I’ve long been a big fan of what Charlie is doing over at Offset Warehouse. Offset Warehouse stock the most amazing ethical fabrics and I was curious to find out from Charlie how it all began. Here’s what she had to say…
While I’ve been in the textile industry for just over six years now, my career actually began in fashion design.
Inspired by a lecturer during my degree, I began to research the impacts of fashion further, to find out who and what made my fabric. That’s when my eyes were opened and I soon discovered all of the awful atrocities that occur in the fashion and textile industries. From exploiting workers, to dumping hazardous chemicals into our environment and everything in between. I was completely and utterly shocked. I couldn’t believe that businesses would do anything they could for a bit of extra profit.
For years, manufacturers have been producing fabrics irresponsibly. Disposing carcinogenic chemicals, toxic fertilisers, pesticides and dyes into the rivers into and the earth. Destroying vast areas of land and natural resources. Causing serious illness, deformity and death among both adult and child workers.
Did you know that 20,000 litres of water is required to produce just 1kg of cotton fabric? That’s enough for just one t-shirt and a pair of jeans.
Did you know that in 2004 18,241 cotton farmers committed suicide because they could no longer face their crippling debt?
The more I discovered, the more naive and stupid I felt. I decided then and there that my work wouldn’t have anything to do with it. My creations would not be the cause of another person’s misery, or irreversible damage to the environment.
Having empowered myself and made that decision, that was when the struggle began. I couldn’t find the fashion-forward fabrics I wanted, in the small quantities I needed. So, I put my design career to one side and set about solving the problem myself: Offset Warehouse was born.
Innovation in fabric
Offset Warehouse is an online fabric shop. We bring together a collection of on-trend, unusual fabrics that are environmentally and socially beneficial, where both designers and home-sewers can fabric shop guilt-free.
We stock some amazingly innovative materials. For example, recycled polyester made from old plastic bottles: the raw material is derived solely from post-consumer sources. It doesn’t contain any toxic substances, and no harmful chemicals are used in the manufacturing process. The fabric itself is incredible – you’d never think it was recycled bottles!
Recently, we’ve brought in a fabulous selection of printed jerseys: from organic cotton, to silk modal blends – scrummy! We also produce some beautiful, sustainable fabrics that have been handmade by artisans for centuries. These fabrics are made from unusual fibres like pineapple and banana. They are really gaining momentum with sewers and designers. This could potentially take the pressure off environmentally damaging fabric production such as with cotton.
Eco fabrics for everyone
Importantly, at Offset Warehouse the minimum order quantity is just one metre, with the option to purchase wholesale quantities at a reduced price – something I was so desperate for as a designer myself! This means that eco fabrics are available to everyone from home sewers who want just one or two metres, to designers who want a few metres for sampling then a lot more for production.
Although there are some great advances in the textile industry, it has an incredibly long way to go. But things are changing slowly. Most importantly, consumers are waking up to the fact that these things are happening and are asking brands and governments to act and change.
Alongside our ever growing range of incredible eco textiles, I’m also really excited to announce The Members’ Club, which launched this September! The Members’ Club is a monthly subscription service for creative entrepreneurs around the world building businesses sustainably. Each month we focus on a different topic to help brands grow, and also feature an interview with inspiring creative enterprises doing something different.
I hope that, like me, you can’t sit back and ignore what’s happening either. Knowledge is power, and the more we know, the more we can all make informed choices and change the industry for the better.
Connect with Offset Warehouse
Thank you so much Charlie! You can connect with Offset Warehouse on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook or read Charlie’s blog. Charlie has also appeared on this podcast episode which is well worth a listen!