Fashion Talk
Esther Knight

Esther Knight

Designer
Label - Fanfare

We have a 360-degree approach to sustainability

Fanfare Label is a UK-based circular clothing brand changing the way people buy, wear and consume clothing. The award-winning clothing brand was launched in 2018 by Esther Knight. In an interview with Kiran Sahija, the designer talks about her brand, its aesthetics, and the sustainable practice approached by the brand.

Fibre2Fashion: What drew you to the fashion industry and inspired you to launch your own brand?

Esther Knight:

I have worked in the fashion industry for over 10 years now within buying, working for many high street and designer brands including Vivienne Westwood. As a buyer, you are responsible for everything in a production line; you take the entire process from sketch to store. Therefore, if there is an unethical part of the supply chain, buyers’ impact it directly. Buyers are trained to hit margin targets no matter what the cost is to people, or the environment, and I was witnessing first-hand all the unethical behaviour from the industry. It has become a race to the bottom on cost, resulting in corner cutting and we are seeing globally vulnerable people and children in slavery situations. But fashion doesn’t have to be this way. I realised I couldn’t be part of this industry in the same way anymore. Rather than leaving it, I decided to create a business that tackled this issue head on. That’s when Fanfare Label was born.

Fibre2Fashion: How would you describe your collection’s aesthetics?

Esther Knight:

With a unique appreciation for craft, quality and a focus on environmental responsibility, Fanfare Label encourages considered design – sharing our knowledge of the environment, social community development, and the celebration of nature to educate responsible shopping behaviour.

Fibre2Fashion: Could you please elaborate on the fashion culture and highlights in the United Kingdom?

Esther Knight:

As a buyer, you are the one that’s selecting fabrics and the one picking the suppliers. You’re the one that is contributing to the sustainability aspects – or lack thereof – in a product. So, if there’s an unethical part of the supply chain, you tend to know about it.

When the Rana Plaza disaster happened, it really hit a nerve because in our own factories we had been pushing for orders to be completed in time and were penalising suppliers who couldn’t meet deadlines. So, that was a huge awakening. It changed my outlook on the whole fashion supply chain. I asked, why are we just thinking about profit margins and not considering the well-being and happiness of the people who are making our clothes and the well-being of the planet we all share? That really led me to start looking into sustainability.

Fibre2Fashion: Could you please take us through the design process for your recycled denim collection, as well as your entire collection?

Esther Knight:

The exorbitant amount of waste generated in the fashion industry inspired me to represent the circular economy standard; Fanfare Label is a representative of what fashion could and should look like.

Fanfare reduces waste by turning clothing and textile waste into premium products. It allows us to be more innovative with our collections and intelligently reuse existing materials.

Each pair of our recycled jeans saves 9,500 litres of water, 34kg of CO2—the amount emitted during production of one pair, similar to taking a car and driving for 111 km. It also means 1 kg waste saved from UK landfill. Further, production of each pair of recycled jeans supports 1.5 days of fair working conditions and pay.

Fibre2Fashion: Sustainable ensembles come with a price. Your take on it?

Esther Knight:

Yes, it does. It is because in order to produce a sustainable garment so much more has to be considered in the process. We have a 360-degree approach to sustainability which means every aspect of the supply chain and how we run our business has to be considered. That is why I like the phrase ‘Slow Fashion’ – the idea of slowing down and considering everything, every part of the supply chain in order to achieve responsible business practices. This obviously takes huge amounts of time, people, and other resources, which come at a cost. Additionally, it has to be ensured that planet and people are protected, and workers are fairly paid. Naturally, this all results in a garment being more expensive.

However, we have lost sight of how much a clothing should cost. Many people do not realise the huge number of processes a garment has to go through to end up on the shop floor. We are not paying the right amount for our clothing and fast fashion is the result of this.

Fibre2Fashion: What sustainable practices are approached by your brand and how do you select the materials you use?

Esther Knight:

We use our clothing to educate and encourage a change in mindset towards fashion, promoting a sustainable approach to our customers, inspiring a mentality of ‘buy to last’ and to not regard any fashion piece as disposable.

We start our design process by considering the end of life of garments and are passionate about reducing wastage caused by the wider fashion industry.

Sustainability is rooted into Fanfare’s operations through our circular business model. By using the latest innovative sustainable fabrics Fanfare is able to map out its supply chain and align operations with the UN Sustainable Development Goals protecting both people and the environment. Collections are made from sustainable certified materials such as OEKO-TEX and GOTS chemical free organic cottons, ethical linens and recycled textiles.

Each garment is crafted with purpose in the UK. Instead of shipping from far away, we make everything locally, avoiding unnecessary air miles and poor working conditions.

Fibre2Fashion: With so many sustainable brands coming into the picture, how do you ensure your label stands out?

Esther Knight:

Fanfare Label combines bold and contemporary designs with repurposed and reused materials, designed to create a wardrobe of sustainable clothing that is made to last. The uniqueness of the garments is in their recycled nature, combining new and old to create a piece that has a lasting impact.

Our jeans are made to be made again and from safe and recycled inputs. We design and produce clothing that lasts longer, focusing on durability, material health, recyclability, and traceability.

Fibre2Fashion: What will be the biggest fashion trends that can have the highest influence over fashion enthusiasts?

Esther Knight:

Currently, the biggest influence is the social media which builds pressure to constantly update your wardrobe. Such challenges are set to increase as clothing consumption globally is projected to rise by 63 per cent by 2030. Second is the circular business models which shift the perception away from throwing clothes away. Third is educating consumers on avoiding short-lived pieces, and investing in durable, sustainable products that are seasonless. This will lead to our customers buying fewer, better-quality pieces, and therefore protecting the planet.

Fibre2Fashion: According to you, what should be considered when purchasing clothing?

Esther Knight:

From a consumer point of view, the main priority is education and understanding that spending a little more money on a piece of clothing increases its longevity and value. In turn, we should remember to buy to last and our affection for what we buy stands the test of time. Finally, it is important to be conscious of the harmful impacts of the fashion industry without encouraging guilt.

According to you, what should be considered when purchasing clothing?

Published on: 15/06/2022
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