When it comes to re-filling your wardrobe with the new season luxury staples, it goes without saying that you get what you pay for – as has always been the case when it comes to fashion, and just about everything else, too.
But while beautiful and high-quality goods have long been the order of the day, luxury lovers the world over are beginning to demand more from the garments they purchase, and the brands they purchase them from.
No longer is it enough for designers to come up with the coolest or edgiest piece of the season – today’s high-net customer demands sustainable practices and strong ethics that are reflected through every stage of the production process – and are refusing to settle for anything less.
This new breed of conscious buyer cares about what they are putting on in front of the mirror each day, and wants to know that they are choosing consciously – and brands are slowly but surely beginning to take note.
One brand, however, that has built itself upon these fundamental principles from the beginning is Thread Tales – which has bravely seeked to redefine fashion and put meaning and purpose at the forefront of all of its designs since launching in 2017
Built around its ‘Lotus Collection’ – which comprises garments woven from one of the most sustainable materials in the world, it has continued to go from strength to strength ever since, becoming a beloved brand of the discerning and environmentally conscious buyer and appealing to high net customers thanks to its unequivocally luxurious pieces.
So, where and how did it all begin?
With a passion for sustainability, founder Katherine Maunder created the brand based on her passion for discovering hand-crafted raw materials to create her unique designs, and her love for what she does is apparent across her beautiful range of hand-woven scarves, knitwear and even, most recently of all, face masks.
Her love for fashion had begun at a young age, and having graduated with a degree in fashion from the Manchester Metropolitan University, she embarked upon a placement with Marithé et Francois Girboud (who are famous for the stone-wash concept). It was then that she found herself truly swept up in the fast-paced world of fashion, and back in the UK, she used her experience as a springboard for some major opportunities that would lead her to design with some of the biggest high-street brands – including Ted Baker, and the Arcadia Group.
Over the fifteen years that followed, she fell in love with the idea of fabrics, pouring her creativity into designing beautiful prints for Matthew Williamson’s range for Debenhams and updating some of Ted Baker’s famous jacquard designs with a modern twist – but despite the love she continued to feel for fashion, something slowly but surely became apparent to her about the practices it took across the industry to turn around collections in a quickly and timely manner.
“I realised that designing thoughtful products with a social and environmental conscience was where my true passion lay, and that it was this, above all else, that sparked the innovator in me,” Katherine says.
It was when her mother, by chance, stumbled across the lotus material that would later come to shape Thread Tales that the seed of an idea began to form – and the rest, as they say, is history.
“My Mother is an inspirational Midwife who travels for miles through the Myanmar jungle to be able to teach Traditional Birth Assistants safer birthing practices,” Katherine explains.
“On one of her journeys, she was fortunate enough to encounter this beautiful material made from the stems of the lotus flower, and couldn’t wait to share it with me. I was, of course, intrigued – particularly by its softness and raw beauty.”
And understandably so. But how exactly did this unique and sustainably sourced material become such an important element of the Thread Tales collection?
Well, Thread Tales was founded based on this discovery, with the Lotus material becoming the brand’s signature. Since then, it’s been all about the fabric, with the brand working with some incredibly talented artisan community by the Inle Lakes, Myanmar, who weave the fabric into its designs using centuries-old skills originally developed from weaving cotton.
Today, the company prides itself on its sustainable practices, which it takes very seriously – and does all that it can to ensure that its processes are aligned with some strict criteria at every stage.
“Lotus set the bar pretty high for us right from the start, since it is arguably the most sustainable fabric on the planet,” says Katherine.
“The flowers from which it is produced grow naturally and in abundance in the Inle Lakes where we source it. The Lotus plant is grown without the use of pesticides and no chemicals are used in producing the hand-spun yarn, which is made by extracting and hand-rolling the fibres from the stems of the flower.”
Given the climate crisis we are currently in the midst of, it’s all pretty important stuff – and Katherine and her team don’t stop there. In fact, the entire process – from harvesting to hand-weaving the fabric on traditional looms – all without the use of electricity. It’s impossible not to be impressed by this clear attention to detail, and obvious passion for protecting our planet from harm.
Many fast fashion outlets, which churn out cheap, high-fashion pieces that have largely contributed to the throw-away culture of today, have been known to use toxic chemicals and dyes to colour their garments in order to improve colourfastness. Sadly, these go on to make their way into our waterways, and ultimately, the ocean, proving harmful to marine life.
