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Brand Transparency, Ethics and Sizing

Original Blogpost from July 2020 - Updated for 2021.

Hello everyone!

Certain developments within the ‘fast fashion’ industry over the past few weeks have been shocking. From brands not paying their overseas workers, to others not even paying the minimum wage to their UK workforce. That’s why we though it was time to break down our production to be completely transparent and why we market ourselves as an ethical brand.

Manufacturing   We currently have our limited edition collections made in two countries. We make a few things in our Manchester-based studio from offcuts such as accessories along with made to measure and made to order garments. We also produce our silk and scarves in the UK. The rest of our pieces are produced in an ethical and environmentally friendly factory in India.  Our manufacturers in India are SEDEX Compliant, meaning they source responsibly, protect people working in the whole supply chain, they are mindful of ethical creation and sustainability of products. They also use FSC certified viscose for our products along with organic cotton. They follow all EU restrictions with fabrics, trims and dyes. Their workers have restricted maximum working hours, are paid above the living wage and have never used child labour.

Manufacturing

We currently have our limited edition collections made in two countries. We make a few things in our Manchester-based studio from offcuts such as accessories along with made to measure and made to order garments. We also produce our silk and scarves in the UK. The rest of our pieces are produced in an ethical and environmentally friendly factory in India.

Our manufacturers in India are SEDEX Compliant, meaning they source responsibly, protect people working in the whole supply chain, they are mindful of ethical creation and sustainability of products. They also use FSC certified viscose for our products along with organic cotton. They follow all EU restrictions with fabrics, trims and dyes. Their workers have restricted maximum working hours, are paid above the living wage and have never used child labour.

Brand Ethics    We make very limited quantities of each style. This is so that we do not flood the fashion market which overproduced pieces, which with many cases of ‘fast fashion’ end up in landfill. This is why we are trying to push pre-order more and more. It means we know we are ordering the right amount each season without feeling wasteful. It also means each piece is much more unique and special as we can spend more time and funds on small, but well designed and thought out, collections.   From 2020 we phased polyester out from our collections. We are producing our collections from ethically sourced materials including organic cotton. We know that cotton presents its own problems but we also feel that it is a much better alternative to polyester which requires more than double the energy of cotton to produce. The production of polyester uses harmful chemicals, including carcinogens, and if emitted to water and air untreated, can cause significant environmental damage. We also prefer the feel of cotton, and is in keeping with our ‘vintage’ inspired designs.   We try and only work with bloggers and influencers who we feel embody the same ethics as ourselves as we think this is important as part of our push against ‘fast fashion.’

Brand Ethics

We make very limited quantities of each style. This is so that we do not flood the fashion market which overproduced pieces, which with many cases of ‘fast fashion’ end up in landfill. This is why we are trying to push pre-order more and more. It means we know we are ordering the right amount each season without feeling wasteful. It also means each piece is much more unique and special as we can spend more time and funds on small, but well designed and thought out, collections.

From 2020 we phased polyester out from our collections. We are producing our collections from ethically sourced materials including organic cotton. We know that cotton presents its own problems but we also feel that it is a much better alternative to polyester which requires more than double the energy of cotton to produce. The production of polyester uses harmful chemicals, including carcinogens, and if emitted to water and air untreated, can cause significant environmental damage. We also prefer the feel of cotton, and is in keeping with our ‘vintage’ inspired designs.

We try and only work with bloggers and influencers who we feel embody the same ethics as ourselves as we think this is important as part of our push against ‘fast fashion.’

Sizing Changes   Our sizing is changing for the better. We have finalised our next seasons collection ‘In Possession of a Good Fortune’ which we are excited to launch and samples are starting to be produced. This collection will have a wider size range than any of our other collections.   The Bloomsbury Collection was our first collection where we expanded our sizes - originally our other collections were only ever one-off sample pieces or we would make a maximum of 3 or 4 pieces, whatever we could afford. Unfortunately being a small brand does come with it’s limitations, we cannot compete with the big brands and to be honest we didn’t think there would be an expectation for us to compete with them. We can only grow so fast with a small budget, it is just myself and Hattie working alone at OA with other jobs on the side to help us fund this dream, we do not have an excessive budget where we can spend thousands on grading of patterns. We also want to try and keep OA as affordable as possible for everyone as we don’t want to be completely out of reach.  For our SS21 collection we are continuing our sizes up to a UK22 as we know we have to work harder to be much more inclusive. This is one of the reasons we also like to put out pre-orders as it means we can take on board how many of each size we should be ordering.   We really hope that this meets everyones expectations and that we can make a lot more people happy!  We also hope that this has given you an honest insight into the running of OA, we appreciate all questions and constructive feedback. It has been a very steep learning curve since OA was founded by myself nearly 3 years ago now, but we hope to improve so we can be around for much longer.   Olivia x

Sizing Changes

Our sizing is changing for the better. We have finalised our next seasons collection ‘In Possession of a Good Fortune’ which we are excited to launch and samples are starting to be produced. This collection will have a wider size range than any of our other collections.

The Bloomsbury Collection was our first collection where we expanded our sizes - originally our other collections were only ever one-off sample pieces or we would make a maximum of 3 or 4 pieces, whatever we could afford. Unfortunately being a small brand does come with it’s limitations, we cannot compete with the big brands and to be honest we didn’t think there would be an expectation for us to compete with them. We can only grow so fast with a small budget, it is just myself and Hattie working alone at OA with other jobs on the side to help us fund this dream, we do not have an excessive budget where we can spend thousands on grading of patterns. We also want to try and keep OA as affordable as possible for everyone as we don’t want to be completely out of reach.

For our SS21 collection we are continuing our sizes up to a UK22 as we know we have to work harder to be much more inclusive. This is one of the reasons we also like to put out pre-orders as it means we can take on board how many of each size we should be ordering.

We really hope that this meets everyones expectations and that we can make a lot more people happy!

We also hope that this has given you an honest insight into the running of OA, we appreciate all questions and constructive feedback. It has been a very steep learning curve since OA was founded by myself nearly 3 years ago now, but we hope to improve so we can be around for much longer.

Olivia x