At Lucy & Yak we are committed to making a positive difference to people and our planet. The fashion industry doesn't need to leave a trail of destruction behind it; we want to be a force for good. We are all about eco-friendly, sustainable, ethical fashion. This is our story about the next steps for us - our 'Made in Britain' range launching later next week!
You'd have thought a label that says “Made in Britain” would be something to shout about, right? Local production, contributing to the local economy, employment opportunities and properly regulated working conditions? This is how we want it to be. But it isn't always so and it's worth doing some research if a product is labeled as “Made in Britain”. Here's the Lucy and Yak “Made in Britain” journey.
Earlier this year, there was a report in the news that got us thinking. This one is close to home and we felt there is something we can do about it. There are people working in clothing factories in Leicester who are being paid as little as £3.50 an hour. Instead of being paid the minimum wage for the UK, workers are being paid the minimum wage for the country of their origin. One worker was offered £30 a week. Not only that, but conditions in the factory were completely unacceptable, with workers reporting verbal abuse and employers insisting on paying cash in hand. The problem was actually first reported in 2015 but it's still going on.
In fact, HMRC reported that 24 factories in the UK are failing to pay the minimum wage to workers. That's hundreds of workers in the UK in just the textile industry.
There are currently 3.7million children living in absolute poverty in the UK. 3700000. And the majority of those children are living in families where the adults are working. That tells you something really important. There are loads of people who are not being paid a living wage. As of April 2019, the minimum wage is £8.21 per hour. But the living wage – the amount of money you need to be able to cover all your basic costs is between £9 and £10.55 per hour depending on where you live in the UK. The minimum wage is not enough. It's pretty simple. Read more here.
Back to our roots
As many of you know, Lucy and Yak started life in Barnsley, Yorkshire (Lucy's home town) and we have our warehouse there. Well, now we are starting production at home too! Leicester is just down the road from us, and we realised that as we look at releasing a new and very exciting line of clothing we wanted to build something in the UK. Yorkshire has an incredibly rich history in terms of skilled tailors and seamstresses. M&S used to have a factory here as did other big companies but they have moved abroad in the last couple of decades. Many of the seamstresses who worked there did so because they love making and are very highly skilled. Although many went on to find other types of work, there's a heart in Yorkshire that loves doing what these professionals do best: making gorgeous garments.
There are lots of great things about producing inside the UK. It cuts down some of the transport costs, we can source locally produced materials and work with some highly talented tailors in order to offer some fantastic products that we really love. Products that are made ethically, sustainably and responsibly. Now that seems like something to shout about! This does come with a slightly higher price tag, but I am sure you guys can see the value in this. Garments can take hours to create, and to pay someone over £9 per hour will of course mean that the garment has to be priced higher, but that doesn't mean we want to make it un-affordable. The way we see it is that our 'Made in Britain' collection will be a small one, and we don't expect that you guys will buy every piece that we launch, make it that special piece that you buy this year. Look after it and it will last you for years. However saying that we are still trying to keep the price as low as we can, our first product will be our White Hemp corduroy Originals for £78.
Introducing our wonderful seamstresses
Say hey to Amanda and Carol, the newest members of the Lucy and Yak tribe! If you ask #whomademyclothes? here's your answer for our Made in Britain collection. Both Amanda and Carol are highly skilled and experienced. Amanda has previously worked with Next and Burberry, and Carol worked making uniforms. As with so many, that work moved abroad so we have snapped Carol up! What a privilege to work with these talented people! And you can be completely sure that we will be paying them a fair, living wage in working conditions in which we would like to work too.
If you want to read about who else made your clothes check this out.
Lucy and Yak's Made in Britain Collection
So what are Carol and Amanda going to be making? It's what a lot of you have been waiting for: hemp dungarees! We are so excited about this! We've worked hard to find the perfect mix of organic hemp (55%) and organic cotton (45%) to make a fabric that's hard wearing and also soft enough to wear next to the skin. The thing with hemp is that it's really robust and should last for ages, but it can feel a bit rough and tough, to begin with. We've combined it with some gorgeously soft organic cotton so that we get the best of both worlds – soft and hard wearing; garments that should soften as they are worn and washed and keep going and going. The kind of clothes you can turn cartwheels in, roll down hills, bounce on a trampoline and snuggle up with a book. To read more about our organic cotton and how our other fabrics are made click here.
Oh and did you hear about our fab bucket hats and bags? We're making them out of recycled fabrics and scraps as part of our zero waste strategy. They'll be coming out soon – keep an eye on New In. We believe in super funky products that are sustainable and eco-friendly so the hats and bags fit right into that! This is where to look for our zero waste range.
What's so great about hemp?
Hemp is one of the most eco-friendly materials out there. It grows really easily without the need for pesticides and in several different climates. The process of making hemp into fabric is relatively straight forward and doesn't have to involve nasty chemicals. And the fabric made from hemp has a fabulous texture and look.
There's lots of information about it here.
It really is such a great material and we really hope you'll love our new hemp dungarees as much as we do!
Lucy and Yak Made in Britain is our next big adventure! Come along for the ride and be part of this exciting journey!
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