One of the biggest problems of today is fast fashion. The use of non-recyclable textiles and short-lived product life cycles has led to this industry being the second largest polluter in the world. Not only is it bad for the environment, but the way in which it employs people to make clothes in such awful conditions and little pay (remember the Rana Plaza factory collapse of 2013?) has contributed to the 36 million people that are living in modern-day slavery. Fabric For Freedom is part of a new wave of sustainable and ethical brands that are taking a stand against the current practices that have led to such catastrophes. After working as a buyer for the high-end designer label Vivienne Westwood, Esther Knight founded Fabric For Freedom in 2018 to help combat the fast fashion problem and the ethical issues that go hand in hand. I chatted to the sustainable fashion entrepreneur to find out more about her London-based conscious fashion label with lots of heart. 

Why was Fabric for Freedom founded? 

EK: I started the business after seeing first-hand the issues in the industry. Fueled by the passion to fight against Human Trafficking we assist with charitable initiatives to combat exploitation and help poverty-stricken communities.  I was a buyer for both designer & high street fast fashion brands and as a buyer, I was the one that was dealing with and producing clothing to hit margin targets no matter what to cost was to people or the environment.  I thought that there must be a better way to do business, one where people didn’t suffer and one where clothing wasn’t promoting climate change issues. I wanted to create a culture that was different.

I realised I couldn’t be part of this industry in the same way anymore. Rather than leaving it, I decided to offer people an alternative and tackle this issue head-on. Fashion is a $3 trillion per year industry, employing over 50 million people. Given the impact and scale fashion has on society, the environment, our health, and communities there is so much potential in making it have a positive impact. 

Fabric For Freedom is an expression for change in the industry we set an example of how a fashion brand should be run and raise awareness to shift buying habits and tackle the fast fashion mentality.

Organic Recycled Trim T-shirt, £55


Can you explain the inspiration behind the name?
EK: We called the brand Fabric For Freedom with the idea that if you had freedom from the bad practices within fashion supply chains actually it would make our clothes free from poverty, exploitation, chemicals and slavery.  

We want to see a fashion industry that is free from slavery, free from exploitation, free from poverty, free from environmental destruction and free from child labour. We're not actually accounting for nature. We're not accounting for the cost to society in these garments that we're wearing.

By campaigning for freedom we can encourage, inspire and educate people about shopping wiser, being more accountable and ensuring that change happens within this industry. 

High Waisted Upcycled Wool Jeans, £130


What is your mission as a brand? 

EK: Fabric For Freedom creates modern, contemporary women's & unisex clothing with a purpose that aims to bring change to the fashion industry minimising our impact on the environment and being a company that benefits people and prevents climate change.

"No compromise on our ethics for our fashion and no compromise on style for our ethics"

How do you ensure your products are sustainable?

EK: 

  1. Our Fabrics – 50% of our collection is recycled. So we take textile and clothing wastage that would have gone to landfill.  Recycling, reusing and redesigning pieces. Preventing further wastage from the fashion industry. For the other 50%, we use certified organic cotton and other plant-based fabrics in which the supply chains have been investigated.
  2. UK - Everything is produced in the UK, paying fair wages and providing good working conditions. Bringing work back to the UK.
  3.  Longevity – We promote longevity through Seasonless clothing and not chasing micro trends. Being a good designer means you can predict what is going to be in fashion years ahead - So why can't we create clothing that is going to last that long?
  4.  Slavery - we work with charities that empower and rescue people how have been victims of human trafficking within the fashion industry.
  5.  Multiple ways to wear, zero waste & zero waste pattern cutting 
  6. Plastic-free – all our packaging is recycled, bi-degradable and back neck labels are Global Organic Textile Standard certified.
  7. Put on monthly events to educate, equip and raise awareness for the need to start shopping sustainably. 
  8. In the future, I hope to hire disadvantaged young adults to help them get back into work and will work with human trafficking charities to do this. 
  9. Activist messaging and information about sustainability is worked into each collection. 


How do you ensure your pieces are 'forever pieces' that will never go out of fashion? 


EK: We introduce revolutionary practices into our design developments by developing a circular business model, having zero waste pattern cutting & production, producing multiple wear clothing and promoting longevity through predicting trends years ahead. 

Upcycled Denim Wool Jacket, £80


How do you describe the style of Fabric for Freedom pieces? 

EK: Minimalist, modern & contemporary with the added twist of artistic & activist messaging. 

What does the future look like for the brand? 

EK: We want Fabric For Freedom to grow rapidly over the next 5 years. Eventually, we want to sell ethical lifestyle products, home interiors and have more clothing ranges that support local artisans paying them fair wages and developing their skills. The more we can grow the more impact as a company we can make in developing countries and in turn lift them out of poverty and exploitation.