Good Fabric – Your New Favourite Fabric Store
As you’ve probably seen from my more recent blog posts, I am trying to concentrate more on being sustainable with my sewing. Sewing in general is much more sustainable than purchasing new for many reasons:
• You know the supply chain
• You know know garments workers haven’t been exploited in the making process
• The garment hasn’t travelled all over the world racking up CO2 emissions.
• There’s a lot less waste as any scraps will often be repurposed.
The one thing that can be more sustainable is the fabric you use, that’s where Good Fabric comes in. Selling a wide range of ethically sourced, eco dyed and GOTS certified fabric, they are proving that fabrics and trims that don’t cost the earth (literally).
I caught up with Polina, the owner of Good Fabric and was pleased to find out how well our views on sustainability and the supply chain in fashion aligned. It was great to have a chat to find out more about what is sure to be my favourite new shop…
Tell me a bit about your background, have you always sewn?
I have worked as product developer and production manager in the fashion industry for the last 12 years. I worked for brands like Anya Hindmarch, Ted Baker, Galvan London and Missoma. My background is most definitely fashion but I only started sewing this January 2020, so less than 6 months ago. Sewing has come very naturally to me, in my job I would work with factories on construction of items and tell/advise comments, so I understood how to make an item just never made one myself before. Last Christmas for some reason, I just decided to go for a sewing class in my local Southfields, South West London and as they say I was hooked.
What made you decide to start Good Fabric?
I have been made redundant from two or my last jobs, one was during maternity leave and one was recently due to Covid. I also have a 3-year-old daughter Emily, I am one of those lucky people that actually have enjoyed unemployment/lockdown and being at home with my daughter. The thought of going back to work, commuting in the morning, having to run to and from nursery did not appeal to me at all. At the same time, all my friends and colleagues were suggesting that I should start my own brand, since I have contacts in the industry and can actually now sew myself. So, combination of redundancy, friends support and the idea of being my own boss, made me sit down and think. What can I do that will allow me to use my skill, enjoy my work and be related to my hobby and most importantly have the flexibility of being with my daughter? Good Fabric has made perfect sense to me as it answered all my needs, wishes and desires.
Have you always had an interest in sustainability?
Yes and no. In my work I used to travel to China, Italy, France and UK to factories, so I know first-hand what a good or bad factory looks like, seen where the workers eat and sleep and met the people who actually make our clothes. What stuck with me, is that even though these good factories have all the right certifications and are deemed as safe and ethical places to work, I personally would never work or live like this, as this is below what I deem as acceptable living standard despite that there is a piece of paper that states otherwise. I suppose this exposure made me cynic when it comes to sustainability in fashion. So, when I see all these green initiatives by big brands, I simply do not buy into this as nothing can be produced that cheaply without someone being hurt in the supply chain.
My work, has been one of few influences on my journey to sustainability, but I would like to share two more thoughts that have made a very big impact on me:
1) I was listening to a lot of podcasts in my way to work and once I listed to an episode with EcoAge Livia Firth. My takeaway from this episode was that we all should ask a question when shopping – will I wear this item more than 30 times, if not, it should not be bought. This has made such perfect sense, and then when I looked at my own wardrobe, I found that most have been worn less than 30 times and some still had tags on this. This is shocking, so from that thought, I decided to make a challenge for myself – not buy any clothes for 1 year. I believe one way to resolve the over consumerism, is to reduce the demand. Once you reduced the demand, you reduce the supply, so this is my very small contribution to reducing the demand for fast fashion.
2) Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison – I think I was crying reading this book. It focuses on the aftermath of Rana Plaza disaster. There was a sentence said by a representative of a brand that produced in Rana Plaza: the biggest lie we tell ourselves is that our supply chain is free of abuse. So, when I see a green initiative by Primark or H&M – I always wonder if people who work for these brands actually believe in this or are they lying to themselves. again, that’s cynical me. I don’t want to dissect all the good work that brands also do.
So, as you probably have guessed my interest in sustainability is focused on the people who make our clothes.
I suppose on some subconscious level, me making my own clothes allows me to rest assure that it was free of human abuse.
Sustainability is a journey and I know I haven’t even scratched the surface, but step in the right direction is a great step. Conversations like these and platforms like yours, are all part of the learning process.
How do you check the sustainability of Good Fabric?
For each of my fabric that is stocked in Good Fabric, I have a separate tab that refers to its green credentials. All my fabrics come with either OEKO-TEX or GOTS certificate, sometime both. I also have 2 amazing quality Tencel and Ecovero.
These are the 4 standards that I accept at Good Fabric. I also want to stay away from polyester and nylon fabrics, but I do have Lycra fabric which is polyester. The only reason I made an exemption for this supplier is because it does carry OEKO -TEX certification and is produced in the factory that has implemented GOTS certified processes.
One of the very big issues in fashion industry is the lack transparency, so ability to trace all of the supply chain back to the fields where for example cotton was grown is virtually impossible, at least for end consumer. For this reason, I chose suppliers whose big focus is sustainability and whose company ethos is embedded in sustainable practices.
What’s your favourite fabric you stock, and what would you make with it?
Oh, this is probably the most difficult question, I change my mind on a daily basis. I love Urban Leo print in Sorbet by Mind the Maker. It is made in Ecovero viscose. I like to purchase 3-4 meters; in this case I can make an outfit for me and matching outfit for my daughter. See pics of my wearing Florence Top by Merchant & Mills. Emily is wearing Mabel Tiered Dress by Liberty Patterns.
You have a great range of patterns too, how do you select which ones to stock?
Thank you, I am glad you like them.
When I look for sewing pattern myself, I felt very overwhelmed by the choice, there is too much choice out there. So, I try and pick only my favourite patterns, the ones I would buy and make myself. I also want to point our Papercut Patterns from New Zealand. Their patterns are printed on fully recyclable paper, but more importantly their company ethos is very much aligned with mine and I love them even more for that.
What do you see in the Future of Good Fabric?
I have a lot of ideas or how to grow the business, I would love to print my own fabric and work with illustrators in the UK on print and patterns, I also love the idea of making sustainable trims such as bias binding and labels. But I suppose these are a bit of long-term plans.
This year I am focusing on getting my supplier base right and expanding my product offer.
Come next year, who knows, sky is the limit…
If you haven’t already…head over to Good Fabric and take a look.
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