Now for the Activism & Action pillar. In four short years so much has happened in this area for us, and we have never been brave enough to go fully public. Part of that reason was that we always believed that those people we were communicating with honoured our right to reply, or they would answer the question we were asking and not give us an answer to another question, even after a x 10 repeat of the same question. Some of these issues are still live with actions happening every week and month, so keep an eye out for updates, and for us watch our list below grow, that will prove we give really care about doing the right thing. Here is the lowdown on this pillar!
Every rebellious womxn knows, Activism & Action is where it happens!
Pillar Issue : The Word Fashion
Issue : The word fashion, the use of it, the meaning, is there any good in it anymore? For us it was never explicitly for clothing, it was used to reference style in a whole manner of things. Now that we have 'fast fashion', people thinking they are not 'fashionable' and have no 'fashion sense', relentless latest 'fashion' updates we decided to say enough of that bollocks, are you talking about clothes?
Action : We will never describe ourselves as fashion makers/designers/disrupters or any of that fluff, we simply make clothes for the rebel womxn who give a sh#t. Clothes, items of natural fibre construction created to protect your body. Clothes can also be symbolic of your personality, your values, your community. We are not making clothes for the unethical, judgemental, vain and selfish womxn of the world.
Pillar Issue : National Health Scotland (NHS) Linen
Issue : During summer of 2021 we had a genius idea, we would approach our NHS and buy from them their waste linen and use them to make tote packaging bags for our customers orders.... then it went to sh#t!
Action : So we remember the lovely cotton sheets they used to have, some of us are mothers who gave birth to our kids there! Genius idea we thought, save waste, give money to our NHS and repurpose the sheets for another use. Then.... we were told, oh its really difficult to find out where the waste sheets are going when disposed of, okay we said can you try harder? Then.... we saw a public contract award for £12m go to a supplier for polyester blended cotton sheets the following month, we were like this is a joke! Then.... we emailed politicians, the head of the NHS to ask what is happening here? Numerous emails and excuses later, they still have not replied to our last email, but they left it with us that the new sheets meet sustainable targets because they are quicker to dry? Well great NHS, switch on the wind turbines dotted across the Highlands and power your laundry with green energy, stop punting the oil polluted sheets to a third world country, go back to natural fibres and build a textile recycling centre to turn old sheets back into fibres and then new sheets. Duh! This issue is not over and we have the 'evidence' on email, they won't reply, the silence says it all! They hope we will give up and go away, eh no, we are rebel womxn and we will find you! More below on the recycling....
Pillar Issue : Scottish Living Wage
Issue : We pay to be part of this accredited programme in Scotland after we prove we pay everyone who works at our mill above the National Scottish Living Wage threshold. Sounds good?, proving we care about the people who work for us. Well they emailed us on our anniversary to say 'Hey here's a discount code for our online shop of merch' We go check out the page, and....
Action : We look at the products and say to ourselves, we know we don't make these items in Scotland? How strange, let's ask them do they know where all of this is made and if every person involved was paid the equivalent of the very wage rate they are paid by the Scottish Government to promote. Can you guess what happens? The shop comes down and we get an email saying they had meant to look at this.... Activism win for Prickly!
Pillar Issue : Politicians with no Purpose
Issue : Politicians have no purpose, well, certainly the ones we have spoken to.... The last time we checked they are public servants, they are paid by the tax payer to serve the public. All we can say is that unless you can make them look good they have one tactic, ignore you or repeatedly answer a question you are not asking to the extent that you give up.
Action : From Matt Hancock (you know the guy that got caught in his own office breaking rules) to Scottish ministers such as Ivan McKee. We shared with them both our mask solution during the first 6 months of the pandemic, a tested mask for general use that is not plastic waste - long before masks become compulsory for that time. Well one is now no longer a public servant thankfully and the other knows we are still here. The next public event will be interesting as we ask straight questions with witnesses. We gave him a gentle reminder last year during a COP26 event in Glasgow that we were still waiting on his reply, and at the same event we were the ones who told him about B Corp, we kid you not, this is the Scottish Minister for Manufacturing and he had never heard of B Corp.... This one is not over as a matter of principle, we won't waste masses of our time on him, but even with us sharing this publicly we hope people can see that behind the scenes for many years we have always been activists and tried to give these people a chance to be professional.
Pillar Issue : Masks
Issue : Summer 2020 we were the only business in the UK to develop a health tested natural fibre face covering that could be made in this country. It out performed surgical masks and the proposed subscription model was designed to kick start the first ever Scottish textiles recycling centre.
Action : We wove the fabric, we designed the mask, we tested the mask with Occupational Medicine professionals, the same tests applied to medical grade masks. The results were wow this works! We sent all the information to our politicians, we said here is a framework, here is a list of mills and makers who can make this happen, we can ensure everyone in Scotland has a tested mask suitable for a health crisis and a climate crisis. Can someone speak to us about this being deployed or explain to us what the alternative single use, ill-fitting masks or worse yet fashion show exploitation trend is the better route to save lives? Well this went round the houses, and everyone 'off the record' we spoke with agreed we should be doing this. Averting billions of masks to pollution and landfill. This is not over, again we have the evidence and the answers will be sought. We have a measure of this game now, and hence our being brave evolution. But it is sad that public name and shame is the next stage however, when you give a sh#t we don't stand for sh#t like this anymore. Ivan McKee, Ian Blackford, Kate Forbes and Maree Todd, you all knew about this and did nothing. Did you ignore us because we were this little 'tartan mill' in the north? Did you stereotype us or did you judge us unfairly? We have not forgotten, and if anything you have made us more determined. Accountability and responsibility does not just disappear with time....
