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AN INTERVIEW WITH RACHEL KELLY OF THOUGHT

TWENTY6 MAGAZINE , ISSUE N , RACHEL KELLY , THOUGHT , SUSTAINABLE FASHION , THE

Wear me, love me, mend me, pass me on” is the mantra that informs Thought, where thoughtful fashion goes beyond the supply chain and into the everyday lives and decisions of the customers, who become partners in Rachel and John’s sustainable journey.
Living a sustainable life is no easy feat, and more often than not can be intimidating to the average consumer. The messages are often conflicting, and can sometimes be an overload of guilt-marketing and black-and-white environmental ethics. At Thought, they are committed to reframing the conversation around sustainability, through a message that is both inclusive and open. Considered design, sustainable fabrics, conscious supply, and good partnerships make Thought as close to 100% sustainable as can be — a rare and beautiful feat indeed. 
Alongside this, what makes Thought truly unique is their genuine understanding that consumers have different perceptions regarding sustainability. According to Rachel, living a sustainable life doesn’t mean changing every aspect of your life, and that every small decision makes a difference. Life is already complicated enough as it is, and thoughtful consumerism goes beyond knowing where your clothes come from, but also making them last. 

 
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background, what inspired the creation of Thought? 
My husband and I run our business together. We’re both from Australia but have happily lived in London now for about sixteen years. We met in the industry back home. John was already leading the way and making Hemp shirts in Australia, while I was a junior buyer. I met him when he was selling to the business that I worked for. John decided to come and try his luck selling sustainable clothing in the UK and I happened to be travelling at the same time. When I had run out of money and made my way back to London, I began working for John in his first shop in Portobello. It was so much fun! We had so much energy and passion to grow the business and we slowly started to find our feet in this huge city, as we slowly developed our business. God we worked so hard, but we loved it! It was a real passion and doing it together was great.
 
Thoughtful Fashion and thoughtful consumerism is such a wonderful springboard for a fashion brand. Could you tell us more about the ethos that inspires Thought? 
Sustainable and ethical fashion can be a minefield of conflicting messages and values; and we wanted to try and reframe that conversation in a way that felt inclusive and open. We think it’s really important to bring people along on the journey; and help them make choices that feel comfortable and fit in with their lives. People have different belief frameworks in their lives. Whether that is only buying vegan clothes, recycling in their home, buying organic produce, or only wanting to wear natural fibres — and hey, every little thing can make a difference! 
We wanted to have something that we felt represented the huge array of small steps you can take to make changes in your world. We think that thoughtful consumerism can help people with their choices, because modern life is busy and complicated. We get thrown loads of different information, and everyone is running at a million miles an hour — we get that. We don’t want to add to making you feel bad, we want to make you feel great! With both the clothes that we design and how we commit to making them.

TWENTY6 MAGAZINE , ISSUE N , RACHEL KELLY , THOUGHT , SUSTAINABLE FASHION , THE

Thought is proud to be 100% sustainable, and that is no easy feat. In what ways does Thought reduce its environmental footprint? 
We think it’s a journey that we’re on and it’s constantly evolving. We try and look at each step of the lifecycle of creating a garment up until we deliver that garment to our customer. So whether that is how we use paper in our office, to how we ship our goods, to what fabrics we use in our collection, to what styles we design — we are looking to do it in a thoughtful way. Minimising our footprint, being thoughtful of how we produce our clothing, and designing long lasting slow fashion styles that our customers will love and cherish for years to come — all form the foundations of how we want to do business. 
 
We love Thought’s Force of Nature Fabrics - tell us a little bit about the wonderful natural, organic, and recycled fabrics that make up your collections
Oh where do I start? Working with our fabrics is one of the joys of my job! We’re always on the lookout for new amazing fabrics that we can add into our collection. They need to feel amazing on your skin, wash and wear beautifully, and of course tick the box of being a thoughtful fabric. When we first started out, we had only a handful of fabrics that we could work with. But now that the industry has evolved over the last 16 years, the technology for sustainable fabrics has just developed so much — it’s so exciting! 
We have a broad focus of yarns that we work with here at Thought, from soft and supple organic cotton that works up beautifully in tee’s and tops, amazing 100% Hemp (our version of linen) that we use throughout our summer ranges, to amazing recycled polyester (keen on wearing re-purposed plastic bottles anyone?) that can be made into so many different textures and yarns, to the sustainable world’s hero Tencel that houses our gorgeous printed dresses — honestly ladies you have to check them out.
 
Fashion production is often a wasteful process, but Thought advocates Conscious supply. Aside from sourcing natural fabrics, in what other ways does your production process support sustainability? 
Look there is no hiding here, fashion production is an in-depth, highly detailed process.The journey that we’re on here is to be as open as possible with our customers about the process that each fabric undertakes in order to be finished into a garment. We want our customers to be informed and then make purchasing decisions that fit into how they wish to consume. 
We make sure we work with factories that fit our production criteria and who we have long term relationships with. I think that is really key actually, it’s certainly been one of the smartest things that we have done. Really investing deeply into your relationship with your supply partners, being committed to each other through the good and the bad. (because that will always come) Helping each other through the different phases of your journey, skill development, capacity development, opening up good communication lines — it all takes time, patience, commitment and trust. 

TWENTY6 MAGAZINE , ISSUE N , RACHEL KELLY , THOUGHT , SUSTAINABLE FASHION , THE

Today, sustainability is more important than ever, with fashion brands becoming more and more concerned about their carbon footprint. What role does the fashion industry play in the effort to minimise our environmental impact as a species?
The fashion industry has such a great opportunity to spread the message of how we can consume in a more meaningful, thoughtful way. Fashion touches people’s lives every day;  and we as an industry can take that interaction and evolve the way that people think about how they consume. We need to take people on the journey with us, make beautiful clothes,  and show people that sustainability can be gorgeous, interesting, fun, and open — not oppressive.
 
As consumers, how can we make a difference in protecting the future of our planet? 
For us it’s about our customer being a partner with us on our sustainable journey. We have a mantra here at Thought that links up our thinking. 

Wear me, love me, mend me, pass me on”

It’s opening up the conversation around the fact that, what happens to your clothes after you wear them is just as important as how you choose to buy them, and then showing customers the small steps you can take to make a difference. So only buy things that you love, that you’ll cherish and love wearing. Try to make your clothes last a long time, mend them, get creative with them when you’re bored with them. Dye them, cut them up, and finally pass the clothes on when you’re sure you’re done. Do a clothes swap with friends, or donate them to charity? These are all really simple, small steps that make a big difference to the footprint of your wardrobe. We love our mantra and have found that customers love being involved in how they can make a difference too.

THOUGHT

Interview by Hannah Tan-Gillies


Portraits by Curtis Gibson