“We try to have as little impact on the environment as possible, but we are tiny,” she says. “Helping big brands through advice and collaborations could have a much bigger impact. Initiatives such as LVMH’s unused inventory business, Nona Source, will facilitate this, she says, but cannot explain the slow and laborious process of deconstructing and rebuilding clothing for recycling.
The nature of its process also means clothing varies, which can be difficult to portray on e-commerce sites without individually photographing each item (which most of its wholesale partners are reluctant to do on a large scale). His iconic recycled book bags, for example, are made from unused book covers from UK publishing group Hatchette, with designs ranging from Thomas the tank engine To Batman.
By the end of this year, Williams will have launched a direct-to-consumer website, which it hopes will provide consumers with feedback on the durability and portability of its products, both intrinsic to sustainability. Rental and repairs are also on the agenda, but not right away. “I want to do it right, which takes research,” she says.
Broaden notions of sustainability
While Williams has earned his reputation as an enduring designer, it’s a designation that’s uncomfortable. “I find it slightly problematic when people see me as sustainable, because it ranks me in their concept of sustainability,” Williams says.
The price to pay for sustainable operations has been a point of tension in the past: Williams readily admits that she, and many people she employs, cannot afford the clothes they produce – the t- shirts sell for around £ 400, with pants priced at £ 1,000 and jackets often over £ 1,300. “Doing everything in the UK and paying over the London Living Wage is expensive,” she says. “We want people to take care of our clothes and appreciate them, but the reality is that they are really expensive. Maybe it requires a change in mindset to buy less and buy better, because you have to save for clothes. For the past three collections, Williams has donated 20% of wholesale profits to an emergency fund dedicated to the Magpie Project called the Benevolent Fund, which supports women and children who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Each week, Williams or a member of her team volunteers at the London Charity.