Essential Noir – Your Favourite Slow Fashion Brand

Ashover Silk Scarf and The Derby Clutch

Slow Fashion, sustainability, supporting British manufacturing and retaining skills and jobs in local communities lies at the heart of Essential Noir.

A few weeks ago we took the plunge and created our very first FB/IGTV video sharing our story. The response was fantastic. In the video we talked about the idea behind creating the brand. How we have worked together in the industry for years and seen with our own eyes companies moving production and technical jobs offshore. Producing cheap clothes in unsustainable fast fashion cycles to make bigger profits for the few on top. Essential Noir is part of the ever growing slow fashion movement. Our aim is to become Your Favourite Slow Fashion Brand!

What is Slow Fashion?

“Slow Fashion is an awareness and approach to fashion, which considers the processes and resources required to make clothing, particularly focusing on sustainability. It involves buying better-quality garments that will last for longer and values fair treatment of people, animals and the planet” (Good On You)

Slow Fashion is in a way a bit like going back to a time when people bought durable locally sourced and produced garments. It encourages to buy less and invest in higher quality fashion. To look into the sustainability of the processes that made the clothes you are buying.

“Slow Fashion opposes the fast fashion model that emerged around 20 years ago.  And it’s fair to say Slow Fashion is 100% necessary, with some brands burning 12 tonnes of unsold garments per year in spite of ongoing sustainability efforts to close the loop in fashion.” (Good On You)

Frustrations lead to ideas

We were becoming more and more frustrated with the direction of the fashion industry where everything must be cheaper, faster and more disposable. Getting increasingly exasperated with the unsustainability of the Fast Fashion trend and the low-quality garments available. We had an idea about putting our skills together and producing beautiful long-lasting women’s clothing. Giving people a true quality product whilst hoping to help local communities retain jobs and skills.

Another major frustration was the shopping experience. Every High Street shop seemed to be selling the same thing in low-quality, and really good quality basics were nowhere to be seen! All the black tops available seemed to just fade, twist and pill. We had this experience in mind when we created Essential Noir. And our core product became the great quality perfect black top. So essential for every capsule wardrobe yet so difficult find from the High Street! For our black tops we use the environmentally low impact Lenzing Modal® yarn which is knitted and dyed into the beautifully soft high-quality Micro Modal fabric in Leicestershire. We chose this fabric for its super soft feel, resistance to shrinkage and ability to retain its colour and shape.

Side-line to full time

When we launched Essential Noir, we were both working full time for a major high street supplier. We had faced the threat of redundancy several times over the years as the aim was to ultimately move our jobs as well offshore. In 2018 we were both finally made redundant from our day jobs. The Essential Noir brand became a full-time job for both of us. We wanted to see where we can take the brand. We truly believe in our product and want to offer our customers something better than the constant unsustainable cycle of Fast Fashion.

What does Slow Fashion mean to us?

Slow Fashion is something that comes naturally to both of us. We don’t throw things away easily and often wear old clothes. Some items we still wear regularly were bought 15-20 years ago. This is easy to do when you have your own style, buy timeless quality items and do not obsessively follow trends. The problem is that it is increasingly more difficult to find the items that would actually last you 20 years as the quality of fabrics and make-up has been decreasing so rapidly. We want to be part of changing this.

Our designs are not trend led – we want to offer more timeless designs. Items that can also be combined with more trendy items if you do choose to do so. We appreciate that people will not stop shopping or following trends, but we need to reduce the amount of fast fashion produced and bought. We need to educate people about how they actually could save money by investing in fewer better quality items.

What do we do?

We produce less items and fewer collections. There is no need to bring out a new collection every week or every month apart for greed and encouragement for unsustainable consumerism. The items we do produce we want to be quality items that you invest in. Items that you look after and make them last.

We often buy end of roll fabrics for our Limited Edition collection. We then design using the fabric as our starting point and produce as many pieces as can be made from the amount of fabric available. This gives uniqueness to the pieces as they cannot be re-produced from the same fabric. It’s also a great way of using already manufactured fabrics stopping them potentially ending up in landfills.

What we are finding is that our customers either buy from us because our ethos resonates with them already. Or they become converted to our way of thinking and understand our ethos after they have bought from us and see how great a quality timeless product can be

Is the world Domination of Fast Fashion coming to an end?

For a small independent brand like us it is hard competing with what at the moment is the world domination of big brand Fast Fashion. The challenge is making people understand the benefits of locally produced Slow Fashion instead. Peoples idea of quality has been skewed by the years of ever cheaper low-quality fast fashion. We want to break the cycle and make people understand and think about things like quality and sustainability vs simply a price tag that looks cheap.

Attitudes are changing

The world is slowly changing, people are changing and peoples shopping habits and attitudes are changing. The traditional High Street is struggling because they haven’t evolved with the change. We are at the forefront of new more sustainable way of making fashion. Although people’s attitudes are changing there is still a long way to go. It can be difficult breaking through the old ways and making people genuinely think and act.

“Everyone has that defining get-ready-in-the-morning moment: the one where you look at your closet, see an array of options and still feel like you have nothing to wear.

That dilemma is a consequence of the “fast fashion” shopping culture we live in, which encourages us to buy clothes that are low-cost and on-trend. They tend to be poorly made with materials that have a short lifespan, and it keeps us on a treadmill of consume, discard, repeat. Think of it as the fashion equivalent to junk food: so tempting and tasty, but always leaving you hungry for more.

But there is another way. An increasing number of designers and brands are rejecting the principles of fast fashion and embracing a more sustainable approach to making clothes. It’s known as slow fashion, and it’s focused on consuming and creating clothes more consciously, with awareness around how fashion affects people and the planet.” (My Blu Print)

Fast Fashion has a big human cost as well as environmental cost – and in the long run it will also cost you more money!

But how can Slow Fashion help you save money? If you buy three standard £8 T-shirts every year for five years, it’ll cost you £120. But even if you spend £90 on three higher-quality T-shirts that’ll last you five years, you’re still saving £30!

You Deserve Better!

From business side Slow Fashion as a concept means that you cannot forever escalate your business profits by increasing the cycle in which your produce fashion. There will become a time when you cannot increase your profit every year. This is different to the way the system works currently. Companies want bigger profits every year to benefit the small percentage of CEOs and shareholders. Our aim is to simply make a living and offer our customers something better than the constant unsustainable cycle of Fast Fashion.

We truly believe in our product and concentrate on timeless, quality British made Slow Fashion –investing in quality and hoping to change the way people see fashion and what they have in their wardrobes.

Because You deserve Better Quality Fashion and the environment deserves a break from Fast Fashion! Scrap the Fast Fashion habit now and join the ever growing Slow Fashion Revolution!