'It's just as important that the people who make our clothes are as happy as the people who wear them...'
Ashlyn Gibson, Olive Loves Alfie Founder & Owner
As Fashion Revolution week approaches we are celebrating the positive things about being able to produce our own label and in playing our part being transparent about who makes our clothes.
The biggest plus for me about producing my own line for Olive Loves Alfie is that I get to choose where we place our manufacture. Before I launched my store in 2006 I travelled to far flung places to work with skilled footwear producers in certified factories. Working with reputable factories over seas certainly isn’t a bad thing - everyone needs support - but for now my heart is in British manufacture.
We are working with a hand-picked range of workshops and factories. Perhaps the one that I am most attached to is Heba - a women’s project in East London where we make our children’s kimonos. It isn’t a conventional factory or workshop - it’s a unique training and enterprise project. The gentle atmosphere reflects the strong sense of sisterhood and mutual support. The Heba women have found a safe and welcoming place to learn skills and to engage in activities to suit their individual needs and family commitments. And we have found a project that we want to support where we can follow our production personally.
Based in Hackney I can be at the Heba workshop just off Brick Lane in East London in 20 minutes. Last week I visited with photographer Katrina Campbell to capture the story of the women who work there. Knowing everyone personally gives our kimonos a very special and personal provenance. You can shop our range of Heba made kimonos here.
“Who made your clothes”?
Laila is 55 and from Yemen. She has 6 children and 15 grandchildren. “Working at Heba has provided me with a happy work place and some independence”.
Rahima 38 is from Bangladesh. She has 3 daughters. “I really enjoy working in a comfortable all women environment”. Next to her is Anjum, Project Co-ordinater.
Asia is 40 and from Bangladesh. She has 3 children. “I improved my sewing skills and my English in classes at Heba. Not working on a production line gives me the opportunity to learn new skills”.