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 Suzie from ford and guy, a clothing brand focused on handmade sustainable and ethical clothing, even repurposing their own remnants for other projects.
Tell me about yourself and the work that you do.Hi! My name is Suzie Ford and I run ford & guy. I make clothing and products from sustainable and ethically-made fabrics, including certified organic cotton, OEKO-TEX 100 certified bamboo and some certified Fair-Trade fabrics. We are also currently designing a linen collection.
Each piece that we design is unique and makes a statement but at the same time is comfortable and easy to wear. We care about making items that will last a long time and can be integrated easily into a pre-existing wardrobe.
How or why did you get started?
I absolutely love dressmaking and any sort of craft, really. I started to play around with dressmaking as a young girl and continued to teach myself to sew and draft patterns from books and lots of trial-and-error. During my teenage years, I worked in a fabric warehouse, where I got to learn about different fabrics.
My career so far has actually been in scientific research. I completed a PhD at the University of Oxford and have undertaken research across Australia, America and the UK. Out of this, I have become more aware about how we can care for our environment and the people in it.
I started ford & guy in March, 2020. I am now enjoying combining my passion for dressmaking and design with my research and analytical skills to increase access to, and choice in, responsible products. I use my research skills to ensure that we are not just 'greenwashing' but do what we set out to achieve with sustainable and ethical fashion.
What are your favourite things about the materials that you work with?
I adore how absorbing dressmaking is; transforming meters of flat fabric into a piece of construction with function, comfort and aesthetic is awesome! Our clothes often dictate our mood and I love the opportunity to improve my mood with every design. From designing to finishing a product, I think ‘how am I going to feel in this?’.
I also love the quality of the fabrics that I work with. From our soft and fluffy fleece to our bamboo jersey with liquid-like drape, they are a joy to work with.
What is the most challenging thing about the materials that you work with?
Sourcing fabrics that adhere to our values and have the colour, drape and structure that I have in mind for each design is one of the more challenging tasks. I believe that it is important to use fabrics that are made from sustainable materials as much as possible, whilst knowing that they are ethically made. This then limits what fabrics are available to me (which just goes to show how much of what is out there is either unsustainable or of ‘unknown’ origin).
For example, I may find an absolutely stunning fabric that is perfect for a particular design. However, when I call the supplier to inquire about where the fabric is from, they cannot give me any information. Some suppliers may be unwilling to share this information, whilst others actually just don’t know. It is important to consider this issue, since unknown supply chains can hide modern-day slavery, dangerous working conditions and unsustainable processes. A great resource to find out more about this is the FashionRevolution.org
It is not all doom and gloom, however. I have been able to source the most beautiful fabrics that are responsible and I have enjoyed the challenge of designing around what is available. I am also continually finding more fabrics as my journey and research go further. Moreover, there is a movement towards more sustainable fabrics and transparent supply chains and so choice in fabric is likely to increase. With our continued support of this movement, such fabrics will hopefully replace the manufacturing of unsustainable fabrics.
Where can we find you on the internet/buy your work?
Photographs by @fordandguy