people’s perspective on sustainable fashion?
Changing the way that people think about sustainable fashion as opposed to fast fashion is a matter of exposure and education. We actively try to educate potential clients on the benefits of using organic fabrics as opposed to fast fashion fabrics, for example, and we always try to steer clients away from polyester unless it serves a practical purpose for their design. As I mentioned earlier, we’re at the forefront of the industry and we have a means to push sustainability to our clients so that we can make a positive change to both the industry and the environment via every brand we work with.
Sustainability is often a big word being thrown around in the garment industry. Despite moves to change towards being more sustainable and eco-friendly, the garment industry still remains one of the largest polluters. How do you think the industry can change and not only cap its pollution, but reduce it?
The only way to tackle it would be to come together as an industry. Brands need to educate consumers on the benefits of purchasing sustainable items. The industry also needs to end its reliance on cheap synthetic fibers such as polyester.
Thank you for the interview and good luck for the future!
Interested in working with Hawthorn international? Visit their profile on Sqetch.co and get a quote 🙂
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