It's Fashion Revolution Week this week - April 19th -25th - which is an annual event surrounding the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory disaster, where over 1000 garment workers were killed and many more injured when the factory collapsed. The catastrophe highlighted many of the inequalities and unsafe conditions around the supply chain and manufacture of a lot of the fashion industry, from garment workers being paid unfair wages and working in unsafe conditions, to the environmental degradation caused by many of the processes used to create our clothes. Fashion Revolution Week campaigns around creating a fashion and textiles industry that is fair and just for everyone, alongside campaigning for brands to be transparent about how their clothes and fabrics are made, so that we can all do better, for the planet and everyone on it.
This year, the theme of Fashion Revolution is "Rights, Relationship & Revolution" which is examining the interconnectedness of the global supply chain, the relationships we have with our clothes, supply chains, each other and the planet, and how we can create better relationships to improve human rights and tackle the climate crisis. After 8 years of the successful #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign, Fashion Revolution has also introduced this fundamental question into the 2021 campaign; Who Made My Fabric?
Going deeper through the supply chains is incredible important, so we can connect with those who created the raw materials and the people who produce the fabrics we use. With this in mind, I was delighted to be in touch with Dot, who works at Halley Stevensons, my main waxed cotton supplier.
Halley Stevensons have a long standing history as one of the iconic textile manufacturers in Scotland. Located at the Baltic Works in Dundee, they were originally a jute mill when founded in 1864, before patenting their first waterproofing material in 1910. As one of the pioneers in waxed cotton, they've always put innovation at the heart of their business, and I was really excited to put together this interview, and find out more about their own supply chain and manufacturing process.
Here's my interview with Dot below;
Can you introduce us to Halley Stevensons and tell us a little bit about what you create?
Halley Stevensons are Dyers and finishers who specialise in manufacturing waxed cotton fabric. We are innovators providing sustainable fabrics and finishes to the apparel and luggage markets.
Can you tell us about the processes involved in creating waxed cotton, and as its Fashion Revolution Week, who made your fabric?
We import our cotton loomstate fabric from mills in Pakistan and India, mills which we have had long standing relationships with.
Once the fabric arrived with us it is processed all under one roof at our factory based in Dundee.
We have specialised machinery, some of which have been custom built by our in-house engineers, to create unique finishes, giving our fabrics their weatherproof performance and particular aesthetics.
How do you ensure you choose ethical and sustainable cotton manufacturers?
We specify the cotton yarn (USA spun), which we can trace through the spinning contracts provided by the mills.
All the cotton we buy is BCI certified* and all the organic cotton we source is GOTs certified. Having these accreditations place confirms that we a sourcing the best materials available to us.
*BCI is the Better Cotton Initiative
How has Halley Stevensons adapted and changed focus over the years?
We have been producing Textiles since 1864 from our Baltic works Mill based in Dundee. Originally a jute manufacturer we gained our first patent in waterproofing textiles in 1910. Today we continue to produce waxed cotton and weatherproof fabrics.
Why is transparency and environmental impact important to Halley Stevensons?
One of our USPs is our niche skills and ability to innovate and control our processes under one roof. This helps us manage the quality and continuously innovate and evolve the business efficiently.
It is important to the value of our products we product that the fabrics are properly sourced and audited.
What is your favourite thing about waxed cotton?
It is cotton with character! It is both fashionable and functional. It is adaptable and built to last.
What improvements and developments has Halley Stevensons made towards sustainable textile manufacture?
We continuously invest in new machinery in an effort to make processes more efficient and therefore more sustainable. Furthermore, we have a considered approach to innovative developments which sustainable factors are at the utmost importance. Recently we have launched our “EverWax” range which highlights our innovations in weatherproof finishes and sustainable fibres.
This year’s theme for Fashion Revolution Week is "Rights, Relationships, Revolution." What does this mean to Halley Stevensons?
We respect the fundamental rights of our supply chain and our employees.
In terms of relationships, we have long standing trusted relationships with all our suppliers.
We work in a collaborative manner with our customers and aim to deliver them the best innovations. We rely on our customer to have the same sustainable goals as us to choose well, combat fast fashion and avoid landfill with the products we offer.
Revolution is a team effort from all involved and we are excited to be part of it.
I really hope you loved this chat with Dot, I'm proud to use their fabrics where I know they are transparent in their whole supply chain, and they use in house processing to create quality fabrics which weather and age with the wearer, as well as supporting a huge part of the Scottish textile manufacturing industry.
If you want to find out more about Fashion Revolution Week or how you can get involved, check out their website which is full of free resources at fashionrevolution.org
Don't forget to ask your favourite brands for more transparency, and ask them #WhoMadeMyClothes and #WhoMadeMyFabric?
Follow us on Instagram