When I started out on the search for a London based manufacturer, with an ethical and sustainable commitment, and feasible for small production runs, I spotted an online article that peaked my interest. Living wages, environmental policies, zero waste…. This looked to be the one! I had found Apparel Tasker, and what I was reading aligned with the brand values I wanted for Saywood too. I got in touch with Zack, and I knew I’d found the perfect factory for production in London. This was the perfect place for our Edi Volume Sleeve Shirt and Jules Utility Shirt to be made.
Not all that far from the Saywood studio, Apparel Tasker was based. Perfect - the closer to home, the lower our carbon footprint - and it doesn’t get much closer than Apparel Tasker. On visiting the factory, I was impressed. Clean, well laid out, cheery staff. And they’ve since moved to a bigger unit, just over the road from their original location, where they are maintaining the same standards and more.
A Positive Social Impact
Right from the start, Apparel Tasker have made it their mission to ensure that people and planet are at the heart of how they manufacture and run the business. From ensuring a living wage, to taking responsibility for the environment and how the production of clothing effects this. They acknowledge the demand for ever lower prices, and how this has increasingly meant that many consumers consider clothing to be disposable. They are working to change this; working towards slowing down fashion, with quality at the heart, so that we understand the value of our clothes and what it takes to make them: no cutting corners. This is echoed in the brands that they work with, in the suppliers they choose and the skilled team they employ. They even offer a repair and mend service on garments too, to ensure longevity. And they are in the process of setting up a Lifetime Guarantee on all their productions. This is what it’s all about, clothing made to last.
Apparel Tasker machinist applying the buttons to a Saywood shirt.
The working conditions are safe and world-class. Everyone is paid fairly, with above industry standard higher wages. Apparel Tasker regularly completes the Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA), to ensure these high standards are being maintained. When it comes to the production line, this is strategically managed to ensure that unnecessary pressure is not exerted on their staff. Ample time is given to ensure the machinists can meet the completion of the garments to a full and high standard. We often hear so much about factory targets and tight deadlines causing excessive stress on the workers, so it is really inspiring to know Apparel Tasker are consciously creating products with their staffs happiness and quality at the centre of their strategy.
They work with local suppliers as much as possible and collaborate with suppliers that operate ethically. For our Jules Utility Shirt, Apparel Tasker introduced us to a very local embroiderers, just round the corner from them, Echo 3 Embroidery.
Machinists at Apparel Tasker sewing Saywood pieces on the production line.
High Values, Low Energy Consumption
Apparel Tasker use solar energy to power and heat the factory; in fact, their energy provider only uses renewable energies to provide power to their customers. All of their equipment and machines are set up on an energy saving grid to control the amount of energy used. They use energy saving LED lighting throughout the factory, saving 70-80% of energy compared to traditional lighting, and they use energy saving servo motors on all the machines, helping to reduce energy consumption by 80-90% compared to traditional clutch motors. This is a significant amount, and helps not only for a more efficient running of the factory, but it provides a better eco balance, streamlining what is actually needed, and not over consuming energy.
A commitment to Carbon Neutral
They have a zero waste approach, with a focus on minimising waste from the beginning of the garment manufacture process, starting at the pattern stage and including well managed cutting plans. The factory is committed to becoming carbon neutral. When manufacturing garments, it is inevitable that there will be material and fibre waste. Apparel Tasker collect up any waste materials from the factory floor, which are then sent to be converted in bio-fuel to be used for electricity. This has meant they have been able to cancel out all the electricity used on the factory floor! Not only does the factory floor waste get used for bio-fuel, but it is also now sent for use in mattress fillings, putting the waste to new use, to live an even longer life, enabling a circular waste strategy. As well as having a robust traditional recycling system in place for general recycling too, for packaging they use recycled boxes, and the clear garment packaging they use is biodegradable and eco-friendly; garments have to be packaged to keep them safe in transportation and storage, but there is no reason this packaging cannot be eco-friendly. And at Saywood, we are keeping hold of all these garment bags to be reused on our next order. Then these bags can keep being reused, and reused, again and again.
Saywood Edi Volume Sleeve Shirt in pale blue recycled cotton.
Working with Apparel Tasker also means, as a brand, we are able to support local businesses and help keep the tradition of manufacturing alive in the UK. Their ethical stance on people and production connected with us and echoed the values important to Saywood. It is not enough to just make clothes in better quality or more sustainable fabrics. We must evaluate the supply chains throughout the garment process, and ensure that we are supporting the work force, paying fairly, and making sure the working environment is safe. We must consider the planet in the ways we manufacture and produce, ensuring we do not plunder its resources, pollute its air and drain its energy. We have a responsibility to improve our systems, to ensure we are being conscious in the way we produce, so that fashion does not mean there is a price to be paid for the planet and future generations. Apparel Tasker has this consciously at the heart of their mission; and so this is a relationship we know will last, just like our clothes.