Within the Thread Tales collection, however, the lotus fabric is often used naked and in its unique natural colour. In the few instances where it is dyed, it is done using eco-friendly dyes that will not pollute the environment. Free from lead, formaldehyde, mercury and chlorine – all chemicals that have been shown to be detrimental to our food chain – and that can end up in the food and water we, as humans, eat and drink. The brand’s practices aren’t just going some way towards protecting the planet – but us, too.
“Even with our eco-dying process, however, we still ensure that the water is carefully disposed of,” says Katherine.
“Natural dyes, if used in large quantities, are also not necessarily the most eco friendly choice, since at scale they require land and agricultural production in order to grow the plants from which they are extracted. They can also present issues with colour-fastness, which means the clothes don’t last as long – something which is also not sustainable. However, technology is advancing in area, and the answer perhaps lies somewhere between the two.
So, it’s not all plain sailing. But even so, it’s clear that Thread Tales are doing the very best they can to ensure sustainability across all phases of the production process.
Incredibly, lotus fabric production is zero waste, and although there are bi-products from the flower, the waste from the stem is used as a natural fertilizer and the leaves for natural dyes. The material itself is both recyclable and biodegradable – so if ever there is a garment you can buy with confidence that it is ethically and consciously produced, it’s one of Thread Tales’.
“It’s truly an amazing material to work with, and we are incredibly grateful to have come across it”, Katherine enthuses. “As well as being super sustainable, it’s raw yet soft, warm and water-resistant. And it’s really breathable too – so all in all, it’s pretty hard to beat.”
Although there is no denying that the lotus fabric is the star of the show when it comes to Thread Tales, it is not the only beautiful material to be found within its stunning product range.
The brand also works with other sustainably sourced yarns which are handwoven with their partners in Nepal – who share the same ethical values as Thread Tales. Meanwhile, its Merino wool is super-soft and ‘museling free’ – which means that the sheep from which it is sourced are not harmed by cruel farming practise used in the collection of wool.
And finally, there’s linen – yet another environmentally positive material that is sourced from naturally growing flax. A plant that grows naturally and requires less water to flourish than cotton, it’s recyclable, biodegradable, and as gentle on the land as can be and is easy to incorporate into crop rotation cycles.
Although sustainability is one of the key values of Thread Tales, it isn’t the only one. The brand also focuses heavily on giving something back.
“At Thread Tales our motto is, ‘wear something that means something’, and our customers aren’t just looking for high-quality luxury products, but the knowledge that they can purchase consciously. These days, people are more aware of what they are buying and where and how it is sourced than ever, and our range allows them to re-stock their wardrobes safe in the knowledge that we are a brand that takes ethical practices very seriously,” Katherine explains.
“Our ‘Giving Back’ campaign is part of those, and aims to make an impact not just sustainably and environmentally, but economically, too. It is based around four pillars; sourcing sustainable fabrics, giving back to the planet, supporting people sustainably and connecting communities.
“This means that as well as ensuring that our processes are as environmentally friendly as possible, we have gone further than this and by encouraging the resurrection of ancient artisanal hand-weaving techniques and skills, we have made them a viable vocation. Not only that, but through collaborations between artisans working in remote areas, we’ve also managed to help generate a sense of shared purpose and enterprise within communities and create opportunities for them that are beyond their immediate locality.”
So,what next for Thread Tales?
“Travel is a constant source of inspiration and I journey to visit the talented artisans who create fabric for Thread Tales,” says Katherine. “Although we are unable to travel to our Artisans at the moment due to the pandemic, we are proud of the relationships we have built with them and as a result of this mutual respect and all I have learnt from the artisans, we have been able to adapt to working remotely for the time being.”
“I learn from their traditional expertise and encourage them to interpret their age-old techniques and fabrics in a modern way.
“We have some exciting projects and collaborations coming up in 2021, and we can’t wait to share them with the world. For now, however, we are thrilled to announce our new range of Samsara face masks, which have been expertly and lovingly woven and stitched in Myanmar in line with the WHO’s guidelines. We’re extremely proud of this beautiful and functional collection, made from lotus and silk or a pure Mandalay silk, and are thrilled to see that our customers already seem to be loving them as much as we do.”
To find out more about Thread Tales and keep up with the brand’s latest news and launches, head to threadtalescompany.com.