For the series Good Folk on this blog I have sent interview questions to some really wonderful people who are either making things, running shops, or generally promoting sustainability. I think you will enjoy reading their answers as much as I have, and I hope they inspire us all with the knowledge that there are people doing good in the world!
This interview is with Scarlett from Afrayed Upcycling. With a focus on sustainable slow fashion, she makes upcycled patchwork garments. Offering ready to ship and made to order, her clothes are handmade in sizes XS-2XL. Here she tells us about her journey, materials and the problems with greenwashing.
Tell me about yourself and the work that you do.
My name is Scarlett and I create upcycled patchwork garments made entirely from secondhand clothing and fabrics.
All items are made-to-order and you get to choose the fabrics or supply your own to make it as individual as you are!
How or why did you get started?
I love fashion, but like many, was shocked to find out how much textile went into landfill each year! I always knew that I wanted to start a business and after me and my partner had to come home after 5 months in South East Asia due to the global pandemic, I thought maybe it was the perfect time to get the ball rolling.
What is your favourite thing about the materials that you work with?
The variety! Although I have an idea of what prints and colours I look for when shopping, I come home with all sorts. Unfortunately, there are many clothes that are very un-wearable (due to damage, poor fibre quality) therefore by re-using these and mixing them with other clothes, you are able to create something wearable again - they are reborn!
How/has working sustainably impacted your non-business life?
In all ways! Name any eco product and I most likely will have it haha! I try to educate others, particulalry fast fashion's impact on the environment.
What are you most proud of?
How proactive I have been!
What are your plans for the future?
The future is looking bright! I'm in contact with a recycling centre in the area to see if there's a way I can collect unwanted textiles rather than going to shops-hopefully this will cut out the middle man. I'm currently working on more patchwork styles.
Can you recommend any other makers or businesses that work in an ethical or sustainable way?
There's loads! I would recommend signing up to the sustainable fashion facebook group as loads of businesses post on there.
Have you got a particular cause or issue that you would like to raise awareness of?
Greenwashing. Be aware that because sustainable living is becoming trendy, big brands are jumping on claiming their items are sustainable and ethical just because they know people will buy it. H&M are a perfect example. They have released an advert promoting their eco range which sounds great, however they give no details to back this up, and will not publish their supply chain. It takes a little research to find which brands are good, and which are not.
What is the most challenging thing about the materials that you work with?
Because they are second hand, if I see a printed garment I LOVE, I find it very hard to let it go because it's not like I can get more of the same garment!
Take me on an imaginary tour of your workspace.
It's a mess! I have recently moved into my partner's family house in Liverpool therefore I am working from a foldable desk until we can get our own flat. So it's very small and unorganised...but I have massive plans for my future studio!
Do you have a motto or quote that defines your practice?
'It is estimated that £140 million worth of clothing goes to landfill each year' - wrap.org
Do you have any advice for people trying to shop more ethically?
Start small! You don't need to get rid of everything and only buy ethically. Just look at what you have and start from there. Buy items that will last.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Currently it is getting up, eating breakfast with my boyfriend and then sewing, filming and going for a walk. I start a full-time job next week, therefore my days will be very different!
What’s your favourite thing to do with your free time and why?
Walking. I honestly can walk for miles and not get bored.
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Don't go to fashion university. Spend the time and money in investing in other ways to build a business. Travel earlier to prevent COVID from sending you home haha!
What would be the top thing that you would change about the way we treat the planet if you could?
I would want greed to be banished! Many problems have been a result of greed (more money, more stuff) which the planet and minorities have suffered from badly.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
It takes all of us to make small changes, not a few making big changes.
Where can we find you on the internet/buy your work?
Follow Afrayed Upcycling on Instagram here.
Photographs by @afrayedupcycling