In the summer of 2020, multiple reports emerged revealing a scandal at the heart of Leicester’s garment district. Reports of exploited workers in factories estimated that thousands were being paid just £3.50 an hour to supply garments to some of the biggest names in fashion.
The garment trade in Leicester sits at the heart of England, using space that boomed during the industrial age. Working within shells of old factory buildings, many in the city were able to cling on to business working with market traders and wholesalers who continued to source clothing there. In more recent years, high street names working on a USP of speed and quick turnover of designs have found a haven in the ability to source cheap, fast designs at mass quantities. Of course there is blame at corporate level, but the general public’s behaviour is a big reason for the feeding of such industries with each person in the UK buying an estimated 26.7kg of clothing every year. Meanwhile a whopping estimated £140 million of clothing makes its way into landfill each year.
Whilst the issues around fast fashion are large and need attention at legislation level to create real change, the public is starting to change their habits around shopping – looking more towards second-hand purchases on sites like eBay or Depop and shopping with smaller independent businesses who can prove a sustainable and fair production process. While our city factories have come under fire, there are many in Leicester working towards encouraging slow fashion by turning their talents to fantastic independent businesses.
Founded by Rox Webster in 2013, Young Double is a small batch printing brand. Carrying a beautiful range of hand- drawn and printed garments from kids’ T-shirts to shoulder bags and adult sweaters. Utilising eco-friendly inks, non-toxic dyes and printing on ethically sourced or organic garments.
House of Wabi-Sabi
Taking inspiration from Wabi-Sabi, a Japanese aesthetic that derives from ancient Japan that shuns the idea of mass production and finds beauty in smaller things. Leicester’s House of Wabi-Sabi was founded by Ria in 2018, originating from a love of designing and making her own clothes, Ria creates one-off pieces with ethically sourced materials. Specialising in unique streetwear inspired by nature and home life.
Daughters of Vintage
Bringing sustainable fashion to the masses, Leicester-based Daughters of Vintage founder Sandra runs a business offering carefully curated vintage fashion via her Etsy store. From vintage designer finds to second-hand-but-grand jackets, dresses and more.
Silly Girl Club
Leicester-based Nicki Millar is the founder and owner of Silly Girl Club. Since 2004 she has been turning old retro treasures from unwanted clothing to bedsheets into a whole host of fun styles from belt bags to custom denim jackets. With over 60k followers on Instagram, her stance against fast fashion has driven a business built around saving things from landfill and creating something beautiful.
By Alice Gibbs