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5 Minutes with... Fanfare Label
Photographs by Becky Elliott
Contemporary crafted clothing meets social justice, Fanfare believes that sustainable fashion should not just be for the elite. Fanfare is a conscious clothing brand that produces unique, designer pieces that are fashion forward.
For too long businesses have built supply chains to drive financial profits at the expense of people and the environment. Sustainability is rooted into Fanfare’s operations through their circular business model. By using the latest innovative sustainable fabrics Fanfare is able to map out its supply chain and align operations with the UN Sustainable Development Goals protecting both people and the environment.
The new hero collection from Fanfare combines bold and contemporary designs with repurposed and reused materials, designed to create a wardrobe of sustainable clothing made to last. Opting for a seasonless collection as opposed to trend-led ranges, Fanfare reduces the amount of pressure on the supply chain, allowing for high-quality designs that do not cut corners in order to meet deadlines. Each garment is crafted with purpose in the UK. We sat down with founder Esther to find out more about her brand.
How did Fanfare begin?
I first had the idea for Fanfare while I was working as a high street buyer for a fast fashion brand. Buyers in these roles are responsible for the whole production line: your job is taking everything from sketch to store. You’re the one that's selecting fabrics and the one picking the suppliers and you’re the one that is contributing to the sustainability - or the lack of sustainability - of the product. I saw this huge industry-wide problem very early on in my days working as a buyer and I just couldn't ignore it, so I decided to make a change.
At the time I found that there wasn't a single business (we’re talking about 7 years ago now) that was doing all of the things that I wanted to do - being fair to people and the environment but at a more affordable price range than the likes of Stella McCartney. I wanted to create that middle ground offering affordable and cutting-edge contemporary fashion without compromising on ethics. I moved to Vivienne Westwood to continue learning about sustainable fashion alternatives and it’s during my time there that the idea for Fanfare was born, and the brand today feels like a culmination of everything I’ve been working towards for the last 10 years.
In 2018 I launched Fanfare, and after a successful first year of trading we became part of the Resurgo Ventures Accelerator program as one of their Social Impact Businesses. Fanfare has just undergone a relaunch with new branding and a new collection, and I’m excited to see where we’ll be in a year's time.
Have you always been interested in fashion?
I’ve always had a passion for clothes. From a young age I used to sew and create garments – my mum and I made a lot of our clothes and upholstery at home, and I’ve always loved the creative side of it. Later on, while I was at university, I learned more about fashion business and how it impacts people and the environment, and from this I started looking into sustainability. All this research gave me the motivation to build a career that would help to make a positive change in the fashion industry and how through this I could make bigger changes within society as a whole.
Fashion is the way we express ourselves; I believe it should always be inspiring and should bring a sense of positivity into the world. This includes the way our clothes are made – the whole process from crop to product should have a net positive outcome for everyone involved.
What have been the highest and lowest points on your journey so far?
For me the biggest challenge was being on my own and having to work out how to do everything myself. Fashion brands are normally such a collaborative work environment, so stepping out and starting my own business was a real change of pace.
Creating sustainable collections also comes with its own unique issues. It takes us twice, if not three or four times as long to create collections than high street brands because there’s just not the infrastructure available yet to do things quickly, so that first step of branching out on my own was so alien from what I had been doing before. It was definitely a hard moment.
We’ve had some pretty great moments in the last year – earlier in June we relaunched our entire website with completely new branding and a new line of clothing which has been well received by our customers.
During all of this we also found out we had been shortlisted for a Drapers Sustainable Fashion Award for Progress Towards Circularity and have also been nominated for a German Sustainability Award for Design! Both of these nominations mean a huge amount to us as a small brand and are a great reward for all of the hard work that has gone into making the brand what it is today.
What are the morals you run your brand by?
I truly believe that sustainability isn’t about making everyone feel guilty for not shopping ethically, rather it’s about educating consumers to make more intelligent purchase decisions in order to have a more positive relationship with fashion. People aren’t going to stop shopping overnight so it’s more important that people shop with an awareness of what it is they’re spending their money on so they can actually support a better system rather than encouraging a broken one.
As a brand we believe in an industry that values people, creativity and profits the environment, all in equal measure. We want to educate and work with our customers to build a better industry from the inside. We want people to work with us, not for us.
