It’s not everyday that I come across an ethically responsible fashion line that I actually like. Who has? Even Emma Watson’s foray into eco-friendly fashion failed – her line for Alberta Ferretti was a total flop and the numbers spoke for themselves. The common problem with eco lines is that their just not fashion enough, not nailing the trend like all of the high street brands that exploit impoverished countries and child labour. New label The Wolves hasn’t missed a trick though. The brand specialises in ethically responsible womenswear, and the first collection consists of a small range of versatile scarves. Each piece is individually hand made and dyed, combining a unique offering with the current booming trend of tie dye. So let’s meet the ladies behind the label…
The Wolves: Nico (left) & Chanti (right)
Good friends Nico Williams and Chanti Clark are the brains behind the brand, and each come from entirely different backgrounds in fashion and design. Nico studied Make-Up at the London College of Fashion, and now works for a supplier of luxury lingerie. Chanti did Illustration at Camberwell, interned with the creative design team at Topshop and is now a freelance Illustrator. I caught up with Chanti to get the inside info.
1. Where did the idea for The Wolves come from?
The idea of The Wolves came from a bit of a frustration with the current affordable fashion market. We love fashion and following the catwalks, but we hate the idea of throw away trends and fast fashion for two reasons; one being that we can’t afford it; and the other being that the planet can’t afford it. To get great quality, classic pieces that you will wear again and again means spending big money, and as most graduates know in the current economical climate, money is not easy to come by!
We wanted to embrace the idea of bringing everything back to basics; collecting fewer hand made garments that will take you through the seasons, working with different looks and different occasions, rather than a wardrobe full of junk you will wear once and never look at again. It’s about versatility and creativity.
2. How and why did you decide to get involved with BBC’s Children In Need and Be Your Own Boss?
We got involved with Children in Need through Be Your Own Boss. The Wolves is an idea that we’d been talking about for quite some time, but finding funds and the right people to work with is quite a task. We heard about a new BBC3 programme that Richard Reed was starting on Radio 1 and jumped at the chance to work with him. His company Innocent Smoothies has a very similar brand ethos to us, and it seemed like a logical move. The programme aims to help start-up companies get funding, and potentially work towards a big investment. We applied and had a phone interview, and have now been selected from thousands of applicants to take part in Round One, which is a huge compliment in itself. This is where Children in Need comes in.
We’ve been given just three weeks, and a very limited and strict budget, to generate as much profit for the charity as possible. We’ve design and made a collection of scarves, and the idea is that everyone sends us their photos of the way they have styled them. The end result will be a huge online mood board, showing the nation how a simple scarf can be so versatile, and hopefully encouraging a creative look at our own wardrobes. On top of that 100% of the profits go to an amazing cause, and hopefully win our place in Round Two, and one step closer to Richard’s £1million investment!
3. How important is it for a fashion brand to be ethically responsible, in your opinion?
We believe it is important for companies to be ethically responsible due to the fact that no one has the excuse to be naive about it anymore. With Fair Trade, Organic, and Free Range food goods available everywhere, it seems about time that fashion followed suit. Yes, times are tough, but it’s exactly at these sorts of times where people should be thinking a little more carefully about how they spend their money. It’s about wasting less and buying sensibly, and it shouldn’t mean your style has to suffer for it.
In the short time that The Wolves has been running, we have realised how hard it is for companies to embrace a similar attitude… the simple fact is that there aren’t enough suppliers of ethical fabrics and so on. But the bigger the demand becomes for such suppliers, the easier it’s going to get. There is an ethically conscious fashion market, and being able to supply this market with what it wants shouldn’t be this hard!
Ethics is a touchy subject, as it means different things to different people. We just aim to get a little bit better with each season, and hope that our collection is doing a little bit more than making people look great.
4. Currently you produce hand-dyed scarves – will the collection be expanding to include other products?
Although we are only producing scarves at the moment, we are in the process of designing and creating our debut ‘Day Of The Dead’ Collection, due for release in October. The collection consists of womenswear and lingerie, and aims to create updated and unique versions of your everyday staples. We’ve taken on ‘The Day Of The Dead’ in Mexico as a general theme, as we’ve been inspired by the vibrancy of the festival. I can’t really reveal too much at this stage, but we’re really excited about the designs we’ve seen so far!!
5. Finally, what are your goals for the brand?
Our main focus at the moment is obviously to raise as much money as we can for Children In Need. We have a personal goal of £1500 and we’re about halfway there so far, and we’ve only got 9 days left to go!!
The next goals will be to have a successful release and establish ourselves as a credible fashion retailer. We also hope to become a platform for young designers and graduates, working closely on special collections and visual projects with the next generation of creative talent!
All scarves can be purchased HERE!