Rosie is a Welsh fashion designer, whose brand’s core beliefs are based around sustainability.
EMILY: Hello Rosie, So, how would you describe your brand? What are the key elements that mean something to you?
ROSIE: A sustainable fashion brand and slow fashion, everything takes time, there's no mass production. Nothing's ever made on huge scales. Everything's made by myself or by my seamstress, and it's all made in the UK.
One of the key elements would be fabric sourcing, I don't ever buy fabrics that aren’t from an ethical-sources. I try and research where I'm getting things from. All of the items that I make do take a while to produce because they're made by hand with a lot of care and attention, plus many hours of thought put into it. And so that's the slow part of it.
I am a zero-waste maniac, I don't use any new fabrics. I don't use any new plastics or acrylics. I try to use either deadstock or second-hand fabrics, or donated fabrics. In my own small way I want to end the cycle of just putting out more waste into the world. I’d prefer to buy eco-fabrics and use up fabrics that are already there.
EMILY: You mentioned slow fashion, but from a shopper’s point of view, why is it that slow fashion is so much better than if you buy from mass produced places such as Topshop or Zara?
ROSIE: Anything from ourselves is not getting speed made or speed produced, you're not getting it sent from the factory abroad to here in a day which means we have the ability to build in ethical practices into all our garments. At places such as Topshop where a garment is made in one day. There’s no way it is maintaining ethical standards to make it. They're not using an environment friendly processes because environmental processes are often a bit slower.
I can make a top in a week whereas Topshop can create a design and produce a shirt closer to 72 hours… clearly means that they're cutting some ethical corners?
I guess the main benefit from a consumer perspective comes down to longevity of wear and individual style. A lot of the items I make are bespoke. So rather than it being there ready to buy, it's made for you, you can get it in your size, you can get it with slight adjustments so it’s going to fit you better. These are items that you will be able to use for a long time, you might even pass them on in the future.
Even if you’re allergic to certain fabrics you can ask the designer and they'll be able to tell you because they have more control over what's in it. Whereas if you ask Topshop, they probably won't be able to respond because the person who's answering the customer questions isn't the person who's sourcing the fabrics.
“If it doesn't smell like sheep, if it doesn't stink of sheep to the end, well...it's not sheep.”
I am currently in the process of sourcing ethical pure wool because a lot of people think they're allergic to wool, but it’s actually just it's a different sensation from what they’re used to. In fact it is shown to be really good if you've got eczema or allergies because the lanolin is really good for your skin because it has natural oils in it. I'm trying to find 100% wool, not just a cheaper mix alternative. It is proving to be difficult at the moment because they can say it's 100% wool however it tends to be an acrylic mix, as under 5% mix you can still claim the wool to be “pure”. I believe if it doesn't smell like sheep, if it doesn't stink of sheep to the end, well...it's not sheep.
EMILY: What do you see is the major problems long term issues with high street fashion sector today?
ROSIE: Producers such as Primark are just completely unsustainable. If you think about how many items are ‘last chance to buy it’on full collections of items. The waste is mind boggling! Will it all go in landfill? (YES)
In terms of ethical labour practices, there has been some major media exposure of bad practice just this last year. Using the label “made in UK” to cover it up but they're made in essentially sweatshops in the UK where people aren't being paid minimum wage. (eg. Boohoo in Leicester factories) Not that it isn’t hard to be fully aware of everything going on in the chain of supply but large corporations should be doing this as standard practise.
We all know now, if you're able to buy a top for £5 that would take you two hours to make, someone is not being ethically paid.
EMILY: So, your brand originally developed a following through Instagram do you find it a useful platform?
ROSIE: Yeah, it did. It definitely feels like Instagram is the new marketplace for finding new brands … God knows how you would have done it before without deep pockets of cash.
EMILY: You did a collaboration with London Fashion week’s Bethany Williams. how did you find that working for a larger company? How did you deal with their mass production side of it? Or was it more one-off piece?
ROSIE: For them, I just did the two corsets that were shown in the collection.
She often works with other start up designers, she's got a network of designers and a print designers who have their own labels. But we all come together for her connections. That’s what's nice about her. She does use, discounted fabric and deadstock fabric.
So, it's not a huge production and it has been fun to work with someone else who was really supportive of my ideas.
EMILY: if anyone was maybe thinking, “Oh, you know what I'd really like to set up my own Instagram will give it a go setting up my own brand” what advice would you give them?
“I want it to be ethical and sustainable and to support a better fashion eco system and other young designers.”
ROSIE: I think make sure you've got a real eye for what you want to stand for. So, I found out I'd had a Facebook memory yesterday and it was the manifesto I wrote last year about my brand. It was with a course I took part in. So you had to write a manifesto about what were your ethical policies? What are your creative policies, what do you want to do. And from the start, I've always said, I want it to be ethical and sustainable and to support a better fashion eco system and other young designers. And I think that's the big thing, make sure you're sticking to your ethics and your core beliefs of what you want to bring into the world. And I think try not to be too on trend. So for instance at the moment there's loads of people making red, puff sleeve dresses. Stand out make something different.
In terms of social media platforms don’t just put your product content on that you want to sell, it gets boring. I always put bits about films and TV shows, which isn't really anything about promoting my brand, but it's something I really love to do. And people really respond to it well, because it's not about selling someone something.
EMILY: So, where's the best place to find you and your amazing garments?
ROSIE: Instagram is the best place if you just search artsrosie. Or you can go to my website, which is very easy.) https://www.rosieevans.online/shop) And you can look at all on 50 AMS website as well, which is my main stock.