- award winning - bespoke - ethical - sustainable -
I was born in Leuven, Belgium in February 1992, and grew up in Carmarthenshire, South Wales, coming from a long line of knitters, my two great grandmothers, Violet May, and Rosanna Kate, both were independent knitwear business owners, ahead of their time. I specialised in Knitwear at Winchester School of Art after two years of Fashion Design at the University of Westminster and am now a designer maker of ethical and sustainable knitwear.
The main focus of my work is its ethics and sustainability and the way in which my work can affect three areas: a person, animal or environment, positively, not negatively.
People: I make the majority of my products myself in my studio in Cardiff and a small selection of my items are knitted by digital knit machines in a factory in Leicester which I oversee in person.
Animals + Environments: As the people side of my ethical responsibilities make up quite a short list, the main ways that I concentrate on the ethics of my business are in the quality of my raw materials, regarding the animals or environments they come from. Yarns I use have to match up to my code of ethical criteria which includes the materials traceability, its country of origin; whether it’s cruelty free; whether, having traced it, its ethics are sound; including meeting the highest standards of animal welfare; whether it has been dyed naturally and/or organically, and whether its raw material is certified organic, Fairtrade or vegan. I have to be scrupulous, and thanks to this I work primarily with small businesses, where traceability can be simpler and a realistic aim, either in the UK or Peru, where I am working to support and start ethical business and social enterprise.The sourcing of my yarns is an ever changing process of working with small suppliers depending on demand and available resources. I get my yarn dyed organically to GOTS standards, in Yorkshire, UK and am also working with two natural dye companies for 2018. My yarns have already gone through a highly involved process before they begin to be knitted, and are an art in themselves, when it comes to my part, I can work with them and admire them in the knowledge that I have made my supply chain as short as possible and I have the facts for every part of it. Each of my products has an exact breakdown of the yarns and supply chain with it, so you have the facts too.
I believe that we can make ethical mainstream. I work on contributing to ethical alternatives as well as stopping the current practices in fashion production. The fashion and textiles industry employs 1 in 6 people worldwide, making it the most labour intensive industry worldwide, and is the second highest polluter in the world, with only the oil industry beating it. Millions of people, animals and environments are being negatively affected by that industry and that makes it an issue that needs solving right now. If you would like more information regarding issues of ethics in the fashion industry and why it's essential to effect change now, I highly recommend 'The True Cost' documentary, which you can see here and read more about here.
I am also working a new project, The Antauta Knitters, in a rural area of Peru named Antauta, to make another step forward in revolutionising fashion. If you would like to know more about this, you can read about it here.
My work is a tiny part of this necessary revolution, but I do think that whether the industry changes 1 person, animal or environment at a time or by the thousand, that we'll soon be looking back and seeing that change in practice. Thank you for reading and for your interest in Suzanna James Knitwear and ethical fashion.
Photography Credit: Together and Sunspell