Innovation That Matters

The company aims to change how clothes are made, from factories, to pay, to the clothes themselves | Photo source Tom Bunning

Social clothing enterprise keeps factory jobs local

Fashion & Beauty

With Community Clothing, Patrick Grant is trying to change how clothes are made from the bottom up

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Spotted: A social enterprise created to change how we think about and consume clothes, Community Clothing produces both quality and affordable clothes whilst creating jobs and helping restore economic prosperity in some of the UK’s most deprived areas.

Most of the clothing industry is owned by people who are far removed from the processes and people involved, alienating the manufacturer from the consumer. Community Clothing hopes to change this.

The brand is part of an industrial revolution led by Scottish fashion designer Patrick Grant, best known for his role as a judge on the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee. He also owns E Tautz, a high-fashion menswear brand, and Norton & Sons, a Savile Row tailor. Grant aims to change how clothes are made, from factories, to pay, to the clothes themselves — with a little help from artificial intelligence.

“People don’t like what they’re buying. They don’t like the fact that they know their stuff is made in awful conditions,” Grant said. “It doesn’t make people feel happy. We’re supposed to feel happy about fashion!” 

Classified as “seasonless basics”, Community Clothing sells simple, trend-free, affordable clothing made near where it will be consumed, by people who are paid fairly in modern factories, one of which Grant himself owns in Blackburn. His vision is to create and sustain quality jobs in towns that were once alive with clothing-manufacturing activity, and to restore civic pride in communities and consumers.

Each of the roughly 50 products making up the line is designed to last for years. The idea behind seasonless basics is to maintain a steady, ongoing demand. Instead of spending time and money on designing and producing new garments to chase ever-evolving fashion trends, money is invested in the materials and labour themselves. This allows to keep the supply chain short and transparent: a jumper will be spun in Portugal, knitted in Leicester, cut, stitched and sewn in Blackburn and distributed from Chorley.

“The objective here is to help rebuild an industry—parts of it, at least. I think the potential is there for it to be considerably more significant than just a UK idea. It has grown pretty quickly from a tiny thing to a slightly less tiny thing, but it still has a long way to go. So, fingers crossed” said Grant.

Thanks to the brand’s recently-launched eCommerce site, Community Clothing is now also available in the U.S. for the first time.

Written By: Katrina Lane

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