We only use certified sustainable or recycled textiles to produce our clothing, and we work with UK factories to produce our clothing so that we can personally oversee the working conditions and payment of the people who make our clothes. On top of this we partner with anti-trafficking charities to actively help in the elimination of modern slavery in supply chains around the world.
We take pride in our morals and they remain something we will never compromise on.
What was the inspiration behind your latest collection?
Contemporary crafted clothing meets social justice. Our new hero collection combines bold and contemporary designs with repurposed and reused materials, designed to create a wardrobe of sustainable clothing made to last. Opting for a seasonless collection as opposed to trend-led ranges, we’ve reduced the amount of pressure on our supply chain, allowing for high-quality design that doesn’t cut corners in order to meet deadlines. We believe that sustainable fashion isn’t just for the elite.
How would you describe your customer base?
Fanfare clothing is made for people who care about being fair to both people and the environment, but still want to dress in cutting edge, contemporary fashion. Our clothes are unisex and designed to look good on a wide variety of body shapes and sizes to make sure that our customer base is never restrictive or exclusive. We want fashion to be accessible to everyone and anyone, but we believe that our ethical values shouldn’t be compromised in order to make that happen.
Do you ever struggle to stay inspired?
I think for most people inspiration is something that comes and goes in waves. Personally, my inspiration when working on Fanfare collections comes from the fabrics we use, and there are new and innovative materials being created every day, so the inspiration feels endless.
However, it can be hard to find truly sustainable fabrics, so our design and inspiration process tends to be different from fast fashion and high street brands. Where they create a design and then find fabrics to fit those designs, we source our materials first to ensure they’re up to our standards, and then create a design based on what we know will work and how that fabric inspires us with its unique properties and origins.
Is there anyone you would love to see wearing your designs?
Victoria Beckham has always been an inspiration for me, so it’d be amazing to see her wearing a Fanfare design. She curates such a sophisticated, minimalist wardrobe and all her clothes are made from amazing high-quality materials. She’s the epitome of elegance and a great role model for women in the fashion industry.
Do you have a mentor?
She’s not so much a mentor but my time working for Vivienne Westwood provided a lot of inspiration for Fanfare, and I see a lot of similarities between the two of us. While I was there, I got to know the ins and outs of her thinking towards sustainability, which inspired me to pursue Fanfare as the next step in my career. I think we’re both very active and vocal about the things we want to see in fashion, so I see her as a role model.
If you could only wear one piece from your collection, what would it be and why?
Definitely our Sustainable Eco Dyed White Printed Jumpsuit. It’s an incredibly versatile garment that can easily be worn casually or for a more formal event. It’s also one of our most sustainable pieces, made from an OEKO-TEX certified fluid cotton satin and printed using water-based pigment inks, which are fixed to the garment using a high-temperature process that removes the potential for water wastage. The pattern itself is filled with environmentalist slogans and pictures of activists, meaning that wherever you go you’ll be making a powerful statement for planetary welfare.
Is there another designer whose work you particularly admire?
This would have to be Vivienne Westwood. She’s a designer who has known what she wants from day one and isn’t afraid to go and make it happen. Her designs are so unique and filled with character which makes them stand out amongst other designers – this is something I also strive for in my own work, I want people to feel like they’re really making a statement wherever they are and whatever the occasion. Westwood is also someone who holds her values at the core of everything she does, having built a brand around the idea of respecting both people and the planet.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Never compromise on your ethics.”
Everyone wants to rush in and just get the business started. But researching and networking is really important - do one thing at a time and do it with excellence rather than trying to do everything all at once.
What drew you to Wolf & Badger?
As a platform that prioritises ethical and sustainably sourced fashion, Wolf & Badger seemed like a natural choice for collaboration. Both Fanfare and Wolf & Badger are based on similar values, and we share a goal of making sustainable fashion available to all. Their website already hosts such a versatile selection of designers, and I’m proud that Fanfare will be a part of the story.
Where do you see the brand in 5 years?
Over the next few years, I would love to see Fanfare grow and make a big difference in the world of sustainability. In the future, it would be amazing to have a physical retail space for our brand which we could use to help educate people as to why it’s so important to be aware of how your clothes are made and where they’re coming from, and help people make better choices in future when they’re buying new clothing.
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