Why did you start Know The Origin?
I studied at London College of Fashion the process of creating product, but I never seriously questioned where it was all coming from. Then, in 2013 Rana Plaza, a factory in Bangladesh collapsed and killed over 1000 people. It was a massive eye opener to the dark side of how our clothing is produced. I knew I couldn’t be a part of it. It was necessity that made me start KTO. I couldn’t find any brands that were fully transparent and ethical whilst also selling wearable clothing that was affordable. I wanted to do fashion differently, all the way from seed to garment. And here we are!
How does KTO buck the fast-fashion trend?
Mainly it’s getting people aware and excited about how much goes into your clothing. Once you know how many people have been involved in making clothing and how many processes there are from seed to garment, you start questioning if clothing really is as disposable as we treat it to be. We back that up by not having public sales – instead, we only do sales one week a year and it’s only available to our mailing list. Not because we’re mean (I promise we’re not!) but because we don’t want to aggressively de-value our products, when we not only know how much goes into one garment but also the impact it can have on people’s lives.
You’ve noticed the impact of fast fashion first-hand after visiting some clothes producers in Bangladesh and India – how did that experience shape the way you think about fashion?
In all honesty, it’s made me determined to change the industry. After speaking to so many people who either work within the fashion industry such as garment workers or are the relatives of people who have died due to that industry work, I can’t just ignore the issues. It showed me that fashion is a global network and once you acknowledge that, you have an inherent responsibility to each person within it. Being lucky enough to listen to different stories within that network has sparked a drive to prove fashion can be used to support each person and the environment at every stage.
How do you decide on clothing design, what’s your inspiration?
When designing, we start with the fabrics. As a smaller brand who will not compromise on ethics, we have a smaller pool of fibres and materials to work from. We also design fashionable and wearable alternatives to that classic ethical stereotype of long, scratchy dresses covered in print (not exactly office appropriate). Each design is based on the strengths of the fabrics whilst aiming to make pretty wonderfully fashionable items for everyone’s wardrobe!
You have just launched your first pop-up store – tell us more about that
Yes! We have launched our very first pop-up – and London’s first completely transparent store – in Shoreditch! It has been such an exciting, if not a little bit exhausting, journey. It definitely feels surreal to be stood in our own store! We have been able to gather over 30 brands from across the world who are using fashion and other products as a tool to support people. It’s been great to create this community and have a physical symbol that customers can have access to ethical, affordable and quality products!
What advice would you give someone who wants to make more ethical fashion shopping decisions?
Don’t give up! It can seem really daunting at first to become an ethical shopper, but it’s a learning curve and once you know where, when and how often to find the best ethical pieces – it will be second nature! There are SO many resources out there – like fashion revolution! Your wardrobe doesn’t have to transform in a day, just make small, conscious switches with each purchase.
Know The Origin’s pop-up shop is open in Shoreditch 1st-17th December at 32 Charlotte Road, EC2A 3PB. You can also order their brilliant clothing online