Our core ethos is traceability. We work hard to know where all of our materials come from and how they are used to make the final product.
Since cotton is our primary raw material, we apply the following principles for sourcing cotton.
-We source our cotton fibre from farms geographically close to where it will be spun and woven into cloth. Often these rural co-operatives are co-located with cotton farms.
We trace our cotton fibres right back to the geographical farming area where the crop grew.
Our organic cotton is sourced from organisations that have organic certification from independent organisations such as GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard).
-We only source cotton via organisations supporting Fair Trade principles such as the Fairtrade Foundation, the Khadi Villages Industry Commission (KVIC) and WFTO (World Fair Trade Organisation)
-We do not source our cotton from locations where there is suspicion or knowledge of forced labour or child labour (such as Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan – for more information see The Cotton Campaign).
-As well as organic cotton, we look at other benefits such as seed varieties that are native to the region. These crops will be fed by the rain and require virtually no pesticides.
– Other fibres we source include bamboo, peace silk and hemp as part of business to business projects. We also explore the full provenance of fibres to ensure our transparency, fair trade and environment friendly requirements are met.
Beautiful and quality garments do not have to cost the Earth. And they can be created using eco-friendly processes.
Since many of these practices are traditional, we are helping sustain crafts such as hand weaving and block printing and provide livelihoods for people who learned such skills from their parents and grandparents.
Where possible, we use fibres grown close to our production. This supports the local farmers and community as well as reducing carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases by cutting travel.
We work with natural fibres and most often certified organic cotton, to ensure minimal use of pesticides and sustainable production methods. However, our top cotton preference is cotton varieties native to the growing area. Such indigenous versions are naturally pest-resistant and survive with just rainwater.
Many of our Indian Khadi fabrics are dyed by hand in large water vats. This technique uses approximately one-fifth of the water used in more standard dyeing processes. The dyes used are a mix of azo-free and natural dyes to ensure non-toxicity and colour fastness while washing. We also use dry dying processes somethings – they use even less water!
Our African print items are digitally printed using organic dyes.
One fabric we love working with is called Khadi, a cotton fabric that has been handwoven and handspun at co-operatives in India. The equipment is powered by people (through the use of pedals or handles) and in, some cases, solar power. This production is virtually carbon-free.
Our clothes are always created from plastic free fabrics. We also use non-plastic accessories such as buttons wherever we can. Some of our early children’s clothing designs do have plastic buttons but we have learned since then and no longer use these!
We do not mix our cotton fabrics with polyester or coat them with any plastic substances. Shirt buttons are either wooden or made from shells.
All of our production partners share our sustainability values and ensure minimum fabric wastage during production.
Zero-waste design also plays a key part – for example, our scarves are sized so that the fabric roll is equally split into 30 scarves. Fabric cutting is done in a way to make maximum use of the fabric and any leftover bits are used to make accessories such as hair scrunchies. Following our African project all scraps were donated to a period poverty project to create sanitary protection for local girls to ensure they can attend school when they have their period.
Going Plastic Free
As part of our mission to run as a sustainable and ethical business, we are aiming to be as plastic free as possible. This is a challenging task and an ongoing journey but the benefits for ourselves and the planet will be enormous.
Our production methods are 100% plastic-free. Our cotton is spun and woven by hand using traditional skills and equipment and then printed and dyed using wooden blocks or screens. Other fibres we work with are also processed.
We now aim for totally plastic free products – using 100% natural fabrics and now switched across tp plastic free accessories as well, such as buttons made from wood or shell.
We are working with our suppliers, who are also very eco-driven, to reduce and remove unnecessary packaging when stock is transported internationally to us. Often boxes can sit in transit points for periods of time and so plastic has to be used to prevent damp from causing damage to the clothing. We are exploring alternatives. Currently, our shirts arrive in a plastic sleeve for protection during storage.
Re-used and recycled stationary and packaging
We mainly use emails for correspondence and recycle our office paper. Our leaflets and cards are printed on recycled paper. Our double thickness postage envelopes and shirt boxes are recyclable or recycled and we wrap in recycled tissue rather than plastic. We re-use wherever possible – string, delivery boxes and paper. We have recently used biodegradable plastic for our face mask packaging.
We worked with milliner Madge Hatter to utilise the resulting offcuts from our children’s denim clothing range to create a range of brooches and hair accessories. We have also used offcuts from our African range to create hair scrunchies and pocket squares.
Our children’s clothing range, with button elastic, adjustable poppers and roll up trouser legs, is designed to last. We encourage our customers to pass on their outgrown children’s clothing to friends and family. Else, they can send it back to us to be listed in our pre-loved section so that the garments live to play another day.
Green energy and hosting
Our office is powered by electricity from Good energy – using renewable energy sources.
Our website is carbon-free. It is hosted by Green Hosting, which runs on a wind-powered server farm.
The principles of Fair-Trade guide our business. It is of the utmost importance to us that the people who are involved in producing our clothes are treated with justice and respect. We share information about our makers with our customers as we believe in building people to people connection – it is much harder to turn a blind eye if you know the people involved. We are working with other ethical brands to change the clothing industry, with the ultimate goal that customers will only buy from brands where they know people are treated as they should be.
Where Does It Come From? is a member of British Association of Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers (BAFTS), a membership organisation for businesses and charities involved in Fair Trade retailing in the UK. We work with a growing number of BAFTS shops to sell our products and have built some mutually beneficial relationships to help advance the sales of fairly traded goods in the UK.
We work with a range of social enterprise partners in India, Africa and the UK.
Our Indian partners include social enterprises that adhere to the Fair Trade principles and are audited as Khadi social enterprises by the Khadi Villages Industry Commission. These include Moralfibre Fabrics, Udyog Bharti and Gram Sewa Mandal
In Africa, we worked with the Fair Trade certified Mayamiko Trust for production of our African tunics and accessories.
We work closely with UK based Khadi London and have run a number of joint projects, including our organic cotton face masks. We have also recently started working with another UK based social enterprise supporting livelihoods for marginalised people including recovering addicts.
Where Does It Come From? is committed to Fairtrade, working with organisations that have the principles of Fairtrade at their heart. To achieve and retain our membership of BAFTS the businesses must adhere to the 10 principles of Fair Trade and provide annual performance data outlining financial and social achievements and goals.
The pricing process plays a critical role in building a trusted relationship. Once we have agreed on the details of production, including design, dates and quantity, we ask our production partners to provide a price. If the stated price is too high for us to meet our customer’s requirements, we revisit the design to work out how we can arrive at a price that will work. We do not negotiate on price or attempt to push down the price for our production partners. We always pay 50% of each order upfront. That enables our production partners and the co-operatives to purchase their raw materials and pay their workers during the production.
We believe it is fair that people and companies pay their share of tax to support our economy and to help provide vital services like the NHS, Education and help for those who need it. Where Does It Come From? pays tax in the following ways.
– Value Added Tax – Where Does It Come From? Is VAT registered ( so pays 20% on every applicable retail sale)
– Import Duty and taxes – Most of our products come from abroad, and so we pay duty (12% of value). VAT of 20% of value+duty is also charged on imports.
– Income Tax – Our accountants, KBLAccounts, submit the annual tax return and our company accounts to Companies House