Pillar Issue : Bollocks to Black Friday
Issue : Black Friday has become this frenzied consumption day, if not months, where we see growing numbers of bargain hunters, looking to buy things often they don't need and all because of a supposed massive cash saving!
Action : We launched our online shop in January 2020 and in both November 2020 and 2021 we take our shop down for 24 hours on Black Friday. We say no to this commercialised day of destruction as a symbol of our purpose over profit.
Pillar Issue : Fashion Shows & Front Covers
Issue : What good truly comes from fashion shows and fashion magazine front covers? Is there a better way to share with potential customers your clothing creations and why you do what you do?
Action : We believe 100% yes there is a better way. Let's look at shows and front covers, typically they have always been about fantasy looks and even sex selling in these scenarios. We know that is not everyone, but on the whole why do they do this? Could clothing creators not give the massive fashion show budget spend to charity or could they pay the people in their supply chain a living wage before they hire the swanky hotel? If we live in a digital world, and we know we cannot just fly in and out of countries every other week, why have this physical meet up? We want to ask them to explain why these things remain essential now? We will never be part of a traditional 'fashion show' ever, because who are the best people ever to show our clothes, our customers, every time they walk down their street! We will have fun at our mill based Blank Canvas events over the summer months, where everyday people can experiment and play with our concepts.
For magazines, we hope that one day not the prettiest, most photogenic face or body is all that graces the front cover, but remember they are the ones judging and determining beauty, when we buy the magazine we say we agree. For us we go back to our customers, they are the face of every front cover for us, and the same applies to our team of makers, they are the beautiful ones. Plus should we printing anything anymore, is not just more unnecessary waste? It's not like it is medical instructions for a life saving device that you need to operate? Fashion magazines need to change, show us how sustainably and inclusively creative you can be?
One brand we love and are inspired by is Patagonia, have they ever had a fashion show or want to be on the front cover of a fashion magazine? Have they ever needed to do this? Is it just vanity on behalf of these designers and brands? This activism and action continues....
Pillar Issue : United By Uniform
Issue : In Scotland we witness every year parents being asked to purchase and ensure school age children wear unbranded clothing in very specific colours. Along with partner suppliers they make available petrochemical branded uniform items. So we asked a local school, do you have a policy on sustainable practices?
Action : We are now working with that local school to pilot a first of its kind for Scotland. It's super simple, it's not just a clothes swap, it's where we recover all of the unworn clothing in the school colours across the catchment area. We develop a programme that gives the skills and confidence to the senior year groups to deconstruct garments and reconstruct into new uniforms that are unique for the junior years. This is not just an extension of a sewing class, this is the fundamentals of rebelling against a wasteful society. These skills to deconstruct, and confidence to be unique especially in the world of clothing will have profoundly positive impacts on mental health and planet health. Projects like these all save money too. We hope to have the pilot completed for Summer 2022.
Pillar Issue : Thick Hair Thin
Issue : In Scotland we import more animal fibres than we export....
Action : When we started this fabric adventure, we jumped in at the weaving stage, where we buy in yarns sourced as close to home as possible, turn them into fabrics and that very fabrics we make into bad-ass clothing. Throughout we became more aware and more disappointed about this issue of native fibres being abandoned in many ways. New for this year is a ground breaking scientific project with a Scottish academic partner and one of the most infamous Scottish textiles brands ever. We are going to see how we can use nature with help from science, to make thick hairs thin! When this happens, we will move to 100% native animal fibres, and we cannot wait for that day to come, could it be 2023?
Pillar Issue : Textile Recycling In Scotland
Issue : Through our action and activism with masks and NHS linen we realised something needed to happen here. There is literally zero post consumer textiles recycling in Scotland, taking natural fibre fabrics or products that are woven or knitted and turning them back into fibre to start the process all over again, and become a new scarf or jumper. We have shredding for industrial re-use but nothing to close the loop on the manufacture of clothing.
Action : We are currently part of a small cohort of incredibly passionate people to complete preliminary tests and supply chain building for replicating a fit for purpose facility in the UK. We know this is already happening in other countries, but every country needs a facility when only 1% of textiles are being recycled....
Pillar Issue : No to Sales
Issue : The trick of sales or the pressure of sales, why?
Action : There are two aspects to this issue, one is those brands that use sales as a lure to tempt you to buy. The second is those brands that feel immense pressure to reduce their prices to survive, even when they can not afford to do that. So we definitely say no to the first aspect and we actively try our best to stay out of the grips of the second. The action we take is we try to not create excess stock, we always list fair prices and we always want to ensure that everyone pays the same fair prices. Let's face it, having big sales just pisses off customers who paid full price and then attracts mostly customers who are the bargain hunters. The lure tactic goes back to mark-up and usually can be a sign that the brand selling those items has indeed charged excessive amounts of profit on the full price sales and even with a reduction they are still making profit. We say why not just have a fair price for everyone? Discounts and 'sales' are not part of being a purpose-led business, the aim is to make with transparency and sell with transparency. If you ever see discounts or sales with businesses like ours then we know that is because they are trying to survive and often might only be just covering their high base costs.
We know this was some read, THANK YOU for reaching the end! We hope you now have a taster of the the activism rebellion that is in our blood!
Where did it all begin, the why then, the why now and the future of why not?